Saturday marked the ninth installation of our annual Lord of the Rings marathon: every year me and two friends from high school get together to watch all three movies in one twelve-hour binge (extended editions or bust).
In high school and college we’d usually start on a Friday evening and try to watch them straight through the night, though we’d inevitably stop to take a sleeping break in the wee hours of the morning after ending/falling asleep and missing the end of The Two Towers.
Last year we finally decided to dedicate a whole day to the affair, watching from noon to midnight. This year we also opted to watch during the day but started at a respectable 10 a.m. to allow for more breaks. We also watched on HBO Max rather than lugging over the DVDs and DVD player.
Even with these minor changes, you might think that the ninth rewatch would get a little boring—but you would be wrong. In fact, this past rewatch was my favorite so far, because we were able to notice smaller details and discuss larger themes now that we knew the story so well.
Furthermore, here are some handy tips and tricks to keep a ninth rewatch of the Lord of the Rings fresh:
- First of all, make sure you have enough food and snacks to keep you going through all twelve hours. Breakfast sausages and waffles with blueberry sauce are a good, hobbitish place to start for breakfast (but don’t forget second breakfast). Bonus points for eating apples during the scene where Strider tosses apples to the hobbits.
- As you get into the first movie, realize that this ninth rewatch means you’ve all been friends for almost a decade. Have a minor existential crisis (surely it hasn’t been that long already since we were high-schoolers!) before deciding that it’s primarily a beautiful thing that you’ve been a part of one another’s lives for that long.
- Because you know all the lines by now, entertain yourselves by quoting them five seconds before the characters say them. (This only works if everyone finds it entertaining.)
- Argue again over whether the Fellowship could have ridden the eagles into Mordor before looking up why they couldn’t. (Answer: it’s complicated.)
- Because HBO Max has subtitles, find new bits of dialogue you never noticed before (ex. Someone exclaims “Ash on my tomatoes!” when Frodo stamps out the fire on Weathertop; the Rohirrim chant “Death!” before they begin the charge at the battle of Gondor).
- Restrain yourselves from sharing that piece of trivia about the scene where Aragorn kicks a helmet, since you all already know it.
- Make a note of all the fun words you didn’t notice before: “leechcraft,” “devilry,” and “festering” were some of our favorites. Resolve to try to work them into your everyday conversations.
- Since you know which scenes are your most and least favorites, mutually agree to fast forward past the painful scene in The Two Towers at the Forbidden Pool where Faramir uses Frodo to catch Gollum and then interrogates Gollum as to their true mission.
- Laugh over Legolas and Gimili’s unconventional friendship, and cry over Frodo and Sam’s tenderness with each other.
- Debate over whether Frodo’s line from the end of The Return of the King, “The last pages are for you, Sam,” refers to the note Frodo left Sam, or whether he meant for Sam to continue the story in the journal.
- Cry when “Into the West” starts playing.
I can’t wait for the tenth rewatch.
Lauren Cole (’20) graduated with a major in English and minors in French and psychology. She grew up in Grand Rapids and wants to live as she wants to die—surrounded by trees. She loves adding books to her TBR, but actually reading them is another matter.