The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy……………Which is the best of the three films?
In the common tongue it reads “One Ring to Rule Them All. One Ring to Find Them. One Ring to Bring Them All and In The Darkness Bind Them.” -Gandalf
At first viewing of the Fellowship I had not read J.R.R. Tolkiens acclaimed novel, The Lord Of The Rings. In fact I had such disdain for Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler that I refused to watch the film. My then boyfriend, now husband, insisted we do a theatre showing of it and he won. Words have little description and do little justice for the shock I was in leaving the theatre. Not only did I fall madly in love with Viggo and adore Liv Tyler as Arwen, but I was shocked by how amazing the film and the story itself were.
It’s length is considerable but it doesn’t seem that way when you are viewing it. In fact, the time flies. Each portion of the story is developed so fully to appeal to the visual enhancement, to let the actors speak the tongue of Tolkien himself, to enjoy the score of Howard Shore playing in the back round, and gives each of them time to construct the relationships around them naturally. It’s done in a way that entertains on so many fronts, you can’t help but be swept away by the tale.
The CGI done by The Weta team is absolutely astounding. Various miniatures and even life size sets were created for a real authentic feel for the sets, but the work done by the computer graphics were simply magnificent. The visuals based on the art of Alan Lee made the feel of Middle Earth magnanimous in it’s scale. It’s difficult not to just watch and appreciate how amazing it all actually is.
The Fellowship Of The Ring is the very definition of an ensemble cast. The supporting cast were just as important as the main cast and each worked to together to tell the story. No special heroes were singled out and no performance really out-shined another. Everyone played their roles as authentically as they were written, and that made this movie that much more special. Viggo Mortensen in particular won me over with his reluctant bravado and obvious underscoring of his prowess. He undoubtedly was strong as Aragorn, but humble as well, and his excellence in playing that contrast made me truly appreciate his acting ability enough for me to even become a “fan” of his.
The screenplay adapted by Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson himself, was done with such care for the original work of Tolkien and such great lengths were met to keep the integrity of the character’s and their journeys that this is without a doubt some of the best literature translated to the big screen ever. Every aspect of this story was done with the admiration of a true fan and the brilliance of an amazing filmmaker. The Fellowship of the Ring is what going to the movies is all about. This is a movie everyone should see, and the best part is it’s only the beginning of the journey.
The Two Towers
He wants the precious. Always he is looking for it. And the precious is wanting to go back to him… But we mustn’t let him have it. -Gollum
This film is just as extraordinary to look at as the first, but on a much larger scale. Enormous landscapes and battle sequences take this movie to the next level of special effects and visuals. While the art is still inspired by Alan Lee’s work, there is an added vastness to this films physical boundaries. With the character’s spred all across Middle Earth this film feels much larger and much more hopeless.
The battle of Helm’s Deep is one of the most intense and technically challenging battle scenes ever on film. The degree of emotional points countered with some of the most hardcore action sequences to date makes this forty-five minute battle go by quickly, but at the same time tortuously slow. The time it takes for Dawn to come and the circumstances it takes to get there is entirely authentic. By the time this film is over a feeling of complete mental exhaustion will settle over you.
The additional character’s in this story really shook things up. Miranda Otts as Eowyn creating the conflict of interest with Aragorn and Arwen was a beautiful personal conflict. It really makes her interact with the rest of the cast, and while you may be screaming “home wrecker” at her, who could deny her affection for Aragorn? Any woman in their right mind would, and that makes her role even more palpable.
Bernard Hill as King Theoden is one of my favorite fictional character’s ever. The tortured and conflicted, yet strong man was interpreted so well by Hill. He was not just a pawn in the story, but one of the most astounding performances ever. His subtle way of exploiting his own self doubt and inner conflict without detracting from the story is pure genuis in the acting category.
Also along for the ride was the most amazing CGI character ever evolved: Gollum/Smeagal. Never before has a computer generated character come across the screen as so three dimensional. There is never a moment where you ask yourself if Gollum is CGI because he is so realistic. Played by Andy Serkis, this interpretation of a character that is so twisted and demented would be difficult to pull off by your most talented actor, and yet combined with technology and the amazing voice over and physicality of Andy Serkis; Gollum becomes one of the greatest good/evil character’s of all time.
