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Contact: Christopher Heffron
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CHeffron@franciscanmedia.org

November 15, 2003     395 Words

The Lord of the Rings Offer Jewels of Catholic Wisdom

CINCINNATI— When The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King hits theaters on December 17, moviegoers will flock to see the final installment of director Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece. While Tolkien loyalists will pay close attention to the film's faithfulness to the book, movie lovers will seek an entertaining film. But how many will notice the deep religious symbolism found in it?

The Catholic symbolism in The Return of the King and its predecessors, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers , is featured in St. Anthony Messenger 's December article, " The Lord of the Rings Films: Splinters of the True Light." Aided by a handful of Tolkien experts, Rose Pacatte, F.S.P., film reviewer for the magazine, explores Peter Jackson's movies and their messages. After November 20, the article will be posted at: AmericanCatholic.org.

When Tolkien's three-part masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, was released in 1954 and 1955, the world marveled at fiction so rich and involving. Half a century later, the films have been met with equal scrutiny and praise for Peter Jackson's mastery of the revered material. Also remarkable are its themes of virtue, providence, redemption and social justice.

Tolkien, who was Catholic, denied including Christian allegory in his stories, yet it's hard to miss such themes when reading his books or seeing the films. "Like all good authors,Tolkien wrote from his deepest beliefs," says Tolkien expert and children's literature specialist Tim Lambarski. "These were permeated by his Christianity and his deep spirituality."

Professor Michael Forster, a representative from the Tolkien Society, believes that Peter Jackson's films have maintained the spirit and message of the books. "It's about friendship, nature vs. the machine, and the manifold richness of God's creation," he says. "When you discover something so good, you want to celebrate it. ".

Seven examples of social justice found in the films are described in this article, as is a light of truth that permeates Tolkien's stories and Jackson's movies. "If we are open," Sister Rose writes, "the splintered fragments of the true light of truth and love will continue to enlighten us through myths and wondrous stories told in word and image."

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