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Article | How ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Changed Literature – and Cinema



Throughout the history of literature, countless fantasy epics have become very popular – from the epic “Gilgamesh”, considered the oldest tale of mankind, to the Greek classics “Odyssey” and “Iliad” , recounting the fabulous and dangerous adventures of Ulysses and Achilles. . Like Homer, who signed these last two works mentioned above, we also had the illustrious presence of Luís Vaz de Camões with ‘Os Lusíadas’, considered one of the most important productions of all time (without commenting the works of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, who brought the 19th century to life with Gothic terror that exuded traces of fantasy). And among those honorable names we have the great name of JRR Tolkien.

Born on British soil, Tolkien was not only one of the most remarkable writers of the 20th century, but he also worked as an academic, poet and philologist, concentrating all the learning of his career in his magnum opus, ” The Lord of the Rings “. . While many tend to turn their backs on the extension of the plot imagined by Tolkien and, more importantly, the adaptation that Peter Jackson has taken to theaters, there is no one in the world who has not heard of the title. of this spectacular saga. After all, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee’s journey inspired several writers who appeared on the mainstream scene decades later, including George RR Martin, George Lucas, JK Rowling, and Neil Gaiman.

It is necessary to point out that “The Lord of the Rings” is the sequel to “The Hobbit”, a story designed by Tolkien for his children – which, of course, encompasses a more childish view and is aimed at a younger audience. . By migrating to the legend of One Ring and adding more complexity to the characters, expanding an already enviable and rich mythology, the content of innocence begins to gain layers and layers of dense social perception, as if the belief that reality is something tangible and manipulable had to be completely swept under the rug and the strong barriers of foreknowledge shattered. It is on this essence that the three novels are based, while borrowing many elements from the outline of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

For those unfamiliar with it, the books initially accompany four hobbits, tiny, cheerful creatures that look like dwarves, but with a few differences (like hairy feet): the aforementioned Frodo and Sam, plus Merry and Pippin. After crossing paths with a powerful object known as the One Ring, the wise mage Gandalf asks them to move him away from the Shire, where he lives, in order to decide how to destroy it before it falls in between. bad hands. . But we already know that this journey isn’t as straightforward as we imagine, and eventually Frodo and Sam join forces to cross Middle-earth, face off against the Dark Lord Sauron, and destroy the Ring.

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To sum up a tale as imposing as this in one paragraph is almost criminal – as countless details important to the unfolding of the plot are lost. However, it is a succinct start to what any fan of fantastic masterpieces could hope for, carrying a classicism that makes ‘Lord of the Rings’ a timeless gem that deserves to be absorbed in its fullness generation after. generation.

Each character has an archetype that feeds on Campbell’s analyzes, from the hero to the most momentary of the secondary characters. Frodo, bearer of the One Ring, is built in the mold of Ulysses and finds himself forced to cross the threshold of his comfort zone towards the many paths that await him outside; guided and strengthened by the presence of Sam, the right-hand man and, indeed, who keeps Frodo strong enough to complete his mission, he realizes that the Shire is just a tiny piece of the multi-ethnic vastness that lies within extends to the four corners of Middle-earth (something he had only experienced in the presence of Gandalf, the wise old man). The comedic escape is often distilled from the chemistry between Merry and Pippin, whose ingenuity is harnessed in a way that creates two beautifully structured and emotional arcs of rise and fall, optimism and apathy. And to top it off, we have the ultimate in courage and kindness channeled into warriors like Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and the ultimate expression of wickedness and unbridled ambition with the aforementioned Sauron and his minions, Saruman. and the Wizard-King of Angmar (to name a few).

As the saga grew in popularity, many critics cited the lack of female protagonists, saying the story benefited from a “men’s club” construction and that the setting itself lacked real-world realism. . . However, it is remarkable how Tolkien creates several different communities among themselves, each with their own uniqueness – and, to mention some of the female characters, we have Galadriel, one of the tallest and most powerful elves on Earth. of the Middle who even helps Gandalf. in times of despair; Arwen, daughter of Elrond and Celebrian, an elf-human hybrid who assists Aragorn and the other warriors in battle; and Eowyn, a brave fighter who ends the Witch-King of Angmar’s reign of chaos in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Several of the archetypes analyzed served as inspiration for other characters who would go on and on in pop culture. The dynamic between Frodo and Gandalf, for example, translated into the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars” or between Harry and Albus Dumbledore in “Harry Potter”. The sage figure itself has undergone several alterations over time, finding a less Manichean and more imperfect form with Mr. Wednesday in ‘American Gods’, or on more solemn grounds as seen with Moiraine Damodred in’ La Wheel of Time ‘. The inseparable and unrivaled companion figure has been transmuted into Ron and Hermione, C-3PO and R2-D2 and, more obviously, into the Doctor’s Companions in the classic “Doctor Who” series. The feminine strength was harnessed to nausea over the following decades, allowing Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, and Cersei Lannister to paddle against the traditionalist tide of the genre in question and steal the show in “Game of Thrones.” And that’s not to mention Tolkien’s inspiration for the creation of Martin’s High Valyrian and for the rise of countless fantastic languages ​​in contemporary times.

If Tolkien left a large amount of items for use and reuse, Jackson would honor Middle-earth with great honor by taking “The Lord of the Rings” to the movies in a surprisingly flawless trilogy that also marked an era. Released between 2001 and 2003, the feature films became a financial and critical success, winning a total of eighteen Oscar statuettes and denouncing the conservatism of the Academy which did not recognize the greatness of fantastic productions. After all, in the 94-year ceremony, only “The Return of the King,” the last film in the original franchise, received the award for Best Picture, and since then no one else has accomplished the same feat.

However, it should be noted that the surprising victory of ‘The Return of the King’ (perhaps not so surprisingly) opened the door for fantasy to be treated with more affection by specialists, which is why we have had the presence of the fantastic drama ‘The Curious The Case of Benjamin Button’ nominated for the above-mentioned category and the victory of the fantastic romantic ‘A Forma da Água’ in 2017 (whose controversies over the genre to which it belongs are still the fruit of discussions). But beyond that, the greatest legacy left by the film adaptations was Jackson’s ability to turn the “Unadaptable” into no less than three of the greatest works of all time.

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