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The Lord of the Rings: Why is Peter Jackson’s adaptation one of the most successful in the history of the seventh art?

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On the occasion of the (re)broadcast tonight on TF1 of the first part of the mythical Lord of the Rings saga, directed by Peter Jackson, we explain why this trilogy remains one of the best film adaptations in the history of the seventh art.

When New Zealand director Peter Jackson decided to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous work – reputed to be unsuitable for cinema – it could be said that he was tackling an impassable mountain!

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Everyone predicted failure, but thanks to strong and bold choices, the opposite happened!

Photo credit : New Line Cinema

The scenario

As Tolkien fans know better than anyone, the world of the famous British author is so rich and vast that it is almost impossible to adapt everything to the screen.

So choices have to be made and that is exactly what Peter Jacskon (well) did.

By hiding certain details that were nevertheless important in the original work (such as the absence of Aragorn’s broken sword in the “Dashing Pony” for example), or by purely and simply deleting characters like Bombadil or Radagast the Brown, the director took a lot of risks but these assumed choices finally paid off for the film and in no way harmed the final project.

The casting

If there’s one thing to remember about this trilogy, it’s obviously its XXL cast, without which it would probably never have been a success.

It’s quite simple, there’s nothing (or so little) to throw away!

From the character of Frodo (Elijah Wood) to Aragorn (masterfully played by Viggo Mortensen), via Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Saruman (Christopher Lee), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) or Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) to name but a few, all the actors chosen were up to the task.

New Zealand’s special effects and sumptuous scenery

This is one of the major assets of this saga!

The accuracy of the special effects allowed Peter Jackson to adapt the fantastic universe of the book in a very faithful way. From the imaginary creatures, the omnipresence of magic to the monumental battle scenes, nothing has been left to chance, to the delight of the fans.

All filmed in the sumptuous setting of New Zealand, which plays the “role” of Middle-earth, so dear to Tolkien.

As you can see, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was a successful gamble!

The three films will be an unprecedented commercial success, bringing in about $3 billion. They were critically acclaimed and won no less than 17 out of a possible 30 Oscars.

Then of course, there will always be purists even more purist than the most purist of your purist buddies to say that this adaptation betrays Tolkien’s spirit… But whatever!

This trilogy has indeed become mythical in the history of the seventh art.

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