15 years ago The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring changed the face of the fandom. The story on which the films were based already had a long-standing, solid literary fanbase. This fanbase, the fans who studied the books as writer J.R.R Tolkien himself would have hoped, were the toughest critics of the films.
The films held their own. Peter Jackson and his production team, along with a group of very talented actors, became a family and created a masterpiece. Life long fan Nicole Roberts had a close connection to the story, and for her the films only made that connection stronger.
“I grew up with the books – they were my mom’s favorite. We got to see the movies together as they were released. From the prologue to the first glimpses of Bag End and Hobbiton, we were completely transported to Middle-Earth. I was so excited when I learned that the films were being made (and I was already a fan of Peter Jackson’s work), I started trying to learn everything I could about the productions. That led me to joining the online LOTR communities, which led to trips to Los Angeles and New Zealand, and 15 years of amazing friendships. LOTR is what brought me to California first to visit, and eventually to stay. There’s no question that these films catalyzed a long-standing fandom and brought in a while generation of new fans.”
In case you’re not up on your Fellowship, here’s a quick refresher;
Jackson and his team spent years living in New Zealand, its beautiful rugged landscapes the perfect representation of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Helicopter shots, practical sets and makeup, along with the close relationships of the cast, created a classic epic film. The cast broke bones, had stitches, nearly drowned, and marked their adventure with tattoos. The film was an adventure, in Middle Earth and in reality, and that truth came through on screen.
New fans were moved by the story, by the battles, the elves, and overwhelmingly, the fellowship.
“I was so moved by Fellowship of the Ring that I had to find others who felt the same way about the film.” Said Kristi Fojtik, “I found other fans on line and eventually started my own local fan club group called Tolkien Forever. I would not have any of the friends I have if it weren’t for this movie. Fellowship of the Ring created real fellowship in my life.”
Fojtiks group has nearly 6000 members. That’s nearly 6000 lives touched and changed by fandom.
Fellowship started a flood of parodies and fan films, a trend that only grew with the subsequent films. We would argue, though, that like the books on which they were based, the trilogy is really more of a single, epic film, best enjoyed one right after the other. Talented fans shared their love in their own way, with memes and remixes, like this one that you know you had stuck in your head for months,
The trilogy has been so impactful that it even sparked a debate among Geeks that it may be as good, or perhaps even better, than the ultimate geek film, Star Wars. Kevin Smith, a fan boy himself, gave a nod to the trilogy in his film Clerks 2, (Warning: 100% NSFW)
As far as we are concerned, Lord of the Rings is every bit as worthy as Star Wars. A film well deserving of the fandom it has amassed, and of being celebrated.
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Images: New Line Cinema