OK. There are so many themes and messages in this trilogy that I could write an entire book. And entire books have been written. But I want to focus on 2 things.
First. Evil cannot win. It cannot sustain itself. By nature it cannot win. Some may say that the basic quality of evil is the desire for power. And certainly that is in there. But I think the basic quality or nature of evil is that it consumes. And it consumes everything. And eventual that means it consumes itself. It occurred to me as the order went out for the orcs to attack Minas Tirith and “leave nothing alive,” what next? After evil wipes out all the good, what is left for evil to do. It is not like the orcs are going to then settle down and start little orc families. After Sauron conquers all of Middle Earth and then has all the power, what next? Will he build a gazebo and rest on his back porch. No. The need to consume is still there. Evil is about consumption. That gives me pause when I think of how our society consumes. We consume. We consume. We consume. It is interesting how that idea parallels the search for riches. How much money is enough? Just a little bit more. How much economic growth is enough? Just a little bit more. How much corporate gain is enough? Just a little bit more than last year. The desire for more never stops. And we set up this country as a free place to do that and called it wonderful and good and based on consumption. We lie about it to ourselves. We veil ourselves with how we have to consume to progress. We have to consume to keep the economy going. If we don’t consume, it will all break down. I think we ought to be very very careful about how we have made ourselves all about consumption. Because evil is about consumption. That does not mean that all consumption is evil. But it is a slippery slope.
Point number two is a little more esoteric. At one point on the journey of Frodo and Sam and led by Gollum, they are on the secret staircase which leads to the Dark Tower. They have stopped to rest. Gollum frames Sam by wasting what food they have left. It is his last attempt to isolate Frodo from Sam so that he can get to ring more easily. The plot works and Frodo sends Sam home.
During the exchange, Gollum tells Frodo that only he, Gollum, truly understands the burden the Frodo bears. That “the fat little hobbit” cannot possibly understand as he has not carried the ring/burden. Sam pleads with Frodo to listen to him, that Gollum is a deceptive liar, but Frodo refuses to hear it. He sends Sam home. It is really amazing to watch because it mimics what all of us do in real life. We choose to hold on to the burden, the pain, the rage, the anger. Why? Because it at least feels comfortable. There is some empathy there. We become co-dependent on the pain. Peace is foreign. We do not know what lies in that realm. We are afraid of the unknown. So we refuse to listen to those who are trying to help us, to those who can help us most, to those who love us the most. And we instead choose to listen to those who would deceive us. Later on, at Mount Doom, as Frodo is trying to decide to drop the ring into the fire to destroy it, he again has trouble letting go of his pain, of his burden. Sam says to him, “Just let it go.” I could see the pain in Sam’s eyes. The tiredness. The anguish. They had come so far. Been through so much. And still Frodo would not let it go. All he had to do was just let it go. Oh how that mirrors the human condition so much.
So that is it. I love these movies. They awaken emotion and truth and inspiration within me. If you haven’t seem them, you should.