• WARNING: Spoilers

    Early in the Second Age of Middle-earth, elven smiths forged nine Rings of Power for mortal men, seven for the Dwarf-Lords, and three for the Elf-Kings. At the same time, the Dark Lord Sauron made the One Ring to rule them all after learning the secrets of how to forge them from the Elves of Hollin--a deviation from Tolkien's work in which Sauron taught ring lore to the Elves and forged all the rings except the three Elvish rings. As the Last Alliance of Elves and Men fell, the Ring fell into the hands of Prince Isildur from across the sea, and after Isildur was killed by orcs, the Ring lay at the bottom of the river Anduin. Over time, Sauron captured the nine Rings made for men and turned their owners into the Ringwraiths, terrible beings who roamed the world searching for the One Ring. The Ring was found by a Stoor named Déagol, whose friend, Sméagol, murdered him and stole it for himself. The Ring warped Sméagol into a twisted, gurgling wretch known only as Gollum (Peter Woodthorpe), and he wandered with it to a cave in the Misty Mountains. Hundreds of years later, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Norman Bird) accidentally discovered his "precious" Ring and took it back with him to the Shire. Years later, during Bilbo's birthday celebrations in the Shire, the wizard Gandalf (William Squire) tells him to leave the Ring for Frodo Baggins (Christopher Guard). Bilbo agrees, and leaves the Shire. Seventeen years pass, during which Gandalf learns that the Shire is in danger: evil forces have discovered that the Ring is in the possession of a Baggins. Gandalf meets with Frodo to explain the Ring's history and the danger it poses to all of Middle-earth. Frodo leaves his home, taking the Ring with him. He is accompanied by three hobbit friends, Pippin (Dominic Guard), Merry (Simon Chandler), and Sam (Michael Scholes). After a narrow escape from the Ringwraiths pursuing them, the hobbits eventually come to Bree, where they meet Aragorn (John Hurt), who is first introduced to them as Strider, a friend of Gandalf's, who leads them the rest of the way to Rivendell. Frodo is stabbed atop Weathertop mountain by the chief of the Ringwraiths with a knife imbued with evil magic. Part of the knife stays inside him, and he gets sicker as the journey progresses. The Ringwraiths catch up with them shortly after they meet the elf Legolas (Anthony Daniels), and at a standoff at the ford of Rivendell, the Ringwraiths are swept away by the enchanted river. At Rivendell, Frodo is healed by its lord, Elrond. He meets Gandalf again, held captive by his fellow wizard Saruman (Fraser Kerr), who plans to join with Sauron but also wants the Ring for himself. Bilbo, Gandalf, and the others argue about what should be done with the One Ring, and Frodo volunteers to go to Mordor, where the Ring can be destroyed. Frodo sets off from Rivendell with eight companions: Gandalf; Aragorn; Boromir, son of the Steward of Gondor (Michael Graham Cox); Legolas; Gimli the dwarf (David Buck); and Frodo's original three hobbit companions. Their attempt to cross the Misty Mountains is foiled by heavy snow, and they are forced to take a path under the mountains via Moria. Moria was an ancient dwarf kingdom, but is now full of orcs and other evil creatures, and Gandalf falls into an abyss while battling a balrog. The remaining eight members of the Fellowship continue through the elf-haven Lothlórien, but Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo. Frodo decides to leave the others behind and continue his quest alone, although faithful Sam insists on accompanying him. Boromir is killed by orcs while trying to defend Merry and Pippin. They are captured by the orcs, who intend to take them to Isengard through the land of Rohan. The hobbits escape and flee into Fangorn forest, where they meet Treebeard (John Westbrook), a huge tree-like creature. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas find Merry and Pippin; they find small footprints and follow them into Fangorn Forest. There, they find Gandalf, whom they believed had died in the mines of Moria. The four ride to Rohan's capital, Edoras, where Gandalf persuades King Théoden (Philip Stone) that his people are in danger. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas then travel to the defensive fortification Helm's Deep. Frodo and Sam, meanwhile, discover Gollum stalking them, and capture him. Frodo pities him, and lets him live in return for guidance to Mount Doom. Gollum promises to lead them to a secret entrance to Mordor. At Helm's Deep, Théoden's forces struggle to resist an onslaught of orcs sent by Saruman. Gandalf arrives the next morning with the Riders of Rohan just in time, destroying the orc army.