The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which turns 15, shaped the genre of fantasy storytelling
What had once only been the purview of ‘geeks’ had finally broken into the mainstream. More fantasy books began to be adapted to screen and began to be viewed as financially viable by studioseditorials Updated: Nov 30, 2018 17:01 IST
It has been 15 years since The Return of the King — the third and final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy — first released. These three films have come to shape the way that Hollywood and cinema around the world think about fantasy storytelling, especially on the big screen. Peter Jackson’s magnum opus, that was an adaptation of a much beloved fantasy book series of the same name, managed single handedly to boost tourism for New Zealand (where the films were shot), reinvent the fantasy genre in cinema, and paved the way for the multi-film franchise that has become de rigueur in cinema today. Be it the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the Avengers or TV shows such as Game of Thrones, the treatment of the subject matter, the visual canvas, and the computer graphics that aid the telling of the tale all began with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Andy Serkis’ brilliant Gollum, created with motion capture and CGI technology, became the gold standard for the creation of fantasy roles, seen since in characters as varied as Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean, Smaug the dragon in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, and the Na’vi in Avatar. Tolkein’s detailed world building and meticulously crafted characters have long been the delight of fans of fantasy fiction, but it was the films that managed to bring the stories into the popular culture mainstream. The Return of the King is the first fantasy movie ever to have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and matched films such as Ben Hur and Titanic by winning 11 Oscars at the 2004 Academy Awards. It wasn’t just the critical acclaim that set this movie apart. All three films combined managed to make $3 billion worldwide, not counting the DVD and digital sales in the past 15 years.
Other than its contributions to the form of filmmaking, Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings trilogy served to make fantasy cool. What had once only been the purview of geeks had finally broken into the mainstream. More fantasy books began to be adapted to screen and began to be viewed as financially viable by studios. The massive followings of franchises such as the MCU was preceded by the popularity of the Lord of the Rings franchise. Even older epic fantasy stories such as Star Wars were rebooted to feed audiences hungry for more such stories. As the trilogy turns 15, its enduring legacy is still playing out in the art form of fantasy story telling in cinema, television, and even books.
First Published: Nov 30, 2018 17:01 IST