The Fellowship of the Ring hit theaters on Dec. 18, 2001. However there may be an much more necessary anniversary for followers who love the film: Nov. 12, 2002. That, after all, is when The Fellowship of the Ring: Particular Prolonged Version DVD field set hit shops.
2021 marks The Lord of the Rings motion pictures’ twentieth anniversary, and we could not think about exploring the trilogy in only one story. So every Wednesday all year long, we’ll go there and again once more, analyzing how and why the movies have endured as trendy classics. That is Polygon’s 12 months of the Ring.
Adopted by The Two Towers and The Return of the King field units, the Lord of the Rings trilogy’s catalog of additional content material mirrored the movies themselves; a large effort by tons of of creatives, lastly getting the thorough documentation they deserved. The ultimate tally marked a full 43 documentaries, 9 picture galleries, 12 commentary tracks, dozens of interactive maps, featurettes, authentic artwork, and wherever from 30-50 minutes of extra footage added to every Prolonged Version lower of the movies.
That was 20 years in the past, however the story of the making of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy continues to be being informed. On TikTok, sketches, memes, and viral audio clips reference content material you’d solely discover in the event you spent lengthy hours pouring over each forged interview and armor schematic out there on the Particular Version discs. Proper right down to “Do you put on wigs?” memes in your FYP. And as prolific creators of TolkienTok — that’s, the Tolkien-loving TikTok group — inform Polygon, the viewers’s relationship to the Prolonged Version DVDs is altering the way in which the Tolkien fandom communicates.
Extremely-specific content material supply is, after all, TikTok working as meant. However in an ironic method that community-based focusing on can typically be fairly isolating. What seems to be trending audio may very well simply be 20 movies that TikTok has hand-delivered to you and solely you, pushing you ever deeper into the outlet within the social media mountainside that’s simply your dimension.
However “Lord of the Rings Watch Social gathering Hotline,” a video by Don Marshall (aka “Obscure LotR Info Man”) is a bonafide Tiktok success, in and out of doors of TolkienTok. In it, Marshall acts as a kindly consultant of a collect-call service that provides LOTR super-fans a secure place to spew enjoyable details concerning the movies to him as a substitute of their unsuspecting normie associates.
Marshall recollects initially writing the bit with a selected scene in thoughts: the basic “Do you know?” enjoyable reality from The Two Towers, which incorporates precise footage of Viggo Mortensen breaking two toes after kicking a helmet in appearing out Aragorn’s grief. Impulse to announce “Viggo truly broke his toes there” is well-memed inside the fandom, to the purpose the place Marshall truly re-wrote the unique thought to make it not so particularly about Mortensen’s damage. This finally made the video way more shareable — some duets made with it have racked up views within the hundreds of thousands. With dozens upon dozens of lovers quoting totally different movie details, the video turned a collective nerd launch valve in motion.
“I feel my household and I spent collectively extra time watching the behind-the-scenes of these motion pictures than another medium of leisure within the 2000s,” Marshall recollects. He notes that the Prolonged Editions in a method completely go well with TikTok’s quick-bite-info/storytelling sensibilities: “So many individuals have a look at issues just like the costumes, and say ‘they’re so intricate,’ however half of the stuff you don’t even see.” You don’t must be an present fan to be occupied with intimate particulars.
“The very best factor I take into consideration TikTok is how common one thing might be, even when it is so particular.”
An notorious video of Dominic Monaghan pranking Elijah Wooden through the press tour for The Return of the King is one thing of a distinct segment joke amongst movie followers, out there solely in a hidden button on the Prolonged DVD set. However when “Do you put on wigs?” was uploaded to TikTok for contemporary followers to get pleasure from, the audio morphed right into a meme format, used usually as shorthand for “Do you ___?” “No I don’t.” (Or simply cosplayers displaying off their wigs.) The outcomes yielded 3000+ movies, with hundreds of thousands of views.
