The Lord of the Rings: The Origins of Peter Jackson’s Cult Saga

After the Harry Potter saga, TF1 rebroadcasts The Lord of the Rings on Tuesday evening.

Iconic saga of the seventh art, The Lord of the Rings returns to the small screen from tonight, with a component every Tuesday. TF1 program from 9 p.m. The Fellowship of the Ring, first part of the first trilogy devoted to Peter jackson Tolkien’s work released in theaters in 2001. Few sagas have had the impact in recent years. The Lord of the Rings on popular culture worldwide. The adventures of the Hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin and their traveling companions Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli or Gandalf have left an unalterable mark in the fantasy world.

The triumph of Lord of the Rings, it is also that of Peter jackson, master builder who helped make Tolkien’s writings known to a brand new (general public) by signing the epic and spectacular epic that everyone knows. In three films, the saga has garnered nearly three billion dollars in revenue, made nearly 21 million admissions in France and won seventeen Oscars, including four for this first episode. Suffice to say a monument of the Hollywood blockbuster, carried however by the version of a real author, Peter jackson, whose name remains forever associated with that of Lord of the Rings.

The triumph of Lord of the Ringsis that of a work as universal as it is personal, that Peter jackson has worn at arm’s length for years. On the occasion of the replay of the first installment of the franchise, back on the events that led to the birth of a cult trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings in series, mission impossible?

Tolkien, a childhood passion

Like many young people of his generation, Peter jackson discover the works of J. R. Tolkien through the first film adaptation of the saga, the animated film The Lord of the Rings realized by Ralph Bakshi in 1978. In an interview with the Barnes & Noble Science Fiction Newsletter in 2001, he returned to his first memories of the saga and his first desire to adapt it to the cinema: “I saw Ralph Bakshi’s film, and it was he who made me want to read the book. I loved it and wanted to know more. In 1978, an animated film was certainly the most sensitive way of honoring the breadth of history. A film in real shots was impossible. Today digital effects can do what animation does, and more“.

Jackson will therefore keep the idea of ​​adapting The Lord of the Rings for almost two decades, well aware that it will be impossible for him to produce this project elsewhere than in the United States. After revealing himself to the world by becoming one of the kings of the B-series trash at the turn of the 80s and 90s with Bad Taste, Les Feebles and Braindead, Jackson arrives in Hollywood where he stood out in 1994 by signing Celestial Creatures, which earned him the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival.

He then goes on with Ghosts for ghosts, which will earn him despite glowing reviews his first commercial flop. As he finishes the film, the director, aware of his status as an emerging figure in Hollywood cinema, wants to acquire the rights to adapt Tolkien’s novels with the help of his wife Fran Walsh and D’Harvey Weinstein. At the time, the director already hoped to assemble a trilogy: an adaptation of the Lord of the rings in two parts and a third film devoted to The Hobbit. He then contacts Saul Zaentz, producer of Bakshi’s film and holder of adaptation rights.

The latter accepts Jackson’s proposal, but the filmmaker encounters a first problem: Zaentz only has the rights to Lord of the Rings, and not of Bilbo. The filmmaker’s project is taking a lead in the wing, especially since at the time, in April 1996, Universal offered him another commitment: a new adaptation of King Kong, which will become the other long-term project in the filmography of the New Zealand director.

The cast of the Lord of the Rings reunited 20 years later

The waltz of hesitation

For more than two years, Peter jackson will find itself in neutral, constantly alternating between one project and the other. At the end of 1996, the King Kong project was officially confirmed by Universal, but with various problems (notably concerning the filming locations but also the development of competing projects featuring primates such as The Planet of the Apes of Tim burton or My friend Joe) will delay again Peter jackson, to the point that the production of King Kong stopped in January 1997.

With the financial support ofHarvey Weinstein, Peter jackson sets out to assault Tolkien’s adaptation rights and signs in a few weeks a first version of the script with the scriptwriter Costa botes. Impressed by the work done by the two men, the Weinstein brothers agreed to start building two films, with a total budget of $ 75 million. The rewriting of the film plot, in which the two co-writers credited in the credits of the trilogy will intervene, Stephen Sinclair and Philippa Boyens, will take more than fourteen months.

Peter jackson is not yet at the end of its surprises: in the middle of 1998, the Weinsteins worried about the production costs of the film, which estimates predict that they will reach double the budget. Bob weinstein then offers an alternative to Jackson: reduce the initial plot so that it fits in a full movie. Transcribed in detail in the reference work Peter Jackson: A Film-maker’s Journey by Peter Sibley, the famous meeting in question on June 17, 1998 ended in a dead end. Weinstein wants to sacrifice whole sections of the intrigue like the battle of the abyss of Helm or the passages of the mines of Moria, to unify regions like Rohan and Gondor and to remove characters as important as Saroumane.

Peter jackson refuses and it was almost necessary for the Weinsteins, at the head of the project, to dispossess the filmmaker of his “baby”. As an alternative, they give the latter one month to find an interested studio to resume the project. Jackson then suffers refusal after refusal from all the studios he contacts, with the exception of one: New Line Cinema, which agrees to commit to the project a few days before the expiration of the deadline proposed by the Weinsteins.

The meeting between Peter jackson and the producers Mark Ordesky and Robert Shaye will prove crucial to the story of the Lord of the Rings. It is in fact the two men who are going to propose to the director to adapt Tolkien’s story in not two but three films, like the books which, if they are not strictly speaking a trilogy, were published in three volumes. It was also on their initiative that the idea of ​​following a more chronological approach to events than the books was proposed and making the quest for Frodo and the Ring the real red thread of the trilogy. In August 1997, Peter jackson can tackle the first storyboards of what will become The Fellowship of the Ring. A cult saga had just been born.

Jake Gyllenhaal recounts his failed audition for The Lord of the Rings

The history of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring : The Hobbit Bilbo left a dangerous legacy to Frodo Sacquet, his nephew. It is about the single Ring, which has the power to make invisible, but which makes bad the one who uses it. Bilbo once stole this weapon from Sauron. The Lord of Mordor wants to recover it to establish its power on Middle-earth and reduce its peoples to slavery. Time is running out for Frodo to destroy the Ring on the place where it was forged. Accompanied by a loyal company, he will face the greatest dangers so that the latter does not fall into the wrong hands.

Trailer of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring :

Ian McKellen reveals his Lord of the Rings filming diary

Leave a Comment