Skip to comments.[Review of] The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Posted on 11/27/2001 8:56:31 PM PST by sourcery
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Cast (Major Roles Only)
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Sir Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins
Sean Astin as Sam Gamgee
Billy Boyd as Pippin Took
Dominic Monaghan as Merry Brandybuck
Orlando Bloom as Legolas
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
John Rhys-Davies (voice) as Treebeard
Sean Bean as Boromir
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Liv Tyler as Arwen
Christopher Lee as Saruman
Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue
Andy Serkis (voice) as Smeagol (Gollum)
A review by Ronald Epstein
One ring to rule them all,
One ring to find them,
one ring to bring them all and in
the darkness bind them.
Published in 1954-1955, J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece Lord Of The Rings trilogy still remains one of the
most definitive works of imaginary fiction ever written. The extraordinary efforts to get this trilogy to
the screen is a testament of how popular these stories are today. New Line has taken a gamble and risked
everything by filming all three movies back-to-back without knowing the fate of the original release.
The Fellowship of the Ring is the very first of the Tolkien trilogy. It will be followed up with
The Two Towers (2002) and Return of the King (2003).
As release date slowly draws nearer, everyone is holding their breath. Will this film live up to expectations?
Will this movie make a strong enough impact that audiences will anxiously want to remain loyal to the
films that will follow? The answer is a definitive YES on all accounts.
Lord Of The Rings will make its mark in film history. Fans will embrace this film and newcomers will
be in complete awe of one of the most visually entertaining films ever made....and this is only the beginning!
The film begins with lengthy female narrative that tells the story of Middle Earth - the ancient land of elves,
dwarves, hobbits, wizards and other creatures. We are told of the creation of the individual rings that
were handed down to the wisest and most noblest creatures of Middle Earth. We are then told of the ONE
ring that was forged out of Mount Doom -- the ring that controlled all others -- worn by the dark and
evil Lord Sauren. We are told of a battle and the defeat of Sauren and how his ring is eventually lost
only to be found by Gollum, a lowly creature that gets poisoned by its power. The ring is eventually
stolen by hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. And so, this is where the trilogy begins.....
It's a beautiful day in the Shire, the peaceful home of the Hobbits. A carriage rolls through a lone road
that parts meadows of lush grass and farmland. It is Gandalf the Wizard visiting his old Hobbit friend,
Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). It is Bilbo's birthday, and the old hobbit is more concerned about leaving the
Shire rather than partake in any party. Something is very heavy on Bilbo's mind, and Gandalf is watching
him closely. That evening, Bilbo's party is in full swing with some of the most amazing and beautiful firework
displays ever seen on film. When Bilbo makes a daring announcement to his party guests, Gandalf realizes that
Bilbo is in possession of a very important ring. Gandalf convinces Bilbo to give up the ring, and give it to
the very young Frodo (Elijah Wood). When the secret of the ring is finally revealed to the old Wizard, Frodo
is warned to leave the Shire at once. Hence, the adventure of a lifetime begins.
Clocking in at about 3 hours running length, Lord Of The Rings doesn't waste time. Every minute of
the film is used to remain as faithful to the book as possible. The most important aspect of this film is
that it had to properly tell the story as written. The end result is that this film becomes a definitive
and accurate recreation of the story.
Though it had been 20 years since I last read the trilogy, the film brought back every single memory I had
of the story with visuals that exceeded my own imagination. You will see visuals in this film that go beyond
anything you have seen before. The film is visually beautiful as we travel through the lush green grasses
of the Shire with the huts built into the hills, or, the beautiful mountain village of Rivendell, inhabited
by the Elves. With so much beauty also comes the darkness of Mordor and Mount Doom so grimly recreated
with cameras that swoop into the lowest depths of these locations as we watch armies of death manufacturer
weapons as they grow, amass, and hunt the one that holds the ring.
