The Lord of the Rings Movies; The 15th Anniversary


Matt Fronduto, Author

On December 13th, 2001 a relatively unknown New Zealander director named Peter Jackson attempted what was once seen as the impossible; successfully bring the legendary The Lord of the Rings book trilogy to the silver screen. Little did he know that taking this risk would help create one of the greatest film trilogies ever, and make Jackson of the most acclaimed directors of all time.

From the beginning the concept seemed intriguing, try to adapt the most famous fantasy novels of all time into well produced, “big-budget” movies, but if it should fail, millions of fans who live and die by the books will feel personally offended and disrespected. As someone who had read all three The Lord of the Rings books prior to watching the movies, it is easy to relate; however like so many others, I was anything but disappointed with the turnout. The trilogy seemed to capture all the magic of Tolkien’s novels without letting it drag on or move too slowly. The story follows closely that of the books, but of course with the removal of a handful of minor characters and scenes, which comes standard with any transition from source material to film. These would include the removal of the beloved, wise lumberjack Tom Bombadil, The Mouth of Sauron, and The Scouring of the Shire, all of which were sorely missed by die-hard fans. Though these cuts certainly were necessary to trim the already long running time, it would be wrong to say that they would not have contributed greatly to the overall quality of the three movies. 

If one complains that the removal of certain plot points from the book damages the movie beyond repair, then that person may want to take a closer look. Although a director cannot portray a character’s thoughts the way an author can, a director can flawlessly display the mood of a scene through cinematography and music. Thankfully, two future Academy Award Oscar winners were perfectly able to take on these duties, cinematographer Andrew Lesnie and composer Howard Shore. Lesnie was able to capture the vast and methodical beauty of the fictional land known as Middle Earth, to which Shore composed a score that is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, and both of these men received multiple well-deserved Oscars for their work on these films.  The trilogy received 30 nominations for the three films combined and won 17 Oscar awards. The Return of the King, in fact, won every Oscar for which it was nominated, garnering 11 in total.

As we celebrate the 15th year of this cinematic masterpiece, it is important to recognize how it came to be, and what factors contributed to these movies being so emotionally gripping and powerful. With a series as well crafted as The Lord of the Rings, it is tough to know where to start, but one conclusion can be reached easily. No matter who you are, or what stage of your life you are in, these movies are most certainly worth a watch.