The Appeal of The Lord of the Rings
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
In the Land of Mordor where Shadows lie.’
In 1937, a professor of languages at Oxford University penned a novel that would spark the greatest fiction the world has ever known. That man was John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, or J.R.R. Tolkien. The book was called “The Hobbit.”
The book tells of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who lives in a hole in the ground — not a dank, wet, nasty hole, but a comfortable hole, a hobbit hole. Bilbo is pushed by the wizard Gandalf out of a hobbit’s preferred quiet existence and simple enjoyment of food and life; Bilbo is swept into an adventure with dwarves and elves, dragons and gold.
Tolkien created a ring in this book, and this ring sparked another, greater tale, that has captured our hearts and imaginations for more than five decades.
One Book to Rule Them All, One Film to Bind Them All
Movies were made, but never captured the hearts and minds of the public the way the books did. The trilogy called The Lord Of The Rings was so great and so beautiful in its imagery and writing, that creating a movie was too daunting of a task. Along came director Peter Jackson, a round little man who reminds many of a Hobbit, undertook the translation of the books to film. The result was nothing short of stunning.
Of course, I am biased. I was a fan of the books before the name Peter Jackson meant anything. Though I cannot speak Elvish fluently, I could tell you the meaning of the line “ash nazg durbatuluuk ash nazg gimbatul ash nazg thrakatuluuk ash burzum-ishi krimpatul.” I could tell you that Tolkien penned an entire language for that single line. He created not just characters, but an entire world, complete with its own histories, spanned across 12 volumes (13 if you include the Silmarilion).
While not everyone is a fan of Tolkien’s writing style, his attention to detail made his books a wonderful classic of which everyone has heard, even if they have never read them.
Peter Jackson paid the same level of attention to detail, in undertaking the books as a project. There are many scenes in the movies which fans viewed and thought, “That was not in the book.” The greatest example is the love story between the immortal princess, Arwen, and the king of men, Aragorn. In the interest of a strong female presence in the movie, Jackson admittedly plays this story up to more detail than existed in the books. Where does the detail come from? From the appendices to “The Return of the King.”
Jackson also does a stunning of job of realizing special effects with the utmost detail. The result is convincing — It is a blur to tell where the “real” stuff ends and the special effects begin.
But the movies are not just a special-effects bonanza. The movies are a set of stories which, quite frankly, the world needs right now. The trailer for the third installment sums up the reasons why. “There can be no triumph without loss, no victory without suffering, no freedom without sacrifice.” It is a message that rings true to the message of Tolkien’s beloved novels, and resonates with the human spirit.
The Lord of the Rings follows the story of the ring that Bilbo Baggins finds on his adventure in “The Hobbit.” It is the One Ring, written about in the poem. The One Ring that the Dark Lord Sauron forged, the ring that will give him the power to conquer middle earth. The only way it can be destroyed is to cast it into the fire that it was forged from.
But anyone who holds the ring is corrupted by its power, so it cannot be destroyed. Frodo, who was given the ring by his uncle Bilbo, volunteers to take the ring to the fires of Mordor and cast it in. He does not understand what he is agreeing to, but his innocence and purity gives him the strength to undertake the task. Placing his own life in danger to save his little shire (and indeed, all of Middle Earth), Frodo sets out on his quest.
Written in a world that was still reeling from the tragedy of the First and Second World Wars, The Lord of the Rings offers the same hope then that it does now. There is hope. In the second movie, Samwise Gamgee, the pudgy but wise little hobbit offered Frodo this hope: There is some good in the world. There is something worth fighting for.
Hannah is a recent business graduate from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. She is currently a secretary for the Department of History, and enjoys writing in her free time.