I first encountered The Lord of the Rings when the excellent Finnish translation of the Fellowship of the Ring appeared. I was only moderately enthusiastic at the time, but I liked it well enough to read the rest in English, and then I was totally hooked.

After that, for years the Lord of the Rings was one of my basic frames of reference. I read the books once a year, sometimes twice, I lived and breathed them. I read everything by and about J.R.R. Tolkien that I could lay my hands on. I saw the Ralph Bakshi animated film (1978) twice, the Ryhmäteatteri play in Suomenlinna both in 1988 and 1989 (I still regard it as the best dramatization).

After this overdosis, it is no surprise that the books started to lose their appeal. However, the trailer for the first Peter Jackson film, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, revived the mood again at the Helsinki Book Fair in 2001, and I looked forward to seeing it in eager anticipation. The film was a disappointment, although it wasn't too bad - The Two Towers was worse, The Return of the King passable. These were my basic complaints:

  • It is excusable to skip events in a film, but not to add new ones.
  • The sceneries are too exotic; even the photography makes everything look fabulous and dreamlike, although the world should feel real as in Tolkien's books.
  • Elvish crafts look tacky, and 'impressive works of art' remind me of Han van Meegeren.

Still, there is much that is good in the films, casting for instance is mostly quite successful - the acting less so.

Now they're showing them on TV again. As far as I'm concerned, in addition to the original faults, they haven't aged well, and the special effects look clumsy already. I doubt they will become classics.


P.S. I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had spent those 10-15 years of my life in this world instead of Middle Earth.