Nine Years Ago, I Met Gandalf

Even though I was starting a brand new job the following Monday, and even though I had the flu, I got on that airplane and I traveled from Seattle to Hollywood, where I checked into the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, and joined my friends and colleagues Steven Greydanus and Greg Wright.

We saw an early screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King together.

And the next morning we spent several hours interviewing cast and crew members.

Those interviews took place nine years ago today. It was an unforgettable weekend, the culmination of the series that I had grown up dreaming about.

And yet I came away with profoundly mixed feelings about the result. As much as I loved Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, I had some problems with The Two Towers, and I had a lot of problems with The Return of the King

Here’s a link to some of those conversations.

Ah, memories.

In the decade since the series began, my frustrations with the series have multiplied and intensified, and I believe more than ever that Jackson’s efforts betray Tolkien’s themes and convictions on a variety of ways. Fellowship remains the only installment that I enjoy beginning to end.

So it was with great apprehension that I awaited the beginning of the new trilogy.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens on December 14.

I saw the film yesterday, and my review will be published on opening day at the website for Response magazine, a publication of Seattle Pacific University.


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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Jeremy Landes

    I couldn’t tell you had the flu then. It was an unforgettable privilege that I have both positive and brief negative memories about – still love the film – even the longer version. Did you generally like the shorter versions more?