THE LORD OF THE RINGS- THE MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY. BASED ON THE BOOKS BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN. A WHOPPER TRIPLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING- 2001. THE TWO TOWERS- 2002. THE RETURN OF THE KING- 2003. DIRECTED BY PETER JACKSON. STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, IAN MCKELLEN, VIGGO MORTENSEN, ORLANDO BLOOM, JOHN RHYS-DAVIES, LIV TYLER, CATE BLANCHETT, ELIJAH WOOD, SEAN ASTIN, BILLY BOYD, DOMINIC MONAGHAN, IAN HOLM, BERNARD HILL, KARL URBAN, MIRANDA OTTO, SEAN BEAN, HUGO WEAVING, DAVID WENHAM AND ANDY SERKIS AS GOLLUM.
When the late great Christopher Lee, a lifelong Tolkien fan, was asked why this trilogy had been so successful, he replied with the words: ‘Nobody’s ever seen anything like it before in the history of cinema, and they never will again.’ I literally could not have put it better myself.
Speaking for myself, when I watched the first film, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, in Dublin’s Savoy Cinema in January of 2002, I was completely blown away. I was in the early stages of a truly ferocious break-up (the mother of all break-ups, in fact) and this was one of two films that helped somewhat to take my mind off it. I’ll tell you what the other one was another time, I promise.
I’ve always been a fan of war films and lavish spectacle anyway, but this was something else. The scale was utterly massive, the scenery breath-taking and the battle scenes epic beyond anything that had ever been seen before. If this trilogy were my own magnum opus, I would die a happy woman. Imagine being a part of something this brilliant, never mind being the creator!
The two films that followed more than lived up to the expectations of the first movie. If anything, they surpassed it. In my own humble opinion, in fact, THE TWO TOWERS is one of the best films ever made, with one of the best and most memorable endings. So gloriously heavy metal…!
When the first film drew to a close in the cinema, I cried. I couldn’t believe that I would have to wait another year for the next instalment. But wait I did (we all did!) and now I look back on these three films as the best cinematic trilogy ever made. Sorry, STAR WARS, you don’t even come close.
I suppose that’s my cue to be murdered horribly now by a load of furious STAR WARS fans, but before that happens let’s have a quick overview of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. It’ll be necessary to condense the plot a good bit on account of the fact that we’d be here till Kingdom Come if we went into its intricacies and convolutions in any detail, so you’ll forgive me if I’m guilty of over-simplification…!
Put as succinctly as I can manage it, a motley crew or ‘Fellowship’ of nine people (well, some of ’em are people, anyway!) are tasked with returning an evil ring to the fires of Mount Doom from whence it came, the only place where it can feasibly be destroyed.
The ring’s monstrously evil owner Sauron, however, will be dead against the destruction of the ring and will therefore put any obstacles he can in the Fellowship’s way. Also, the journey to Mount Doom in Mordor is fraught with more peril than you can shake a stick at. The place is harder to get into than… well, a place that’s really, really hard to get into. A fancy nightclub or something.
Will the brave little Fellowship ever make it to their destination, or will the poisonous ring turn them against each other before they reach Mordor? Mordor, by the way, is a wicked, soulless place that burns night and day with the fires of industry, industry geared towards the manufacture of cruel weaponry that will help to wipe out the world of Good and replace it with the world of Evil. Cripes…! That doesn’t sound too clever, does it?
Naturally, you can be sure that nobody who was ever a good decent person would want such a thing, hence the ‘Fellowship’s’ quest to return the naughty ring to the nasty flames that wrought it. I think that that’s basically the plot in a nutshell. Many apologies to Tolkien for the dumbing down, haha…!
The ‘Fellowship’ is made up of the following: the flaky-as-f**k (well, he keeps wigging out at the most inopportune moments!) Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit, and his three Hobbit buddies, the loyal Samwise Gamgee and the utterly feckless Merry and Pippin; Legolas, the high-cheekboned blonde-haired Elf; Gimli, the tough and fearless Dwarf whose rivalry with Legolas is a source of ongoing humour; Aragorn and Boromir, two hot-as-hell human males with longish, sweat-soaked hair and stubble and piercing eyes; and, last but not least, Gandalf the Wizard, superbly played by Ian McKellen. Did you know, by the way, that a Wizard is never either late nor early, but in fact arrives precisely when he means to? You didn’t? Well, now you do.
All of their different worlds are threatened by Sauron so for the ‘Fellowship’ it’s literally a case of ‘unite and fight together or die.’ Individually, of course, they don’t have a hope of defeating Sauron and his All-Seeing Eye, which has always looked like a Flaming Vagina to my eyes, but there’s strength and safety in numbers and all that jazz.
Together, the motley crew have to battle savage and hideously ugly Orcs, Goblins and the Uruk-Hai, a deadly blend of Orcs and Goblins, specially created for the destruction of the World of Man by Saruman, Sauron’s agent. The role of Saruman is one of Christopher Lee’s last epic performances and it’s obvious he totally revels in every second of it.
