We did it!
I should have pictures, and I don't. But since we spent nearly the entire day sitting in a dark room, they wouldn't be very interesting anyway. (We watched the movies up at Grampa and Gramma Grasshoppers - on their big HDTV.
Sometimes I'm concerned that the kids get their expectations really, really high and are going to be disappointed. Not so, with LOTR. They were in boy heaven. Of course, red vines, chex mix, and Cadbury chocolate eggs - all in one day - contributed to their joy. With the books fresh in their minds, we didn't have to stop and explain anything (hallelujah!), not that we would've had time to, anyway. With the captions on, Tate was able to "get" everything, and I know I picked up some details I had missed in previous viewings.
Oh my goodness, though. When I said it was an "endurance event" I wasn't kidding! We have the extended version. We started watching right at 9am and took little breaks between each disk (two per movie) and meal breaks between movies. And by the time we finished and got home and to bed it was after 11pm.
And being the geniuses that we are, we picked the weekend we change to Daylight Savings Time, and so lost an extra hour in the night. Smart.
Yes, the movies are violent. And yes, some of the characters are gruesome and frightening. And yes, I let my 11 and 13 year old boys watch. Because... they have read the books, we've talked a lot about it, and because I believe there's enough good to more than balance out the bad.
There is an abundance of websites that explain how Tolkien's Christian worldview comes through in the stories, and probably say it far better than I could. I won't attempt that here, but I'll mention a couple of things I appreciate.
Good is good. Yes, some of the good guys are tempted by the power of the ring, but it's pretty clear who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are. There's none of the moral conflict, so common in "heroes" of many movies. (Picking randomly... Titanic - you're asked to cheer for a deceitful and immoral relationship, Oceans 11 - we're cheering for a group of thieves?, Pirates of the Caribbean - Jack Sparrow, a lying, thieving, murdering pirate is "cool"?) In LOTR, I like the heroes. Aragorn does not wish to lead, to become king, yet he does because it is right. Galadriel does not accept the ring from Frodo. Knowing that his success will result in diminishing her own power, she says, "I will become less." The members of The Fellowship put aside their differences to work together for a common purpose, frequently putting their own lives at risk to save others.
Evil is evil. The bad guys are bad. Lust for power corrupts and deceives. Saruman becomes ensnared first by dabbling where he shouldn't, and then completely by his lust for power.
There are lots of things the boys and I have been talking about lately from the stories... self-sacrifice, compassion, loyalty, stewardship (lots to talk about, with Denethor vs. Faramir), perseverance, and friendship.
Not that any of you have been critical, but that's why I let my (fairly young) boys watch something that is unquestionably very violent and gruesome.
P.S. And, yes, if you notice the time of posting, I am not at church. I'm at home. Sick. Aaaack.