Make no mistake about it, this film is very dark. The most terrifying creatures of Middle Earth are
realistically brought to life. Whether it be the Ringwraiths, dark riders who are neither dead or alive
or the armies of orcs who inhabit the Mountains of the Dwarf kingdom, this movie manages to keep your
heart racing with scene after scene of edge-of-the-seat battles set to sweeping music of Howard Shore.
I have two favorite sequences in this movie. One involves a duel between Gandalf (Ian Holm) and the
elder wizard, Saruman (Christopher Lee). With each Wizard testing their powers against each other,
the duel becomes one of the most memorable scenes of the film as we see Gandalf helplessly spinning
around the floor. Another favorite sequence involves Frodo putting the ring on his finger and not
only becoming invisible to the outside world, but being visible to the inner world of darkness. These
effect sequences are creatively reproduced on screen to the point where you get chills running down
The biggest hurdles that New Line faces with Lord Of The Rings is the 3-hour running time and
the fact that this is not a film that is going to appeal to all audiences. While the fans who read
the original books are going to be enthralled with its faithfulness to the book, I couldn't help but
hear many women of the audience talking afterwards about how much they were unimpressed by the whole
film. Fans of the books and Fantasy films alike are in for the treat of their lives. Lord Of The Rings
has accomplished what many thought was the impossible -- to bring a live-action film to the screen
that accurately portrays the books as written, with enough visual eyes candy and engrossing battle scenes
that could very well make this the STAR WARS trilogy of the new century.
On a scale of 1-5, I give this film a 5.
Opens December 18th, 2001
Interesting comment. Was it the lack of "romance,"in the modern sense?
This one can't miss, in my book. Seeing the silly animated version 20+ years ago was on par to my seeing VH with David Lee Roth. With computer technology, we are gonna be blown away.
You sound like one of those leftists, but since I know you're not, I'll give you some reason for hope. There are several prominent women characters fast approaching...
[source 1:] saw it. beats harry by a long shot, better acting, more engaging world. but i'm still reeling. it's one of the most visually imaginitive films i've ever seen, but the violence and the overarching darkness is ultimatly numbing
...ok- by god, i've got more info. my source says that FOTR is just a tremendous movie experience. visually, like nothing seen before. you are part of tolkien's/pj's world for nearly 3 hours. on the other hand, the many light moments from the book are largely gone, and the respites from danger (riveldell, lothlerian), while beautifully rendered, are fleeting. there is a constant sense of foreboding, and the music is operatic, never letting you forget it. the violence mentioned is very intense & repetitive. these were some of the highlights. much of this is too my liking, but i'm fearing the whimsical spirit and brilliant pacing of intensity then safety, is missing. more than ever, i can't friggin' wait!!
...this person saw & enjoyed HP, but says FOTR is in another universe in terms of seriousness, message, and overall darkness. he/she has a 13 yr old, and specifically mentioned that NO WAY will they be seeing the film.
[source 2:]ok- i've spoken w/ another viewer who's somewhat less impressed. specifics i remember (don't read ahead if you don't want to know) are that the sheer number of fight scenes was unecessary- swordfight after swordfight to the point of boredom. the council of elrond was described as surprisingly argumentive. the gandalf-saruman confrontation degrades into an embarassing martial arts-type fight. he also mentioned pj being very heavy handed at times- gandalf bumping his head at bilbo's house, for instance. funny though, he said he definately wanted to see it again! oh, and the character of aragorn has been miscast, being more of a pretty boy than a gritty traveller. hey, don't kill the messenger...just my reporting thoughts.
...interestingly, the 2nd source is a huge LOTR fan. i think we'll eventually find some of the more critical notices will be from those who have the highest expectations. guess he gets a bad rap cause i'm relaying only the neg. comments. hmmm... he liked the acting in general (so did #1), but found the interpersonal relationships lacking. both thought the balrog was utterly awsome. pj apparently pulls out all manners of beasts. i'll think of more as we go along.
