Twenty years go, the world changed. You could feel it in the water, feel it in the earth, smell it in the air – The Lord of the Rings began filming.
It’s hard to think of the time before J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical magnum opi hit our screens. Fantasy cinema had some success before, with the likes of The NeverEnding Story and The Princess Bride.
Yet on October 11, 1999, movies were about to change forever.
Check out the trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring below:
On that date, Peter Jackson commenced his shoot of the now-worshipped trilogy, filming The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King back-to-back between October 1999 and December 2000 – pick-up shots were filmed between 2001 and 2004.
In a world led by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, one unfazed by the spoileriffic web and preconceptions, an 18-year-old Elijah Wood and his castmates began an adventure that would alter the course of film history.
Amazingly, Jackson started off with one of the most iconic scenes from the trilogy: the young hobbits hiding from the black rider on the Wooded Road. Production wouldn’t come to a close for another 437 days, on the set of Minas Tirith.
Check out the trailer for The Two Towers below:
Ian McKellen didn’t start work on the films until January 2000, with the Grey Havens farewell sequence only the second time he’d appeared on camera.
Many fans claim this scene is so emotional as it was evidence of how well the actors bonded, but the reality was much different.
As per The One Ring, McKellen said:
This was only the second scene I filmed for the trilogy. I scarcely knew Frodo from Merry and adopted the safest course of expressing very little as I said goodbye to them.
The almighty Battle of Helm’s Deep commenced filming in February that year: that whole setpiece wasn’t tied up until May.
Jam-packed with dazzling special effects, gruelling (yet not gratuitous) violence and epic scale, Helm’s Deep is arguably the finest battle of the entire series.
The trilogy’s impeccable craft saw it continually showered in critical praise and awards nominations (as well as $1.03 billion at the box office) – but it wasn’t until 2004 that it truly reaped its rewards.
The Return of the King was nominated for 11 Oscars at the 76th Academy Awards – and it won every single bloody one of them.
There’s never a bad time to watch this iconic clip:
Peter Jackson would return to Middle-Earth in the 2010s with The Hobbit trilogy, but in its expansion of less source material it lacked the one-two-three punch of The Lord of the Rings.
Gandalf once said: ‘All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.’ With that sentiment, I’m going to go spend more than 10 hours watching the extended versions of the trilogy.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.