Peter Jackson’s legendary the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy hardly needs introduction – it is the epic tale of a halfling from a peaceful land that gets entangled in the affairs of the Big Folk when it turns out a family heirloom is the key to defeating evil forever.
Peter: Welcome to this spoiler-free (though really, is this a story that can still be spoilt?) discussion Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which we’ve decided to add to the Escape Velocity Collection, a series of items that we believe represent the absolute peak of what the speculative genre has to offer.
There are some pieces of media which everyone knows, and which have been so influential that the Collection just isn’t complete without them. The Lord of the Rings-film series is one of them. Below, our curators discuss what Peter Jackson’s movies have meant to them and their experience in the fantasy genre.
Words can hardly express how important those movies are to me – it’s frankly irrational and a little unhealthy.
I think however, that the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is an absolute triumph of filmmaking. Almost everything about them is right. The production values are great. New Zealand is great. The acting is great. The music is so good that they changed the Oscars’ rules so Howard Shore could win one twice.
I would not lie if I said that I think of these movies on a literal daily basis. The main reason is that probably my favourite way to wind down is painting Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game (MESBG) miniatures – and that hobby takes up a lot of my free time. I own over a thousand minis – as I am sitting here writing, my painting station with a bunch of them and a shelf full of rulebooks are sitting to my left. I have a chess set composed of MESBG minis on my right. There is an army of MESBG miniatures on display in my living room.
In fact, I first came into contact with the movies through the miniatures. When I was nine years old, a friend owned a set of Uruk-Hai which he had painted and showed to me. They looked absolutely amazing. I kept nagging until my parents finally let me watch the movies. For the next few years after that moment, my sister and I watched at least one Lord of the Rings movie every two weeks (though the first couple of times, I remember my parents sending us to sit in the hallway during most of the battle scenes). I still try to have at least one extended edition marathon every year. As a result, I know most of the lines by heart. I still get goosebumps at all the right times. You probably do not want to watch these movies with me.
Peter Jackson, to me, created the ultimate fantasy experience, and everything that will ever be made after it (and most of what came before) will be measured against his achievement.
I share Peter’s emotions; these movies changed my life in an unimaginable way. From the moment I first saw them – I was 10 or 11 years old? – they’ve instilled me with a sense of wonder, adventure and (in my darkest days) even hope. They were the inspiration for countless backyard adventures with my friends in which I played ‘Jopdalf the Wizard’, as well as the kickstart to my passion for writing (fantasy). I still watch them at least once a year, and they are my go-to comfort movies. Similar to Peter, there are Lord of the Rings memorabilia scattered throughout my house.
This movie trilogy is simply divine. In fact, I truly believe they aged better than most other movies from the last twenty years. When Peter Jackson filmed The Lord of the Rings, he didn’t have access to all the modern filmmaking techniques and technologies that are available today. However, he made up for it with creativity and cleverness that can’t be matched by all the CGI in the world. The same can be said for all the crew members that made the production of these movies possible.
There’s more praise to give, of course. The acting in these movies is sublime, a compliment that’s applicable to the whole cast, in my opinion. And indeed, Howard Shore’s beautiful music still hasn’t found its match.
The one real complaint I’ve heard people have with this trilogy, is that they are quite long. I guess that’s true. However, sometimes I have exciting dreams that show me completely new scenes. I suppose that means my subconscious wouldn’t have minded a few minutes extra for these movies.
I may not quite be able to match up to Peter- or Jop-levels of excitement, but the Lord of the Rings movies have been absolutely formative for me as well and I still love them dearly. The first time I watched them was with my sister and my two cousins, by my best guess I was around 9 or 10 years old. For weeks afterwards, whenever we played together we couldn’t stop running around and pretending to shoot arrows while surfing off of the tusks of giant Olifaunts like Legolas. After that, every year we would plan a weekend during our summer holidays where we would turn our entire living room into a screening area and watch all three movies in a row. Bless my parents for allowing this. These days I mostly keep my viewings down to once every few years, but every time I free up the time and sit down for it, it is always an absolute joy.
The first time I saw the LotR-trilogy was with a friend from elementary school. I think we were 11, maybe 12. He was a fan, I was a newbie. The movies didn’t struck me as an inspiring story, more as a lot fighting. It was fine, but not my cup of tea. Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself in a group of friends completely enamoured with the world of Tolkien. They insisted on a LotR-marathon and I went with it. It changed my life. Not really because of the movies, I have to admit, but because it brought me closer to friends who have never left my side since. I have come to appreciate the story and the characters, definitely, but for me LotR is inextricably linked with friendship. And I think that is what great stories do, they bring people together. We can laugh, cry, scoff, criticise and romanticise LotR, together. Like that time one of us ran from home. Or that time friends came and went while the diehards remained glued to the couch for twelve hours. Or that time we started a fantasy review platform. Or…
I don’t think there is much to add here, other than The Lord of the Rings singlehandedly put Fantasy as a genre back on the map and sparked a wave of enthousiasm that has not been matched since (not even by HBO’s Game of Thrones). These movies are the textbook definition of genre defining, and incredibly good. If you haven’t seen them yet, (i) How? (ii) cancel your plans for tonight and watch The Fellowship of the Ring, its on Netflix nowadays; (iii) Is it even possible to not have seen these movies? Did you actively run away from them? Are you ok? What is it like to live in a world without Ian McKellen’s Gandalf? (iv) HOW?
On that note, we would like to leave you for now – stick with us for more reviews and additions to the collection, and in the meantime: Happy Escaping!