December 15, 2016 10:10 AM EST

Believe it or not, it’s been nearly 15 years since the release of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which means it’s time to take a look back at some of the amazing moments that went into making the beloved trilogy.

The Fellowship of the Ring — which hit theaters on Dec. 19, 2001 — introduced audiences to Jackson’s vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, featuring Elijah Wood as the hobbit Frodo Baggins and Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf. It was followed by 2002’s The Two Towers and 2003’s The Return of the King, concluding a franchise that became the winningest in Oscars history, earning 11 awards at the 2004 ceremony alone.

Check out the gallery above for a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the groundbreaking series.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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