I first visited J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth in his books “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” in 1967. Our country was hearing threatening echoes of a small country far away called Vietnam, and the resulting political chaos of our torn society made it difficult for us college kids to concentrate or even to figure out where we fit in.
Middle-earth to me is a completely different world — a magical world, filled with new and imaginative creatures. Middle-earth was also at war, but it was easy to tell the difference between the bad guys and the good guys, evil and ugly versus beautiful and wise.
I have visited Middle-earth dozens of times since 1967 and along the way I’ve collected a few gems, which was difficult until the “Lord of the Rings” movies came out.
I am most proud of what I found before the movies, some 40 years ago, like the fan club newsletters and postcards of scenes that Tolkien painted himself. I have calendars dating back to 1976, each month having a painting of a scene either from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit,” or “The Silmarillion,” Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth that his son, Christopher Tolkien, published.
My proudest possessions are the nine figurines of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, made as a series by the Danbury Mint. The detail is wonderful. I have several biographies of Professor Tolkien and myriad books, bestiaries, atlases, scrapbooks, quiz books, encyclopedias, albums and a “Realms of Tolkien” book of illustrations.
I promised myself I wouldn’t get anything produced from the movies, except for the movies themselves. That changed when my husband got me several snow globes with movie scenes as themes. I also have about 10 movie-themed games such as Monopoly, Risk, Checkers and others.
Others have given me action dolls, pictures, and I couldn’t pass up the collector plates that came out with all of the characters on them. I even have a book written by Sean Astin (he plays Sam in the movies), who writes about his experiences filming the trilogy.
One of the most exciting things related to my collection is me. I am in all the “Lord of the Rings” movies.
Before the movies came out, I joined an Internet fan club. Every month they sent out a beautiful, glossy magazine talking about making the movies and including an interview with Peter Jackson and an in-depth story on a different actor. As an added bonus, depending on the number of years one had been a member, we were each thanked for our support and our names listed at the end of the extended version of either one, two or all three of the movies.
There were something like 65,000 names listed in the first movie and took 20 minutes to play.
I am often asked what I thought about the “Lord of the Rings” movies. It used to be a really tough question for me. I could go on for hours voicing my opinion on why Peter Jackson made this change or addition, or why he left out Tom Bombadil. And at first a lot of these changes really bothered me.
It took me awhile before I realized that Peter Jackson is taking us to Middle-earth, to his vision of it. Just sit back and enjoy it, because his vision is a vision of love and beauty and adventure, just like mine.
And when I read the books, my vision comes back to me, with just a little of Jackson’s mixed in there — just how it should be.