This 1001 book is starting to piss me off. Not only did it count a whole goddamn TV series as one film (slyly writing the length of one hour long episode instead of the full 10-hour marathon) but now it’s counted Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy as one film. This is less annoying, as all three films appear on all of the other lists used, but think, two other films could have been removed to make up the numbers. Maybe two of the crap films I’ve already watched. Thanks book editors, thanks very much. I watched Olympia and the Spider’s Stratagem for nothing. Bastards.
Since dominating the world of cinema upon its release and becoming a cultural landmark, the trilogy has suffered a little backlash, mainly in terms of plot. Some believe, and I’m topping this list with Kevin Smith for his Rings-hating rant in Clerks 2, that the whole epic journey to thrown the mythical One Ring into the fiery chasm of Mount Doom could have been achieved a lot faster with the use of the giant eagles seen at the start of the film rescuing Gandalf from Saruman’s clutches and at the end, flying Sam and Frodo to safety. “Hey,” they say, “why didn’t they just fly the eagles to Mount Doom, chuck in the ring, then fly home for another pint of mead?” “Well,” say I, “because of all the giant frickin’ Nazguls flying around, you ignorant festering spore of mould.”The Nazguls, ridden by Sauron’s elite ringwraiths, are giant winged demon creatures, a kind of hybrid between a dragon, a snake, a garbage disposal and the thing creeping up behind you right now. Admittedly, once on the ground they seem to be fairly easily dispatched when distracted by food, swift footwork and a well-honed chopping action, but notice how the eagles only show up to the battle once some of them have already been taken out, and even then seem to struggle. Just shut up.
There is far too much to say about this trilogy, far more than I’m willing to type at any rate, but it is clear that the production of these films was very much a labour of love for all involved, particularly Jackson, with the sheer scale of everything, from Bilbo’s under-hill cottage at Bag End, through the elven city of Rivendell, the stronghold of Minas Tirith, the fires of Mount Doom and everywhere inbetween being a phenomenal undertaking, consuming many years of the lives of all who took part. All the characters are perfectly cast, even those not required of any emotional heavy lifting (Orlando Bloom, we’re looking at you), and every character has more than enough time to shine. There are many memorable moments, from Gandalf’s stand-off against the Balrog in the mines of Moriah, to Legolas’ acrobatic takedown of the mountainous four-tusked Olyphant (which, of course, still only counts as one kill), not to mention the groundbreaking effects used to create the creature Gollum.
Don’t be put off by the dungeons and dragons feel, with the silly names, invented languages and occasionally ridiculous mythology (so it’s a ring that makes one person all powerful and anyone else invisible, that can only be destroyed in a giant volcano? Well yes that sounds perfectly plausible), for this is cinema as it is meant to be, showcasing action, drama, comedy, war, every genre you care to think of. There’s even an army of ghost pirates and a few coming-of-age tales in there too. Yes, the romantic sub-sub-plot between Aragorn, Arwen and Eowyn is largely superfluous and feels tacked on, and it is a little long (never bothered me that much, I’m more than happy to spend a whole day watching films), but for a spectacle this grand, it’s more than worth it.
Choose film 10/10