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The Two Towers

[1]2,607 words

It was one minute past midnight again, exactly 364 days after the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of The Lord of the Rings movies, and I was back for the opening of The Two Towers. I loved the first movie so much that I was fully expecting to be disappointed. There’s nowhere to go from here but down, I thought. So I was moved to tears of absolute delight that The Two Towers is even better than The Fellowship of the Ring.

The Two Towers has everything that I liked about Fellowship. It is powerful, poetic, and profoundly moving. It is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. I completely share the sentiments of the friend with whom I saw it: “I wish I could live in that world. It may be grubby and dangerous, but it is more beautiful, and life is more significant.”

The Lord of the Rings series is the most brilliant screen adaptation of a novel that I have ever seen. It is not always faithful to the letter of Tolkien — straying in ways that are not required by screen adaptation — but it is definitely faithful to his spirit.

It makes no concessions to political correctness and multiracialism. It contains not a shred of Jewish propaganda. This is particularly astonishing since the whole story is about different races joining together in a common quest. But Tolkien has a deeply racialist vision, and he makes it very clear that the races of the fellowship all have White features. Thus the Rings movies contain one of the Whitest casts you will ever see. This is particularly true of The Two Towers, in which the people of Rohan are a beautiful collection of Nordics. As for the enemy races — the Orcs, the Uruk Hai, the Southrons, the Easterlings — they all have non-White features. Indeed, in Jackson’s adaptation, the stupid, muscular, aggressive, black-skinned Uruk Hai have long, stringy, matted hair that resembles dreadlocks and they are literally born from mud.

Myth is a mirror in which we can see our souls, and as I mentioned in my review of Fellowship, I would argue that the different races of the fellowship actually represent different aspects of the White racial soul, and the question that animates Tolkien’s story is the same that animates Wagner’s Ring, Homer’s epics, Plato’s Republic, and much of Indo-European mythology: What is the proper internal ordering of the soul, the proper fellowship of its parts? Should we be ruled by our reason, our pride, or our desires? Is it better to be simple than cunning? Can our scientific and technological abilities to understand and master nature be ruled by wisdom and put to right use? Or are we too weak to use them without being corrupted by them, so the wisest use is not to use them at all?

Let me count the ways I liked The Two Towers even more than Fellowship.

First, the realization of the character Gollum — portrayed by Andy Serkis and a staff of computer animators — was absolutely stunning both technically and artistically. Jackson and Serkis brilliantly track the twists and turns of Gollum’s tortured inner labyrinth, making the complexities of the character fully intelligible. I felt deeply for Gollum, for the shreds of decency in his soul that were overcoming the darkness until Frodo’s tragic betrayal.

Second, the character of Aragorn, played beautifully by Viggo Mortensen, emerges as a genuine epic hero. In Fellowship Mortensen played him in such a soft-spoken and detached manner that I wondered if he could ultimately bring off the role. Now I have no doubts. In The Two Towers, we see Aragorn transformed from a loner to a leader of men. His teacher is King Theoden of Rohan, brilliantly played by Bernard Hill.

When Aragorn first meets Theoden, he gives the King bad counsel. He asks Theoden to spare the life of the traitor Grima Wormtongue. Theoden does so, with disastrous consequences. Aragorn and Gandalf also urge Theoden to ride out to meet the forces of Isengard in open battle, but Theoden elects to lead his people to the fortress of Helm’s Deep. When we see the armies of Isengard approach, we see the wisdom of Theoden’s decision. The Rohirrim would have been slaughtered if they had joined open battle, and Helm’s Deep would have held if Wormtongue had been dispatched.

But the most important lesson Theoden imparts is when Aragorn besieges the King with pessimism about the possibility of victory. “What would you have me do?” Theoden asks, “Look at my men. Their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance.” Theoden’s point is that true leadership is not about calculating the chances of a favorable outcome, but about inspiring men to do noble deeds no matter what the consequences. We see Aragorn pondering this lesson and taking it to heart. First, he instills courage in a terrified young man. Then, when the King’s own courage hangs by a thread, Aragorn encourages him to mount his charger and seek that end “worthy of remembrance.”

