When you think of the greatest movies of all time, what do you think of? “The Godfather”? “The Shawshank Redemption”? For me, there is one trilogy that stands out among the movies I’ve seen in my life. One might call it the one trilogy to rule them all.
In preparation for the release of Amazon’s foray into the world of J. R. R. Tolkein, I took the time to rewatch, for the first time in a long while, Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It was during this rewatch that I found myself reminded that these movies are, in my honest opinion, the single greatest movies of all time. From casting, to cinematography, to visual effects, to the amazing soundtrack composed by Howard Shore, I believe the LOTR Trilogy exemplifies how to create the perfect adaptation of book to movie.
Going back and rewatching the trilogy reminds me of how absolutely stunning the movies are on a visual level alone. The gorgeous sweeping landscapes of New Zealand combined with the creation of miniature versions of certain locations create a superbly enjoyable experience to watch, add onto that a cast including legends like Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, and Sir Ian McKellen and you already have a masterpiece in the making. On top of that there’s the lovely chemistry among the cast, my favorite example of which being the hobbits Merry and Pippin, played by Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd respectively, who met on set for the filming of LOTR, and remain each others best friends to this day, more than 20 years after they first met.
In terms of loyalty to source material, Peter Jackson’s certainly as good an attempt as he could to keep as much book content in as possible, but what many Tolkein Scholars who hate the movies for their inaccuracies fail to realize is that the books are hugely inaccessible, on account of how wordy they are, and a vast majority of those blocks of text simply cannot be made to fit in movies that even with the content cuts made still run up a combined total of 9 ½ hours (and that’s for the theatrical release). And Tolkein scholars who can realize that are shown to be HUGE fans of the films (Just look at Stephen Colbert, self proclaimed as one of the greatest Tolkein fans around.)
This goes without mentioning the stunning performance of Andy Serkis and Gollum, one of the first uses of Motion Capture in movies (And the first time an actor was robbed of an oscar for some kind of involvement with animation, something we still see today).
Last to mention, the sheer amount of hilarious stories to come out of these films. Please look up each of these, they are all amazing. There’s the time Mortensen kissed Monaghan deeply behind the camera, the time Mortensen got a tooth knocked out by a sword while filming, the fact that when filming scenes on top of a mountain, Sean Bean refused to ride in a helicopter to the site of filming and instead rode a ski lift, and then hiked in his full Boromir costume to the set, the moment when Christopher Lee (an ex special forces member during World War 2) had to correct Peter Jackson on what it sounded like when someone was stabbed in the back, the legendary fun fact that torments anyone who has watched The Two Towers.
During the scene where Aragorn mourns the believed loss of his hobbit friends, Mortensen kicked a real steel helmet, breaking two toes, and the scream that followed was a genuine scream of pain, which ended up in the movie. Speaking of on set injuries, during the gorgeous scenes where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli trek across the land of Rohan, all three actors were filming those running scenes were injured, Mortensen with the aforementioned two toes, Bloom with a broken rib, and the scale actor for Gimli, Brett Beatie, had blown out both of his knees. Oh, and of course the fact that a ton of scenes that required flat land (Like the Battle at the Black Gate in Return of the King) were filmed on a New Zealand Military detonation range, with genuine concern about still live landmines and undetonated bombs buried in the sand where they were filming. Incredible.
No trilogy since (or in the future) will ever have that sheer level of heart, dedication, and on site filming put into it. “The Lord of the Rings” is, in my opinion, the single greatest cinematic experience anyone can ever have. Screw Marvel and it’s corny humor and like 8 different movies to make sense of one, I’ll take Peter Jackson and the rest of the Lord of the Rings crew ANY. DAY.
Braedon Martin is a Hutchinson sophomore studying journalism. He is also the opinion page editor and the managing editor-design for the collegian.