It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades since Peter Jackson first invited us to discover The Lord Of The Rings on the big screen.
The trilogy he went on to make has become shorthand for the peak of fantasy cinema and epic spectacle among fans and critics alike. “It’s good, but it’s not Lord Of The Rings” has been this generation’s “it’s hardly Citizen Kane”.
But it all started with The Fellowship Of The Ring, which turns 20 this month. And that began with the Fellowship itself.
Having long since completed our journey from Bag End to Barad-Dûr with Frodo and co, it’s easy to forget how vital it was for Jackson to bring these characters to life and to develop their bonds believably at the trilogy’s beginning.
At the time Fellowship was made, selling cinemagoers on a three-hour adaptation of a notoriously lore-heavy fantasy novel with even longer sequels to come was already like trying to flog clogs to a Hobbit.
However, if Jackson could win audiences’ hearts by making them care about the fate of Frodo and his questing companions right at the start of it all, then suddenly Tolkien’s epic saga of good and evil wouldn’t be quite such a Doom-like mountain to climb.
In the latest issue of our free digital magazine The Lowdown, we reflect on how Jackson’s forging of the central Fellowship was the key to the trilogy’s success, laying the foundations for the fantasy epic that was to come.