Third, perhaps the greatest test of Jackson’s skill in this film was the realization of Tolkien’s most unlikely characters, Treebeard and his folk the Ents. I confess, I could never envision these walking, talking trees and their assault on Isengard without laughing, and I always thought them the weakest link in the novel. But Jackson made them totally believable. Treebeard is genuinely funny, but not the least bit ridiculous.

Fourth, there are a number of other new characters, all of them beautifully portrayed: Brad Dourif, my favorite movie weirdo, plays Grima Wormtongue; Miranda Otto plays Eowyn, King Theoden’s niece, and Karl Urban Eomer his nephew; David Wenham plays Faramir of Gondor, the brother of Boromir.

Some favorite lines: King Theoden asks, “How did it come to this?” as his Nordic remnant prepares for the onslaught of the mud hordes, passing out arms to teenage boys and old men. It brought to mind the Hitlerjugend and Volkssturm at the end of World War II. I wonder when our “leaders” will ask the same question, and will it be too late?

The beautiful Eowyn declares that what she fears more than death or pain is “a cage,” a cage that she will grow used to over time. That, of course, is the attitude of a free man or woman. Unfortunately, the majority of Whites today fear pain and death — nay, mere social disapproval — far more than chains. Thus they are slaves in spirit, if not by law. Those who prefer comfort and security to freedom have none of them in the end. Of course the majority of Whites were probably like this in all times. But most of the time, the destiny of the race was determined not by the majority, but by the noble few.

Fifth, as far as I can see, the only probable Jew who played a creative role in the Rings movies so far is composer Howard Shore, and he is the weakest link. Shore’s best work is for modern, urban, decadent, extremely Jewish movies like Crash and Naked Lunch. (His Crash score really is superb.)

I was skeptical when I heard that Shore had been tapped for the Rings movies, and when I bought the soundtrack to Fellowship I was quite disappointed. It is so obviously derivative of countless superior scores, not to mention classical composers, that Jackson would have been better off with an Excalibur-type pastiche of Wagner and other composers. It would have been more honest, and the music would have been better too.

Still, I have to hand it to Shore. His Ring and Quest themes and Elvish music are quite beautiful, and his music for the Shire has exactly the right pastoral feel. But the first movie was badly marred by the use of ominous chanting choruses (Carl Orff by way of Jerry Goldsmith) that has become such a tiresome and tasteless cliché in fantasy movies.

The music to The Two Towers is much better. The chorus reappears, but only in a flashback to Fellowship. I especially love the grand and haunting music for the people of Rohan, particularly the use of the Norwegian fiddle, although if my ears do not deceive me, a lot of it is derivative of Miklos Rozsa’s brilliant score for El Cid. Also beautiful is “Gollum’s Song” sung by Emiliana Torrini over the closing credits. And no, it is not a “pop” song.

The main reason that I found The Two Towers a more satisfying movie is that it is a more unified and well-rounded dramatic whole, whereas The Fellowship of the Ring is more episodic. Fellowship falls into two natural divisions. The first part sets up the quest to destroy the ring of power, covering more than three thousand years in which the ring is created, lost, and found again, and ending with the formation of the fellowship of the ring dedicated to destroying the ring by returning it to the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged. The second part of Fellowship shows the beginning of the quest itself. It too is episodic. Like all myths and sagas, it seems to lack dramatic unity.

There is just one damn thing after another.

Thus, as much as I loved Fellowship I do admit that I glanced at my watch around two hours in. In fairness to director Peter Jackson, however, this is a fault of Tolkien’s original, and Jackson actually makes Fellowship a more rounded dramatic whole by ending the movie with the beginning of Tolkien’s second book, The Two Towers (and he does it by brilliantly showing up close what Tolkien only narrates at a distance).

The Two Towers takes its name from the two foci of evil in Middle Earth (Tolkien’s mythic equivalent of Europe): Orthanc, the tower of Isengard, the headquarters of the evil wizard Sauruman, and Barad-dur, the fortress of the Lord of the Rings himself, Sauron, the dark lord of Mordor. In the film of The Two Towers, Jackson focuses on the destruction of the forces of Isengard. He stops short of the end of the book, wisely reserving many events from its last chapters for the third film, The Return of the King, which tells the story of the final victory over Sauron.

