December 11, 2002

The Conscience of A King
I usually only comment on specific movies at Macroscope when I think it's something worthwhile that you might miss in the daily roar of film advertising, so, it may seem strange for me to say something about the next installment of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, The Two Towers, here. Losing this film on the media radar would be the equivalent of forgetting your standing on planet Earth, giving all the promotional saturation its received. However, I would like to take a moment to comment on one aspect of the film you might miss.

Many folks say that the CGI-created Gollum is the most compelling character in the film, but, for my money, the guy I could not take my eyes off of was Theoden, King of the human city of Rohan, played by Bernard Hill. If you look closely, you may recognize Hill as the Captain of James Cameron's Titanic. It's an interesting bit of casting, since, in both instances, he's a man given the responsibility for the lives of a doomed people.

In light of my recent commentary about the morally questionable activities of the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, my far more conservative brother (and father of two) made an observation that's haunted me ever since: "It's hard to stand on your morals when you're responsible for the lives of others." There's a look in the eyes of King Theoden as the full-weight of his mistakes and the horrible consequences of his actions begin to set in, that made me think of the look in G.W. Bush's eyes, later on that week after 9/11. One would hope that a leader acts in a way that he believes will be the most beneficial for his people. But, as history has taught us, decisions at that level always involve some kind of human calculus - what action will cost the fewest lives while saving the most? Bernard Hill's portrayal of Theoden reminded me that the cost of that job can quite often include your soul.

See the movie.

And watch his eyes.
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