International Study of Tolkien Fans Reaction to Return of the King

The fans who most enjoyed the cinematic Return of the King were the ones who saw it as a spiritual or moral journey, reports a study by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom.

A Welsh professor lead the research team. “Our research is very unusual in trying to open up what is normally taken for granted,” he told The Guardian. “How does fantasy, and in this case film fantasy, matter to people? How does a story which is very English in origins appeal to people in countries as different as Italy, Slovenia, China and Columbia?”

The team researched fans in 20 countries and 13 languages. Many fans reread the books and tried to experience the story as if they were reading and watching it for the first time.

People with creative jobs were revealed to probe the movies for deeper meaning. Young girls saw them with their friends. “By contrast, there were men – dubbed in the study ‘lonely epic males’ – for whom viewing the film was a very private experience,” reports the newspaper.

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