...my take on #2 (whom i don't know well either) is that because he had such high expectations, there was a nit picky aspect to this review and that he was exaggerating to some point. but again, he definately will see it again. what all seem to say is that the film is much more CONFRONTATIONAL than expected- one after another. i think there'll be lots of discussion on whether this was overdone or not- #2 certainly thought so.
I've recently seen a screening of Fellowship of the Ring. A small number of us within [ahem] distrubion company have seen it, albeit in a small projection room :-/ It clocks in just shy of 3 hours and is totally mindblowing. There's no other word: mindblowing. I'm a tolkien fan, but no means a geek Yeah, I was optimistic about the movie, but it has totally blown my expectations away. Very different to how I imagined it would play out on screen. You people are in for a big surprise. If there's one dominat theme, it has to been a sence of darkness and overwhelming fear. This is no movies for kids.... So, any questions about it? Please keep in mind I only saw it once ( and I was lucky to get that chance ),and I'm not a Tolkien-expert like some of you guys probably are, but I'll do my best
...It's more violent then I thought it would be, you know, for a what, PG-cert? PJ's old love of gore really shines in the Moria scenes. The most frightening thing is really not the violence, but the sence of fear and evil when the Black Riders are around. It is genuinely terrifying : the mixture of amazing etheral imagery, amazing movement of the camera and the score...the score!...it's like The Omenx100! But yeah...hmmm..gorey, well yeah, it's quite graphic at times, some of the poor old orcs and goblins really do die some horrific deaths at the hands of the fellowship. [Action sequences rock,btw]
...They're are some amazing treetop scenes in Lothlorien...if that answers your question. Lothlorien is beautifully shot, hard to describe, you'd have to see it. Very, very beautiful... Andrew Lesnie deserves the Oscar, nodoubt.
...It's very, very, very good. And on every level, this transends the genre, it's magnificant! Movies I could compare it too...hmmm, at times I am reminded of PJ's older film Heavenly Creatures, but hmmm...no, it's unique,I've never seen a film so imaginativally shot. It's so lush and rich..ahh
What makes it so good? EVERYTHING! The vision, the sound the movements of the camera, THE BRIDGE! THE BRDIGE!
Honestly, it's just a collection of everything.....it's so emotional too. Sence of light and hope? In Lothlorien and Rivendell....they're magic moments that fill your heart with golden joy...
The final thing is Sam and Frodo heading off on their own with the boy solo singing In Dreams (i think)....very poignant...Enya's song comes in then as the titles come. The saddest part without a doubt, after Gandalf 'dies' and the fellowship emerge from the moutain.
It's one of the most emotional things I've ever seen on film.
Frightening : Weathertop.No have NO idea what weird that scene is...WHAT A SET! Wait till you see it!
The Breaking of the Fellowship plays out quite similar to the book, if I recall the book correctly. Still though, it's not quite how i imagined it to look like, but it was great nevertheless....
Frodo's character is protrayed exactly as how I remember it from the book, strong but at times dependant of the other Hobbits...there are poignant moments with him and Sam though, Sean Astin IS Sam!
The Caradras pass...hmmm....I can't recall who's idea was first ( hey i dont even know that scene too well in the book)
The one I have spoken to, had been warned it was "likely to affect his job prospects" if he uttered a word ... no paranoia there then
All he would say was that as a Star Wars fan, he felt it eclipsed anything he had seen before. As a film fanatic, he said it was the most spectacular movie he had ever experienced. he said time and again he felt his eyes well up with emotion ... and this guys a bit of a hard nut.
The first thin he did after seeing the film was to buy the three books ... great news for Tolkien Enterprises
Basically he couldn't fault the film ... I told him how much had been released or speculated about online, but he wouldn't go into specifics ... guess we'll just have to wait for a month
Hey folks, Harry here... I got a ton of LORD OF THE RINGS news in the last few hours, so I figured I would just place it all here for now.
