The Lord of the Rings was my escape in middle school. The light/dark theme and the extremely detailed fantasy made it the perfect story to contemplate during that time. I could simultaneously escape into it and also gain hope. I would read over those books again and again and I'd watch the movies again and again and there was always so much to hold my mind.
I just finished rewatching the movies for the first time in at least three years. What used to take three nights took me about a month, splitting each movie into two separate nights and scattering the six nights. And wow, I can see why I loved that story so much.
"I wish none of this had happened. I wish the Ring had never even come to me." "So do I. And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Possibly misquoting Frodo and Gandalf talking there in The Fellowship of the Ring. I always liked that quote, and it stood out to me again. When something happens to you that you really do not like, when you must face something that you really do not want to face, there is no preventing it except by actively causing something much worse. So you must simply do the best at what is before you. It's simple and yet heartbreaking.
I always felt Frodo's struggles with the Ring--Gollum's, too. (Which makes more sense than you might first think when you consider that, in a literary sense, Frodo and Gollum are almost the same character--but that's another topic.) Life can be hard, eh?
And the Shire is beautiful and so is Rivendell and even Mount Doom is in a certain sense. And Galadriel is the best; I want to be Galadriel. But in college, I also came to really love Eowyn's healing story (which of course is only barely touched on in the films, and then only in the Extended Edition, but still). Her healing story is especially comforting to me right now.
New things I observed on watching again after years? The battle scenes are really hard to watch. I'm reminded why The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite movie of the three: it has the least fighting. Granted, they're good battle scenes, but battles in books just take a few pages, whereas in movies they tend to take up the majority of the minutes. And it's growing more and more difficult for me to watch violent images. I can't really take it anymore.
So that's why I prefer Gandalf and Frodo sitting in the dark in Moria talking about the metaphorical battle between good and evil versus literally watching the good soldiers fight the bad soldiers. Good versus evil. Light and dark. My head continues to swirl with it.