In 2001, it was uncertain whether Lord of the Rings will have its perfect adaptation, with the novel itself having several failed ones. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings is the perfect adaptation of the novel, capturing its spirit and tone to the silver screen. What more with its phenomenal cast, faithfulness to the source material and its groundbreaking visual effects. With the upcoming Amazon series that is going to be made this year, we look back at how the trilogy holds up 20 years later.
The Source Material
With a groundbreaking novel like the Lord of the Rings, having to respect the source material is important. During its hellish development, however, it was hard to do so. This is due to the contemplation of compressing its large scale plot into two movies, alongside its initial short budget. Nevertheless, they had settled on three movies for three novels. This allows for a much higher amount of screen time to accommodate most of the plot. Each volume of the saga does have its own movie. Although the volume’s ending can be seen as simple chapters in terms of continuity, the movies are designed to be cliffhangers for each installment.
Despite some changes to the plot, the movie series managed to capture the essence of the novels. For example, several characters were removed and the scale of the films were rather toned down. Nevertheless, filmgoers who have never read the novels will appreciate Lord of the Rings all of the same.
It’s real accomplishment is how it fits in so many characters into just three movies. From Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn to the Fellowship, as well as side characters like Galadriel and Theoden. Each character doesn’t feel left out and its service to the story is much necessary.
Again, a good trilogy must have each installment acting as a separate act. The Lord of the Rings has done so well in this regard.
Visuals That Aged Like Fine Wine
As said earlier, the Lord of the Rings ages well even in today’s time. This is probably due to its high amount of practical effects, which means that the little CGI they used is given much more attention. This allows for a much more natural and believable atmosphere and worldbuilding to immerse in.
Indeed, compared to the Hobbit trilogy (which is comparatively CGI heavy), the fact that LoTR looks better is a testament to its production values. Though each movie has only a $93 million budget, they look just as grand as regular blockbusters having twice the budget. New Zealand was an oddly right location to film the Eurocentric trilogy, providing beautiful locales to film. The production company, Weta Digital, also deserves credit in providing the realistic practical effects.
The visual effects do indeed give the novels justice. From the illusion of Hobbit’s sizes being smaller than other characters; the Balrog sequence; and the large-scale battle sequences at the climax of both Two Towers and Return of the King. It’s visual style and cinematography encapsulates the novel’s ethereal feeling, even though it’s costumes and lore may look grounded in nature. Peter Jackson’s liking of the novels did help in displaying Middle-Earth.
Overall, Lord of the Rings is one of those movies where there is no need for a reboot for future audiences. It would be enjoyed for years to come regardless.
Good versus Evil
It is true that LoTR can be rather cliché in modern times, but it is nevertheless an ageless tale of good versus evil. Will the Fellowship destroy the one Ring? Yes. Will Sauron be defeated? Of course. It is the journey of the main characters and their emotional journey that is important. In an epic where the heroes embark on a quest, it is the growth that becomes vital, not the location.
Further, the trilogy is a master in manipulating and arousing the emotions of its audience. With battle sequences like Helms Deep and Minas Tarth, there is a mini 3-act structure. It has its own short story serving as the epic climax. The musical score by Howard Shore should be commended for creating an atmosphere that till this day stands uniquely among fantasy movies.
Indeed, the trilogy still resonates with its numerous audiences two decades later. It’s a simple tale of heroes overcoming evil, temptation and sin. The ring personalizes the inner evil within each character, thus their journey to destroy it enhances the emotional conflict and makes us connect with them.
Lord of the Rings has no doubt inspired many fantasy movies and amazed audiences and critics alike; earning over $2 billion earned in the box office and critical acclaim by reviewers. It has grown from a source material deemed impossible to adapt to becoming a cultural icon; the trilogy itself has gone through an arduous journey to be made into existence. Thus, the Lord of the Rings should be seen as an example of good, big budget filmmaking.
Written by Edward Wong.