First... I had an hour long conversation with... ahem, Joseph Young of Africa last night. Now, Joe has seen the movie, however Mr Young was a fairly radically paranoid type. You see at this point only a few people that work with PETER JACKSON, a few folks at NEW LINE and a couple of DISTRIBUTOR types have seen the film thus far and he didn't want anything to go wrong... So after proving beyond any doubt that he was who he was, he began to allow me to question him about having seen the film.
First, I wanted to determine what this person's taste was. What their expectations were going into the film. What other movies are in their 'taste' area... That sort of thing.
Joseph Young is a geek. No two ways about it. At one point when we were talking about Sean Astin, he said that he always thought of Sean as Rudy, I interupted with, "What about Mikey?" And he retorted instantly with, "Well of course he'll always be a GooooooooooooNnnnniiiiieeeee!!!!" Just an instant reaction... I bopped his knee and he instantly knew how to react. He loves STAR WARS to death. Flaws and all. He can't stand Ewoks, but can't help singing along at the end of the original RETURN OF THE JEDI. He has problems with PHANTOM MENACE, but loves it because it is STAR WARS and he can't not not love it. (How's that, a triple negative!!!) But let's get into the thoughts regarding LORD OF THE RINGS.
Now he has seen it more than once. (Go ahead, It is ok to hate Joseph Young) First, in regards to the film he said, "In 1977, STAR WARS changed film. I love Star Wars. Star Wars played my town for 7 straight months and I remember as a kid going back to the theater... Finding it no longer playing and crying. I'd seen the film in theaters over 50 times. Star Wars is what made me fall in love with film. I love it warts and all. FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS avoids every mistake that STAR WARS made. The acting, the story-telling, at every turn the film is simply effortlessly perfect."
I asked, "Well how does the film play for you?"
"It starts off with a prologue. Now I know the books, so I thought this was going to be repetative, but instead it was like presenting the scope of what is to come. It took me by the hand and said, 'And this is where all of this begins'. Watching Bilbo hug Gandalf, well you've seen that in the Cannes reel, but Harry. There was something so otherworldly magical about it that I just couldn't help, but be delighted. The party scene for Bilbo's birthday plays very fast, but it is during this sequence that you really notice how much you like Elijah Wood. It was strange, it was kind of painful watching him here because he's just so innocent. Those eyes of his, so happy and filled with the simple joys of Hobbit life. I know where this is going so I just empathize with him very profoundly."
"First, I have to say that Ian McKellen is not in this film, Peter Jackson actually cast Gandalf in the film. I think that might stand in the way of Ian getting any sort of nomination out of this film, because you can't conceive of him as being anything other than Gandalf. It doesn't feel like acting. It feels like he's Gandalf. But the man who steals the movie in my opinion is CHRISTOPHER LEE. OHMYGOD. OHMYGOD, when you see him. WOW. Christopher Lee was just the shit in the film. If he doesn't get some sort of nomination at the end of the year. He's just so incredibly awesome. In his scenes with Gandalf... WOW."
At this point, award concepts came to mind, so I asked, "What sort of award potential do you see in FELLOWSHIP?"
"Score. It definitely has score wrapped up. There is so much more music than is just on the soundtrack. It is just amazing, and the way it performs with the movie. Wow. Costumes, Production Design, Effects, Cinematography. It will win Cinematography hands down. The film is just astoundingly photographed. This could have all the technical awards wrapped up. As for the others, I don't even want to pretend to guess about those. I mean writing, direction, acting and the overall film. They are all amazing, but I just fear that the Academy will see this as being so natural, so easy. I mean it feels like this is exactly the way it ought to be. I mean the characters. They are all just exactly who they are in the books. It doesn't feel like acting because THAT'S HOW THOSE CHARACTERS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. But will they know that? I don't know. If I were voting, this would win everything."
At this point I was curious about a point and asked, "Well how does it compare to BRAVEHEART or GLADIATOR?"
