The magic ring turns 20 | It happened one night


Peter Jackson He says that there is a key moment in his youth that has marked his entire life. At the age of 17 he went to the cinema to see the cartoon version of The Lord of the rings that Ralph Bakshi made in 1978. The future director understood absolutely nothing of the film, so he decided to read the voluminous trilogy that the Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien had published in 1954. Some books inhabited by fantastic creatures in imaginary worlds that had become one of the bedside works of the youth of the 60s.

The project of adapting it to the cinema went through the tables of Stanley Kubrick, John Boorman or the offices of Disney. But they all gave in to the difficulty of translating into images the complex world of Tolkien. The animated film of Bakshi it was a failure of critics and the public. He did not convince anyone, not even his director.

But in the 1990s, with the development of computer-generated special effects, a whole new world of possibilities opened up. It was then that Peter Jackson he saw his chance. He wrote a script for three years and persistently convinced the producer that he had the rights to the book to let him make the film. In this way, almost 50 years after being created by Tolkien, the Hobbit Frodo Bolsom He was able to embark on his mythical journey, but now on screen.

Filming of The Lord of the rings it was carried out with great secrecy. Neither journalists nor photographers could access the filming areas. More than 2,000 prostheses were prepared; 40,000 armor, swords and accessories of all kinds. During the year and a half that the filming lasted, the film’s producer became the largest importer of latex foam in the world, a material with which sets, costumes or masks were made. Peter Jackson controlled via satellite the work of the four filming units and the 20,000 extras who participated. With the highest budget in the history of cinema, 300 million dollars, the production figures were of real dizziness. All this to recreate Middle Earth, a mythical place where different races live: hobbits, elves, dwarves, men …

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Cast of The Lord of the Rings / New Line Cinema

Elijah Wood he was the protagonist, Frodo Bolsom. The actor had not read the novel by Tolkien, But when he found out they were auditioning for the role, he sent a video to the director. A few months later he became a hobbit. To the veteran Ian McKellen characterized him as Gandalf and in the cast were also the elf princess Liv Tyler, the Queen Cate Blanchett, the evil Christopher Lee O Viggo Mortensen like Aragorn the warrior. The actor slept in his suit to make him look aged and surprised the director by shooting almost all of his fight scenes without the need for stuntmen.

The trilogy of The Lord of the rings it was shot in the director’s home country of New Zealand. Its varied geography, full of uninhabited places, offered all the locations necessary to reproduce the worlds described by Tolkien. But beyond the imposing stages and digital effects, the great merit of Peter Jackson was to ensure that they did not dilute the original magic of the story of Tolkien and that the film did not stay only in the epic and the spectacular, but also delved into the psychology of the characters.

Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, stars of The Lord of the Rings / New Line Cinema

Peter Jackson decided to shoot the three films that make up the saga at the same time, which resulted in almost a year and a half of shooting. The fact of spending so many months together in New Zealand created a great brotherhood between the actors. At the end of the shoot, everyone decided to get a tattoo as a souvenir of the magic number of Tolkien, the number nine. And we cannot forget the importance of the soundtrack composed by Howard Shore. Almost eleven hours of music that took him three years of work and that have become the great musical work of the composer’s life.

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On April 7, 2000, twenty months before the film was released, the first trailer for The Lord of the rings. The fans paid the entrance of the cinemas that projected it, they saw the trailer and then they left without staying to see the film of the session. Sales of the book were up 400 percent. Slowly The Lord of the rings it was becoming a phenomenon between the advertising strategy and the social event. Finally, on December 10, 2001, the world premiere of the first film of the trilogy was held in London: The Fellowship of the Ring. The following year, in 2002, the second part arrived, The two Towers, in which Gollum stood out, a new character that combined digital technique and dramatic interpretation. And in 2003 came the third and last part, The return of the King, with its spectacular final battle that takes up almost an hour of footage. The jewel in the crown this time was a computer program called Massive that was key to the mass scenes.

The trilogy received dozens of awards around the world. If the first two parts got several Oscars in technical sections, The return of the King, the most celebrated by critics and the public, it literally swept the 2004 ceremony. It won eleven Oscars that equaled the eleven of Titanic and Ben-Hur, the most awarded films in history. A great triumph for what is undoubtedly one of the most challenging and pharaonic projects in the history of cinema. A display of fantasy, adventure and imagination orchestrated by a stocky, bearded New Zealander named Peter Jackson.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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