Why I Miss the Peter Jackson of 2001

Peter Jackson

December 2003.
I’m eleven years old and it’s now less than two weeks until Christmas. The weather is bitterly cold and severely depressing. My house and the entirety of the town I live in is engulfed in cheap tacky decorations and the kitchen cupboards are barely able to close due to the abundance of our mince pie supplies which we are forbidden to open.

The days have grown shorter, a continuing bitter reminder of the eventual decay of time. Our work and school lives are more stressful to us than ever but for some reason we forget all that because ‘Hey, it’s Christmas!’. It’s the time of year where we get to eat copious amounts of unhealthy food, the consumption of alcohol at eleven in the morning is considered normality, we get to unleash our family issues and argue to our heart’s content and… oh yeah, we get presents!

However, it’s not the unbearable countdown to Christmas day that has got the eleven year old me as giddy as a schoolboy (literally). No, it’s because in a mere handful of days the final entry of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Return of the King, will be hitting cinema screens. The conclusion to Peter Jackson’s epic and sprawling adventure, the trailer of which has basically become like porn to me, Viggo Mortensen’s battle speech raising the hairs on the back of my neck. I must have watched it multiple times a day in hopes that it would quicken the time until the film’s release. I’m excited to see how it all ends. Who will live, who will die, what ridiculously over the top and elaborate stunt would Legolas pull off this time to make Mr. Tolkien turn in his grave. The last time I was this excited about a film was back in 1999 when the first of the Star Wars prequels was about to be released… but let’s not go into that now. I still have some unresolved issues there.

Now having stepped into the DeLorean and being blast eleven years into the future (I couldn’t think of a suitable Tolkien time travelling reference), it’s nearly that same time of year again and we are now less than two months away from the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies is being released in theatres across the world. However, I don’t have that same feeling I did years ago.

I know many of you will cite the age difference as the reason to why I lack excitement for Jackson’s new film and in part you are correct as I think these new series of film have been made more appealing to a younger audience than Rings but in a much larger view you are completely wrong. It has nothing to do with the genre, the presence of talking dragons or wizards with pointy hats. I love fantasy, the prospect of escaping to strange new lands and getting to know wacky, wonderful creatures and characters. Now don’t’ get me wrong however, you’re not going to see me with a group of people in a dark, candlelit basement dressed up and playing a role-playing board game but I have always loved the potential of the genre. It can be deceptively powerful and insightful, a way of examining the complex nature of our own humanities social and moral issues but all through the guise of a fun mythical land or galaxy.

That brings me to The Fellowship of the Ring. The first chapter in The Lord of the Rings trilogy was an astounding box office and critical success upon its release. In 2001, Jackson and company had taken us to a place where none of us gone before. It was our first real trip into the world of J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It was a world of fantasy and myth, a world of elves and dwarves, a world of magic and spectacle. However, this place was different to many of the fantasy cinematic offerings we had had before. This place… felt real.


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