On being a Lord of the Rings fangirl

Inspired by her recent visit to the cinemas to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Bronte Coates reminisces about her youthful obsession with The Lord of the Rings.

I’d already read, and fallen in love with, the books so by the time I saw the first trailer for The Lord of the Rings in a dark cinema as a naive and impressionable youth – so I was pretty much primed for a life-altering cinematic event.

And so began a time when I covered every wall in my room with posters of hobbits and elves and the ‘Eye of Sauron’ - with Gollum and panorama views of New Zealand. (I distinctly remember my difficulty deciding where to put my two massive blown-up images of Legolas’s face.) While other kids were dressing in brand names, I was branding my love of LOTR onto myself. It was a time where I wore a replica of the One Ring on a chain around my neck and attempted to learn Elvish. My five siblings and myself played LOTR themed trivial pursuit and knowing trivia about Viggo Mortensen became part of my identity while being able to have long, involved discussions about Tolkien’s world wasn’t just something I annoyingly did, it was who I was.

At some point during this period my father rather recklessly – and, in hindsight, stupidly – claimed he was going to wait until all three films were released as DVDs before watching them. This way he would be able to watch them all together in one sitting and avoid all that anticipation nonsense. It was unfortunate for him that I took him at his word and on a weekend visit some years later, brought with me the complete extended versions of all three films.


So utterly convinced was I in the amazing quality of this trilogy that I was deaf to my father’s increasing agony as the day progressed – the sun shining outside our window and Howard Shore’s mournful tunes blaring out from the television. His frequent escapes to the toilet were to no avail as I insisted on pausing the DVD each time so he wouldn’t miss out on a single thing.

(I’d actually also once cornered my father into watching High School Musical 2 and he recently informed me he preferred the latter which either tells you something about what kind of pain he endured watching LOTR, or else, something about what kind of person my father is.)

It’s been a long time since I wore that ‘one ring’ but on the weekend I went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the cinema with my grandfather. If anyone understands why I was so in love with this trilogy, it is this man, and afterwards we had a long, involved discussion about Bilbo Baggins. It was a wonderful way to spend the Christmas break.

Bronte Coates is the Online & Readings Monthly Assistant. She is a co-founder of literary project, Stilts.