The novel The Two Towers suffers from being episodic as well. In part one, Tolkien cuts back and forth between the adventures of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli with the riders of Rohan and of Merry and Pippin with Treebeard and the Ents. These storylines climax with the defeat of the forces of Isengard on two fronts. Part two of the novel focuses on Frodo, Sam, and Gollum, but their storyline has no natural climax and simply runs on into the next book. Jackson mixes the two parts together, cutting back and forth between them, inserting the ongoing journey of Frodo and Sam into the story of the defeat of Isengard to create a very satisfying narrative that is so intelligible that even a dolt like Roger Ebert (who complained that he could not tell the characters in Excalibur apart) should be able to follow it.

The Two Towers does not drag. In fact, it moves very quickly. I did look at my watch after two hours, but only because I was hoping that there would be two hours more to see!

Ideologically, I loved The Two Towers on many levels, but two deserve special comment.

First, Jackson has lifted the story of the romance between Aragorn and the Elf princess Arwen from one of Tolkien’s appendices and written it into the movie. This romance corresponds roughly to the romance of Siegfried and Brunnhilde in Wagner’s Ring, at least insofar as they both involve the joining of an immortal woman who loses her immortality to a mortal man.

In Jackson’s hands, however, the lovers are parted. Why? For a reason that is utterly astonishing in today’s culture: they are of two different races, his mortal, hers immortal; they have two different destinies; thus they are incompatible; their romance was but a dream that could never be realized. Judging from his “chemistry” with Eowyn, Aragorn is destined to marry and perpetuate his own kind. Would that more Whites do the same!

Second, The Two Towers underscores Tolkien’s strongly anti-technological and “green” politics, and it is good for people to think about these issues, particularly the most dangerous form of the denial of nature: the denial of race. Man lives at odds with nature only on borrowed time. On the other hand, we have to do justice to our own nature as well. And man’s nature is not merely to adapt his needs to the environment, but to adapt the environment to his needs. I think that Bacon’s principle that “Nature to be commanded must be obeyed,” does justice to both concerns.

The main sources of the environmental crisis are not science, technology, and industry per se. Part of the problem is  human ignorance and error, which can only be fixed by better science and better technology. Part of the problem is moral, namely our choice to value every featherless biped, no matter how worthless or evil, over all other living things, no matter how noble and beautiful.

But really, do we need more Africans when that means fewer lions and elephants and banyan trees? I do not value every non-human creature. I am for curing diseases and trimming the verge. But I do not value every human life either, and it is obvious that some non-human lives are more valuable than human lives. Once the world recognizes this, we can begin to make rational decisions about our impact on the natural world.

But that will require addressing another part of the problem, the political: We need a political and economic system where the best rule for the good of all — all of nature, not merely all featherless bipeds. But instead, we have democracy and capitalism, which give equal weight to the preferences of the wise and the foolish, which means rule by the worst to the detriment of all.

Tolkien seems to believe that science and technology — represented by the ring — are inherently destructive, that there is no way to make wise use of them, so me must forswear them altogether. I hope that this is not so. I hope that we can have a technological civilization that is in harmony with nature. But if we cannot, and if the price of technological civilization is the destruction of the most beautiful and noble creatures on this Earth, then I would prefer to live without technology. And I say this fully recognizing that I would have been dead long ago were it not for modern medicine.

Americans are so self-absorbed and self-important that I am sure that somewhere they are searching for analogies between the Two Towers and America’s own Twin Towers — as if America were as important as Middle Earth. So try this analogy on for size: both sets of towers epitomize the technological, industrial society that is at war with the natural order, including the racial order. Both are symbols and centers of evil. And if they cannot be reformed then they must be destroyed, destroyed utterly.

As I said in my review of The Fellowship of the Ring: I urge every White nationalist to see The Two Towers for a glimpse, in the here and now, of the White civilization that we have lost, and that we are working to create again.