My family and I went to a movie last Saturday night. This is a once or twice event in any given year for us and a wonderful treat that we all enjoy. We watched the “Desolution of Smaug” in an IMAX theater in 3D. The images were visually pleasing, and a few scenes made me feel I was in the scene with the characters, well almost. The movie was packed with many impossible human feats throughout. Those actually verged on absurdity, but with Orlando Bloom, as Legolus, and Evangeline Lilly, as Tauriel, bringing “don’t’ you wish you could be me” heroics into many of the scenes, the movie was quite fun.
This post is a summary of the film with some of my opinions thrown in, but it is also written to give some perspective of the film through the eyes of a Stage IV cancer patient. This is one of the changes that my new life of Stage IV “now what” encompasses. I see and experience the world differently now.
Be aware, spoilers ahead.
As I watched the movie, I was struck how this story could be compared to what is happening inside my body. For me, it became a story about fighting cancer. In this movie, the hobbit, the dwarves, and the elves were the characters fighting against the cancer. They were the drugs. The orks and the dragon were the cancer cells.
Throughout the movie, each arrow skillfully placed in Lagolas’s and Tauriel’s bow was done with such determination to kill the enemy that it made me think about how the drugs given to me every three weeks are working against my cancer. For 8 months, the drugs have been working with the same intent as the elves’ arrows, to strike and kill. The wood-elves have so much confidence and strength as they fight ork after ork with such astounding and unrealistic coordination and acrobatic feats. Despite the absurdity, I silently cheered and marveled at the eye candy before me. Then Lagolas weakens especially when he is forced to fight alone. He finds blood dripping from his nose after he hobbles away from the two orks he destroys simultaneously. He plugs on, in pursuit of Bolg, the leader and strongest of this group of orks. I worry for Legolus as he chases this ork across the bridge into the Lonely Mountain where the dwarves have gone. He rides across the bridge to the mountain on his white horse into the next film. He is one of the drugs. Facing a bit of a set-back, but resuming the fight just like my cancer drugs. Mine are working, but unrevealed set-backs could be occurring. The shooting of arrows into each cell continues. But cancer will win, eventually. The arrows will stop penetrating. The cancer will build a shield, a resistance to a drug, or a new pathway for proliferation will be made that allows this army to march onward. Hopefully, Lagolas will be able to continue the fight. It would be disappointing to see him defeated. It would be more disappointing for me to have to move on to a new drug because the drug now used has stopped working.
The main plot of the story involves a group of dwarves on a quest to retrieve the Arkenstone, Thorin Oakenshield’s family heirloom, and to rid the Lonely Mountain of the evil dragon. A special stone, “you will know it when you see it“, is guarded by Smaug, a dragon. He slumbers beneath and is surrounded by all the treasures that once belonged to the dwarves. In my scenario, the Arkenstone might be the key to cure the disease. It remains elusive in the movie which is true in the cure of breast cancer, as well. Bilbo, the hobbit, has great difficulty in retrieving the stone. He endures verbal torment and life-threatening- physical aggression by the dragon as he tries to reach the gleaming stone. The dragon was the cancer yelling, “Oh, no you don’t”. The scene did leave me wondering if Bilbo had actually retrieved the stone without the audience as a witness. When Thorin Oakenshield asked him directly if he had the stone, Bilbo nervously and hesitantly said “no”. This hesitation could have been initiated by the dragon when he said that if Thorin Oakenshield had the stone, his heart would be corrupted. Bilbo would not want this to happen. This will be revealed in the next installment.
It looks bad for the dwarves along with Bilbo when they are captured by spiders in the Mirkwood Forest after Gandolf leaves them as he pursues another aspect of the story which for me was done poorly and left me confused as to why he left. Nevertheless, he is left in a very compromising position to be dealt with in the next film. Despite Gandolf’s warning, the dwarves lose the path through the forest and trouble finds them. Bilbo saves the day by using the ring. He becomes invisible to the spiders and uses his sword to slash the life from them and then cuts down the dwarves from their web-spun beds.
Bilbo at this point becomes aware of the ring’s gripping influence on him. The ring’s power of the desire to wear it and the “its mine” obsession is symbolic of my need to keep living. Never wanting to give it up, drawn to it, like a drug. Because of this, I subject myself with the buying-of-time chemicals that for now make me sicker than the cancer.
