Today: May 30, 2024

Studying The Lord of the Rings

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the Great Rings…”

One of the most successful film trilogies in cinema history, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings is beloved by critics and audiences alike. Released between 2001 and 2003, the three films were shot simultaneously as one of the biggest and most ambitious cinematic projects ever undertaken, with a budget of $281 million – and ultimately earning almost $3 billion in worldwide box office receipts. Praised for their innovation, performances, production design and emotional depth, the trilogy has quite rightly earned its reputation as one of the best of all time. A newly republished academic book from Anna Dawson under Auteur (Liverpool University Press), titled Studying The Lord of the Rings, seeks to delve deeper into the films.

Described in its introduction as ‘merely a starting point’, the brief but detailed text totals approximately 50 pages before getting into a section of classroom worksheets and bibliography. The main bulk of the text, though, is dedicated to looking at The Lord of the Rings through the various lenses of Narrative, Genre, Film Language, Representation and more – creating a surprisingly comprehensive ‘starting point’ to not just the act of studying The Lord of the Rings, but also to film studies in general. Illustrated with over 30 stills, the text aims to highlight critical debates and key terms while exploring the film’s stylistic and cultural impact, and while clearly aimed predominantly at film students, this book also offers a remarkably accessible introduction to the language of film studies and criticism – making it a fascinating text for anybody with an interest in cinema.

Iconic, beloved, celebrated, acclaimed – all these words can be applied to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and Anna Dawson’s book certainly increases one’s appreciation of the masterful adaptations. While a learned film academic might find some of the discussions within the book to be a little on the simplistic side, the book is clearly aimed at those who are early in their studies of the artform and as such, it succeeds admirably as a fascinating and accessible text for one to sink their teeth into the art of studying film.

“Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: 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. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”

Studying The Lord of the Rings will be published by Auteur (Liverpool University Press) in July 2021, and is available to order from

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