I sat content.
It had been probably, what I would guess to be, the 50th time I’d finished watching the three Lord of the Rings movies; the reason for which, I’m still not entirely sure.
Finishing over 11 hours of extended Lord of the Rings goodness is bittersweet to say the least
Maybe it was the challenge. Memorizing every line, realizing the extent of the myriad of detail using every ounce of my intelligence and perception to immerse myself.
Maybe it’s the filmmaking. It still holds up, more than a decade later; the visuals, direction all solid.
Watch for the fantasy, stay for the cinemotography
I’ve seen plenty of films. I’ve read books, heard the stories of the lives of others, but there’s something innate in fantasy that drives adoration and fandom that’s unmatched by any other genre.
The key, I believe, is of course a combination of things; escapism, desire for intricacy, otherworldliness.
However, most importantly, I feel as though my love, and the love of many others for fantasy comes in the form of constructed reality and identification. Our favourite characters come about through identification with either traits we have and share with characters, or traits that we hope to have. This is even expanded upon in constructed reality where we begin to associate characters with symbols or physical things we buy.
Just Nimble it
So goes the vicious (and wonderful) cycle of identifying with characters, with powers far greater than our own and for some, doing everything we can to buy bits and pieces which reflect that character.
The Harry Potter series demonstrates this tremendously. Harry, Ron, Hermione; even typing those names brings a set of memories and emotions that I’m sure many can relate to.
A Modern Classic
Harry Potter stands as probably one of the greatest examples of fantasy in our modern era with aspiration being an innate draw for its audience. Kids grew up with Harry Potter, were around the same age as its protagonists for years and for every new release would sit and watch endlessly. We adored Hermione’s intelligence and courage, Ron’s quirkiness and levity and we loved Harry because he was the chosen one and because Harry was content by just being…. Harry. We wanted what they had, whether it be their character and personality or even just the ability to wave a wand and make magic happen.
Entire communities have been driven based on the ideas of identification and constructed reality. Cosplay, a culture in which people dress as characters from pop culture, is rampant in fantasy culture. Plenty of people do it not only to escape for a moment to another world, but they want to be that character. They want to be ‘badass’, or be ‘the hero’ because they identify with the aspects that that character puts forward all because of its importance to them.
It’s no different with fantasy movies. Harry Potter even has its own houses, which are essentially personality groups that people relate to and aspire to be a part of, all because of the people who make them up.
Please don’t say Hufflepuff
We all desire meaning and purpose in life and through our desire to find a place for ourselves in society and even in the films we watch or the books we read. We’re all guilty of having favourite characters and this is all largely through identification. Fantasy takes that identification to another level, because in fantasy the characters we identify with, always have powers and abilities that are beyond our own reach.
For me, in Lord of the Rings, that character was Legolas. Wielding a bow and arrow with deadly precision, always graceful and never over-stepping his bounds. I always dreamed of doing things as effortlessly as he did in the movies.
Of course, there were a number of characters in Lord of the Rings that I loved all because of their different and unique traits. Gimli, the comic relief dwarf. Aragorn and his stoic nature.; both in many ways a mirror of the Harry Potter trio.
All of the extremes of characters in humour, intelligence, strength and even the potential for greatness, in combination with the power that living in a fantasy world brings, all make us want what they have. Ironic that the very things that help to draw us into the characters of these incredible fantasy worlds, are very much of our own world indeed.
I think we all find fantasy in some parts of our lives. Some like to see this as escape and for the most part I believe that to be true. However, I prefer to think of it as aspiration. We live our lives looking to grow and develop and for only a couple hours we can watch a movie where people like us attain the unattainable. This is only a small piece of the puzzle and honestly I couldn’t still give the full reason as to why I will continue to watch and read fantasy like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I guess there’s a timelessness in things that never happened and always something new to find in worlds created by great minds that will never get old, or at the very least, I certainly hope not.