The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

PG-13   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Fantasy


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Poster

A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.

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8.8/10
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  • Ian McKellen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
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Reviews & Commentary

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22 December 2001 | Yrneh
10
| Greatest `Fantasy' Book become greatest `Fantasy' film
I think it is important to remember that Peter Jackson took up this film not in order just to make a film of `The Lord of the Rings' but because he wanted to make a 'fantasy just like the `The Lord of the Rings'" as he himself put it. After repeating that phrase on a number of occasions the question popped into his mind: "Well, why not the `The Lord of the Rings' itself?". In doing this he, of course, set himself an enormous challenge: he had to make a really good `fantasy' film, one which would stand on its own and be true to what he had originally wanted to do but he would also, and here the task he had set himself was enormous, be true to the original book and to make a film which the legions of people who have loved this book would feel happy with. In the latter task he was certainly not helped by the author or the book: Tolkein, it would seem, hated cinema. The book itself is `HUGE': this was not going to be the kind of task that the James Ivory team set themselves, or Scorsese nor the kind of task facing Branagh with Hamlet; nor was it going to be like the puny task that faced Columbus with `Harry Potter' who had the bigger budget ($130 million for one film as compared with Peter Jackson with $300m for three).

I have just seen the first `volume' and can say without hesitation that he has succeeded in both his goals. It is not the book but a reading of the book which is inventive and fascinating. It is the kind of experience that makes you want to go back and reread the whole thing in the light of the emphases that Jackson has brought to the story. He focuses on the corrupting influence of the ring and, through this focus, the character of the chief protagonists of the story are revealed. Clearly those most tempted by it are mortal men (Boromir and even, in one moment, Aragorn), those who already have power (Elrond - `The ring cannot stay here'; Galadriel; Gandalf and Saruman), and, of course, those who would not normally desire it but who by accident become ring bearers - Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo. I can see why, in this reading, Jackson decided to leave out the Bombadil episode. Bombadil, like the Balrog, is beyond the ring but the latter is important to the unfolding of the story of the fates of all the characters, Bombadil isn't.

It is a miracle of this reading of the first volume of the book that one can see where Jackson is going and one can get a feel of how the reading is going to unfold. In a sense, Jackson's real trial - as far as those who know the books are concerned - will come with the second film in the series. He has lived up to our expectation by creating even bigger ones: how can he handle the story of the chase andrescue of Merry and Pippin, the storming of Isengard etc - stories which don't really add much to the core theme that is emerging. Or is he now going to add the theme of the great contest of good versus evil to the unfolding reading?

All of this points to the fact that the film, even though it is a feast of special effects, focuses on character. And this also explains why Jackson chose the actors he did for their roles: they are not `big' names - no `Sean Connery', no `Alan Rickman', no `Brad Pitt', no `Sam Neill'etc. He didn't want them getting in the way of the story of character. Ian McKellan's talents, in particular, are used to tell a large proportion of the story: an enormous amount is conveyed simply through his facial expressions and even by the language of his body. The other miracle in all of this is Elijah Wood. Like many others, when I first heard of Jackson's choice, I groaned: but Wood has been extraordinary. He brings, as one friend said, a strange kind of androgyny to the role and this is just perfect. McKellan has already been knighted: give Wood the Oscar.

And then there is Middle Earth: this is, as someone put it, another character in the story and the New Zealand landscape, digitally enhanced on occasion, lives up to its role too.

Enough. See this film! Greatest film ever made? How can one make a claim like that! Silly really; as silly as claiming that `The Lord of the Rings' is the greatest book ever written. Can't one simply love a story, enjoy reading it a number of times amd lose oneself in it. One CAN claim that it is the greatest work in its genre as is the film.

10/10

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Miramax was the first studio to express an interest in Peter Jackson's interpretation of the books, but wanted to do it all in one movie. Jackson refused, leaving him with four weeks to find another studio for funding, touting the project as two movies. Calling upon his friend Mark Ordesky, who was an executive at New Line Cinema, a pitch was set up with New Line Cinema President Robert Shaye. His only quibble with the presentation was that it had to be three movies.


Quotes

Galadriel: The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the Great Rings. Three were given to the Elves, immortal, wisest...


Goofs

After Bilbo's birthday party, Bilbo enters his house and takes off the ring. He then steps over to a walking stick, picks it up with his left hand and transfers it to his right hand. In the very next shot the stick is back in left hand, and what appear to be a couple of small maps are now in his right hand.


Crazy Credits

Toward the end of the credits, there are some lines in Maori, thanking the people of New Zealand, where the movie was filmed.: He mihi nui hoki ki nga tangata whenua o Aotearoa. Ma rangi raua ko papa tatou e manaaki, e tiaki hei nga tau e tu mai nei.


Alternate Versions

In the theatrical release and the Extended DVD, when Aragorn is fighting the Uruk-hai that killed Boromir (Lurz), Aragorn stabs him in the leg with a knife, the uruk-hai then pulls the knife out of his leg and greedily licks the blood off of it before throwing it at Aragorn. This scene is cut out of the Theatrical Edition DVD.


Soundtracks

In Dreams
Written by
Fran Walsh and Howard Shore
Performed by Edward Ross
Courtesy of Reprise Records

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Drama | Fantasy

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