DOC GOES BACK TO MIDDLE EARTH: A Personal Look Back At the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

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Middle Earth, our world millions of years ago.  The Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring to enslave the bearers of the eight Rings of Power and conquer Middle Earth, but when Sauron’s finger is severed during a battle, his physical form is destroyed and the Ring passes through several hands until it is found by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and taken to Hobbiton, where the Hobbits lead a peaceful, carefree existence unaware of the outside world. Sixty years later, Bilbo leaves the Ring to his nephew Frodo, who is told by the Wizard Gandalf The Grey that it must be taken to the Elven kingdom of Rivendell for safety immediately.  Not only is Gollum, the creature that Bilbo took the Ring from, on his trail, but Sauron’s essence is gaining in power and his nine Black Riders, who were previously Ring bearers, are heading for Hobbiton.  Accompanied by three other Hobbits, Frodo sets out on his adventure, an adventure where no less than the whole of Middle Earth is at stake…..

I almost didn’t want to see it.  Honestly.  Though I was in no way a J.R.R.Tolkien obsessive [I still don’t really know, for example, the difference between the Valar from the Maia, or where exactly Gondor is in relation to Rohan, and am still struggling to get through the entirety of The Silmarillion] I had fallen in love with the book The Lord Of The Rings since I was about ten years old and had read it several times since.  Though I found it hard to understand why, except for the 1978 animated version which covered only the first two of the book’s three volumes, there had not been a film adaption when films like The Dark Crystal and Willow were clearly inspired by it, I had pictured so many scenes that I had virtually created my own film version in my head.  Surely no ‘real’ film adaptation could match what I had imagined?  Even if it did, it would certainly be very different, and just not….well….right!  I had pre-bought my ticket to Peter Jackson’s film of the first book, but it was my wife who basically convinced me to go.  After all, if I hated what I saw I could always walk out, couldn’t I?

Amazingly The Lord Of The Rings was first proposed for filming in 1957, despite there being no way that technology could have done justice to itForrest J. Ackerman, Morton Grady Zimmerman, and Al Brodax sent Tolkien a three hour script which focused on the action more than anything else and added much more magic.  Tolkien hated it and after much arguing the project was stopped. Then, in 1972 John Boorman and his usual scriptwriter Rospo Pallenberg wrote a two and a half hour script that drastically altered aspects of the story and replaced most of Tolkien’s themes with his own.  Can you imagine Frodo having sex with Galadriel, or: Gandalf leads Gimli through a primitive rebirthing ritual, making him dig a hole and crawl into it, covering him with a cloak and violently beating and verbally abusing him, until he springs forth with recovered memories of his forgotten ancestral language and speaks the Dwarvish words needed to open the door?  Both these projects were intended to be one movie and even Peter Jackson initially intended to do the book as two films, not three.  It was Bob Shaye the head of New Line we have to thank for telling Jackson that there were three books and therefore there ought to be three films.

I expect you have worked out by now that for me Jackson succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  Sometimes bits were so close to how I had imagined them that I wondered if Jackson was some kind of magician who was able to locate certain things in my brain, copy and retrieve them. Other bits were as different as could be but almost always better than what I had envisaged.  Of course it helped that it was such a stunning film, an awe-inspiring fantasy adventure that made Dungeons and Dragons [yes, I used to play the role-playing game, and still watch the great cartoon series!] –type stuff cool in so many people’s eyes and even impressed a lot of people who wouldn’t be seen dead watching things with Elves, Dwarves and Trolls in.  Now Jackson says that all three films are really one film and they certainly benefit from being watched very close to each other.  However, even with cinema viewings it was clear to me that the three films were slightly different to each other.  The Fellowship Of The Ring is the perfect introduction to the world of Middle Earth and an almost phantasmagoric journey through a variety of locales.  The Return Of The King is the spectacular action epic to end all action epics, a virtual apocalypse on screen.  The Two Towers is the bridge in the middle, the slow, sober instalment that puts all the pieces in place for the third one and gives you a taster of what is to come, when it will all just kick off Big Time.

