Life Lessons from Middle-Earth


TheLordofTheRings.JPGWhen I reflect on my nearly 20 years at Plugged In, one of my most memorable experiences has been interviewing the Lord of the Rings cast. I asked, “While working on these films, did you learn a life lesson that would be valuable for teenagers today?” In honor of last week’s Blu-Ray release of the trilogy, I thought it might be fun to revisit some of those responses:

Elijah Wood (Frodo): “You don’t realize how important your friends are until you need them. … During tough times when you lose perspective or have mental or emotional fatigue, those are the people who pick you up and tell you, ‘It’s cool. We’re in this together.’ Embrace those friends that you have.”

Sean Astin (Sam): “Contentment—that you can’t do everything all at once, right away. Be patient and take things as they come. Learn to live each moment. It’s the age-old thing that any 25- to 35-year-old person tries to tell a 15- to 20-year-old, but that they’re destined not to learn until they’re 25. As a 31-year-old man, I’ve finally gotten to that place.”

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli): “Unity, courage and a willingness to sacrifice yourself. We need the spirituality of the Elf; the earthy, indestructible qualities of the Dwarf; and above all the good, simple hearts of the Hobbits. And we must aspire to be the king that has yet to come into his place. We all have a choice; we are either slaves or we are princes. We make slaves of ourselves so readily and so easily.”

Dominic Monaghan (Merry): “If you keep what’s pure—love of friends, your family, or defending something good and honest that you believe in—as opposed to greed, power, hunger and domination, then it seems to ring true that you’ll have the best kind of fate.”

Liv Tyler (Arwen): “I learned to be patient and trust Peter [Jackson] to use the best material and do what was right. It’s hard to trust somebody that much. That can be relevant in school with a teacher; you sort of think you have all the answers. I felt on this movie there were a couple times I made mistakes and I wish I had listened more to Peter.”

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn): “The lesson, I guess, is that the union with others is more significant than your individual existence. It doesn’t deny the importance of your individuality. It just means you’re a better person the more you connect with others. You’re going to know more. You’re going to be stronger and you’re going to have a better life if you get over yourself. That’s part of growing up.”

Ian McKellen (Gandalf): “My parents brought me up to think that one had a ‘prime of life’ and that it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. … Then the Beatles came along and told us that the best time of your life was when you were young, and I thought I’d rather missed out. But here I am at 64 and this is my prime of life. That would be my message: Don’t worry. Don’t try and hit it too early because your time might be later on.”

Orlando Bloom (Legolas): “I think friendship and the fellowship of strangers, mixed races putting aside their differences to come together and make a difference. … There’s something about having the wisdom, courage and compassion to live life with integrity. All of the characters within Lord of the Rings act with integrity. So I think the message to the kids is courage, humility and integrity.”

Now I invite you to join the fellowship. Comment on their thoughts, or share a lesson learned during your own journey.

Who wrote this?

Senior Editor for PLUGGEDIN.COM. In addition to hosting the weekly "Official Plugged In Podcast," Bob also writes reviews, articles and Movie Nights discussion guides, and manages areas of this website. He has served at Focus on the Family for more than 20 years. Since 1995, Bob has penned "High Voltage," a monthly column that answers children's entertainment questions in Clubhouse magazine. He has co-authored several books, including Chart Watch, Movie Nights, Movie Nights for Teens and, most recently, The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Bob is also co-host of "The Official Adventures in Odyssey Podcast."

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Christina:

Yay!  I read this in character voices too!  I think it's really cool that they have found and given Christian lessons from LOTR.   LOTR FOREVER!

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Hithwenur:

It worked. It sort of turned on me there at the end with the teacher comparison, but as far as being able to trust your leaders...

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Anne:

It seemed to me that Liv Tyler's comment was kind of out of tune and weird even. But whatever. I liked Elijah wood's, sean austin's and especially John Rys-Davies's.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Coram_Deo:

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli)'s last two sentences resonated with me:  "We all have a choice; we are either slaves or we are princes. We make slaves of ourselves so readily and so easily."It made me think that every single human being has a choice in this life to be a slave to sin and its base desires or to reject it and choose to become a child of God through Jesus Christ and therefore become a prince or princess.  If we become a prince or princess we still have to fight back the enticements to draw us back into slavery.

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." -James 4:7 KJV.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  hiddenfire:

sistercynthia, your "lesson" is very profound. Thank you for sharing.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned (and am still learning) was nicely said by Sean Astin. There is so much that I am interested in, so much I want to learn and do, that often I get overwhelmed. It's true though, that if you just take one day at a time, one year at a time, even impossible tasks (like that of Frodo and Sam, for instance) can be successfully completed.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  sistercynthia:

Yakira, you are definitely NOT the only one who "heard" them speaking.  So, even if it WAS weird, you wouldn't be alone!  Each actor had some good words, and I really liked what Sean Austin and Ian McKellen had to say.One "lesson" I've picked up on, due to time around many elderly folks, is that while the body and brain may age, it is the soul which "doesn't."  I don't mean that the soul does not grow and mature, for it can and one hopes does, but the core of who a person IS, that bit does not have to break down even when the other stuff begins to faulter, and it is that part which still can seek to grow and learn and play, or at least interact with others.  Which is both an encouragement and warning to us all: Scripture is right, and we should guard our heart, for it IS who we will be when all else is stripped away.  Who do you WANT to be?  Nurture that part of yourself, and seek to overcome with His help that which you don't want to be.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Yakira:

Am I the only one that read all of their parts in the voices of their characters? Is that weird?

Hmm, well, as a 16 year old girl, I've learned that there are a lot of sterotypes about teenagers. People seem to automatically look down on you. I remember when I was 9 or 10 and I asked my mom if as soon as I turned 13 I would start being all mean and rude and disrespectful, because really, that was basically all I saw in the teenagers around me. Luckily I have a Godly mother who told me it was me who made that choice, I wouldn't suddenly transform into another person. She taught me well, and thankfully I have stayed true to God and haven't changed. (As far as I know. ) I think that we Godly teenagers need to be respectful and polite and show that not all teenagers are going to shoplift from your store or swear every other word. Unfortunately these stereotypes do seem to be true in many teenagers, however, that just makes it more important to shine the light of God in this dark world.