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Review way off base
As a long time Tolkien fan, I read with interest David Fellerath's review of The Return of the King ("Return of Ka-ching") in your Dec. 17 issue. I overlooked his attempt to twist the story to fit his own sexual agenda, but when he started complaining about the fascist overtones to the movie, my jaw just hit the floor.

Only Mr. Fellerath's self-proclaimed unfamiliarity with the story keeps me from flaming him for such a gross distortion. The fact is, as Tolkien wrote the story and Jackson directed it, salvation is not found in the sword arm "of a chiseled, long-maned Nordic warrior who looks like Viggo Mortensen" regardless of what Mr. Fellerath claims.

Lust for the power the ring represents destroyed Boromir in The Two Towers. It is what prompted Gandalf to refuse to touch the ring in the first movie. That power twisted the mind of the wizard Saruman and led him toward evil. The great succumb to the temptations of the ring, which leaves it to the hobbit Frodo, from the quiet backwater called The Shire, to carry the ring, with little hope of success. At the end, Frodo nearly succumbs himself, but is saved by the compassion he felt for the creature Smeagol.

Victory is not found in the grand armies or in great battles, in anger or in violence. The battle before the gates of Minas Tirith is nothing more than a diversion, a grand diversion, yes; but a diversion nonetheless. No, victory is found in the story's lowliest characters, demonstrating great human characteristics such as love, devotion, courage, and fortitude. These characteristics motivate them to face the heart of darkness within themselves and find the courage and stamina to turn away from the seductions of power.

That is about as far from fascism as one can get. As such The Lord of the Ring is a story with great contemporary relevance. Too bad Mr. Fellerath didn't get it.
Jim Senter

Reviewer crossed the line
I'm surprised that David Fellerath stooped to review The Return of the King ("Return of the Ka-ching," Dec. 17, a suitably sarcastic title). Yet my issue is not whether he liked the movie or not, but rather his disturbing questions are disturbing in themselves.

His issue with the affection between the Sam and Frodo is unclear. If he has a problem with two men holding each other, then he should be more concerned with his own homophobia. The portrayal of their relationship is completely in line with the story, and I personally welcome more images of men exhibiting emotion and affection in the media. Apparently two men can't care for each other, friends or not, without being labeled "gay" in some "disquieting" kind of way. Though he says that he "wishes" that they had kissed (I don't know why they would have, since it doesn't appear in the original story), he still makes out their relationship to be deviant and offensive. We cannot keep labeling crying, hugging and etcetera as feminine and therefore inappropriate for straight men. Not only is this homophobic but sexist as well.

We also don't need for Fellerath to condescend to make the obvious connection between the Northern European storytelling tradition and the Nazis. This certainly doesn't mean that this movie or that Tolkien himself advocated totalitarianism. I don't think that the message of peace and alliance is any different now, nor is it out of context in our own time of war. Although he tries to qualify it, Fellerath insults your readers' intelligence to assert that those who enjoyed the film are succumbing to fascist propaganda. This recalls the absurd non-review of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ("Compassionate Fascism") that appeared in The Independent in 2001. Being a "critic" does not necessitate such arrogant, high-handed statements.
Sarah Carrier
Chapel Hill

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