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The Epic Novel To The Screen
Since the first volume was published in 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy has had a profound effect on generations of readers, defining for many the archetypal struggle between good and evil. Voted in worldwide polls the "Book of the Century," it set the benchmark for the modern epic in its creation of an entirely new and thrillingly vital universe. It introduced an unforgettable hero – the Hobbit Frodo Baggins – caught up in a war of mythic proportions in Middle-earth, a world full of magic and lore. Most of all, it celebrated the power of loyal friendship and individual courage, a power that may hold at bay even the most devastating forces of darkness.

Known for visually evoking the vibrant world of dreams - and nightmares - in such films as Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners, Peter Jackson had long felt that The Lord of the Rings was ripe for its first complete cinematic telling, but he also knew that to do it justice would take perhaps the most ambitious production ever attempted in film history.

For over a half-decade, from the earliest development through the release of the first film in the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and the continuing production of the next two films, Jackson has poured his heart into every aspect of the project. "I think that's the least we owe to Tolkien and the legions of fans around the globe," he says. "They deserve our very best efforts."

Jackson and his co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and, on the second film, Stephen Sinclair, wanted to bring front and center Tolkien's themes of good versus evil, nature versus industry, and friendship versus the forces of corruption. "What we are trying to do, as we adapt The Lord of the Rings into a film medium, is honor these themes; and whilst you can never be totally faithful to a book, especially a book over 1,000 pages, we have tried to incorporate the things that Tolkien cared about when he wrote the book, and make them the fabric of the films," says Jackson.

Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne, co-chairmen and co-chief-executive-officers of New Line and executive producers of the film, backed Jackson's vision from the beginning. "The decision to make this movie was very intuitive," Shaye comments. "It has only happened to me a few times; it occurred to me that it was the right thing to do, that it was just what New Line could use, and it could be done in a fiscally prudent way."

Likewise, they share his devotion to the books' themes. "The story of The Two Towers is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago," Shaye and Lynne noted. "Tolkien never lost sight of the destructive and seductive nature of power, and the idea that a person – or Hobbit -- no matter how small or inconsequential, can change history." Adds Lynne, "History is marked with sagas like the struggle for control of Middle-earth and the battle of good versus evil."

The second film in the trilogy expands the world of Middle-earth introduced in the first film. "In the first film, the Fellowship travels as a unit," comments Elijah Wood, who plays the Hobbit Frodo Baggins, who must bear the Ring throughout the trilogy. "The second story involves the characters being split into pieces and each character has an individual journey. The world becomes larger, so it's a lot more interesting dramatically and visually."

Adds executive producer Mark Ordesky, "In The Two<

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