10 Great Things About ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy

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Lord of the Rings Best Characters Scenes Moments Battles 10 Great Things About The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

With the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, fans of Middle-earth had plenty to be excited about already, but this December brings one more major occasion to celebrate. 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the award-winning finale to director Peter Jackson’s original trilogy. Earning near-unanimous critical acclaim and grossing a large sum at the box office, the adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels became a part of the zeitgeist in the early 2000s and have been a staple of pop-culture ever since.

As a franchise that has had a tremendous impact on society and the film industry, there are plenty of reasons to commemorate LotR as we reflect on the adventures of Frodo, Aragorn, and the Fellowship. Here are our ten favorite things about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in no particular order.

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Big Risk

Best Things LOTR Risk 10 Great Things About The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

It’s no secret that Hollywood likes to play things safe most of the time. The release schedule is always full of sequels, reboots, and reinterpretations as studios look to cash in on the popularity of existing brands. Even when something original like Inception comes along, the marketing team never wastes an opportunity to use The Dark Knight as a selling point.

So the fact that the Rings trilogy was filmed the way it was came as a surprise. Shot back-to-back-to-back, New Line Cinema took a huge gamble when they funded the project. Jackson himself was an unproven commodity, famous for directing low-budget B-movies such as Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles, and the cast did not contain a reliable box office draw. Even though the books were popular, there was no guarantee that the films would become smash hits and if the first one failed to connect, the studio could have gone under. In retrospect, it seems silly to worry about the movies bombing, but at the time, the ambitious undertaking was a massive risk for all parties involved. In fact, we would like to see more studios roll the dice and take a chance – instead of rehashing things we’ve already seen.

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Blockbuster Credibility

84th academy award nominations 10 Great Things About The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

In his 2004 book Blockbuster, film critic Tom Shone expressed concern about the state of the film industry during the 1990s, claiming that the blockbuster system (which had once spawned commercial and critical hits like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark) had spiraled out of control. He concludes by saying the Lord of the Rings trilogy restored credibility to the blockbuster, showing that they could provide both aesthetically and artistically rewarding experiences.

The three films found tremendous success at the Academy Awards (an institution that typically ignores these types of films), earning 17 wins from 30 nominations. Not only were they obvious choices for the technical awards, they also contended in the major categories such as Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay. It all culminated with Return of the King tying an Academy record by winning 11 trophies, including Best Picture and Best Director.

It was a big moment for moviegoers who champion the blockbuster and the trilogy helped similar genre films be taken seriously as an art form. In the years since, the Academy and the American Film Institute have honored blockbusters such as The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Inception.

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NEXT PAGE: The Visuals & Music

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TAGS: the hobbit, the lord of the rings

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  1. I would agree with your points except for one thing, all but the visuals and soundtrack were in the books, the wonderful character development, the friendships, etc. Jackson only needed to bring that to the screen. And he added action scenes that were not in the books to liven things up. Some of his changes are probably why the son objected. Jackson complained he had to leave things out, but since he added scenes of his own, he could have just stuck to the books and included more from the book.
    Also there were black people in the book, they were just not included in the movie. The bushman-like people of the hills who helped the Rohann were black. And the cities to the south of Gondor by the sea were peopled with blacks. Those people sent troops to Sauron because Gondor had conquered them once and they had fought for their freedom. Gondor was always a threat to them afterwards.
    Now in spite of the things Jackson did, he caught the spirit and look of middle earth. I can look at them from the purist point and know what he has changed (and in the Hobbit the changes are far more dramatic to add more action to the movies). But I can also look at them from a fantasy movie point and say that they are the best well done fantasy movies ever made.
    No one will ever make a Hobbit or Lord of the Rings movie that will be completely true and accurate, esp now that Jackson has done these movies. Unfortunately action driven movies are the norm and beautiful movies don’t sell well. There is a lot of beauty lost in the translation.

    • And yet the Scouring of the Shire *could* have been added fairly easily. If they’d left Saruman and Wormtongue locked in Isingard as their prison and halted the story at at the coronation of Aragorn (a natural place to stop after all) it would have left the door open for a ‘sequel’ in which the Hobbits return home to a scene of chaos. As it is… it can never happen (unless they add a dream sequence in!). If nothing else it would have allowed for the possibility of that important section to be produced. In fact they could even have extended it to show Pippin and Merry in later years *and* show Sam both as the Mayor and his subsequent departure ‘into the west’ to meet up with Frodo. I think it was a wasted opportunity both for more revenue and to please the fans. If the Hobbit can be turned into three films I see no reason to abandon the Scouring!! :)

      • Yes to that Welsh Dog. And the scourging was very important to Tolkien, it showed the growing up in a sense of the hobbits besides showing how the war hurt everyone. A wasted opportunity indeed. You had the war weary Frodo and the now awaken of their power in Merry and Pippin coming home to complacent hobbits that had just let the bad elements take hold in the shire.
        Also Tolkien was using it as a metaphor of living in peace and harmony with nature and how industrialization was destructive. Though the movie did touch on that theme a little, at least he showed Sauramon destroying the forest to industrialize his war machine.

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  3. These films are the greatest in the history of film IMO. They made tons of money, were critically acclaimed, loved by movie goers and made people read (the source material of course. 50 million more copies were sold coz of the movies).

    The fact that every major hollywood studio had refused to produce them thinking they’d be a flop also makes their success even more impressive.

    It took New Line Cinema, an independent studio that usually produced small budget horrors & cheesy comedies, and Peter Jackson who had mostly directed cheesy horror films in New Zealand before LOTR, to make these movies. A risky undertaking indeed. The results of their labour is what has now become my most favourite set of films :)