My favourite? Well, you’re just have to read on.  But The Fellowship Of The Ring might be the best film of the three.   It’s not my favourite, but there is something about it that makes it almost flawless.  It achieves what was probably the most difficult task; introducing us to Middle Earth and telling the back story in a way that is coherent, compact, easily digestible but not simplifying things too much, and which told me within about a minute of watching that Jacksons and his co-writers had done it.  It beautifully shows us the almost-perfect existence of the Hobbits, perfectly putting up on screen what was Tolkien’s Olde England, a rural paradise under threat from various outside forces especially industrialisation.  It’s constantly visually diverse in the way it moves from one fantastic place to another.  The once-paradise of Rivendell which is now in its autumnal years as the world of Men encroaches more and more on the world of the Elves.  The endless underground mines of Moria, with that unforgettable bit where the music swells and we see that gigantic hall with those pillars.  The rather sinister but eerily beautiful Lothlorien, a place where you seem safe from anything outside, but is rather scary in itself. I must say here that this was the most extreme difference from my imaginings, because I had thought of it as a bright, lush paradise with no sense of fear in it at all, but the film’s version is far more interesting!

We actually travel all over the place, often to those places like Minas Tirith and Barradur where you just see a little bit but want to see more. And constantly, the camera swoops over the land like a character in itself, linking all these locales together even when it seems that you are almost watching several movies in one.  Most awesomely, it swoops down the tower of Orthanc and goes into the underground factory of Saruman’s Orcs, a seamless combination of model work and computer wizardry which totally floored me at the cinema.  There are also more beautiful, painterly shots than the other two films; this time, I was most stunned by some gorgeous silhouette shots of some of the characters.  One of the things that surprised me most at the cinema about Fellowship is how dark it was, especially for a ‘PG’ rating.  I don’t really mean so much things like seeing a head cut off, or even a finger being severed, but more the scary sequences involving the Black Riders, who  by the way must have been inspired by the Blind Dead in the four 70’s Spanish horror movies [reviews on this website!] that began with Tombs Of The Blind Dead. They’re even accompanied by similar music!  In any case, their scenes create a really powerful impression of evil that is astonishing, the best for me being when Frodo goes into ‘Wraith World’ for the second time and sees the Riders as the twisted versions of human kings they really were.  Then there’s also the jump-scare when Bilbo’s face briefly becomes demon, which was accomplished by simply superimposing a puppet!

Some fans protested at the omission of certain characters our travellers encounter; I personally shudder [in the best possible way] to think of how Jackson would have done the most frightening bit of the novel, a scene which he did not include, where Frodo encounters an undead horror called a Barrow-Wight, though it would have certainly upped the rating!  Set against this is a fair amount of humour, which also irritated some Tolkienites. There is comedy in the book undoubtedly, but Jackson added far more and used the characters of Merry and Pippin as virtual comic relief for much of the duration of the trilogy though they became increasingly superseded in laugh-creating by Legolas and Gimli.  I think it just makes the films more fun and certainly helped them gain mass appeal.  In the first film only Aragorn’s line of “let’s hunt some Orc “ falls flat and it’s not helped by Viggo Mortensen’s bad delivery.  The cast for the most part all seem perfect for their roles.  Frodo is Frodo.  Gimli is Gimli.  The way Ian Mckellen speaks Tolkien’s invented names and phrases never fails to amaze me.  Of course the weak link is perhaps Orlando Bloon as Legolas who never really got any better but fortunately throughout the films he remained the least characterised of the lot.

