I bet you have had a teacher whom you were completely in love with. We all have. Mine was Ms Todd and she turned the 10-year-old me to mush.
She was short and slender with long auburn hair, a strong nose and dazzling eyes. She had the husky voice of a smoker and spoke with a beautiful accent. She wore blazers with jeans.
Growing up in a small Canadian prairie town, I had never encountered a woman like this before. She was arty. She was worldly. She was elfin. I did my best to be this particular teacher's pet, and one day I found myself staying after class to chat with her.
She showed me a book that basically changed my life - Faeries, illustrated by renowned fantasy artists Brian Froud and Alan Lee.
Inside that book were all kinds of fairy fantasy. Barely adolescent nymphs cavorting with deformed goblins and miscellaneous creatures in woodland thickets. Legendary fairies such as the Lady of the Lake caught in moments of high drama.
Obscure races such as the selkie and the sidhe finally revealed and defined. It was a world of beauty, mystery and sensuality, the likes of which I had yet to encounter. I was instantly under their spell and to this day, elves are sort of everything to me.
This probably explains why I can't wait to see the upcoming The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, as it is going to be a pointy-eared paradise. Lee Pace, who appeared in the first film, reprises his role as the intriguing elf king Thranduil, who rides around on a big elk.
The elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), a Lord Of The Rings favourite who did not appear at all in J.R.R. Tolkien's original version of The Hobbit, nonetheless plays a prominent role in this sequel.
As the son of Thranduil, it only makes sense that he would pop up. Beyond that, director Peter Jackson has created an entirely new elf, the red-haired knife-wielding archeress Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), the first Middle-earth character not invented by Tolkien.
In The Desolation Of Smaug, hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues his journey toward the Lonely Mountain to assist a group of dwarfs in their quest to reclaim their lost treasure.
The group encounters the creatures of the dark forest Mirkwood, where killing machine Tauriel, who is also head of the Elven guard, lives. Of course, some Tolkien purists aren't happy, but I couldn't care less about them.
I think their objections actually have little to do with "purity" and more to do with not digging elves, not particularly liking women, and feeling generally uncomfortable with femininity.
Lilly, who even has the perfect name for an elf, is a very welcome and desperately needed female presence in a franchise otherwise stuffed with hairy dudes. Like my beloved Ms Todd, she adds a bit of glamour to an otherwise dreary milieu.
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