Posts Tagged ‘The Lord of the Rings’

On revisiting Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ fantasy epic

June 23, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 23, 2020

Although I haven’t left the house to socialize since March 15, I have not spent a lot of my abundant free time watching TV or movies. I have devoted a lot of hours to playing Boggle, and I have squandered time watching short videos.

I made an exception earlier this month, however, when I devoted five evenings to rewatching Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was filmed in one go and released in December of 2001, 2002 and 2003, respectively. I own the special extended editions of the first two movies, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, and I wasn’t willing to sit through either one in a single night. I wound up doing that for the finale, The Return of the King, of which I own a regular-edition DVD (never opened until last week, incidentally); the finale is three hours and 12 minutes long, so even that was a significant investment of time.

I loved these movies when they were first released. They look great — elaborate sets and lavish costumes and props were supplemented by a great cast, led by Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf the Grey. Moreover, the special effects were excellent for their time. And the production utilized literally dozens of striking New Zealand spots in to stand in for the vast fantasy realm of Middle-Earth. (Indeed, hundreds of thousands of tourists annually flock to Jackson’s native land to visit filming locations used in his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.) Howard Shore’s tremendous trio of scores rounds things off.

The scripts were penned by the director with two regular collaborators, Fran Walsh (his wife) and Philippa Boyens; another Jackson colleague, Stephen Sinclair, is also credited for the screenplay of The Two Towers. To someone like me, who was and remains very casually acquainted with J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal fantasy novels, they capture the spirit of the source material while making it fairly accessible to the viewer.

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After the return and failure of the Jedi, what lies ahead for the mystical knights of ‘Star Wars’?

March 27, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 27, 2016

Apropos of very little, I was thinking the other day about possible plot points for the eighth installment of the Star Wars movies, which is due out in December 2017.

According to a recent update of the flick’s Internet Movie Database pageStar Wars — Episode VIII is currently being filmed, and I’m sure director-screenwriter Rian Johnson hammered down most of the script months ago. (If he hasn’t, then a planet of movie-goers could be in for an epic muddle reminiscent of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.) So the following has value — if it possesses any at all — solely as idle speculation.

(Dear reader, please beware: There be spoilers ahead for Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens! There will also be spoilers for movies in the original Star Wars trilogy, which came out more than 30 years ago.)

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Considering why the original ‘Star Wars’ was such a hit and why the animated ‘Lord of the Rings’ was not

October 7, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 7, 2015

As I wrote earlier today:

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a fantasy-adventure trilogy first printed in 1954–55, was a seminal publication. Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings, an animated feature based on Tolkien’s work that was released in 1978, is an obscurity.

By contrast, I saw the original Star Wars during an extended first run in 1977, and I immediately fell in love with the movie: I instantly wanted to buy all of the Kenner toys based on George Lucas’s movie. For years, I bought and devoutly studied novelizations of the original trilogy of movies as well as original Star Wars novels. (In the latter category, Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Brian Daley’s trilogy of Han Solo adventures held prized places on my bookshelf and in my heart.)

So why did I cotton to Star Wars so thoroughly while The Lord of the Rings left me cold? Part of it was the quality of Bakshi’s movie — as discussed earlier, I generally found it to be adequate, whereas I thought Star Wars was out-and-out thrilling. But there are also major differences between the narratives woven by Tolkien and Lucas, and I wanted to explore those.

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Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was an interesting but muddled creation

October 7, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 7, 2015

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a fantasy-adventure trilogy first printed in 1954–55, was a seminal publication. Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings, an animated feature based on Tolkien’s work that was released in 1978, is an obscurity.

There was probably a time when Bakshi’s movie was prized by a certain subculture. When it came out, the fantasy-adventure genre was only beginning to emerge from fringe culture. The fantasy-adventure role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons — which owes a great debt to Lord of the Rings, like countless other fantasy books, movies and games — had been released in 1974. By the time of the Bakshi animation’s release, D&D had sold out multiple printings and inspired both a burgeoning line of supplementary products as well as a brand-new magazine. (The Dragon switched from bimonthly to monthly publication in April 1978.)

I have extremely vague memories of having seen Bakshi’s movie in a theater when I was (very!) young. But aside from a nightmarish sequence or two involving the hideous Nazgûl, the movie didn’t make much of an impression. The narrative was too convoluted, the plot too sprawling; there were too many things that went over my head.

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Like father, like son? Identity is inextricably tied to parentage in Nick Harkaway’s ‘Angelmaker’

December 18, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 18, 2014

Absent parents loom large in the fictional realm. A key component of the original Star Wars trilogy is Luke Skywalker’s gradual discovery of the particulars of his parentage (especially the villainy of his father, the genocidal Darth Vader) and Luke’s struggle to develop his supernatural powers without being consumed by his own dark, angry impulses. The rebellious nature of the alternative timeline’s James Tiberius Kirk is shaped in large part by the absence of his father, George, whom director J.J. Abrams killed off in the opening sequence of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Likewise, the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man makes the research and relationships of Richard Parker, father of the orphaned web-slinging Peter Parker, a key plot point in both of the series’s first two outings.

I’d wager that matters of parentage are even more prominent in British fiction. After all, the United Kingdom has been ruled for centuries by a hereditary monarchy, with power passing (at least in theory) from one generation of royalty to the next.

A major storyline in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy involves Aragorn assuming the position of king of Gondor that, according to genetics and custom, is rightfully his. My recollection of the books is hazy, but in Peter Jackson’s wonderful movie adaptation, when the audience initially encounters this character, he goes by the name of Strider and appears to be a well-trained woodsman accustomed to operating on his own — hardly the résumé of the standard fantasy prince.

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