The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

1491 Words6 Pages
What can explain the fact that millions of Americans--grown-up Americans--have flocked to see a movie version of what its own author called a fairy tale? The Return of the King remains at the top spot in box office sales, and this third and final entry in The Lord of the Rings trilogy deserves top billing. Behind the movie's success stands the enduring popularity of author J. R. R. Tolkien and his fantasy world of Middle-earth. Those who consider themselves too sophisticated for these fairy tales reveal a tragic lack of moral imagination--and Christian imagination. J. R. R. Tolkien [1892-1973] was one of the twentieth century's greatest scholars of language and the culture of pre-Christian England. His invented worlds were drawn from knowledge gained during his extensive career teaching at the University of Leeds and Oxford University. He was one of the "Inklings," a famed group of writers and literary figures that included his friend C. S. Lewis. I read The Lord of the Rings as an adolescent because I thought it was the thing to do. I read the books almost out of a sense of obligation--encouraged by teenage Christian friends who claimed that the books changed their lives. My life remained unchanged by my obligatory reading. I was fascinated by Tolkien's imaginative world of Middle-earth, and often lost myself in the wonder of the work's intricate plot structures and Tolkien's incredible power of description. Nevertheless, I was deathly afraid of becoming a "Hobbitologist" or Tolkien fanatic. I much preferred to read realistic novels, historical biographies, and non-fiction. Looking back, I am now struck by what I failed to see. The release of Peter Jackson's magnificent The Lord of the Rings trilogy prompted me to rediscover Tolkien and his greatest work. These remarkable movies accomplish what many Tolkien fans were certain could never be done--they bring these epic tales to life and, in the main, get the story right. Moviegoers who have never read the books will find the films to be among the most imaginative and powerful dramas ever brought to the big screen. Tolkien's faithful readers--most are fanatics by some definition--will find artistic departures from the books to be grating, but will revel in the battle scenes, the beauty of Jackson's vision of Middle-earth, and the sheer giganticism of the settings. Those Tolkien purists who despise the movies lack the capacity to allow their reservations to take a nap while their imaginations are taken for a ride.
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