I won’t let my personal feelings cloud my judgement, however, I am sure that the fact that I love these movies has made me watch them literally over a hundred times, which means I am well informed when it comes to an in-depth analysis of this picture.
Where to start… the films were released right at the beginning of the 21st century:
The Fellowship of the Ring in December 2001
The Two Towers in December 2002
The Return of the King in December 2003
The director – Peter Jackson, as well as the majority of the crew that worked on these movies, are from New Zealand. The movies were filmed back to back and edited in New Zealand as well.
All three movies were critically acclaimed and received numerous Oscar nominations of which ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ won 4 and the ‘The Return of the King’ won 11 (for which it was nominated, therefore, not losing one nomination throughout). Oscars before the LOTRT were not given to ‘fantasy’ movies, considering them to not be of considerable substance and added value. The LOTRT broke this barrier and opened the possibility for fantasy movies to prove their worth.
Left to right: Barrie M. Osborne (producer); Peter Jackson (Director, producer, screenwriter); Fran Walsh (Producer and screenwriter).
I want to praise the cast and crew for their astounding work. There are a few things that make these movies stand out from others at the time (which is probably one of the reasons they were so successful). The first one on my list is definitely cinematography by Andrew Lesnie. The camera work for the trilogy is very well done. Movement is both natural and at moments extraordinary but consistent throughout nonetheless. The camera delivers many feelings to the audience such as the feelings of size and scale, fear and wonder, epicness and fighting spirit and overall – grandeur!
Another fantastic feature is the score by Howard Shore. Each movie has original scores and songs which not only enrich the story and the power of the movies but actually take audiences through and within the world of Middle Earth created by J.R.R.Tolkien. The music has everything from the slow and calming melodies of the Shire to the majestic score of the fellowship, the battles and triumphs. Not too surprising an Oscar for Best Original Score was won for both the first and the third movie.
Moving on to the amazing settings, locations, costumes and special effects. Considering the timing of the movies, I only want to say one thing and I believe all LOTR fans will agree with me – Middle Earth is REAL! The crew created this world from scratch and to this day it still feels more real than many other fantasy worlds. I will just make a quick comparison with The Hobbit trilogy which by far had much more opportunities in terms of technology development. However surprising it may sound, the LOTRT movies are less fantastic and more raw than the Hobbit trilogy, but that is exactly what makes them feel so realistic and relatable. When watching these movies you can be transformed into another realm and fully believe in the story, invest in it. I highly praise the artwork of Alan Lee and John Howe who first envisioned this world and then to Weta digital and the Weta workshop who made it real for the audience.
The story is consistent and moving. The film’s editors have done well. The crew definitely struggled with keeping the story together with each next film as the storylines branched out, developed and twisted, but they managed as far as I can see. I remember when I was little, watching ‘The Two Towers’ and being a bit bored whenever the scene shifted towards Frodo and Sam, who are supposed to be the main characters and the main focus of the journey, but as a kid I suppose I preferred watching more of the action and battles the other heroes faced. There is a contrast between scenes in the manner of speed and action, yes. Keep that in mind.
I could definitely talk for hours about these movies, however, I believe I have highlighted the key points of the massive work that is this trilogy. Overall, if you enjoy fantasy, are looking for something thorough yet entertaining, then you will never make a mistake choosing to watch these movies. Keep in mind that they are relatively long though, so if you decide to do a marathon, I’d suggest going for the weekend :).