By the end of this film you are either completely hooked and enthralled by this trilogy or you plain and simply can’t stand it. By this film the character’s are no longer just entertaining vessels telling a story onscreen, they are in your heart and mind and you become truly affected by them. really care about what happens to all of them. Our heroes have in one way or another touched us in some very real or profound way, and that is the essence of an amazing story. The Two Towers was the deciding factor and the result was my heart stolen by one of the greatest stories ever told.
The Return Of The King
Is there any hope, Gandalf, for Frodo and Sam? -Pippin
Weta not only needed to construct a massive attack with tens of thousands of Orc’s attacking Minas Tirith, but they also had to make the White City itself, which was an enormous undergoing. With special effects including giant Olyphants, a towering city, the giant spider Shelob, Barad-Dur, Mount Doom, The Witch King, 10,000 Rohirrim, and a ghost army, Return Of The King was a special effects dynasty.
The emptiness of hopelessness is grasped so clearly in this film that it evokes real emotions. The battle of Minas Tirith is painful and awful to watch. It has amazing action sequences, but there are so many cuts to the actual demise of the city, and it’s people, despair is a greater emotion conveyed than the excitement of a great battle scene. When the Rohirrim show up and the light of the sun is behind them, facing overwhelming odds, yet giving that brief feel of hope, I choke up each time I watch it. It is one of the most powerful moments in cinema history. That one moment captures the entire essence of the entire story and brings it to a crashing pause of reflection, fear, and hope.
Howard Shore’s score is elegant and powerful yet again. It really emotes the tone of the film, and makes it’s symmetry even more supreme. It’s beauty is just as important as each of our character’s and tells it’s own story without words being said.
This final film really focused on the interaction between Frodo and Sam. Both actors really sold their special relationship and the torment of the task before them. The friendship of Frodo and Sam is really challenged, and the realistic horror of each feeling betrayed by the other is heart wrenching. The fear behind the deception Gollum has created really escalates, leaving the two Hobbit’s seemingly vulnerable. Jokes are made about the closeness of the two, but in honesty it was perfection in chemistry and really owning their character’s. Ian McKellan as Gandalf was just amazing. In each film Gandalf seems to get even grumpier, but his true evolution is very subtle, but the change there. Only at the Grey Haven’s do you see the light and soft eyes of Gandalf the Grey that we saw in his first scene in the Shire.
Return of the King was perfect closure to the Epic tale it began nearly ten hours before, and paid Tolkien the greatest respect by making this film the way it was interpreted by Jackson, Boyens, and Walsh. They were not just writers, they were the greatest of fans visually realizing one of the greatest stories ever told. As Gandalf said,
So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
I must preface this portion by mentioning that I have not viewed the theatrical versions of any of the trilogy’s since essentially they were released in theatre. The extended versions of The Fellowship and Return of the King are superior to their original cuts, and while The Two Towers is more suspenseful with the theatrical cut, the extras added in for the Extended Addition are too enjoyable to view cut out.
The Two Towers has a very different feel to it than the Fellowship which focused around developing character’s, relationships, and plot lines. The Two Towers was essentially the action climax that
never fully happened in the Fellowship. With new character’s entering our already complicated story and with the plot diverting into three different directions it seems like a lot to digest, but it moves so quickly the viewer moves on to the next event without having time to reflect on what happened. When the film ends it feels like half the length of it’s predecessor. This middle portion of the epic tale is more entertainment based than story or plot building which felt necessary after the Fellowship.
This final installment of the trilogy, Return Of The King, is incredibly powerful, and really evokes a compass of emotions. There is fear, hope, love, and desperation. Almost seven hours of story telling has brought the viewer to this point and Return Of The King does not let you down. It has all of the elements of both The Fellowship and The Two Towers. There is amazing character development and plot twists, but there is also one of the most overwhelming battles scenes ever onscreen.
This trilogy is some of the most amazing film making ever in the history of cinema. A frequent question is what the best of the three is, but in truth there really isn’t one. Each are unique to the part of the story they told, and each are portions of the journey. The Beginning, the Middle, and the End.
However, with a forced hand I would lean towards The Fellowship Of The Ring. While it doesn’t have the uber climax’s of TTT or ROTK, it has a more fully fleshed story, and a beginning, middle, and end, whereas the other two feel like middle films or the finale. Out of the three I prefer to watch the Fellowship on it’s own the most.
The Fellowship Of The Ring