December 11, 2000
Why Peter Jackson's
'Lord of the Rings' will be the Greatest Films Ever Made
A few years ago J.R.R Tolkiens epic story The Lord of the Rings was deemed un-filmable. Some brave souls had stepped up to the plate and tried to viscerally represent Tolkiens world. But fans and studios were left disappointed with short, unfulfilling movies. Movies that failed too fully capture the essence of Tolkiens books. From past versions we have learnt that in order for a film version of any of Tolkiens work to be successful it must follow the story as closely as possible, tell all of it, and above all it must capture the feeling of Tolkiens world. A factor which is often difficult to portray on film. New Zealand born director Peter Jackson has taken on this task of trying to bring a proper film version of the Lord of the Rings to our cinema screens, as well as taking on all the fan baggage that comes with adapting Tolkien. With shooting about to wrap up, and fan expectations at an all time high it is worth taking time out to look at the factors of this film that will, I believe, result in these films going down in cinematic history as the greatest films ever made.
The first and perhaps most important of these factors is the story. After all you would have no film to begin with without the story. And what a story to base a movie on, it seems so perfect that it is surprising that such a live action version has not been tried before. J.R.R Tolkiens epic story has all the elements of a perfect movie: romance, action, drama, conflict, adventure and a journey of mammoth proportions. It is also many genres rolled into one, at some stages it is a comedy, at others a thriller and at others a horror film.
The books have graced bestseller lists their entire existence and will continue to do so, why? Because they are so good, all the above mentioned elements are there and these are the types of elements that people love, these elements make a story exciting and more importantly enjoyable. So the new Lord of the Rings films have the fantastic story of Tolkien to help them, all of the imperfections that may be inherent in a fresh screenplay have been ironed out over many years of wide reading by the public. I am sure everyone who has read the books has formed a strong mental picture in their minds about what the world looks like and how the story unfolds. In this way the story is already a movie of sorts as we have all already seen it, hence backing up my point of having the perfect subject for a film. It is as if the worlds most perfect screenplay has been delivered to studios. I am sure that Peter Jackson and the other writers will get a nod come Academy Award time in 2002 for adapting this story, and that will be thanks to the wonderful groundwork laid down so many years before by that wonderfully talented author.
The next element that I am sure will contribute to The Lord of the Rings being the greatest film ever is the director Peter Jackson. Peter Jackson brings with him experience at telling a wide variety of stories. From comedy to horror, to mixtures of both. He also has experience working with elaborate makeup effects, computer-generated characters and puppets. Factors that will be pivotal for bringing to life some of the fantastical creatures that inhabit Tolkiens world. Peter Jacksons unique sense of humour and distinct filmmaking style will ensure that the films will have a distinct feel and look rather than the feeling it may have if some generic Hollywood check casher was behind the camera. Of all the possible choices available to New Line I am glad they chose Jackson, with him they have found someone who can encapsulate all of the elements of Tolkiens book on film and rather than just tell a story will create an experience. Besides Jacksons immense filmmaking skills he also brings with him two factors which will prove telling to the success of the films.
The first of these is WETA FX. Not only do Peter Jackson and WETA go way back but the distinct, and original feel of WETA will ensure that the effects (both make up and computer generated) in Lord of the Rings stand out from the normal effects movie audiences are used to. With such a large-scale effects movie there was initially doubt that such a small company would be able to cope with such a task however from what has been reported they are doing a damn fine job bringing this world to life. Just look at the oliphant picture or the early gollum test shots. As I mentioned above their unique style and lack of main stream exposure means that with WETA we have artists who are yet to show their full power and capabilities to the world. The Lord of the Rings is the perfect chance, as the surprises I am sure they have up their sleeves will make the films jump out from all those around it.