After a recent trip to New Zealand, I’ve been inspired to rewatch Lord of the Rings… for the fifth time. But if you’re not a fan, you may be wondering ‘Why is Lord of the Rings so good? Well wonder no longer, we’ve got the answers.
It’s been 16 years since the first Lord of the Rings movie was released, and on a recent trip to New Zealand, I was thrilled to see that the franchise is as popular as ever. People were still coming from all over the world to visit set locations like Hobbiton and trekking across beautiful natural landscapes to immerse themselves in the closest thing you can find to Middle-Earth.
This got me thinking about the legacy of Lord of the Rings, and if we’ll ever see something like it again (yes, we got the Hobbit a few years later, but with only 1/6th of the material to work with, it was never going to be as good). Really, it was quite an amazing accomplishment to create the Lord of the Rings trilogy. 3 movies, all over 3 hours in length! Imagine trying to get that green lit! Movie companies tried to convince Peter Jackson to shorten the length but he refused to go ahead with it if his vision was going to be compromised.
At the time, the fantasy genre wasn’t considered to be popular enough to appeal to a mainstream audience (idiots!). If the first movie hadn’t been successful, it’s unlikely the next would have even been released. Fortunately, it was a Box Office smash hit, and without it, popular shows like Game of Thrones wouldn’t be around today.
After returning from New Zealand, I immediately set myself to watch the trilogy again and I wondered if in 50 years, it would still be as popular as the original Star Wars trilogy is today. With that being said, here are my top 5 reasons why Lord of the Rings will stand the test of time and continue to be incredibly popular for years to come.
1. Lord of the Rings is a story for the ages
Let’s remember, the original Lord of the Rings books were written in 1955. J.R.R.Tolkien even invented an entire language (elven) for them! He included so much detail and crafted such a wonderful and interesting story that it was still well loved when released in cinemas 50 years later. And there’s no reason to think anything will change in another 50 years.
The story features a number of diversions and twists. It gets split up over the last two books but is superbly brought together by the end. There’s a huge cast of characters that are all well fleshed out, and even though the dialogue is in old English, it’s still captivating and inspiring (how fucking good are some of the speeches before major battles!).
Peter Jackson tried to stick to original material as much as he could, which meant that he couldn’t really go wrong. He cut out some of the less relevant parts, and what’s left is an epic, thrilling journey that keeps you captivated from start to finish.
2. Superb cast and acting
Quite a number of the actors in LOTR were not that well known before the movies were released, as Peter Jackson was much more concerned about getting the right people rather than getting big names (Of course they still did have superstars like Ian Mckellen, Christopher Lee and Hugo fucking Weaving!). He also made them all stay in New Zealand for two years to make sure everything was done thoroughly and properly!
As a result, the acting in this movie is absolutely incredible. Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is knowledgeable and caring but powerful and inspiring when he needs to be (even I shed a tear when they thought he had died). All four of the main hobbits are played brilliantly as they go from carefree and joyful to mature and burdened by their roles in the conflict (Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan have the most expressive faces!).
Viggo Mortensen’s star turn as Aragorn is one to remember as he plays the consummate humble and noble hero that fulfils his destiny. My absolute favourite performance would have to be that of Andy Serkis’ Gollum, an insane and demented monster with a flicker of humanity left in him (if they can find humanity in a monster, could they find some in me? (sob)).
And I could go on and on, as these films are packed with star-studded performances that are well worth revisiting.
3. LOTR looks and sounds amazing
Peter Jackson knew what he was doing when he decided this film had to be filmed in New Zealand (it probably helped that he is a local!). Whilst some of the special effects may start to look a bit dated in time, the amazing scenery of New Zealand will look good every time you see it.
The films are packed full of wide shots that show this off as well as a number of scenes filmed from the air that just look so beautiful. It really helps to create the epic nature that is so important to the LOTR world. Add the music in and it really becomes something inspiring (which really helps to flesh out all those long walking and running scenes).
Howard Shore’s music for these films is an absolute masterpiece and there’s a reason he won Best Score for two of the films. The music is so emotional and makes full use of a large orchestra and choir to set up the tone of the series. There are a number of memorable themes, such as the ones used for the Ring, the Shire and for both Rohan and Gondor.
Howard Shore worked in collaboration with Peter Jackson during the whole filming process rather than just adding in everything at the end, and it’s this attention to detail that makes it a memorable and amazing set of films that will be enjoyed for years to come.
4. Incredible battle scenes
For those who are more concerned with action rather than story, LOTR won’t let you down as it features some of the all time great battle scenes. There a number of small skirmishes, such as the Fellowship’s battles in the mines of Moria and Sam and Frodo’s dramatic battle again Shelob. But it’s the two epic battles at Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith that are the most memorable.
The Helm’s deep battle is set up during the entire second movie and is beyond epic, both visually and size wise. We see the creation of the Uruk Hai and then their long march from Isengard to Helm’s Deep and the intimidation and worry they create. There are so many of them that they even got the New Zealand army to help flesh them out (with some extra computer animation on the side)! There are a number of highs and lows and a dramatic ending that creates the first bit of hope for the forces of good.
The battle of Minas Tirith is even larger in scope, with many more men and orcs, fiery catapults, a wolf-headed battering ram, giant elephants and trolls and a dramatic one-on-one between the Witch King and Eowyn. It finishes with a dramatic intervention from the forces of Rohan and an even more dramatic intervention from Aragorn and his army of the dead. It’s brutal, it’s moving and it’s bloody brilliant!
5. Lord of the Rings is filled with relatable themes
Finally, the number one reason why the Lord of The Rings is so good and why it continues to stand the test of time is because of the relatable themes that run throughout. Hobbits are thought of as irrelevant and cowardly, but throughout the movies, our main four hobbits grow in strength and character to prove that even though they are short in stature, they are large in character and bravery. One of the most moving scenes in all of the films is when the newly crowned Aragorn and the combined forces of good all bow to the hobbits in thanks for their deeds.
Eowyn’s story is similar, in that woman are not thought of as warriors or leaders, but she overcomes these prejudices. By the film’s end, she proves to her uncle, King Theoden, (and all the other men) that gender is irrelevant when it comes to bravery or worth.
Sacrifice for the greater good and the value of friendship are themes that occur over and over throughout the films. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli form a bond of friendship and commitment that supersedes their different races. Sam and Frodo’s friendship is the one thing they have to cling to during their difficult journey to Mordor. In particular, it’s Sam’s sacrifice and willingness to do whatever it takes to save his friend and the rest of the world that leaves you in tears by the end of the last film.
So there you have it! I’ve just finished watching the trilogy for the 5th time and I can’t wait to do it again in a few years. Will we ever see another epic trilogy of movies like this again? Let’s hope so! So what do you think? Will Lord of the Rings stand the test of time? Let us know what your thoughts are!