Reflecting on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on its 20th anniversary

Peter Jackson’s trilogy has been wholeheartedly embraced by my family, as my mum, Wendy, writes in this guest post.

Has it really been twenty years since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of director Peter Jackson’s three epic fantasy adventure films, was premiered? Twenty years since millions fell under the spell of Hobbits, Wizards, Elves, Dwarves and Men as brought to life almost perfectly cast by Jackson on the silver screen — no longer just a world to escape to on the written page?

Twenty years since JRR Tolkien’s fictional world of Middle-earth enthralled stunned movie-goers far and wide? Twenty years since the magical natural scenery of New Zealand captivated us with its own spectacular majesty and made us want to travel there to see it for ourselves?

Twenty years since Weta Digital developed new technologies to allow for the ground-breaking digital effects required for the trilogy? Twenty years since Howard Shore’s breath-taking musical score enchanted us with its other worldliness so much that we wanted to listen to it over and over again?

Yes, apparently so!

10 December 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. The film was released at the end of a difficult year — just three months after the 9/11 attacks at the Twin Towers in New York.

Perhaps the timing of the premiere was almost prophetic, as it gave people a reason to escape their real world which now contained evil, ugliness and barbarity into a fictional world where the Fellowship embarked on a quest to destroy the One Ring, to ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. Ultimately a triumph of good over evil.

Peter Jackson brought JRR Tolkien’s beloved trilogy to the big screen.

A cinematic event

The three films were shot simultaneously and entirely in Jackson’s native New Zealand from 11 October 1999 until 22 December 2000. However, the decision to release the next two films in December 2002 and December 2003 enabled them to become a cinematic event beloved by generations.

I personally treasure the lasting impact of the films – the way they provided a love of the world of fantasy and make-believe in literature, an appreciation of orchestral and choral film music and an admiration of the artistic and design work that is goes into film making and production.

More people now have probably read Tolkien’s books, gone to orchestral concerts, visited New Zealand, perhaps even taken up acting as a profession or got into filmmaking in some form because of Jackson’s trilogy.

Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand.
Visiting Hobbiton, Matamata, in 2017.

Taken to hearts

As a family we have wholeheartedly embraced the films and taken them to our hearts – we have travelled to London for a LOTR exhibition of costumes and props, then we watched Howard Shore conducting his musical score of LOTR with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the National Theatre and finally we travelled home on the train with a Legolas life-size cardboard model sitting alongside us!

Another London trip involved seeing Orlando Bloom during the summer of 2007 when he appeared in a London revival of ‘In Celebration’, a play by David Storey. I remember queuing at the stage door to take his photo and get his autograph for my daughter Claire who could have easily passed as Legolas’s kid sister – tall, with a natural beauty and back then she too had long blonde hair.

We had a LOTR themed 15th birthday party where our lounge was transformed into Lothlorien and everyone dressed up as LOTR characters – grandparents arrived dressed as Frodo and Gandalf! Claire then met the real Gandalf, Sir Ian McKellen, at an event in London and got yet more photos and autographs!

I love the way Tolkien has been a recurring theme in our lives whether it be visiting Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog or Edgbaston in Birmingham where he grew up, or going on an Oxford literary tour Oxford to see where he lived and worked as a professor at Pembroke College or by travelling to New Zealand and having a road trip to see the film locations and visit Hobbiton, of course.

With such avid LOTR fans in our family, I can’t wait to see how a bit of Tolkien magic weaves its way into our next family milestone event which is next year when Claire and her fiancé get married…

One thought on “Reflecting on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on its 20th anniversary

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  1. I can’t believe it either…that it is 20 years since these films started coming out. I love them and wish I could visit the hobbit village. What a wonderful write up about one of my favourite films.

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