The Fellowship of the Ring and a Decade of Family Geekdom (GeekDad Weekly Rewind)

Geek Culture

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Image: New Line Cinema /

Almost unbelievably, it’s been ten years since the theatrical release of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring.

Remember ten years ago? If you wanted to re-watch the epic teaser trailer on your computer, kids –

– you had to download that bad boy (likely by dial-up access!), because YouTube was still three-plus years in the future.

We go further back, of course, The Lord of the Rings and me: My uncle Rob bought me a paperback boxed set containing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was in first grade. That same year, 1977, I watched the Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit when it originally aired a few weeks after my seventh birthday; and during the 1978 holiday season, uncle Rob took me to see the flawed-but-still-kind-of-underappreciated Ralph Bakshi adaptation.

So when, in 2000, the earliest teaser for Jackson’s LotR was released, I went absolutely nuts.

My wife and I had been married for close to five years at the time, and while she fully supported my geek interests, for the most part, tales like Lord of the Rings just weren’t her thing.

Still, ten years ago this month, the two of us had a date night, and she came with me to see The Fellowship of the Ring – mostly as an early Christmas present to me. The marketing and previews hadn’t really piqued her interest or given her any idea what to make of all these elves and hobbits and wizards, and oh, a good deal about a ring, a Dark Lord and something about the end of the world.

All I asked was that she come along.

Realizing it puts me at odds with many Tolkien scholars and LotR purists, I absolutely fell in love with Peter Jackson’s vision and interpretation from the opening moments of The Fellowship of the Ring, and I was completely drawn into the world onscreen.

So an eighth of a day later, as the closing credits start to roll, I exhale myself back to reality and turn to my wife, unsure of what to expect, having just sat her through 178 minutes of the sort of story she’s never really gone for. I’m ready to thank her for humoring my exuberance and at least giving Middle Earth a chance.

I’m unprepared to see tears running down her face. Before I can say anything, I’m utterly stunned at what she says after almost three hours of watching a movie that included subtitles in Elvish. “What?!” she chokes out, referring to (spoiler alert) Sam and Frodo heading off to Mordor alone, the quest unfinished and the fellowship broken, “That’s IT??”

She was completely hooked. We saw The Two Towers and Return of the King on their respective opening weekends, and our daughter (now in high school) was a fan of the movies before her ninth birthday. Watching the trilogy has become a December holiday tradition in our house.

And my wife now traces her own embracing of more geek culture directly to that night in December 2001. We’ve learned Dungeons and Dragons as a family, hopped in the TARDIS with Doctor Who, and collectively enjoyed the Harry Potter journey and the Hunger Games trilogy.

I’m not saying that she wouldn’t have eventually come to appreciate the general awesomeness of life’s geekier offerings, but the truth is, we’ve got the Fellowship to thank for helping us travel the road together.

[This article, by John Booth, was originally published on Monday. Please leave any comments you may have on the original.]

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