His legendary voice is as strong and sexy as ever and the scene where he battles his old mucker Gandalf is a stand-out in a series of films that contains almost too many memorable scenes to mention, but let’s see if we can isolate a few really terrific ones for your amusement and entertainment.
How about Frodo and his three Hobbit pals hiding under a paltry bit of twig from the Black Rider, who surely should have gone to SpecSavers for that long-deferred eye-test? That scene from the first film’s been parodied by the likes of French And Saunders and, I must say, Peter Jackson had it coming, heh-heh-heh. The deadly assault on Sean Bean (Boromir) by the powerfully-built King Of The Uruk-Hais (is it wrong that I’ve always fancied him?) in the silent, spooky forest filled with felled trees mildewed and broken statuary is unforgettable also. Ditto Gandalf and the Balrog and the death-filled Mines Of Moria. Poor Gimli’s despair when he sees what’s become of his relatives…!
The attack of the Warg-Riders in the second film is terrifying, and the Battle Of Helm’s Deep is the best battle I’ve ever seen in a film in my whole entire life, bar none. Bar none. The sight of King Theoden’s raggle-taggle army of old men and young boys preparing to face off against the savage beasts surrounding their keep and castle is just heartbreakingly moving. So too is the death of the gorgeous Haldir, the only Elf I’ve ever fancied. His last moments are poetic and even balletic in their beauty and unutterable sadness. God, how I’d like to ride him, haha…! And Treebeard and the Ents, how could we forget the Ents? What’s an Ent? Watch the film and you’ll find out, haha.
I love the bit where King Theoden of Rohan is rid of Saruman’s evil spell by Gandalf and then Saruman’s slimy agent, the aptly-named Grima Wormtongue, is banished from Rohan forever only to go crawling straight back to his master Saruman. Fancy an odious toad like Grima Wormtongue thinking he had a chance with Eowyn, the beautiful niece of the poor befuddled King Theoden! Talk about punching above your weight. Mind you, guys do do that, don’t they, the poor misguided, delusional little beggars…? God help them.
Oh, and don’t forget Shelob, the hideous giant spider in the third film. I bought my youngest child a toy Shelob a few years back, in a set that came complete with a Frodo and a Sam whose hair came off more or less straightaway and left the pair of ’em looking like escaped convicts. Anyway, he (my youngest) thought it would be an hilarious jape to hide the Shelob around the house for me to find.
When the revolting creature turned up in my bed, I packed it up and gave it to charity, minus the Frodo and Sam action figures. They’d gone missing and were undoubtedly Shawshank-ing it somewhere in the house. Why I’d ever bought the Shelob in the first place is still a mystery to all concerned, given my fear and vehement hatred of giant spiders. Ah well. Just another one of Mammy’s mad impulse purchases…! God knows, there’ve been a few mad ones all right.
The third film, clocking in at nearly three-and-a-half hours, is an epic watch. It has Pippin singing his little Hobbit heart out in it about loss and sadness to the insane Steward Of Gondor, who later tries to make toast out of his least favourite son, Faramir. (So unfair! Just because he's not Sean Bean, presumably.) It has the ugliest of all the Orcs in it too, the one I call Mr. Potato-Head and the one who says that the time of Men is kaput and the time of the Orcs is at hand, or words to that effect. A chilling vision of things to come, as Kent Brockman might say.
It also has Eowyn teaching a long-awaited lesson to the deadliest and scariest of all the Nazgul, which is pretty cool to watch. She's the one Aragorn should go for, if you ask me. She's gutsy and ballsy and feisty and she can swing a sword, unlike mopey Arwen whom I've nicknamed Droopy Drawers. She might be Aerosmith's daughter but God Almighty, she's a miserable, whispery sod.
Aragorn and his (slightly reluctant and accursed) Army Of The Dead rushing in to save the day in the third film is another bit I love. A special mention to the fantastic musical score and to Andy Serkis who was superb as the creature Gollum. Every scene he was in, he stole.
Also, I remember that everyone in the cinema for the extremely long third film kept thinking that the movie was ending because there’d be this haunting music and the screen would go black, but then another scene would start up and we’d all sigh with relief because we didn’t want it to end. Oh Lord, how we didn’t want it to end!
But end it eventually did. I think we can safely say that we’ll never see its like again. THE HOBBIT trilogy, also directed by Peter Jackson, sadly couldn’t match it, though of course it had a damn good try. Peter Jackson is a genius, but even he couldn’t out-do his own magnum opus. That’s because it’s unmatchable. Unbeatable. Un-everything-else-able as well. That’s all I’m saying. Over and out.
Oh, except to say that Annie Lennox sings a great song during the end credits called 'INTO THE WEST' and if you stick around for the credits, which you should always do anyway (a lot of people worked hard on that film for your benefit!), you'll see some gorgeous drawings of the cast of characters that are well worth a look. Oh, and Sam is the real hero of the trilogy, not that wimpy, freaked-out Frodo. Now I'm finished, haha.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
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