LOS ANGELES (AP) - They slew beasts, toppled tyrants and destroyed a ring of ultimate evil, becoming lords of the Academy Awards for their troubles.
In an all-around predictable evening at the Oscars, the ragtag heroes of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" hoisted the fantasy genre to a new artistic high Sunday, earning a record-tying 11 awards, taking best picture and sweeping each of its categories.
Peter Jackson, who shepherded J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth saga to the screen, won the best director Oscar and shared the adapted-screenplay award with his two co-writers.
Tolkien's themes - "forgiveness, courage, faith, friendship" - are "themes that go straight to the heart," Jackson said.
Jackson labored for seven years to adapt Tolkien's trilogy - first convincing Hollywood bankers to stake him to the tune of $300 million, then marshaling a cast and crew of 2,000 to shoot the three films and land them in theaters just a year apart.