The Lord of the Rings trilogy is old. How old? So old that we used to own VHS copies of all of the films. Also, it turns 20 this week. It’s been a while since I last sat down and watched any of films in the trilogy. I used to watch them all the time. Well, I used to repeatedly watch the scenes where Aragorn was a full-on hunk repeatedly. It probably didn’t do the videos any good, so I quickly upgraded to the DVDs. As tomorrow is the official anniversary of the release of The Fellowship of the Ring, I decided that it was a good time to go back to Middle Earth.
Turning JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy story into a series of films seemed like an impossible task but, 20 years ago, Peter Jackson proved us all wrong. It was an epic film that used breakthrough CGI and special effects to create the world of Middle Earth. It was such a fascinating task that the behind the scenes stuff is as interesting as the actual film. I’ve not sat down and watched all of the DVD extras because there’s so much and I’m just not dedicated enough. I’m sure that I’ll manage it one day.
But how does the first film look now it’s 20 years old? I guess that I have to be honest and say that it definitely feels 20 years old in some places. The amazing effects no longer seem as amazing and some of the green screen stuff is way too noticeable. It’s not important but any modern film lover watching for the first time certainly wouldn’t understand the hype. However, it does pretty much stand up. Yes, Hobbiton looks a little wooden in the opening and the forced perspective stuff isn’t always perfect.
Of course, that’s just splitting hairs. It doesn’t matter because this film is still a masterpiece. The casting is perfect and the world-building really stands up against Tolkein’s books. I also think that Peter Jackson and co. were clever about what they left out. The story works really well. When I first saw this film, I had tried and failed to read the book a couple of times. Watching this made it so much easier and it allowed me to appreciate the books even more. These films are like the SparkNotes for the trilogy.
With films like this, you can tell how good they are by how quickly you get drawn back in. As soon as the opening sequence kicks in and it’s suddenly 20 years ago and I’m watching it for the first time all over again. There’s a reason why these films are still so beloved. They were always going to be classics.