Modern Classics — The Lord of the Rings

Posted: July 29, 2010 in Film, Reviews, Roxanna Kennedy
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[Reviewed by: Roxanna Kennedy]

For this look back at the epic trilogy that changed the movie landscape forever, we welcome new contributor Roxanna Kennedy!

I first saw LOTR in the cinema on my 12th birthday, having only read The Hobbit in previous years. When I entered the cinema I know nothing of the story or what was going to happen in the film. I left, three hours later, fired up, passionate and so excited for the next two films. I insisted that my parents take me again only a couple of days later. I knew from then on that I couldn’t rest until I found out the rest of the story. I vividly remember buying my copy of the books in a quaint little bookshop for £7.50 which, by the way, was a bargain. In the year I spent waiting for the 2nd film I read all three of the big books at least twice, which I think for a twelve-year-old is quite an achievement.

The next two films did not disappoint and surpassed all of my expectations – I thought myself very critical – wanted to see justice done to my new-found (and eternal) love.

As it is a very long story, I’ll cut it short. It all starts in middle-earth, where Bilbo Baggins, a very old hobbit (celebrating his eleventy-first birthday) leaves his nephew a golden ring as he goes to lives with the elves. We soon learn that the ring was forged by the evil Sauron, who is gathering his armies to take over middle-earth. To stop this from happening, the ring (which is powerful, evil and desired by many) needs to be destroyed. The three films follow Frodo on his mission to destroy the ring and his friends, who do all they can to aid him.

The books have a gigantic cult following, and before the films’ release (although I didn’t know it at the time) there was a great scepticism about whether anyone could achieve, on-screen, the genius, the beauty and the (many may say) flawlessness of the piece of art that is the books. However even the ‘real/original’ fans of LOTR could not be disappointed. After many past failed and incomplete attempts to create the book into a live action film, Peter Jackson ambitious endeavour not only was a commercial success but also put right those who doubted.

Adapted by Jackson himself, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens the films do omit certain chapters, for example the odd Tom Bombadill. Yet this does not matter as we are not left missing information nor are we deprived of great forest scenes. Though this character is rightly missed by many of the books readers, I believe that the writers made the right decision (as in any adaptation changes have to be made). After all, with no deviations LOTR the films would last for days. On the subject of the of the script, the writers wrote the dual stories in the 2nd and 3rd film so well, they flowed, the chronology was clear (which in the book is slightly less so) which is an achievement due to the complexity of what is going on.

The other thing that is done absolutely right is the sets. What took Tolkien pages to describe is shown in immense establishing shots that also capture not only what Tolkien wrote but also the nature of the different races perfectly. Wonderful swooping overhead shots and the beauty of New Zealand just completes the film.

I can’t end without having mentioned the special effects. Though developed almost ten years ago the CGI still looks impressive. If you ever get the chance to watch the DVD extra’s of how Gollum/Sméagol was created- do, because Andy Circus’ job is much more challenging than just providing a voice for the character. Using him physically to formulate this sorrowful creature gives so much to the character and his movements’ more than a computer alone could do. And in all other things technical Weta Works had outdone itself.

It’s alarmingly obvious how I feel about LOTR, but if you haven’t gathered – It is a must see. It’s an astonishing story of friendship, a sad tale of humanity but also showing faith in it to allow it to make up for its wrongs. An oxymoron: both sad and joyous. And if you tell me you don’t like it? Then sorry, I just don’t believe you.

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