I want to start by saying that this is not a review, it is a discussion about what these movies mean to me, my history with them and why they remind of Christmas and are Holiday Classics for myself. I am only discussing the Peter Jackson Lord of Rings movies and not the books nor the animated version by Ralph Bakshi.
I don’t have photographs of my childhood with these films so I am using images from google, if anyone has an issue with an image I use please email me at my contact email address in the contact me section of this website and I will change it for another.
Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Fellowship of the Ring was released in December of 2001 and I was eight years old, my grandmother had come to visit the day after her and my Grandad went to the cinema to watch a film called The Lord of the Rings.
I remember asking her to tell me about it and she told me it was load of rubbish and was so boring and stupid that she fell asleep not long into the movie, this may be surprising but keep in mind that when she was younger she grew up with the books and while I haven’t read them myself yet I am sure they are quite different to the film adaptations.
After hearing about this boring movie eight year old me left the room to play and knowing myself it was probably Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 although I cant be too sure.
One year later on Christmas day 2002 I opened up one of my presents and it was that boring movie my grandmother told me about, I left it alone for a while as I was more interested in my new toys but on Christmas it has always been tradition for my family to watch a movie together and that year my mother wanted us to watch Lord of the Rings.
I quickly became obsessed with this movie and would play the tape almost daily, I’m not sure what really got me into the films but I do know that I had recently became interested in Wizardry thanks to Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone which was released in theatres around a year prior to when I was gifted Fellowship.
Gandalf the wizard became a favourite character of mine and even my friends, we all began quoting the famous “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” line while playing games in the garden and I we used to love re-watching his battle with the Balrog time and time again.
Another Scene I remember watching vigorously as a child was the fight with the Cave Troll, definitely one of the most intense parts of the movie and for an eight year old it was very memorable as a battle, again this may be due to Harry Potter which also had a troll fight, I dont like comparing the two but in my childhood this makes a lot of sense now that I look back almost 20 years later.
The movie ended on a fairly un-conclusive note so while young, I was still aware that there was more of the story to be told but at that age I was fairly distracted with school, video games and other hobbies so I never gave this much thought until the second movie ended up in my hands.
The Two Towers (2002)
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers released in theatres December 2002 I remember seeing posters for the movie but I was too young to be allowed to see the movie in the cinema, instead I would have to wait until the following Christmas before the tape was finally added to my collection.
I don’t remember the Christmas that I received this very well but I do have some very fond memories of this film and this is probably the video tape out of the entire trilogy which I played the most growing up.
It was the first interaction that the hobbits had with the creature Gollum here played by Andy Serkis who voiced the character and did live action work before the animation. Gollum is easily the best part of the film, he is very funny especially when he starts arguing with his other personality Sméagol.
I always wanted a Treebeard action figure when I was younger thanks to his scenes in the Two Towers, as a nine year old I was very jealous of Merry and Pippin getting to ride in his arms, I think he was a really lovable character and to this day he is still one of my favourite parts of the film.
I could never understand the whole Gandalf the Grey turned Gandalf the White when I was a child, It’s not that I didn’t like the character It was just a little bit too complicated for me to grasp back then, re-watching the film recently I must say it is really impressive how the cinematography, clever use of lighting and editing makes it seem like its Saruman before the big reveal.
The battle scene for Helms Deep was replayed so many times on the video tape that this section began to wear out before the rest of the video did, me and friends would often rewind this part and re-watch it, it is generally a very intense and fun battle scene, the fellowship only manages to get a 300 man army to take on 10’000 orcs so your really on the edge of your seat watching this.
There is also the competition between Legolas and Ghimli which adds some comedy to the scene and of course how can you forget Legolas riding the shield down the stairs while shooting orcs.
Again the film ends on a cliff hanger leaving me only desperate to get part three with me not realising that it would be the final chapter of this story.
The Return of the King (2003)
December 2003 saw the Return of the King hitting theatres but as per usual I wouldnt see the movie until a year later.
2004 was a tough year for my family, money was running low, savings were non existent and due to the stress of making enough money to feed the family my father had to take up a job abroad. One of the most difficult losses especially for my parents was the loss of our house, we couldn’t afford the upkeep so we were forced to move to an old flat in the city.
Its fair to say that I wasn’t expecting Lord of the Rings that year so I was very happy when it was gifted to me by my Auntie on Boxing Day when we did our usual Christmas greetings of the extended family.
Return of the King is easily in my opinion the best film in the trilogy, I have a lot of memories of this movie and they start from the very beginning, the movie opens with two brothers Sméagol and Deagol fishing on a boat, Deagol falls into the water and finds the One Ring, he refuses to give it to Sméagol for his birthday so he gets strangled to death and this starts the rings corruption of Sméagol and the creation of the Gollum.
I used to hate the scene with Denethor eating as it is really gross, I had a weak stomach when I was a kid so I used to close my eyes at this part, I suppose that’s why it always stuck with me.
The army of the undead was unbelievably cool for ten year old me, I used to love the big fight in this film, it had orcs, trolls, elephants and yes even the ghosts!, even Legolas and Ghimli’s competition was continued in the film and most prominently in this scene, it was tons of fun and both my favourite part of the movie and the videogame adaptation that was released.
There is a part of the film after Frodo leaves Sam he gets tricked into entering the cave of the Spider Shelob where he gets injected with a numbing liquid and wrapped in web, this part used to scare me and is really disturbing, when Sam removes the web from Frodo’s face he looks pale and dead and it isn’t revealed until later on that he is still alive.
For many fans the scene where Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom is one of the most beautiful and memorable and if I ever review these films I will likely fully analyse this moment.
For me one of the most memorable parts of Return of the King was when Frodo refuses to drop the ring into Mount Doom, the entire trilogy had been building up to this moment so it is difficult to see Frodo be so corrupted that he doesn’t want to let go, of course Gollum jumps on top of an invisible Frodo and bits his finger off, this moment snaps Frodo out of his control and he pushes Gollum to his death in turn destroying the ring and saving Middle Earth.
The ending where Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf go off on the boat I didn’t fully understand when I was younger, I assumed they were going on more adventures, and while this is kind of the case I now realise that they were going to the undying lands where they would settle down until the end of time.
And that’s it, that is all of my fondest childhood memories of Lord of the Rings, as I stated this was not a review but more of my experiences with the films growing up and why I watch them every Christmas, of course they are not Christmas movies but for me they do remind of the holiday and were some of the most memorable gifts I ever received, I know I skipped over a lot of moments in the films and if I ever review them I will do them full justice in a proper review but for now it was nice for me to look back at these epics and why they mean so much to me.
Happy Holidays everybody, I know my Christmas offerings have been less than usual this year, I may try to squeeze one more review out if I am feeling up for it but if not.
Have a great holiday season and I will see you all in 2021 !!
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