It’s hard to believe it, but The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring turns 15 this month.
To celebrate the anniversary of the first film in Peter Jackson’s smash-hit adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic trilogy of novels, here’s a rundown of 10 Fellowship of the Ring quotes fans can (and do) live their lives by.
10. “What about second breakfast?”
What about second breakfast, indeed. On the surface, this question, posed by Pippin to Aragorn, doesn’t seem like much to run with, but you can look at it one of two ways.
The first is to consider it as a reminder of the benefit of micro-meals – in this case, two smaller, spaced out breakfasts – over the traditional “three squares” approach to dieting.
The second is to take a more philosophical approach, and look at “second breakfast” as a symbol for not merely dwelling on what has happened, but rather looking forward to what lies ahead (or at the least, an excuse for an early morning tea!).
9. “The road goes ever on and on”
Speaking of looking to what lies ahead, the words of the song “The Road Goes Ever On” reminds us that the life is a journey that continues ever onward, and invites us to take part.
At the same time, these lyrics serve as a gentle heads-up that our own travels – be they long or short – will invariably end to make way for the neverending journeys of others, and to take comfort from that knowledge.
8. “If in doubt…always follow your nose”
Whether you’re trying to suss out if that piece of chicken at the back of the fridge is still fresh enough for tonight’s stir-fry, trying to chart your way out of a labyrinthine Dwarven mine, or something in-between, this advice, given by Gandalf to Merry, is extremely practical.
7. “Fly, you fools!”
More gold here from Gandalf, and words that the less punctual among us (myself included) should take to heart. In this life, there’s moments where sitting around navel-gazing is just dandy, and then there are those instances when you need appreciate that time is of the essence and act accordingly, and it shouldn’t take a volley of Orc arrows to know the difference.
6. “You will unite, or you will fall”
If there’s been a throughline to 2016, it’s that the world seems like a very divided place. Leave it to someone as wise as Elrond to sum it all up best with his reminder that all of us – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or even species (seriously, can the elves and dwarves patch things up already?!) – need to band together and respect our differences, or let them tear us apart.
5. “If you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to”
Some more travel-based musings, from renowned adventurer Biblo. On the face of it, this seems more like a warning than anything else, and it’s true that if you don’t think at least a little about where you’re going, you might end up somewhere very different than you had originally imagined. Still, there’s also a certain romance to chasing off after the great unknown – something the old hobbit himself had a fondness for – so take this one with a grain of salt.
“Mellon” is the Elvish word for “friend”, and also the deceptively obvious answer to the riddle “Speak friend and enter” that bars entry to the Mines of Moria which the otherwise brilliant Gandalf failed to solve without help from Frodo. So the next time you find yourself over-thinking a problem and at your wits end, take a deep breath and remember: sometimes the simple solutions are the best ones.
3. “Many that live deserve death; some that die deserve life”
The first of our “heavy” quotes, and ostensibly not overly applicable to those of us not serving in the armed forces. But think a little more laterally, and you’ll realise that Gandalf was basically telling Frodo not to be too quick to cast severe judgements on people, and to instead make room in his heart for compassion and restraint, something we can all stand to do in our daily lives.
2. “Even the smallest of us can change the course of the future”
We live in a society where it seems more and more impossible for the little guy (or gal) to effect actual change in world. And yet, Galadriel is right: we can all make a difference (cue John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”), both through our own actions and, more importantly, as an inspiration to others, and it’s vital we never lose sight of that.
1. “All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you”
Without doubt the most evocative quote on this list, Gandalf’s sage pep talk to Frodo also acts as a very polite boot up the backside. Not only is the old Wizard advising the young Hobbit to make the most of his life at all times, regardless of how terrible the circumstances may seem, he’s also snapping him out of the slightly entitled mindset we can all be guilty of, namely: “I wish this didn’t happen to me”.
So that’s it for this Soapbox list – hopefully it serves you will throughout the new year ahead. But if in doubt, you can always stop and ask yourself “WWGD”: What Would Gandalf Do?