I was at an outdoor mall called The Collection. The rain had already covered the streets and created glistening surfaces, like little mirrors everywhere that reflected the Christmas lights. During the Christmas season, rain makes everything shine brighter -- especially where lights are everywhere. This is what it looked like:
It was the perfect atmosphere for emerging from the film The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the final installment of Jackson's Hobbit saga -- and the final appearance of a Middle-Earth movie on the big screen. (The Tolkien Estate refuses to allow any more movie adaptations.)
What struck me about this final film was its poignant Biblical message about having too strong an attachment to the things in this world -- whether those things be money, possessions, power, the pleasures and triumphs of a career, even our identities. We saw this same theme in Lord of the Rings with the way characters had to fight against their desire for the Ring. But The Battle of the Five Armies looked at it from a broader perspective: the general love of riches, power, success, importance, a sense of belonging, and financial security that all people crave.
All of those things we crave, and the great uphill battle in securing them, are enough to drive anyone mad.
In other words, you didn't need the One Ring of Power to get caught up in this gold lust. (Though, to be accurate, you did need a giant horde of treasure in which a greedy dragon had been sleeping for 60 years, cursing it with his dragonish gold fever.)
But dragons and accursed treasures aside, the point still stands: there is gold fever in this world, and it's not just obsessive desire for gold and money -- it's the feverish pursuit of any earthly treasure that will not survive past this side of Heaven's refining fires.
It's not surprising that we find such a diamond-sharp spiritual truth in The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien infused his books with his Christian beliefs so thoroughly that it is impossible to separate them. Granted, he never wrote anything as an allegory and he did an effective job of making it subtle, embedding it all in the unseen foundational layers; but that's why his Christian worldview comes out in everything; it's already at the heart of the story.
As a Christian, it's a wonderful thing to discover in a movie theater; and as a Tolkien fan, it nourishes the soul to hear these powerful messages conveyed through the notes of Middle-Earth -- as bittersweet as those notes are (and as bittersweet as Middle-Earth is).
It's also bittersweet because I knew it'd be the last time we'd have a Middle-Earth movie in the theaters. (Sigh.) I don't want it to end.
Sure, folks were complaining about stretching The Hobbit into three films. I get their arguments. But, frankly, after seeing this third film, I am glad that it lasted three years. It gave me more opportunities to enjoy Middle-Earth on the big screen, and as soon as this third epic ended, I found my heart wishing that it would just keep going on and on -- a new Middle-Earth movie released every December indefinitely.
Some people disagree, and that's fine. You go your way, and I'll go mine. In the end it's just a movie. One thing we can both agree on: we must dislodge our affections from this world's gold fever, or we might end up with dragonish hearts.
I wrote an official, full review of this third Hobbit film for RockinGodsHouse.com. You can find it here.