So, this whole Lord of the Rings thing has me a little perplexed.
See, I'm standing in the supermarket checkout line. The one with the cute checkout girl. A few months ago she was just the cute bag girl, but now that she's made the transition from part-time teen job to blue collar career she looks a great deal older, more haggard, and oddly more approachable. And there on the racks next to her are Nostradamus' latest predictions and a copy of "Teen People". Who's on the cover?
I had the standard reaction, of course. A burning desire to quit work, go back to college, get a doctorate in high-energy physics, invent a time machine, and show this magazine to my mid-pubescent self circa 1983. Just to see the look on my face.
I went to the Two Towers on opening day. The crowd was filled with teenage girls. Well not so much filled as containing a proportionate number of them given US population statistics. Still, these were cute, normal girls who had stood in line for an hour to get tickets so they could stand in line for another hour for decent seats for a three hour movie. A movie with elves. A movie with orcs. I saw the animated Lord of the Rings in a theater in the early 80's. The audience was mostly stoned white guys with beards and afros.
Yes, yes, I know. Many of you reading this now were, in fact, girls in the 1980s and loved the Lord of the Rings. But let's face it. You were a geek too. Back before "geek chic" had any appeal whatsoever. But you knew enough to hide your shameful love.
Now, it's all out in public. Everyone's proud to love elf-boy and swoon over Aragorn and talk about just how cool Gandalf is. Declarations that would once have made a pocket protector and horn-rimmed glasses look hipper than the latest Duran Duran video. So now that people are out of the closet with their geeky love, the time is right to strike.
I'd like to take this moment to nominate Gollum for Best Actor for the 75th Annual Academy Awards.
Not Best Supporting Actor. Not a nomination for Andy Serkis (the voice and body model) or some crappy technical award for the CGI team who animated him. But an actual Best Actor award for the character Gollum.
It's time we abandoned our primitive bigotries and learned to look past race and creed and whether an actor actually exists, and begin giving out acting awards to whatever part of the screen shows the greatest range of emotions. The waves in Blue Crush, for instance, were better than any individual cast member in Gangs of New York, and that's total Oscar catnip.
(I can just see the Oscar retrospectives of 2075, where in an interview with Gollum he explains that even though he won the award, he was kept in a 1000 gig hard drive throughout the ceremony, so as not to offend the Fleshy Ones' tender sensibilities.)
Oh, like he's any more of an artificial construct than Julia Roberts anyway.
Gollum has always been my favorite character. The one I relate to best. My childhood friends all wanted to be Gandalf or Aragorn. To ride Shadowfax into battle or wield the sword-that-was-broken against the Ringwraiths. Fuck that. One stray arrow and you're meat. I wanted to be the sick little magic junkie in the cave, befriending my enemies before betraying and throttling them.
Besides, Gollum makes out like a fucking bandit. Let me explain. There's this super-duper ring of power, right? The bad-mamma-jamma ring. The ring that dare not speak its name. Created to rule all Middle-Earth, it's the most powerful magical artifact ever forged. Sauron has it for what, a week before he gets his finger chopped off? (I invite all four people who've read The Silmarillion to correct my research.) Loser. Gollum has it for five hundred years.
Five hundred years of petting his precious. Five hundred years of stroking his precious. Five hundred years of living in a dark cave, choking baby goblins, deep-throating eyeless fish and kicking the walls in ecstasy because being on the precious is so fucking good.
Of course, we're not seeing him in his finest years. We're seeing the dark time of post-ring sadness. Still, he does a better job of safekeeping the Ring than the Fellowship. Let's look at this objectively. The Rivendell plan for keeping the ring out of Sauron's hands: send it out in the possession of an unskilled, guileless four-foot nancy-boy and tell him to walk it right up to The Dark Lord's doorstep. The Gollum plan: kill everyone who knows you have it and hide yourself under the biggest mountain range you can find. Gollum's plan? Lasts the aforementioned five hundred years. Elrond's? Fifty-seven minutes of screen time from formation of the Fellowship to its dissolution, including two major action sequences, the loss of the party's high-level Wizard and one major intra-party betrayal. Thanks for the great advice, Agent Smith.
Really, Gollum is not a supporting character. The series is nothing less than a love story about Gollum and The Ring. The Ring is created by a cold, cruel master who seeks only to use her for political gain. She is taken by another who wants her for his own, only to be lost by lucky chance. She's rescued by Gollum, who truly loves her for who she is, not whatever power she can bring him. He's forced to give up his best friend to have her, but it's a small price for the love they share. They live together in happy isolation for many years, where Gollum shows her unrelenting care and affection, referring to her only as his precious. She is stolen once again, by a lying, conniving thief (who cheated at that riddle game by asking a completely bogus question). After undergoing torture and misery and humility, Gollum finds her once again, and wrestles her from her captor. As they fall into the pit of fire, dying together, Gollum cries out his last word: precious!
It's just so beautiful.
Columns by Cindy