There’s something to be said about the trilogy’s timing. Had The Lord of the Rings hit around the time of The Phantom Menace and The Matrix I don’t think it would have went over as well. If it had hit a few years later, in the time of the first Transformers, I also think it would have stumbled. But The Fellowship of the Ring came out right after 9/11, and the film’s thematic concepts of a decent way of life being threatened by a huge, shadowy threat rang very true. I spent New Year’s Eve of 2001/2002 at a late night screening of The Fellowship of the Ring with my then-girlfriend, and I remember sitting in that theater wondering if at midnight the next wave of Al Qaeda madness would come (yeah, yeah, laugh if you want but the months after 9/11 were fucking weird for those of us in New York City). That night Gandalf’s response to Frodo’s wish that the ring had never been found — ‘So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.’ — was weighted with serious meaning that Peter Jackson hadn’t intended and that Tolkien had intended for another war in another decade.
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