Took the grandkids to see the latest Hobbit’s movie today. Three long hours of fighting orcs and dwarves seeking to get back their gold. The premise of the movie is that the dwarves mined gold, made & collected gold coins, goblets, and chalices; and lived in a fortress in the hills. Of course much gold did not bring them wealth or peace. Instead a dragon came, destroyed the town, scattered the dwarves, and went to sleep amongst the gold. He was happy. The dwarves sought to regain the gold and an odd jewel that all had sworn on to defend the faith. It falls to a Hobbit to get the jewel and get rid of the dragon.
Along the way is the overriding threat of the rise of evil. If good Hobbits, wizards, elves, and even dwarves do not act, the evil power in the East will rise and overwhelm the world. It seems the jewel is the secret to getting them all to cooperate against the rising evil. The vast hoard of gold is merely incidental to good versus evil.
I could not but reflect that this movie is more about gold than about evil or power. Today I read that the price of gold has risen above $1,200 an ounce. Can you recall when it was $35 and my father made a decent living mining the stuff?
I wonder what happened to the gold he and many other with him mined? Is it now in a hoard in Fort Knox or somewhere in China? Does a dragon of finance now sleep atop the pile of gold those men of yore labored to get out of the granite 6,000 feet deep down? To what end were their lives lived, mining gold now at the behest of a dragon?
True I got food, eventually a three-speed bicycle, and an education sufficient to enable me to blog. What a debt of gratitude I owe that dragon of gold-lust where-ever he sleeps. Had the need to mine gold and hoard it not prevailed, I would have had to plough fields, draw water, hew wood, or do some other dull thing to survive and communicate. I may have had to tell stories around a fire at night to entertain and keep the lions at bay.
Instead I can collect beautifully illustrated books on dragons, fold origami dragons, and watch movies of horrendous dragons sleeping in gold. I can even enjoy Wagner and his Ring Cycle operas that tell essentially the same story: the dragon take the gold, sleeps in it, and is happy until a true hero kills the dragon and, through his beloved, cause the fall of the gods and the rise of man. (In truth, the operas are much more enjoyable than the movie, which is repetitive, smarmy, sentimental, and of bad music.)
My kids here in Huntington Beach tell me the folks down the road are survivalists. Now I always thought survivalists lived on remote ranches in Idaho., But these folk live in a town house in the midst of wealthy suburbia. Yet they are armed to the teeth; have barrels of water; and cans of chlorine. For they are convinced the government will take them down—or something like that–it is not entirely clear to me what they believe or fear. They are both nice people at block parties. Yet, they dream of the fall of the city, the collapse of civil authority, the dispersal of the folk, the dragon taking the gold, and the heroism of the individual in putting a can of chlorine into a barrel of water to keep drinking while all around are dying.
No wonder the new Hobbit movie is popular. And my kids and grandkids loved every minute.