In some ways Fellowship is the fastest-moving of the three films, not just because of the constant movement of the characters but because the action scenes are more concise, the only really lengthy one being the fight and flight in the Mines Of Moria with the thrilling sequence of the collapsing ruins, though I could have personally done with Gandalf’s duel with the Balrog being longer.  The film suffers a little from its climactic action being rather weak by comparison, but in any case the important thing is the break-up of the Fellowship so it doesn’t matter too much,  and we are treated to two great scenes that show that Jackson and his co-writers Philippa Bowens and Fran Walsh are in no way letting the fantasy and the special effects [which by the way still hold up except for some very fake birds!] dominate the personal side of things.  Boromir’s death and Sam’s desperate running to Frodo are very moving, though are nothing to what will follow in the other two films.

The closest of the trilogy to its respective source, it also benefits immensely from having many stuff that just happened ‘off the page’ and were later related by one of the characters happening on screen and in chronological order, such as Gandalf’s fight with Saruman, the Wizard who has turned to the dark side.  This brings me to the love story of Aragorn and Arwen, which isn’t described in the book at all but is mentioned in one of Tolkien’s many appendices, if I am right.  The middle part of Fellowship threatens to get a little too slow and the insertion of a love scene increases this.  I considered it pointless at the time until The Two Towers made the love story a much more important part of the story, and in any case there are so many cases where they actually sped up Tolkien without losing essence, something which is most nostable in the first hour.  Tolkien took an awfully long time to get his story off the ground.  Jackson may also take a while for some, but just compare it to the book!  For the most part, criticising Fellowship is a case of nitpicking [yes, I know the fake noses worn by McKellen and Christopher Lee look crap].  It’s as good an adaptation of the book as one could expect, at times improving things such as structure, and a cracking fantasy adventure in its own right.  And bearing in mind that the story was to be continued and two films had been partially made by the time the first one was out, things could only get better, couldn’t they?

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½

 

The Fellowship Of The Ring, formed in Rivendell to take the One Ring to Mordor and destroy it in the Crack Of Doom, has splintered and two of their number killed.  Frodo and Sam are the only ones continuing towards Mordor.  They are attacked by Gollum, who once owned the Ring before losing it to Frodo’s uncle Bilbo, but they capture him and persuade him to lead them to their destination.  Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are pursuing the Uruk-hai who have taken Merry and Pippin prisoner.  The chase leads them to the land of Rohan, where King Theoden is under the control of his advisor Grima Wormtongue who is secretly in the service of the evil wizard Saruman.  He is in cahoots with Sauron and is out to conquer Rohan.  Meanwhile Merry and Pippin escape their captors into the forest of Fangorn, which is inhabited by strange beings, half-human and half-tree, called Ents…..

I could barely control my excitement as I entered the cinema to see The Two Towers, a considerable difference to my feelings just before viewing The Fellowship Of The Ring.  It helped considerably that they had just released the extended version of the first film, which for me made it even better [more on the ‘EEs’ later!].  I’m going to now admit that The Two Towers was a slight disappointment to me and I couldn’t really understand folk who were saying it was even better than the near-perfect Fellowship.  Of course it was a terrific epic reeking of sheer quality, but it also had problems, mostly, though not entirely, to do with pacing, which weakened it somewhat.  If you think about it, all three films are paced differently.  The first one takes its time for an hour or so, than proceeds at a faster but fairly even pace alternating fast with slow, but remaining steady as its characters move from realm to realm.  The third film also takes its time for around an hour before it goes absolutely mental for over two hours, rarely pausing to catch breath, before slowing down for an extended coda.  Both approaches work great and mean that one remains glued to the screen.

The second film though begins fast, than slows down and gets rather bogged down for about two hours before it recovers for the final quarter.  Every time I watch The Two Towers, I get a little restless around the middle.  The film always looks great, the acting is strong, and most of the dialogue works well, but after hitting the ground running, it really begins to drag more than it should, and in the process one almost forgets that Sauron and Saruman are trying to take over and destroy Middle Earth.  Now in no way am I saying that The Two Towers is a poor film; I still love it as the middle part of my favourite film trilogy ever, but it does have problems that are always obvious while I struggle to find flaws in the other two.  I think I know why this is.  Now bear with me, because this look back is going to get complicated for one paragraph, but I’m going to try and make sense, so please bear with me…..

