LET INGA TELL YOU:
Olof and I are compatible in so many ways, but not in books and movies. Or more specifically, movies made out of books. Olof loves fantasy stuff — "Harry Potter" (he's read all of them twice), "Lord of the Rings," "Star Wars." Me, I can't figure out how the actors keep a straight face while filming them; they just seem so hokey. For years, it always seemed like there was a Christmas release of one of the above series, and as a demonstration of my love for Olof, I always bought two tickets for him for Christmas.
Unfortunately, I could never find anyone to use the other one. So I was forced to go. I always paired it with a nice dinner afterward with suitable liquid refreshment as an inducement not to gnaw off a limb during the movie.
Olof was pretty clear that fantasy wasn't my favorite genre. But there were unspoken rules that I would behave. No laughing out loud. No snarky comments. No eye-rolling.
For his part, Olof has equally disparaging things to say about my taste in movies, which he describes as "talking heads." And just as I have been willing to see all those gag-able fantasy flicks that he so adores, he has dutifully endured movies that I wanted to see.
Talking heads movies, at least, tend to be two hours. Fantasy movies generally run three. Or more. I guess once they filmed all those scenes, they felt compelled to use them. So the torture-per-minute ratio is waaaaay less for Olof than it is for me. I would like this noted.
The "Harry Potter" movies were, in my view, the least bad. But did they have to make eight of them? I mean, we got the point after two.
As for the ten "Star Wars" movies, I could never figure out the plot (was there one?) other than that good was fighting evil, the bad guys wore black and the good guys wore white (thank you), the sound track was deafeningly loud, and they were basically vehicles for a lot of special effects. Oh, and usually somebody was trying to resolve a traumatic event of their formative years, generally involving a parent. (They always blame the parents.)
But the three Tolkien movies — released on three consecutive Christmas days — were the ultimate torture. Our younger son Henry, home from college, went to the first two with us. He turned out not to be a big Tolkien fan either. Twelve minutes into the first one, he leaned over and whispered, "How much longer?" My sentiments exactly.
Recently, in cleaning out my files (nobody should have this many filing cabinets), I came across a folder full of e-mail correspondence with the kids, this one about the final Tolkien movie.
Sent: Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2003 5:32
Subject: I'm free! I'm free!
Hi Henry –
Olof and I just saw the last of the "Lord of the Ring" movies today. Thank GOD Tolkien is dead and can't write any more of these. I thought Frodo would never throw the damn ring into the volcano. Even after he fiiiinnnaaallly did, the movie went on for another 45-MINUTES. Frodo and Sam had to be rescued, then Aragon had to be crowned king and then get married to the Liv Tyler character, then they all had to make their very slow way back to Hobbit Land (did these folks have a no-cut contract?), then Sam had to fall in love and get married and have two children, and then Frodo had to decide to write his memoirs and then he had to go away on a ship for more adventures which necessitated long mawkish weepy goodbyes with the other midgets, then we watched the ship sail ENDLESSLY off into the sunset and then we had to go back to Sam's hobbit house and see how happy the fam was and then ... I almost stood up in the theater and started screaming STOP ALREADY! NOBODY CARES! HE THREW THE EFFING RING IN THE VOLCANO 45 MINUTES AGO! IT'S OVER! LET US GET OUT OF HERE!
Worse, there were a full half-hour of previews ahead of the movie — all of them weird Lord of the Ring-type movies, so it was three-and-a half hours imprisoned in the theater.
How utterly clever of you not to be home for Christmas this year and thereby be paroled from any obligation to watch another two hours and 59 minutes of Tolkien. (Why are they all exactly that length?) Is this why you went to Australia instead? (It's OK to say so.)
That I have now seen all three "Lord of the Rings" movies is a testament to how much I love Olof. As the screen credits rolled today, he happily exclaimed, "Was that the greatest movie you ever saw or what!"
— Inga's lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in La Jolla Light. Reach her at email@example.com