A year ago, I was living my best life on holiday in New Zealand. I have missed that country every day since my return to the States, and have been not-so-secretly plotting my (permanent) return to the country I fell deeply in love with.

Until then, I’ll settle for watching films set in New Zealand, and/or written by or starring Kiwis. I want you to fall in love with this country as much as I have, and to celebrate the talented filmmakers from there. So, without further ado, let’s talk film.

As you read this, I am on my way to New Zealand, completing the most sacred of my nerd pilgrimages: a journey to Middle-Earth. J.R.R. Tolkien’s creations are the closest to my heart, and since I am visiting the land of Elves and Hobbits, I thought I’d share with you some of the most striking scenes from the films, so that you can share my adventure with me in a small way. So, without ado, forth Eorlingas!

By the Collectress

Perhaps it’s because I just booked my trip to New Zealand, or because the soundtrack is on repeat all day while I work, or maybe because my friend Lacey was part of the most epic LotR cosplay group ever, but Samwise Gamgee has been on my mind lately. In particular, Sam’s earnest goodness and unrelenting sense of hope has been a beacon in my life, and pretty much the reason I finally caved and decided to go to Middle-earth with the option of never returning. 

Samwise Gamgee has always been my most favoritest of hobbits, and I think it’s about time I did a shout out to all the wonderful things he accomplished in the story that maybe don’t get as much appreciation as he deserves. So, without ado, here are three things we should all love Sam for doing.

I don't own this edit.

Mae govannen, Collectors.

Although a majority of our writing focuses on comics, television, and film, the fandom that is nearest and dearest to my heart is Middle-earth. Today, we celebrate what is widely known as Hobbit Day, called such because it is the birthday for Tolkien’s two most famous protagonists: Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. If you’re secretly a Hobbit, or just really really really wish that Middle-earth was real, here’s a few ways to celebrate your favorite Bagginses in style. 

I hate the term “BFF” but how the fuck else do you describe the pals that stick around you, even when you have a nervous breakdown over something as stupid as not being able to find your favorite pair of shoes (I’m not speaking from experience or anything). The past few weeks have shown me that I have exactly the right friends in my life, and I’d be lost (like, literally, wandering around some borough of London) without them.

My friends and I are serious cinephiles, and here are my five favorite films to watch with my BFFs about BFFs.

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar

This film is quintessential for me and my closest friends from high school. Even though we’ve spread to various parts of the globe, whenever I pop in the DVD I send a text to them all saying “I’ve got more legs than a bucket of chicken.”

You either get that reference or you need to watch the film.

I’m enjoying a vacation from work (sometimes I really love the academic calendar) and like any good Tolkienite, I’m marathoning the films once more before I go back to work on Monday. This time, as I work my way back through Middle-earth in the books and on screen, I am noticing things I never noticed before. Perhaps I should blame my graduate-level education for being unable to enjoy a book for its own sake any more, but the intricacies enrich the world and make the story so much richer for me.

Throughout my re-reading of The Lord of the Rings, it is repeatedly seen that Frodo, and other Fellowship members, have thoughts in their heads that are not their own–a narrative tactic that I wish I could duplicate in my own work. Oftentimes these characters will make exclamations in languages in which they are not fluent, usually Elvish, and have visions of things that may or may not have already happened. These foreign thoughts can be good or evil, and are influential in the actions of the main characters (particularly the hobbits), especially Frodo in his dealings with the One Ring. I mention Frodo specifically, because of the burden of his Quest. Any influences on the hobbit could make or break Middle-earth.  Could Frodo be hallucinating and delirious under the effects of the Ring, or is there a Higher Power playing in the turn of events in Middle-earth?

source: councilofelrond.com
source: councilofelrond.com

Sometimes, I like to answer my own questions, and so I took a look at the origins of Middle-earth (my obsession has led me to have my own Tolkien library). If you’ve never read The Silmarillion (and I think that everyone should), Middle-earth was created by Eru, or Ilúvatar with the help of the song of the Ainur, but after the creation of Eä, or the world, the Creator is conspicuously silent and absent from the cycle of events that unfold in his creation. He places select Ainur in the role of the Valar (think of them as deific beings who watch over Middle-earth, like the Norse gods and goddesses); they are the protectors of Eru’s creation. In The Silmarillion,  the reader repeatedly sees the intervention of the Valar in the course of the history of Tolkien’s secondary world, particularly in the battles against Melkor, AKA Morgoth (the first Dark Lord, and Sauron’s master). The Valar actively go to battle with Melkor, restrain him for three ages, and then later cast him out into the Void.