The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them…


No Catholic list of film recommendations would be complete without The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Perhaps it’s cheating to recommend three movies at the same time, but all three installments of this trilogy are necessary to complete the story. Given their massive success and popularity, you’ve no doubt heard of them, but if you still haven’t seen them, they should definitely be on your list!

Based on the books by devout Catholic writer, poet, and academic J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings follows Frodo Baggins as he journeys across the fantastical lands of Middle Earth to destroy a magical ring capable of giving its bearer unequaled power. As a small powerless hobbit from a small hobbit village, Frodo hardly seems a likely hero. Aided by the wise old wizard Gandalf, a dwarf, an elf, a few more hobbits, and others, he must keep the ring safe from those who would use its dark powers to enslave the world, all while resisting the temptation to keep the ring for himself. Meanwhile, Sauron, the creator of the ring to whom the title of the trilogy refers, is building a massive army of monstrous orcs for the sole purpose of retaking the ring and destroying its bearer.

As the fate of all of Middle Earth becomes entwined with the fate of the ring in his hand, Frodo must learn to hope when all seems hopeless, to trust in friends and strangers, to summon the courage to face impossible odds, and to bear sorrows he hadn’t imagined.

Much could be said about how Tolkien’s Catholicism informed his epic stories; indeed, books have been written on the subject. Obvious themes standing out to first-time viewers might include the meaning of true humility, the corruptive nature of the desire for power, the strength of honest fellowship, and the gift of Free Will.

In order, the films include: The Fellowship of the Ring (FotR), The Two Towers (TT), and finally The Return of the King (RotK). With each installment clocking in at around 3 hours (or even longer if you opt for the extended editions), this is definitely not an adventure for a single movie night, but well worth the long runtime. While the overall story is family friendly, some of the action sequences and visuals will likely be too intense or scary for younger viewers.

Runtime: 2 hours, 58 minutes (FotR) / 2 hours, 59 minutes (TT) / 3 hours, 21 minutes (RotK)
Rated PG-13 (all 3)
USCCB rating: A-III (all 3)
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% / 95% / 93%
IMDb Parents Guide: FotR / TT / RotK