The film of The Two Towers tells its story chronologically unlike the book, which is divided into two halves and doubles back half way through to detail the adventures of Frodo and Sam.  The film misses out some stuff near the end, probably because first of all The Return Of The King is quite a short book and they needed to fill out the film of it more, and secondly they had to end the picture at a dramatic point where things were happening at exactly the same time.  Therefore they needed to fill out and even stretch out The Two Towers a great deal, adding much stuff that was either not in the book at all or only alluded to.  In particular they added much detail involving the inhabitants of Rohan and that rather pointless bit where Aragorn is thought dead and is separated from the others before eventually returning to them.  They also took two major scenes out [a flashback involving Gollum, and Saruman’s end] and put them in the next film. The end result is that the film gives the impression of marking time in places, and set against that some bits of the book are somewhat rushed [such as a couple of early battles], though they also added a kick-ass battle involving Wargs [wolf-like creatures] and increased the presence of theAragorn/Arwen love story rather than it seeming an unimportant ad-on like it did in the first film, so it certainly isn’t all bad!  And I’ll say here that the most-criticised [by fans] addition of Faramir, the brother of Boromir, deciding to take Frodo and the Ring back to Gondor, works pretty well because they had to involve Frodo and Sam in some kind of climax after deciding to leave what happened to them in the book for the third film.

In any case, I’m here to praise these films more than bury them, so let’s leave criticism for now and concentrate the many great things in The Two Towers, which begin right at the start where we follow Gandalf and the Balrog, fighting each other as they fall inside the Earth. I’ve already mentioned the love story, and there is a rather moving montage when Elrond tells her of the sad life that awaits her if she marries a mortal man, finishing with a really sad shot of Arwen walking alone in a bare forest.  What makes it especially moving to me is that is what eventually ended up happening to her.  It reminds me of one of the movie scenes I cry at most, the sequence in Highlander set to Queen’s Who Wants To Life Forever which shows the immortal Connor’s life with his human bride, with her gradually aging and eventually dying, and Aragorn and Arwen’s tale played out in basically the same way.  Also great is the way the film shows the Elves leaving Middle Earth because their age is passing [another good example of the films showing something that only happened off the page in the books], with the rather wonderful if slightly sad concept of the magic and fantasy of Earth [for isn’t Middle Earth just a lost age of our planet?] leaving it as humans take over.

This is as good a point as any to detail two of the aspects of these films which impress me most.  One is the amazing sense of history that is conveyed throughout.  Most fantasy films, and even Star Wars, talk of past events but we never really feel that we are in a world which has been shaped by countless past events.  Middle Earth feels real, it really feels like a place which has existed for thousands of years, and this feeling echoes through every scene, not just the ones with ruins or explicit mention of historical happenings, in fact I’m still not entirely sure how Jackson and co. achieved this.  The second aspect [which is only one of many, and I’m trying hard not to make this article too long!] which I feel is really worth mentioning, is Howard Shore’s music.  It is a stunning musical work in its own right, mind-bogglingly complex in its construction.  The way many themes are musically related to each other and develop throughout the trilogy is so clever.  I love in particular the way certain themes and motifs are foreshadowed in Fellowship [such as the ‘Gondor’ theme] but only become their full form later on in the trilogy.  Shore may not, in the end, have John William’s knack of writing themes that everyone remembers walking out of the cinema and became iconic and recognisable upon just hearing a few notes, but as a whole entity his effort is second to none and is worthy of inclusion with the great musical works over the centuries.

