I confess to say that I did not see the first two LOTR films in theaters. The fact of the matter was that my sister was 6 years old and scared easily, so my father wouldn’t take her. So, my father went on his own to see them. I did, however get to see Return of the King in theaters. I was entranced. I was 12 years old at the time, and I didn’t understand the story. But I was captivated. When Pippin sang his song, I was in tears. At the very end, I was sobbing. The sense of beauty it had…I couldn’t even describe it. So, I watched the first two movies respectively with my father. And now I was within Middle-Earth. I read the books the same month that I saw all three films. Simultaneously, in fact. That is my admiration story.
What can I say about this movie that won’t fill a novel? Where do I start? I suppose with Peter Jackson. I was so struck to learn how these beautiful works of art, Tolkien’s magnum opus, inspired him to want to take on such a daunting yet gratifying task. He saw more in those books than I had read from them, and I’m glad that a dedicated fan brought these jewels to screen. Thank you, Mr. Jackson! The cast? Absolutely beautiful. Their friendship is so apparent, so close, not faked as you see in many other movies. Not one actor in those three films were bad. Yes, you heard me. So those of you who said that the casting was terrible, let me say to you: “Not all those who wander are lost.”
Elijah Wood, who is a very gifted and bright young man, has such an incredible beauty (inside and out) to portray such a conflicted and fatalistic character. His own striking idealism, innocence, and understanding was such that you fell in love with Frodo at first sight, but not to the point where he seemed weak. Elijah is Frodo incarnate, and anyone else would have ruined the role.
Sean Astin, another very bright young man, shows his warm wisdom as Samwise, as well as a courage the likes of which I have never seen before in any performance. He had such an aura of honesty and kindliness that it shone like a light on screen. His friendship with Frodo (Elijah respectively) is so obvious and true on-screen, and not a sappy, cheesy “Hollywood” special. Friendships that are too sappy (and fake) will kill a movie, but this one was so obviously real and strong that it touched we fans in such a deep way (for those who could appreciate it).
I can’t say everything I would like to about these movies. The marriage of deep friendship, dedication, and beautiful, realistic special effects creates an entrancing epic that will be hard to rival by any movie. Those who negatively rated these movies, did you actually pay any attention to the screen as you watched the movie? For those who have never seen these movies, please, do. The deep bonds shared by these actors, all of them, are so beautifully shown, and the cast clearly underwent a lot of stress (For those who own the Extended Versions of these movies, you might hear some horror stories from Astin, Wood, Mortensen, Serkis, and more, if you listen to the documentaries/commentaries), but it is clear that they love their roles, and it shines through in their voices, their faces, and especially their acting.
I neglected to mention the efforts of the crew. Without them, over 5,000 people strong, these movies would not have been possible. They created Middle Earth in such way that it seemed possible to be a shadow of our past: a past world on Earth that faded away long before our time. Thanks be to them.
Yes, there are differences from the books. There always are, in any adaptation. I saw that some people commented about how weak a character they thought Frodo seemed compared to the book, because several moments in which he looks Evil in the face were shortened/changed in the film version. That isn’t true. Not at all. True heroism means not only defending others, but accepting aid from others. True heroism means that one accepts that they can’t do everything alone, and accepts the aid of those willing to give it. THAT is true heroism. Frodo shows that in every light, even if it isn’t always obvious. You can see with much more than your eyes…
Overall, if these were the last movies I thought worthwhile enough to watch (I hope cinema doesn’t become that bad), it would be fine by me. Thanks to all of the people who brought this to us, the LOTR fans. To my fellow fans, I say: “May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
10/10, and then some.