J.R.R. Tolkien never imagined that his work would ever be made into moving pictures and played in spectacular visual faction thanks to the extraordinary vision of director Peter Jackson. But from 2001 (The Fellowship of the Ring) to 2014 (The Battle of the Five Armies), the director delivered a strong take on the goings-on of Middle Earth. Now, Warner Bros. has delivered all of the films that make up the storyline in two three-film collections. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy includes The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; The Hobbit Trilogy includes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in stunning 4K HD (and digital). The films themselves are included on 4K HD discs in both their theatrical and extended versions, and digitally.
While the LOTR trilogy was created for theaters first, for the unaware, The Hobbit actually provides the earliest Middle Earth stories, with hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) adventuring with wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a team of dwarves under the leadership of Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), battling the dragon Smaug. Then, in LOTR, we meet Frodo (Elijah Wood), Bilbo’s nephew, who must travel with Gandalf and others to destroy the one ring to rule them all. He’s joined by fellow hobbit Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the human warrior Aragorn (Vigo Mortensen), among others over the course of the three films.
I’ve written before about the Hobbit series here, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies, but the reality is that I’ve always had a softer spot for the later installments (in the books, earlier in the films). When Gandalf tells the fiery demon that it shall not pass, Sam tells Frodo he’d carry him up Mount Mordor, when Aragorn implores the ghost army to fight, when the soldiers of different races join together for one final battle… I get goosebumps. I feel what the characters feel, and I feel something more. Quite frankly, the way that these allegories speak to Christian images that Tolkien was familiar with, they provide encouragement for the way I believe we’re called to live our lives.
We need to be as wise as Gandalf.
We need to be as loyal as Sam.
We need to experience renovation and redemption like Aragorn.
We need to be as unified as the warriors called to fight.
Watching the 4K HD version, it’s like experiencing the stories once again in the way I saw them in the theater. These are elements brought more clearly, with better articulation than we have ever seen at home before. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, they make a great gift for fans of the stories, or those who we want to introduce to these legendary stories.