The two wood-elves, Legolus and Tauriel, arrive on the scene and destroy the remaining spiders. The scene made me feel like what happens to cancer patients later when cancer is disrupting the proper function of the bodily organ. The cancer isn’t killing them yet, a different illness is threatening their existence. For example, pneumonia occurring from a weakened immune system can kill the patient. Here enter the wood-elves only this time they are in the form of an antibiotic that saves the day, killing the bacteria, the spiders, causing the illness. These elves capture the dwarves as they think they are useless and greedy. The dwarves escape the elves with the help of Bilbo who finds the keys and opens the doors to the prisons that hold them all because of his ring. The two save-the-day wood-elves realize they hate the orks more and place their energies in fighting the orks, the cancer, thus becoming the drugs again.
The action continues as the dwarves enter wine barrels and enter the rushing river escaping the fortress of the wood-elves. But then the orks arrive. The steady confidence and skill of the wood-elves fight back the orks and gain the upper hand once more just as the cancer can be weakened and the body starts to win again.
This is the same with any war. You can kill much of the enemy. Then cause them to retreat and to even stop the fighting. In time, the old enemy can rebuild its army or a new enemy will appear. A new strategy for battle must be put in place. This is how breast cancer works. It changes the way in which it divides and grows or it starts to resist a drug, making it so difficult to destroy. It may sit quietly, sometimes, called stable, no evidence of disease, or remission, and then it grows again or appears in another place in the body with a new found energy. The battleground, the patient’s body is losing. Time is slipping past. I don’t want to hear the words of my doctor say, I am sorry there are no more drugs to fight this disease. It will happen. I suppose I will be so sick it may be a welcome relief. With all my desire to want to stay alive, there may indeed be a point where the pain and the suffering is more than I can take. I don’t want to see that day. The ticking clock sends me closer.
The movie continues when the dwarves are smuggled into Lake-town by Bard, a descendent of someone who almost defeated the dragon long ago. Bard helps them only after they make a deal with him by paying him money. Bard has a weapon against the dragon, a black arrow that can kill the dragon, but no one knows this but his young son. The dwarves are caught stealing weapons. This of course is frowned upon by the town’s leader so they are taken as prisoners. But, as luck would have it, the ruler of Lake-town accepts the deal offered by the dwarves that all of Lake-town can share in the wealth guarded by the dragon once Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarves and King under the Mountain, retrieves it. The dwarves are let go and continue on their quest.
Kili, one of the dwarves, is left behind in Lake-town. He can no longer travel because he has been poisoned by an arrow embedded in his leg by an ork. This occurred during the dwarves escape from the wood-elves fortress. The orks find their way to the town in the never-ending search of Thorin Oakenshield. In their obsessive search, the orks find their way to the home of Bard and the recovering Kili and the dwarves that stayed behind to tend to him. They attack. Of course who should arrive, the heroes Lagolas and Tauriel. The love connection made between Kili and Tauriel compels her to stay to help him heal. This was probably her true reason for leaving the wood-elves fortress instead of what appeared as an intense desire to kill orks. Tears came to my eyes as I watched Tauriel take a weed brought to Kili by one of the elves. She grabs the weed, grasping it tightly in her hands then smiles and says,”I can save him”.
I want desperately for someone to say they can save me. But the logical side of me knows this will not be my reality. Tauriel does indeed save Kili. She chants in a made-up language and places the wonder weed on the wound. I wish a simple chant and a weed would so easily wipe-out my sickness.
At the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the dwarves open the entrance to the sleeping dragon. Bilbo is sent to find the Arkenstone that Thorin Oakenshield so desperately wants to have in his procession. Bilbo awakens the Dragon unwillingly. The dragon eventually is on its way to destroy the local town. In my scenario the cancer is on its way to spread to another part of the body. The dragon is flying to the town where Kili recovers and where the black arrow, unknown to the dragon, exists. The black arrow can kill the dragon. The cancer is unaware that there is another weapon to be used against it.
The movie ends abruptly. Now we wait for the final movie in this trilogy. Most likely another year till the battle continues. Then the dragon and the orks, and any other dangerous beings symbolic to me of the cancer cells, will be placed in remission. Evil again appears in 60 years with the continuation of the story in Lord of the Rings.
So, now I am left hoping I will see the release of the third movie. In the meantime, my cancer will hopefully remain quite for a long while. The war will continue and things will be thrown at me, just as things were thrown at me with 3D special effects frightening me. I am hoping to live this next year as the hobbit does, when not on this quest, in his quiet amazingly clean little house with the battlefront remaining quiet. Who knows? Maybe it is possible.