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

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

 
Reviewed by: Chris
December 23, 2001

This adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" is a fantasy to behold.  In the first of the three volumes  ("The Fellowship Of The Ring", "The Two Towers" and "The Return Of The King") to be released over three Christmas seasons, director Pater Jackson (Heavenly Creatures) uses great care to give color and life to Tolkien's world.

The book, originally published in 1954, tells the story of a number of gold rings created by the evil Lord Sauron, the Elven Kings, the Dwarf Lords and the Mortal Men.  There was also another ring made which had power over all the others.  This ring was fought over and lost at the bottom of a lake for over a thousand years.

Flash forward to Hobbit Bilbo Baggins' (Ian Holm) little shire home.  The 111 year old has the powerful ring in his possession.  (A Hobbit is a small human-like creature with pointy ears, big hairy feet and a playful personality).

Bilbo's young cousin Frodo (played by Elijah Wood, who has the largest, most expressive eyes known to Hobbit or human), is entrusted to leave the comfort and safety of his little shire and take the ring to be destroyed.  He must get rid of it before Saruman (Christopher Lee), a fallen wizard, can steal it and use its power to take over Middle-earth.

Frodo is accompanied by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) who is his mentor, fellow Hobbits, Marry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Sam (Sean Austin).  Others who are part of the fellowship are: Gimli, a snarling Dwarf (John Rhys-Davies), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), an Elvish archer, and humans Boromin (Sean Bean) and Aragon (Viggo Mortensen).  The nine travelers make up the "Fellowship."

Their journey is awesome indeed and filled with both beauty and peril.  They pass large waterfalls, row in pristine lakes guarded by mammoth stone statues, ride through a dark forest, and climb icy mountains and eerie caves.  The special effects are so good, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between what is real and not.

It's odd that Frodo is given the responsibility of protecting the ring because he appears the most meek and unlikely of the bunch.  But, it's perhaps his purity of heart which gets the job done.

The film is scarier than I anticipated, with scores of swooping hawks, evil orcs (looking like something out of Alien), shrieking, shrouded creatures on horseback and enough ax and sword wielding predators to cover the entire landscape.  They were frightening enough to make me wince a time or two.  There's a dark, foreboding feel to the production, but the outnumbered heroes are brave and optimistic throughout.

The group does have a bit of relief however.  They meet the beautiful Elven woman Arwen (Liv Tyler) and take a quick trip through Lady Galadriel's (Cate Blanchett) Elven homeland.

Jackson created a world for each creature on screen.  Unique cave dwellings for the Dwarfs, moss covered little cottages built into the side of rolling hills for the Hobbits, an idyllic garden-like paradise for the Elven, and Morder's stark black structure reaching perilously into the sky, which is home to the evil Saruman and his ilk, are all spectacular.

It's great to use imagination while reading about different customs, people and terrain from Tolkien's novels, but to actually see Jackson's incredible vision for the classic is a treat for the senses.

The cast is superb.  Even though their faces may be covered in heavy make-up, their emotions show through.  Especially Wood, whose Frodo seems to embody goodness.

Mysterious, thrilling, sad, exhilarating and action-packed Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has it all, and since all three segments of the trilogy were filmed at once over a 16 month period, I can't wait for the second installment.

 
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