Now that Peter Jackson is back at the helm of The Hobbit, it’s a good time to look back on his triumphant recreation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the big screen. In retrospect, was it as awesome as most of us believed at the time, or has it been surpassed by new movies like Transformers and X-Men?
The first thing that struck movie goers when Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring opened for the first time in cinemas was the huge breadth and depth of Jackson’s vision. That is unlikely ever to be surpassed, because for so long Lord of the Rings was thought to be unfilmable, and by proving the naysayers wrong, Jackson actually opened the way for other film makers to recreate impossible visions.
Much of what we take for granted on cinema screens now, such as motion capture, owe so much to Jackson and the WETA wizards, that it is doubtful that level of perfection would have been reached so soon - motion capture is common now, and it has craeted a new kind of performance, led by Andy Serkis, who played Gollum. Instead of jerky stop start creatures, we can see flawless movement and emotional power pouring out of the screen, out of bizarre creatures beyond our imagination, owing their impact to real actors.
Paul, while not a great film, makes great use of the technology pioneered by Lord of the Rings, bringing to life one of those slender limbed, bug eyed aliens we have heard to much about. Jackson’s almost obsessive attention to detail has also had an effect in many movies we see now - James Cameron’s Avatar presents a fully realised alien world, painstakingly created down to the tiniest detail. Once again, it was the pioneering work of Jackson and his crew that made such an amazing vision possible on the screen.
If the Lord of the Rings Trilogy wasn’t as awesome as we thought, it would not continue to reverberate through modern film making. Jackson showed what was possible with the ‘impossible’, creating a world so real, that the actors felt they were recreating history rather than one writer’s imaginary world.
Of course, this means we will be expecting even more from The Hobbit, which is why I greeted the news that Jackson was taking charge with relief. If anyone can make us believe in the impossible again, it will be Jackson.
I bought this trilogy with my own funds.