Recently I have been listening to The Lord of the Rings audiobook for the second time. For those interested, I listen to the version narrated by Rob Inglis and I highly recommend it. He has a very soothing voice. As I am making my way through the books I realized that it has been far too long since I saw the movies, so I decided to rewatch them over the course of several days.
A Perfect Trilogy?
One thing I’d like to clear up right out of the gate, these are by no means perfect movies. Some lines are undeniably cheesy, some of the effects are starting to show their age, and some actors in the background are not doing a good job staying in character. There are also some key things omitted from the books that I think would’ve made the movies a bit stronger. However, those are all minor gripes in a series of movies that remain just as epic and heartfelt as they have been since my first viewing. My biggest takeaway from the movies this time around was how each of the characters are fully-realized. They each undergo their own arcs, no matter how big or small they may be. The two characters that definitely have the smallest arcs are Legolas and Gimli, but even then they’re given compelling material. Both of them are at odds early on in the first movie, but cast aside their prejudice against each other and become good friends. The greatest arc for me will always reside with Samwise Gamgee. He is the one character who deserves all the recognition because of his unwavering loyalty to Frodo, which is the reason why the ring ultimately gets destroyed. I admit that I got a bit teary eyed at the end when he was with his family, because after all he’s been through, he really deserved a happy ending. However, this time around I realized what a tragic ending Frodo had. He is no longer the happy-go-lucky hobbit he once was. He has forever been affected by his quest to destroy the ring, and so he found himself unable to pick up his life where he left off. This is all showcased beautifully in the movie with the combined efforts of Howard Shore’s score and Elijah Wood’s voice-over. Speaking of which, Howard Shore truly crafts the best score I have ever heard. I love how the themes constantly evolve throughout the movies, and depending on the circumstances. Some people may say that Star Wars has the best score, but I contend that The Lord of the Rings has that title.
Big things comes in small packages
So, why do I love this trilogy so much? It’s because of the love and care that was put forth to produce this wonderful piece of cinema. It is clear that everyone in front of and behind the camera had a blast making these movies, and they did their best to uphold the masterpiece written by J.R.R. Tolkien. In fact, if you haven’t done so, I recommend watching the behind the scenes videos. They are extensive and also incredibly entertaining. Even if you are not a fan of these movies, you cannot deny the work that was put into them. You see the commitment that everyone puts forth, both on screen and off. Truthfully, I don’t know if we’ll get another series of movies quite like this, where the entire world is so fully realized. Initially when I reviewed The Hobbit movies I gave them fairly high ratings. Perhaps it was me in denial, but after many years I realized that those movies do not hold up very well. What also makes The Lord of the Rings movies so special is how they expertly blended special effects with practical effects. At the time they were forced to do so, but that is part of the reason why those movies hold up so well today. The Hobbit movies already look a bit outdated because of how much they relied on CGI, but with The Lord of the Rings there was a fantastic use of miniatures to make Tolkien’s vision fully-realized. It has to be said, the content in these movies is nothing without J.R.R Tolkien’s series. As I am revisiting Tolkien’s works I can acknowledge that there certainly are some notable omissions, but I am still impressed by how Peter Jackson and his crew were able to capture the essence of the books even if he had to occasionally cut corners.
In our current age of remakes and reboots, it seems inevitable that The Lord of the Rings will fall victim to it. I personally think it would be smart to adapt the books into a TV series so that they can explore more of what happens in the books (Perhaps Amazon will get to it after their prequel series). However, no matter what happens it will not tarnish Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. He truly assembled a remarkable crew both in front of and behind the camera, and they have created a series of movies that have meant so much to me. A series that shows how, through love and strength of will, good will always overcome evil. To quote Galadriel, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future”.