The design and special effects team had to work harder in The Two Towers.  A good example is the Ents, which are basically tree–men.  The idea of creatures half-man and half-tree conjures up amazing images in the brain but could so easily have resulted in things that are laughable.  But no, in this film they look just great, convincing as living beings while still having just a bit of that unavoidable humorous aspect.  Even better, of course, is Gollum.  I’m not too keen on the way Motion Capture is done all over the place these days, and especially with humans [where it just results in visual unpleasantness if you ask me], but there is no doubt that it’s a major step-forward in special effects technology and can work brilliantly [Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes], and it’s all because of Gollum, who is a totally convincing character.  You entirely believe he is there, interacting with Frodo and Sam, and more than that, he’s a fully rounded person too.  The scene where his good and bad sides argue with each other, and we cut back and forth from two slightly different faces, still impresses so much, because the filmmakers solved a potentially-difficult aspect of the book with intelligence and visual skill.  Gollum remains perhaps the most interesting character in Tolkien, and even one of the great ones of literature for many reasons, two of them being he’s both sympathetic and unsympathetic at the same time and seems to be a symbol of the way we can be so easily corrupted.  They succeeded brilliantly in bringing him to the screen.

Despite a few short skirmishes, The Two Towers deliberately holds back on the action to emphasis its almost hour-long climax.  We see the spectacular sight of the Ents going to war and causing a great flood,but of course it’s the Battle Of Helm’s Deep that many people were saying was the best screen battle they had ever seen. I must admit, I prefer some of the stuff in Return, but there’s no doubt that there is something unique and special about Helm’s Deep.  The build-up is very careful and the emotional involvement is increased by the many cutaways to the women and children in the caves below.  It seems that there is no way that the side of Good can win with three hundred, many of them children or old men [the sight of young boys having their armour put on always brings a lump to my throat], but then the Elves arrive to help.  This really pissed off many Tolkienites, because the Elves would supposedly never have come to help Men, but I don’t care, I get goosebumps when I hear that horn and Shore’s Elf theme in march form is heard as the help starts to march in.  Perhaps, just perhaps, we could be in with a chance.  The battle that follows benefits greatly from taking place at night under rain, it makes things more menacing, and perfectly mixes realism with “wow” moments like Legolas skateboarding down some steps on his shield.  Silly? Yes.  But tremendous fun.

Yeah, it may have a problematic middle section, but The Two Towers is still great overall.  In many ways it was the most difficult of the films to get right, and ‘middle’ parts of trilogies are often harder, so the fact that they almost succeeded is still remarkable.  In any case, when Gandalf says: “the battle of Helm’s Deep is over. The Battle for Middle Earth is about to begin”, you know that things haven’t really kicked off yet.  That is to come, and the excitement is unbearable…..

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

 

 

Saruman has been defeated and Isengard taken over by the Ents along with Merry and Pippin. Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and the other victors at the Battle Of Helm’s Deep arrive and confront Saruman, who is eventually stabbed by his long-suffering servant Wormtongue.  After Pippin has looked into Saruman’s communication device the Palantir and revealed himself to Sauron, Gandalf whisks him away to Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor and where Sauron’s forces are about to attack.  Against the wishes of King Denethor, Pippin lights the first beacon of Gondor, causing the others to be lit and the soldiers of Rohan, plus Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Pippin, to come to help.  Meanwhile Frodo,Sam and Gollum are nearing Mordor, and Gollum is leading the way through a secret passage, but he could be leading them into a trap…..

I sometimes see a film twice at the cinema if it really “wows” me, but The Return Of The King I sat through three times [the only other film I have done that with is The Fountain].  That should tell you all you need to know about my feelings regarding this third film.  It’s one of the greatest films ever made [and no, I don’t say that lightly], popular entertainment made with the greatest of care, as epic as a film could be, on the largest scale possible, but never losing sight of the characters.  It has the most spectacular battle scenes ever filmed, but also contains a huge amount of emotion.  I never fail to be thrilled by the action and never want it to end, but I also cry or at least get a lump in my throat quite a few times.  The film is almost a virtual collection of great moments.  With The Return Of The King, they definitely saved the best for last.

