One overlooked thing that really sets the Lord of the Rings films apart from other franchises is how earnest they are-

Most movies are so afraid of being “cheesy” that whenever they say something like “friendship is the most powerful force in the world” they quickly undercut it with a joke to show We Don’t Really Believe That! 😉  Even Disney films nowadays have the characters mock their own movie’s tropes (”if you start singing, I’m gonna throw up!”) It’s like winking at the camera: “See, audience? We know this is ridiculous! We’re in on the joke!”

But Lord of the Rings is just 12.5 hours of friendship and love being the most powerful forces in the world, played straight. Characters have conversations about how much their home and family and friends mean to them, how hope is eternal, how there is so much in the world that’s worth living for…. and the film doesn’t apologize for that. There’s no winking at the audience about How Cheesy and Silly All This Is; it’s just. Completely in earnest.

And when Lord of the Rings does “lean on the fourth wall” to talk about storytelling within the film, it’s never to make jokes about How Ridiculous These Storytelling Tropes are (the way most films do)…. but instead to talk about how valuable these stories can be. Like Sam’s Speech at the end of the Two Towers: the greatest stories are ones that give you something to believe in, give you hope, that help you see there are things in a bleak violent world that are worth living for

Earnestness is so much cooler than all the hip cynicism in the world. You go LOTR