Opinion: The Lord of the Rings should totally count as a Christmas movie
Okay — just hear me out here.
I fully understand that the title of “Christmas Movie” isn’t thrown around too easily by revellers of the Holly Jolly Season, but I honestly think that 2001’s cinematic marvel The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring deserves its rightful place among the VHS tapes that are broken out every December.
Buckle up, because there is a lot to unpack here.
Why am I even doing this?
First off, I wouldn’t be laying out this seemingly ridiculous proposal if there wasn’t a need for it. Our Christmas movie selection is lacking, plain and simple, and if I have to watch Love, Actually one more time, I may just throw a rock-hard brick of fruitcake at Mark’s smug, best-friend’s-girl-stealing face.
Sure, there are a few classics that we’re all happy to revisit — It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and (the animated version of) How the Grinch Stole Christmas all come to mind — but a large draw to these obvious go-to’s is their old-timey feel.
What we’re really lacking in is relatively modern Christmas movies that don’t simply get a pass because they’re themed to the season (looking at you, Bad Santa, The Holiday and, again, Love, Actually) — which is why accepting the four-time Academy Award-winning film into the Christmas-time collection would seriously bump up the group’s average.
A Christmas movie need only happen around the holidays
While the plot of a lot of holiday movies are centred around the actual holidays and the wacky hi-jinks that play out by cramming a dozen or so relatives into the confines of a single home, there are a few films that get the title of “Christmas movie” simply because of the when in which the story unfolds.
Example A: Die Hard.
There has been a lot of discussion around whether or not Die Hard should even count as a Christmas movie ever since Bruce Willis kicked German Snape’s ass way back in 1988.
The plot is less about the Christmas party that was hijacked by terrorists and more about dealing with said terrorists, but the festive premise is enough to tack the Christmas movie seal onto what is otherwise a pretty straightforward one-man-stands-alone action movie.
“But I don’t think Die Hard should count as a Christmas movie,” you might be screaming into your phone/laptop/whatever device you get your fresh DH content on — and to that, I point you towards…
Example B: It’s a Wonderful Life.
This is, undoubtedly, a holiday staple. Sure, you might throw Die Hard on the TV some Tuesday evening while stuck at home, because 2020, but I highly doubt that anyone is watching 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life unless they’re flanked by family members during the merry month of December.
Here’s the thing, though: It’s a Wonderful Life is, arguably, even LESS of a Christmas movie than Die Hard.
Just think about it — the 135-minute movie spends maybe, what, 10% of the entire runtime within the canonical confines of the capital-S Season?
So George Bailey is thinking about jumping off a bridge on Christmas Eve (spoiler alert, I guess? Though you’ve had more than half a century to see it), but the majority of the film is spent following Bailey around throughout his life as he does some incredibly un-Christmassy — though no less generous — things.
Even the buzzkill alternate timeline doesn’t really mention the fact that it’s taking place around Christmas-time, though I suppose the tear-jerking singing of “Auld Lang Syne” in the final moments of the film does a lot of the leg work to get that Christmas movie stamp of approval.
Okay, but Lord of the Rings, though?
Yes, getting to that.
Given that both It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard reinforce the premise that a Christmas movie need only have the plot (or even part of the plot) happen around the holidays, it’s clear that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring fits firmly within that framework.
Case in point: The titular fellowship departs Rivendell on their journey towards Mount Doom on December 25.
What is essentially the most important part of the movie (other than Sam dropping some eaves and being dragged across the continent because of it) takes place right on Christmas Day — and while it isn’t explicitly stated in the movie, it only takes about 15 chapters of the book to get to that vital piece of information.
So, bam, definitely a Christmas movie.
But if you need some more convincing
I’ll be the first to admit that the whole “leaving Rivendell on December 25” bit being omitted from the movie version of the story is a point against this entire argument.
No worries, though, because there are plenty of other reason why The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring should be considered a Christmas movie, and I’ve provided them for you below in an easy to read, bullet-point format:
- Chestnuts roasting on an open fire probably smell quite similar to a flaming Balrog chasing the Fellowship through Moria.
- You know the part when they’re walking over the Misty Mountains, and it’s all snowy? Could you not just picture a one-horse open sleigh jingling all the way in the background?
- Gandalf is basically Santa Claus — a long beard, jolly (well, sometimes), gives quite a valuable present to Frodo (the One Ring).
- The betrayal of Boromir as he attempts to take the ring from Frodo only to realize the error of his ways is the perfect metaphor for the spirit of selflessness and the act of giving this holiday season.
- There are elves. Case closed.
And while we could go on to argue that Two Towers and Return of the King both deserve a place on the list of “fun Christmas movies to watch with your family this December” — because what’s more Christmassy than a walking, talking Christmas tree? Nothing, that’s what — I think that accepting Fellowship into your homes this holiday season is a good enough place to start.
Look, the holidays are stressful enough as it is. We shouldn’t have to add to that by settling for anything less than a 91% Certified Fresh movie when family comes to visit.
Make this the season of quality entertainment by bringing up these bullet-proof points the next time the fam is trying to decide what to watch — because, really, isn’t putting a movie on so that everyone has an excuse not to talk to each other what Christmas is truly all about?
Of course, if The Lord of the Rings isn’t quite your jam, you could always argue that the new Star Wars sequels have some vague holiday element to them — they were all released to theatres in December, after all.