The Lord Of The Rings cinematic trilogy turns 20


Andrew Thomas

J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary fantasy series approaches its’ 20-year mark.

Cooper Garvey, Reporter

The events in the lands of Middle-Earth and beyond have been chronicled since 1937 by the late-great JRR Tolkien. Starting with the publication of The Hobbit, the series advanced with three volumes of The Lord Of The Rings. In comparison to The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings was a far more dark and adult-oriented novel since The Hobbit was aimed towards children and young adults. Soon enough, Tolkien’s unfinished works were published by his family and late son Christopher. These books included titles like The Silmarillion, The Fall Of Numenor, The Unfinished Tales Of Numenor and Middle-Earth, Morgoth’s Ring, and many more. But you might be wondering, how did this all come to be?

This is where the introduction to history comes in. For quite by chance, and the will of war, fate decided John Ronald Ruel Tolkien would write this tale. It began as you might not expect, in the trenches of the Somme battlefield in the first World War. The sounds of artillery, gas attacks and the screams of men were the conditions Tolkien had to endure for four months. Giving him vivid memories and audible recollections of the experience of war. The sounds inspire the screeches of the Nazgul and the loud marching of armies. He lost two of his best friends in the war as well. Robert Gilson, and Geoffrey Bache Smith; giving him credible feelings for portraying the same emotions for his characters and readers alike.

JRR published his two starters of Middle-Earth to moderate acclaim. But after his death, the books began to be met with more praise and influence. Nearly every film or book series post-1970s with fantasy elements never would have existed had the world of Middle-Earth not (though Middle-Earth is our world, so I guess take that how you will). Nowadays, the books are up there with the legend of King Arthur, Beowulf, and the mythologies of old.

One such mind saw these pieces as those masterworks by Peter Jackson. He first read the books when he was at the age of 17. After Peter had finished the production of his film The Frighteners, he and his wife (as well as the producer of the films) Fran Walsh wanted to make an original film about dragons, knights, and so on. But they could think of nothing that was not brought back to something Tolkien had come up with previously. So then they just bit the bullet and decided to ask for the rights to make an adaptation. It all began to come together at the start of the 21st century. With artists like Alan Lee and John Howe getting to work as conceptual designers, and Howard Shore doing the score. Then came the day of Dec. 16, 2001. The day that changed cinema forever. The film grossed almost 900 million dollars in total. With 13 Academy Award nominations and four wins of those nominations. This film and the two that came after it, are so far the most successful series of films of the century.

After the Fellowship Of The Ring was released, came the second installment The Two Towers. Simultaneously, they released the extended edition of Fellowship Of The Ring. Lord of The Rings was making successful marks left and right. The Two Towers also gained six Academy Award nominations (but only won two of them). Then came the supreme masterpiece of fantasy films: The Lord Of The Rings, Return Of The King. There are few things to be said about this film, other than it takes the cake as one of the greatest films of all time. The film also came with the extended edition of The Two Towers. The Return of The King is one of the most successful fantasy films of all time. And certainly one of the most influential. This film won best picture in 2003, and every Oscar that it was nominated for; winning 11 in total. Making it one of the most awarded films ever at the Oscars. 

In the over 20 years that it has been out, the films have stood the test of time, vastly influencing all fantasy films that came after it. No matter what, you can find at least a hint of influence in most of the biggest fantasy franchises that came after it. Cultural phenomenons like The Chronicles Of Narnia”, “How To Train Your Dragon” and “Game Of Thrones” can all trace back influence to The Lord Of The Rings.

It is without a doubt that these films have been some of the most influential in cinematic history with ground-breaking special effects that revolutionized the fantasy genre as well as the film industry. So, let’s be grateful that Tolkien graced us with one of the greatest stories to ever be written.