Now I’m going to digress partially here because I’m going to say a bit about the Extended Editions, which were released on DVD almost a year after each film came out in the cinemas.  Though at times they make the pacing a little slower, they are the only versions I now watch; in fact, I doubt I’d enjoy the theatrical cuts much at all now.  It’s not just the proliferation of extra detail and things relating to the books, it’s the fact that so many of the extra scenes are so good, and I can’t imagine the films without them.  The gift-giving scene in The Fellowship Of The Ring which is of great beauty with some of Shore’s most transcendental scoring, is the first example that comes to mind. However, while, in the end, the Extended Editions of the first two films may improve them but don’t alter them that much, the Extended Edition of The Return Of The King is considerably different and considerably better.  The main reason is that the cinema version, while still four hours and twenty minutes long, was rather choppy in the second half and felt a little rushed in places.  The Extended Edition solves these problems whilst restoring innumerable goodies like the Voice Of Saruman [poor Christopher Lee’s final scene got cut from the second film and then the third!], the Mouth Of Sauron, and Faramir and Eowyn falling in love.

Return’s first hour or so is a slow but steady build-up until it basically goes mad and delivers two hours or so of non-stop, awesome, mind-boggling, fuck me [yeah I know I don’t normally swear], spectacular action.  As those beacons are lit in one of the most rousing sequences in a film ever with the camera travelling all over the land showing more and more beacons being lit, and as that bolt shoots into the sky spreading darkness and Sauron’s army marches out of Minas Morgul watched by Frodo and Sam, I feel the adrenalin coming on so much, because THIS IS IT!  The siege of Gondor and the subsequent Battle of the Pellenor Fields go on forever, and I suppose if you don’t like battle scenes you may be a little bored, but this is the War of the Ring.  As the camera pans over the huge army approaching Gondor and the Nazgul start attacking on their dragons, the feeling is of nothing less than the Apocalypse.  What follows perfectly combines scale, where we are constantly aware of the size of the events we are watching, with an inexorable sense of peril, to moments focusing on our heroes [and heroine] with more “Hell Yeah” moments than you can count, from Gandalf laying waste to some Orcs with his staff, to Eowyn killing the Witch-King [I have to cheer when she rips off her helmet and says  “I am no man”, to Legolas jumping onto an Oliphaunt and killing everyone on it.

That last scene is utterly ludicrous, and certainly wasn’t in Tolkien, but it doesn’t matter.  In any case cannot decide which bit I like best.  Is it Theoden’s speech to the Rohirrim [Mel Gibson eat your heart out] and the subsequent charge, or when the gate to Minas Tirith is battered down and the dust clears to reveal three Trolls who proceed to kill all around them, or is it the first sight of the Oliphaunts [huge elephants], which leads to a battle which always seems like Jackson’s version of the snow battle in The Empire Strikes Back?  Then again, all this stuff is intercut with other happenings, like Aragorn’s recruitment of a ghost army [isn’t it fantastic when the whole city materialises with the ghosts?], and the flawlessly staged sequence when Frodo and Sam battle Shelob the giant spider.  Is there a more seat-clutching  “he’s behind you” moment when Shelob appears behind Frodo to sting him, or a more rousing one-on-on fight where Sam battles the arachnid? And, bar the odd shot which is unavoidable because technology progresses, the special effects still look great.  It mostly still looks real.