On TikTok, communities are constructed with engagement, not simply views. Person Knewbettadobetta, a Tolkien mega-fan, joined TikTok simply as one thing to do, and was shocked that he couldn’t discover many Lord of the Rings creators at first. It took creating his personal Tolkien content material to show the algorithm to take him to TolkienTok: “I used to be in search of [Tolkien fans], and it didn’t put me on to the algorithm; however as soon as I began speaking about it, and folks began speaking about it to me, they usually have been sharing my stuff with the folks in TolkienTok, then growth, I bought locked in.”
Knewbettadobetta’s TikTok attracts considerably on e book lore, and he sees his content material as a gateway for movie followers to come back into the fold of the Tolkien fandom. He particularly recollects how even the smallest bits of Prolonged Version content material can reveal a creator’s devotion to being book-accurate, together with minute moments discovered solely when you have the subtitles on.
In September, TikTok person @Cavatica found one thing attention-grabbing watching The Fellowship of the Ring with the subtitles on: “They’re going over Caradhras, and also you see Saruman reciting spells to create the storm, and Gandalf is attempting to counter the spell. [The subtitles say that] Gandalf is talking Sindarin, and also you see Saruman is talking Quenya.” Knewbettadobetta wasted no time in duetting together with his personal theories. “That’s big — they don’t say they’re simply *talking Elvish*….Saruman is excessive and snooty and is attempting to talk the language of the extra highly effective elves, whereas Gandalf is extra the everyman, talking the language of the folks. Stuff like that’s wonderful.”
The best way the Tolkien fandom consumes content material goes hand in hand with the way in which the fandom itself has modified through the years, and a few TolkienTok creators that change into standard by serving to different followers see themselves within the work. WizardWayKris, who makes use of she they usually pronouns, is a TolkienTok creator focusing primarily on Elves and Elvish language. To them, Prolonged Version content material bolsters their devotion to the language and lore of Tolkien, in addition to giving her the chance to create moments of inclusivity.
“Artwork is created by those that eat it; we because the customers deliver our personal lens. After we expertise fandom and canon, we pull issues out that will not have been necessary to different folks,” WizardWayKris informed Polygon, noting specifically a scene from the Fellowship Prolonged Version commentaries. Sir Ian McKellan relates the story of how he emphasised to Elijah Wooden and Sean Astin that Tolkien’s inclusion of Sam holding Frodo’s hand whereas bedridden was crucial to sure homosexual readers, and that it was very important to be sure that second was seen onscreen. As a nonbinary trans creator, WizardWayKris says that “me even present as a creator on this area helps open it as much as these individuals who would say ‘that is all simply subtext, nobody is definitely saying these items’.” To many, subtext is more and more textual content within the trendy Tolkien fandom.
A component of Prolonged Version TikTok that may’t be ignored is the myriad of movies which can be simply ripped uploads of the documentaries themselves. And whereas it will not be in line with the requirements of copyright legislation, it could possibly’t be ignored that for a lot of younger, non-DVD-player proudly owning followers, TikTok would be the solely place they might ever see this content material.
Whereas the Prolonged Editions are thought-about to be gospel amongst followers, the passage of bodily media has been a dying knell for the bonus function business. The all-access cross viewers needed to the creation of the trendy blockbuster appeared doomed to change into a fond reminiscence. Until Weta Workshops or Peter Jackson do a streaming cash-in, the Prolonged Editions might nicely be a sufferer of the oncoming digital archiving disaster.
For his half, Don Marshall informed Polygon he intends to launch a Snyderverse-style grassroots push to get a fair longer model of the Prolonged Editions launched. Whether or not this sub-sub-section of TikTok will develop or simply proceed as a hyper-specific private web blip stays to be seen.
However both method, TolkienTok offers customers a validating feeling that solely the perfect sort of nerd areas present — that the data that’s necessary to you, irrespective of how area of interest, is effective and relatable to somebody. And due to TikTok, it could be simpler to seek out that somebody than ever.