How to Host a Middle-Earth Marathon

Over this past weekend, we watched both of Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth trilogies (the extended cuts no less) in in-story chronological order (The Hobbit then Lord of the Rings). The most I ever watched in order was maybe two of these movies, so this was the first I watched all six back-to-back, albeit over three days - it's no use marathoning through the night - which represents a massive 1186 minutes or screen time, or almost 20 hours. Alone, in my living room, I would probably cut bait and run after a couple of movies and move on to something else. With my house full of people in on the plan, it needs to be an EVENT.

First, of course, you have to schedule it correctly. For us, that meant An Unexpected Journey Friday night; The Desolation of Smaug, The Battle of Five Armies and The Fellowship of the Ring on Saturday; and The Two Towers and The Return of the King on Sunday. Not only is this manageable length-wise, but no one need get up crazy early, or go to bed crazy late. And there's no obligation. The #1 rule was that once the day's viewing started, the movie(s) played. No stopping, no waiting for people, you could come for only the movies you wanted to see, arrive and leave in the middle of any of them, the DVD player just keeps going.
Some people like to cook/bake, so let them. If it's Middle-Earth themed (Elvish shortbread, big carrots à la Peter Jackson, PO-ta-TOES), all the better, but this is optional. Same with cosplay. You don't want people not to come on account of their limited resources. Party favors are also optional. In our case, our friend Marty gave the first nine patrons a replica of the One Ring (but we'll call them the Nine Rings of Men, I guess). Thanks, Marty!

Now here's the real fun: Every participant is associated with a race from the books/films, based on their look, attitude, or choice of dress (if cosplaying), and that association gives them powers and responsibilities during the event.

The Wizard is generally the host, but might pass things off to someone who looks more the part - older, lanky, and/or with a long beard.
Powers: The remote control. With this wand, the Wizard can pause the DVD to go to the bathroom, or perhaps for someone else in trade for one of THEIR bennies.
Responsibilities: Efficiently switching the discs. General hosting.

Hobbits might be: Short, round, homey, have curly hair, and/or love to eat.
Powers: FOOD! When Hobbits are hungry, which is all the time, they may ask someone to get up and go get them a snack from the kitchen. If you order out, the Hobbits decide what restaurant to call (once per Hobbit per event).
Responsibilities: Hobbits must share their snacks with anyone sitting next to them if they ask. Like Bilbo, you may have unwanted guests!

Dwarves might be: Stocky, thick-bearded and/or rowdy.
Powers: DRINK! When Dwarves are thirsty,  they may ask someone to get up and go get them a drink from the fridge.
Responsibilities: GOLD! When you order out, the Dwarves must calculate the bill, collect the moneys, and go to the door to pay the delivery person.

Elves might be: Tall and thin, attractive, on the glamorous or elegant side, and/or kinda snooty.
Powers: MAGIC! As an echo of what Wizards can do, Elves can decide which way the television faces and swivel it their way. One per day per elf, they can request the movie be paused for their own bathroom break.
Responsibilities: INNER LIGHT! Elves shine so bright they are in charge of the lighting in the room, whether that's moving light sources to avoid reflection or turning down/up the lights when the sun sets.

Sauron's forces (Goblins, Orcs, Trolls, Uruk-Ai, Ring-Wraiths, etc.) might have: No hair, bad posture, an imposing frame, a generally nasty attitude or sense of humor, and/or a giant flashing eye.
Powers: JERKS! If they dare, the forces of Mordor can steal your seat. Simply ask you to move or scoot over so they can sit where they want.
Responsibilities: NONE! Jerks, I tell ya!

Humans (or "Men" as the books call them) are everyone else.
Powers: ADAPTABILITY! Humanity finds a way to make itself comfortable everywhere it goes, and thus can request blankets, cushions, pillows, footrests, even if they are used by non-humans at the time. Once per day per Human, they can "piggyback" on a Hobbit or Dwarf's power, so that while the victim is going to the kitchen anyway, they might as well pick THEM up a snack or drink too.
Responsibilities: INHERIT THE EARTH! Men must help the host clean up during and/or after the event.

Of course, cosplay and self-identification with a specific race/character trumps all of that. Go directly to your not pass Go. And might allow people to be a different race, day to day! As you can see, no difference is made between the various kinds of Elves or Men, to keep things simple. If you'd rather identify with a giant spider or a were-bear, that's up to you, but you'll have to decide what your powers and responsibilities are yourself (or throw in with another faction).
A few extras: If you can, decorate the house in faux-fantasy style. And have copies of the book (and/or some role-playing manuals that feature Middle Earth if you have them) sitting around because you never know when someone will want to compare the films to the book. Reference works could be important.

Bonus content: While you've already got a LOT to get through, no reason you can't unwind at the end of each day with a little more. I suggest Martin Freeman's middle finger montage and/or Leonard Nimoy's "Bilbo" on the first night, Rush's "Rivendell" on the second, and Flight of the Conchords singing "Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring" on the third.

Now you're ready to undertake the quest. It's a lot of tedious grinding* - make sure you hydrate - but once you're done, you might just hear the Achievement Unlocked sound (because by then you'll be hallucinating), and isn't that what we're all really about?

*Actually, it didn't feel too long, maybe because there are really two stories here. For example, watched in bulk, the bloated extended fight in Battle of the Five Armies doesn't seem so bad, as it's a proper climax to a 9-hour film. The Hobbit being drawn out so much DOES make Fellowship seem like it's zooming by at incredible speed - what?! we're already in Rivendell?


Brian said...

As a dwanvishly-bearded man myself (my Google image now being about six inches of length ago), I think that your group there needs more beards. Perhaps an enterprising and thirsty lady could have tied her long hair together beneath her chin and asked for beers in a gruff voice?

Now someone needs to figure out a similar system for Star Wars marathons. I’m curious how the phrase lonely a Sith thinks in such absolutes!” would play into compromising on food orders...

Brian said...

Edit: “only a Sith” Autocorrect is why we can’t have nice things!

Siskoid said...

The other good beard was not in cosplay so not in the pic.

LiamKav said...

I imagine that Sith never order a half and half pizza.

Brian said...

The Sith demand a cheese pizza with no toppings! And the sauce must stick through in those cool Dathomiri tribal patterns!


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