Despite all this, Return never forgets its characters and is able to be as intimate as you like.  All the main folk have their best moments in this one, even Arwen when she sees that heart-breaking image of what could be her future son and decides to remain in Middle-Earth. Theoden has one of the best acted death scenes in cinema.  Even the rather nasty King Denethor has a brief revelatory moment where he expresses his love for his son before he sets himself on fire.  Sam, whose constant positivity is so inspiring, has that tear-jerking bit where he carries Frodo, and it’s undoubtedly corny, but it’s great corn, the kind of corn that makes you so emotionally involved.  Then there’s the climactic scenes, which aurally just let Shore’s music take the place of sound effects, and are in slow-motion. You could say that Jackson overdoes the technique in this film, but I think the story deserves it.  It enhances the grandeur and the importance.  So what if Gollum’s end is slightly differentfrom the book?  We still get that Frodo, when it comes to the crunch, totally fails.  The Ring gets him [is there a better tale about the corruption of power than The Lord Of The Rings?], and it’s only an accident that can destroy it.  Amidst all this lofty stuff are more laughs than the other two, perfectly placed to relief the tension just a little.

Return has the middle position of the three films in fidelity to its source.  Events are usually the same but with slight alterations and they work for dramatic purposes.  Yes, they improved on Tolkien.  As for additions, as you know I don’t feel Towers benefitted from all of them, but for Return, having Gollum trying to split up Frodo and Sam makes for more tension, and then there’s the scene when Faramir leads a suicide mission at the order of his father Denethor. What a brilliant bit this is; Pippin, who is in Denethor’s service, singing a sad song at Denethor’s insistence while we intercut with Faramir and his men going to their doom.  A wave of Orc arrows is fired at them, and we see nothing more.  Though Jackson as a rule doesn’t really do subtlety, occasionally he manages it in Return, and us not actually seeing all the soldiers being shot actually makes the scene more powerful.  It’s as strong a statement of the futility of war, and the stupidity of those who wage it, as has ever been seen on a cinema screen, and it’s entirely original to the film.

Of course the most important alteration they made was to omit entirely the section where the Hobbits save their homeland from the villains who have taken it over, the Scouring of the Shire.  Some complained about this, but then we would have had even more complaints from impatient types who moaned that the film had too many endings.  The moment in Minas Tirith where everyone bows down before the Hobbits is yet another extremely moving bit, but without Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin’s return to the Shire we wouldn’t have had closure on one particular subplot, nor would we have had the very important scene where they sit in their local sipping pints.  The Lord Of The Rings was in part inspired by Tolkien’s experiences during World War 1, and the pub scene gives an impression in just a minute of how soldiers returning home can feel.  They cannot really describe what they have gone though, everything feels different, while people in general almost ignore them or just cannot understand.  Another superbly understated scene, unlike the final farewell which milks the emotion as much as it can. The sadness of Return’s last few scenes helps give it considerable depth that the likes of Star Wars can only dream of, and yes; I love Star Wars too and can’t understand why one can’t love both, but for me it’s a bit empty by comparison.  Sorry.

What a trilogy of films, in fact the best trilogy ever in my opinion.  It showcases big-budget ‘blockbuster’ film-making at its biggest, but it’s also a triumph artistically and shows care in every frame.  It brings a book to the screen many, including Tolkien’s son Christopher, said was unfilmable, but is also wildly entertaining to those who haven’t read a word of it; just think of how commercially successful these very long films all were.  Stanley Kubrick once considered making The Lord Of The Rings, but I doubt he would have topped Jackson.  I’m not sure their like will ever be made again.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

Dr Lenera
About Dr Lenera 2018 Articles

I’m a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don’t really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly ‘have a life’, I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I’ve always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

1 Comment

  1. Doc, just wanted to comment that your feature on The Lord of the Rings is fantastic work. It also delights me that you view on the 3 films almost mirrors my feelings. The only difference is that the Fellowship of the Rings shades ROTK for me. I love Gandalf the Grey as a character and I enjoyed his emotional, one-to-one’s with Frodo in the mines of Moria. The setpieces with the swamp beast and the orc/ cave troll scrap were breathtaking too. I too was slightly let down by The Two Towers on first viewing and felt that the extended edition only reinforced this feeling. Still a cracking film though but my least favourite of the 3. The Return of the King was a triumph of epic proportions. Jackson could have sliced the multiple endings yet I wished he’d kept in the Sauroman and Voice of Suaron sequences.

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