I must begin by saying that my experience of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was better than most. This marathon marked the first VIP experience arranged by Union Films. For an extra few pounds, around twenty-five students including myself watched in the comfort of a separate screen, complete with giant bean bags in the front and lines of sofas in a more intimate viewing.
Arriving, we were given goody-bags with our pre-selected T-Shirts and were then sent through to a canapé and champagne welcome as we took our seats. At the back of the screen Union Films members were at the ready to take our food orders, hand out discount refreshments, and point us towards the free tea and coffee stand. If I hadn’t been excited to watch all three extended editions of the Lord of the Rings, I would have been bowled over by the awesome reception.
An email had been sent round a few days before the screening offering a prize for the best costume. Although he didn’t win, my favourite was a Bilbo impersonator who committed almost entirely to his costume. Perhaps he lost because he decided against gluing fur to his feet in an ode to the notoriously hairy ones of Hobbits. Only a few committed to dressing up, but by the beginning of the Two Towers, most had donned their chosen t-shirts and were beaming, ready for war to begin.
The Union had decided to screen the extended editions of each film; The Fellowship of the Ring, which began at 7.30pm, was stopped for a short interval at 9pm before concluding at around 11pm. It was at this point that many seemed to realise what they’d gotten themselves in for. The extra footage explained back stories, added jokes and managed to have even more mortal peril than before. Yet I still waited patiently in order to laugh along when Sean Bean as Boromir spoke those now infamous words ‘One does not simply walk into Mordor’.
As per usual, Union Films catered for all of our needs. Ergo, there were severely alcoholic themed cocktails on sale. At relatively cheap prices, and with pun filled names such as ‘Mine’s a Moria’ meant that the bar was quite full by the time the VIPs ventured out of the comforts of our sofas and upstairs.
The seats, by the interval during the Two Towers, had stopped being as comfortable and I was quite envious of those lying on the bean bags. Many had begun to submit to the lure of sleep, and by the end of the film, the screening was a little lighter people wise. Personally, the Two Towers and the Return of the King set the stage. The extra content meant that, although much longer at around four hours per film, there was no reason for anyone to wonder what was going on whilst watching.
By the end of the Two Towers, many had left, or had succumbed to sleep, lying down or sitting in the screen. The films combined meant that if you arrived at 7pm, you were staying until at least 9am, so kudos to those who stayed to man the tech stations and help all of us out when we streamed towards the tea and coffee stands. By the time we left, it felt like an achievement just to have stayed awake for all of the films, but it was definitely worth it.
This was probably the most adventurous screening put on by the Union Films staff, and in my opinion, the gamble paid off. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the films spoke for themselves. At the end of each film, a round of applause broke out, yet at the end of the screening, my applause was more for the Union Films staff for putting up with us all for so long.