"Ok, well BRAVEHEART was basically the title. The film had so much heart and so much soul that what you were left with a very emotional film, but flawed on several different levels. I like that film quite a bit though. In GLADIATOR though. God I love that movie. GLADIATOR was just firing on all cylinders. Pardon my french, but it was just the fucking best. It was just great cinema. FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS combines the two and has that same sort of fucking best firing on all cylinders great cinema feeling, but it is also has all the heart and soul that I got out of BRAVEHEART. People so do not know what they are heading into. I walked into this thinking there was no possible way it could live up to my expectations. When I walked out that first time, all I could think was that there was no way that TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING could possibly live up to expectations. OHMYGOD. This is that new benchmark by which all others will be judged. It is perfect!!!"
At this point I was getting very excited. As I imagine you are, but the thought crossed my mind and mouth, "Well, does it have any flaws?"
"No, not really. The weakest link for me was Liv Tyler, and it wasn't that she is bad. I really think she's quite good, but I could not help but see her as Liv Tyler first, not as Arwen first. I can't say that with all the others. Every other character is the character first for me and the actor underneath second. Like Viggo Mortensen, he is Strider first. He is that character. I don't see Sallah, I see Gimli. That guy playing Legolas, where did they find him. He IS LEGOLAS. There's this one point in the woods where he's shooting orcs, and his arms are just a blur of motion and the look on his face was just so damn cool. He just moves like an Elf and I can't really describe that, but when you see him fighting, you'll know what I mean. He's an Elf."
"Coming into this that first time I was really concerned with Sean Astin. I just couldn't help but think RUDY, but he IS Samwise Gamgee! Other than Christopher Lee, Sean Astin steals the movie. I just love him in this film. And Elijah Wood, I don't think he has a clue how big and popular he's going to be out of this. He's the heart of this film."
At this point there were a couple of specific questions I had. "I heard that the last thing Peter Jackson did on this film was take every frame into a computer and bring out colors and desaturate colors at different points. What's that like?"
"Oh well it looks great. At the Mines Of Moria, it is just creepy as can be. But like at Lothlorien he's brought out the blues and yellows and it is just otherworldly. You've never seen a film that looked like this. It has a totally different feel to it."
MMMMMmmm, can't wait. Next I was curious if at this point, does NEW LINE and Peter have a trailer or a preview of TWO TOWERS and/or RETURN OF THE KING before going into credits or after them.
"No, not yet. Though personally that would be cool."
Thank you, my FRiend...MUD
Kewl, I shall be enthralled...
"I couldn't help but hear many women of the audience talking afterwards about how much they were unimpressed by the whole film."
Just a bunch of brain-dead Lib'ral nimwits...America needs a few more Galadriels, Arwens, and Eowyns...to say nothing of Luthiens and Vardas!! Maybe this movie will move a few of the less-bold females a bit further up their journey in life!!
I saw that some reviews seem to be coming out online, so I figure it's safe to send this to you now. I apologize for not being in touch with you the past few months, but things got pretty crazy for a while, as I'm sure you can understand. However, this weekend I saw that it was totally worth it. All the time and money that went into this project was worth it.
My initial, viceral reaction is this: My mind is still reeling, my heart is still aching, and my thoughts are still some place far, far away... in a dreamland I thought could never exist outside my imagination. But it does. It's here, and it is real. Leo, I'm telling you that Peter has done it. Everything you could have hoped for has happened. Now I know you like details, so I guess I'll go into that. I've only seen it once, though, so pardon me if I get some things wrong.
In regards to characters, Elijah Wood is excellent in his role. I truly can't imagine another actor taking command of this quite like he does. At times it is quite painful watching this innocent hobbit going through all this overwhelming darkness. Even though I read the books there are times I believed he wasn't going to make it, when the Shadow was going to swallow him up. This occured at Weathertop specifically, as the Nazgul bore down on his frail form... it was chilling. Another moment that stands out for Wood was at Amon Hen. There the look in his eyes really got to me. There's a moment, just before Boromir truly "turns" that you can see in his gaze that he knows what's coming, and he's frightened but also sad -- he looks at Boromir in pity.
