How Times Have Changed
When this website started (with a freebie webhost) it had a lot of little sections. Since then, the fiction writing info and spiritual reflections have spun off into their own small websites (still freebies), and I've given up on the non-Tolkien speculative fiction, although my thoughts on that occasionally find an outlet on the fiction writing site.
The largest section was the part of the site devoted to Tolkien. Even if the movies hadn't come along, I would never have thought of having a personal website without a place for JRRT, although it was the advent of the movies that really introduced me to the web in the first place, as I hunted for information.
One page of the Tolkien section was what I still fondly think of as the "Wood Movies Page," even though it now includes 27 pages with no end in sight. It started with short comments on 14-16 movies (I can't remember the exact number) and a tagline something like "Can the kid from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, handle the most important role in
movie acting history?" I really should completely rewrite that tagline, since those pages now have very little to do with Frodo, except for the comments specifically on the LotR movies (but I'm kinda fond of the tagline, too).
When the page started, it had everything to do with Frodo. There are still some vestiges of this scattered among the comments on Elijah's pre-LotR movies, although as I go about my constant tinkering and editing I'm deleting a lot of them. The entire point of the page was to answer "Yes!" to the question asked in the tagline. Comments on, say, Deep Impact, weren't meant to help people decide if they wanted to watch the movie, or see if they agreed with my opinions on it, but to point out aspects of Elijah's acting in Deep Impact that gave evidence to doubters that he could "handle" Frodo.
Around, oh, about December 20, 2001, the "Wood Movies Page" lost its purpose. There didn't seem to be anyone to convince anymore. I actually thought about cutting it from the website.
But then a strange thing started happening. New people were coming onto the message boards who hadn't doubted Elijah--they'd never heard of him! A high percentage were also new to Middle-earth, having first glimpsed it in the FotR movie. These weren't the long-time Tolkienites with whom I'd shared hopes and fears about every aspect of the movies for long months ahead of time (all of them certainly knew who Elijah Wood was before the movie opened). These were people still immersed in their introduction to Middle-earth (especially those who ran out after seeing the movie and immediately started reading the book), a wondrous experience most of us "old-timers" could remember and relate to. But because their introduction had started with the movie, these new people had another area of excitement. Besides wanting to know anything and everything about Tolkien, Middle-earth, Elves, Hobbits, and Wizards, they wanted to know about "the guy who played Frodo." Who was he? Where had he come from and why hadn't they heard of him before? What other movies could they see him in? The old Wood Movies Page suddenly had a new reason for existence.
Being as busy as everyone else is, I let the page go on pretty much as it had been, adding movies as I had a chance to see them and occasionally updating something here or there. It was basically a place where new EJW fans could find out what other movies were available.
But that changed, too, as the "new" fans got to know at least as much about Elijah's movies as I did, and as "old" Elijah Wood fans (i.e., from before LotR) started finding the EJW discussion threads on Tolkien-related boards. It became obvious that my old system of ranking all the movies from 1 through... whatever, with 1 being what I considered the best, wasn't useful for the current audience. It's purpose had been to let me say to someone, "Okay, so you thought Flipper was awful. See how far down the list it is? It's not one of his best. Try something higher." And it was becoming more cumbersome as the list got longer; how do you decide whether to rank Chain of Fools higher or lower than Radio Flyer?
So with the new URL (no longer a freebie) came a new rating system, as well as a separate page for each movie. And the nature of the comments has been gradually changing. Although I still strive to give thought-out, honest opinions, I'm not quite as cautious as I was when writing for skeptics. I go on the assumption that visitors are familiar with Elijah's work and admire his acting, which lets me feel freer to have some fun with the write-ups. I see them now as jumping-off points for discussions with people as interested in the topic as I am, rather than a source of education for people who aren't.
And more than this site has changed! It's certainly a lot easier to find EJW fan sites on the web now than it was a couple of years ago! And when poking around on Amazon.com, I get a kick out of looking at the "People who bought this video also bought..." lists for Elijah's movies. Even for films where he's not the star, the first half-dozen or so videos or DVDs listed are often ones he's in, making it pretty obvious why
people are buying these movies. This public wisdom doesn't seem to have reached all of the people who make decisions about what movies to make available. There's something wrong with a world in which the only way to buy Chain of Fools
is with Chinese subtitles (but thank goodness for the Internet friends who let us know it's available at all), and Radio Flyer
isn't on DVD.*
But awareness has come a long way over the last couple of years. And it's just the beginning.
*Note added February 2005: No longer true for either of these movies!