The Fellowship Of The Ring
As said by Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) in the prologue, the One Ring was forged by Sauron in ancient times. Though this ring has now been found and has landed into the hands of a hobbit called Frodo (Elijah Wood). When the wizard Gandalf The Grey (Ian McKellen) finds out this is the One, Frodo must go on quest to Mount Doom to destroyed it. However, this is too big a task for one hobbit. He is joined by the peoples of Middle Earth, in the form of elves, men, dwarves and three of his kin, including Sean Astin’s Samwise Gamgee. Over hill and under hill, and through caves and over snow they must go, facing down all dangers and beasts, as the world’s fate is in their hands.
Controversially, this is my favourite of the trilogy. From the grasslands of The Shire to Khazad-dûm (Moria) to Lothlórien to Weathertrop to Rivendell, the locations our characters go to are the stuff of legend. The cinematography is consistently on point, using the landscapes of New Zealand to portray Tolkien’s Middle Earth onscreen. Howard Shore’s Oscar-winning score has been my friend for many years, and it will continue do so. “A wizard is never late” is one of those lines that has worked its way into popular culture, much akin to Star Wars’ “I am your father”. From the acting to the aesthetics to the scale, the first film is my favourite of the three, now until the end of time.
The Two Towers
The Fellowship is split. Boromir (Sean Bean) has been killed (typical). Frodo (Wood) and Sam (Astin) have gone to Mordor to destroy the ring. Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have been captured by Uruk-hai, whilst Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) are allied with Rohan and its king, Théoden (Bernard Shaw) son Thengel. Saruman (Christopher Lee) and Sauron are allied in their want for destruction, though he’s only Sauron’s puppet. The rebellion is growing, figured-headed by Gandalf The White (Ian McKellen). Frodo and Sam are now being led by Gollum. The War for Middle Earth has begun.
What got me about The Two Towers was not ‘Helm’s Deep’ nor was it the themes of racial harmony between men, elves and dwarves. It wasn’t the cinematography or the beautiful landscapes. It was the writers’ (Boyens, Walsh and Jackson) ability to have multiple storylines in an over-three-hour film and come out at the end with an excellent product. But my favourite thing about this movie is the character arc of Aragorn and Arwen (Liv Tyler) that started in the first movie. Arwen is my favourite character in this trilogy and she’s one of my favourite characters of all time. Her and Aragon together are excellent, and their arc is a ‘how to guide’ on how to tell a brilliant love story.
The Return Of The King
Gondor and the surrounding lands are crawling with Orcs. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) rides for Minas Tirith to help the world of men in what lies ahead. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) must fulfil his destiny, and journey with Gimli (Rhys-Davies) and Legolas (Bloom) to summon the Dead to help in the fight for Middle Earth. Across the country, enmity has come between Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin) and Gollum (mo-cap Andy Serkis) as they travel deeper into Mordor on route to Mount Doom, the only place where The Ring of Power can be destroyed for good. More story, more battles and more epicness. This is where the story finishes and an excellent ending it is.
The Return of the King is my least favourite of the trilogy but it’s still an A-Grade picture. When I think about the films that have won the Best Picture Oscar in the past, The Return of the King is the first one that comes to mind because of its grandeur. The scenes in Gondor are enough to leave me drooling, as well as the Forest of Fangorn, Osgiliath, Rohan and then the emotional departure in the Grey Havens. This film and the trilogy as whole is one of my blind spots. I’m sure there are plenty of things that are wrong with these films, but I wouldn’t know because I choose not to look for them. And then we go back to the Shire, minus Frodo. But all is good and peace has come.
Alas, Peter Jackson’s films are some of the greatest ever made. From the performances to its success at simultaneous storylines to the musical score to the cinematography, The Lord of the Rings is it. Based on Tolkien’s novels, the films would never be as epic but they’re still excellent in their own right. Whether we’re talking the theatrical cut or the extended editions, it’s certainly bingeworthy and it’s a set of films that show us…