The Lord of the Rings Saga
Films and Books
a kate west favorite
(Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins)
An absolute success from the very beginning, Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy wowed audiences as a box office hit; not bad for three epic movies, each three whole hours long. At least. Taken from the modern classic novels of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), the films are scrupulously true to the original novels, with but a few very minor deviations not even worth mentioning. Jackson captures the essential characters perfectly and his eye for casting is sublime.
Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is Bilbo Baggins’ (Ian Holm) favorite nephew and a Hobbit (small, jovial and gentle creatures). Bilbo must have passed on his vivid wanderlust (read “The Hobbit” for details) onto Frodo as both of them encounter incredible adventures in their full lives. The most important quest by far is that of the great ring of power, forged for the evil Sauron, a demon lord trying to take over Middle Earth.
Tolkien painstakingly created Middle Earth and even developed complicated languages for his characters. A contemporary of the Christian writer C.S. Lewis, he himself was Roman Catholic. He incorporated much of that mysticism and symbolism into his works and in his worlds, good is constantly pitted against evil, causing much internal conflicts. Having lived through both World Wars (and witnessing Tolkien cult fanaticism), Tolkien was acutely aware of the corruption of power and mania and of how kingdoms can be felled. The message of his novels is always that good will prevail, but often at heavy cost.
In the films, as in the books, the cost in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy is the death of some main characters and the toll on everyone’s soul. To begin with, Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellan) tasks Frodo with bringing the ring into the heart of Mordor and the fires of the Mount Doom, which will destroy its sinister power forever. To aid the valiant Hobbit is the Fellowship of the Ring, consisting of three fellow Hobbits, a Ranger, Gandalf, a Dwarf, an Elf and a second mortal human, Boromir (Sean Bean). Their quest ends up taking them all on different paths, finding their dark destinies and ultimately returning to the light in one fashion or another.
Frodo and his loyal friend Sam (Sean Astin) encounter Gollum (voiced by Andy Serkis, with most visuals done by CGI*), on their lonely last leg of the journey. Gollum had the ring long ago (no one ever truly owns the ring) and its siren song compels him to follow it all the way to his doom, having already been twisted into a sub being, tragically far from his origins. He serves as a warning to Frodo not to let himself be swallowed up by the magic of the ring, and thankfully, Sam is at hand to help him stay strong.
Meanwhile, heroic Strider/Aragon (Viggo Mortensen), the ancient mortal King Isildur’s heir; gallant Legolas the Elf (Orlando Bloom) and the fierce Dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) seek the other two lost Hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan from television’s “Lost”) and Pippin (Billy Boyd). Boromir and brother Faramir (David Wenham), heirs to the Gondor throne have unresolved family issues, adding even more dimension to the characters' stories. Other standout characters are the elegant Fairy Queen, Lady of Light and Wood, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elven leader Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and his beautiful daughter Arwen (Liv Tyler), in love with Aragon. Elves are pretty cool in general, as well as mighty warriors, like Haldir (Craig Parker) another suave hero. Talking trees, goblins, orcs and more populate this fantastical world. Suffice it to say, you have plenty to look at and will want to view these magnificent films over and over again.
Peter Jackson truly understands Tolkien’s world and visualizes a gorgeously filmed work of art. It’s touching, breathtaking, so musically apt, wonderfully acted and beautifully costumed. Tolkien inspired many storytellers, in fantasy and science fiction alike, and his works continue to spark the imagination. It is a credit to Jackson that his Oscar-award winning epics do fine justice to the beloved novels.
*Computer Graphics Interface: A digitalized imaging process of computer animating characters on screen.
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
J.R.R. Tolkien (novels)
Fran Walsh (screenplay)
Philippa Boyens (screenplay)
Peter Jackson (screenplay)
Alan Howard ... The Ring (voice)
Noel Appleby ... Everard Proudfoot
Sean Astin ... Sam Gamgee, Hobbit
Sala Baker ... Sauron, Dark Lord
Sean Bean ... Boromir of Gondor
Cate Blanchett ... Galadriel, Lady of Light, of Wood
Orlando Bloom ... Legolas Greenleaf, Elf
Billy Boyd ... Peregrin 'Pippin' Took, Hobbit
Marton Csokas ... Celeborn, Elf Husband of Gladriel
Brad Dourif ... Grima Wormtongue
Megan Edwards ... Mrs. Proudfoot
Michael Elsworth ... Gondorian Archivist
Mark Ferguson ... Gil-Galad, Elf King of Noldor
Bernard Hill ... King Theoden of Rohan
Ian Holm ... Bilbo Baggins, Hobbit
Christopher Lee ... Saruman, The White Wizard
Lawrence Makoare ... Lurtz, Uruk-Hai (half Orc/half Man)
Brent McIntyre ... Witch-King
Ian McKellen ... Gandalf the Grey
Peter McKenzie ... Elendil, Father of Isildur
Sarah McLeod ... Rosie Cotton, Hobbit
Dominic Monaghan ... Merry, Hobbit
Viggo Mortensen ... Aragorn/Strider, Isildur's heir
Ian Mune ... Bounder
John Noble ... Denethor, Father of Boromir & Faramir
Miranda Otto ... Eowyn, Shield Maiden of Rohan
Craig Parker ... Haldir, Elf Captain
Cameron Rhodes ... Farmer Maggot
John Rhys-Davies ... Gimli the Dwarf
Martyn Sanderson ... Gate Keeper
Andy Serkis ... Gollum/Voice of The Witchking
Harry Sinclair ... Isildur, Past King of Gondor
Liv Tyler ... Arwen, Elf
David Weatherley ... Barliman Butterbur, Owner Prancing Pony
Hugo Weaving ... Elrond, father of Arwen
David Wenham ... Faramir, brother of Boromir
Elijah Wood ... Frodo Baggins, Hobbit
Start with the first LOR Book:
The Lord of the Rings (Collector's Edition)
Special Edition Film Series:
The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition)
The Lord of the Rings Saga