Viggo Mortensen -- well, what can be said except that everything you heard has been true. Aragorn was on the set for filming. He's got some killer lines... full of drama and power, but I think the best thing about his performance was how we get a sense that we're not seeing his true power just yet. This is a man of mystery, that leaves himself guarded to everyone but a few (Gandalf, Elrond, Arwen). He watches more then he speaks, much like Legolas in that respect. In fact, in many ways he acts like one of the elves -- reserved, quiet, deadly, regality surrounding him. I suppose this goes along with hsi backstory of being raised in the house of Elrond. I loved the scene between Elrond and Aragorn as Aragorn knelt by his Mother's grave in Rivendell. I have to say that it was one of Viggo's finest moments in Fellowship... full of emotion and power.
Gandalf, of course, was played to perfection. Ian McKellen is simply perfect -- there is no question. The rest of the Fellowship fall in line perfectly. The trio of Hobbits are portrayed exactly as I imagined (Sam the stout loyal one, and Merry & Pippin being... well... being Merry & Pippin). Legolas reminded me of some sort of assasin... he moved like a ninja. Truly a dangerous fellow who definetly seemed a bit detached from the "normal" world. John Rhys-Davies played a great Gimli... I only wish his facial make-up had been a bit less extensive around the eyes. Most of his acting came from the way he delivered his lines, which was fine, but it would have been nice to see some more of his face.
The dialog was almost entirely from the book (as I told you before, about 85\%), and it is spoken beautifully. It sounded very naturally (especially Gandalf's lines, which are almost poetic). There was only one line in the who film which I did not like, and it wasn't because of the delivery... it just didn't seem to "fit."
WETA did one hell of a job on the SFX. The great thing about them is that it's difficult to tell where the "natural" camera tricks were and where they used CGI and such. The film, however, didn't come across (to me) as a special effects extravaganza because they didn't showboat it. They made it feel REAL. They didn't say, "Hey! Look what we can do!" they just did it, and made it a part of the story. I don't know if that made sense or not, but I think you'll see what I mean.
I'm sure you've heard the score by now, but let me tell you: it's magnafied 10-fold when you have the accompanying images. The Breaking of the Fellowship was one of the most heart-wrenching minutes of cinema I've had the absolutely pleasure of viewing.
There's a reason why things are mundane so far. But check your stirrups...
You're about to leap the chasm.
You like them with Sammy better?! I hope you meant withOUT.
Speaking from the female perspective, these were the first books Ithat I loved enough to read again and again. I still go back to them every few years, and they just get better. Waiting for this movie has been excruciating. But, with the anticipation building and advance reviews like these, ohhhhh...I just can't wait anymore!! If anyone has a LOTR bump list, add my name PLEEEEASE.
You can buy the Recorded Book version of the Trilogy and Silmarillion at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Borders books, etc or directly from Recorded Books. However, Talking Book World has them on sale right now for 20% off list.
American women seem to prefer movies that show women getting beat up repeatedly by drunken or jealous men, if the cable 'Lifetime' station is an indicator. And they cling to daytime TV talk shows with psychopaths scratching each other's eyes out, or short sitcoms with a lot of cruel sarcasm from snotty New Yorkers. I have no idea why these genres are so popular, since I despise these three basic types of programming for women. None include adventure... not that popular romance novels seldom stray far from home either.
I SO hope so.
Maybe this movie will move a few of the less-bold females a bit further up their journey in life!!
As long as the have a few good men with them.... One true love and a few true male friends...or they could end up like Hillary!!!!
You're an idiot and don't know women at all.
LOL...I wouldn't wish that horrid fate upon the WORST of my Enemies!!
All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, Alight from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken: The crownless again shall be king.
-- JRR Tolkien
I SO hope so.
I understand that the real changes from the books include the elimination of Tom Bombadil (don't know if the Old Forest will figure in, probably at some level to later explain the Ents), and Arwen has a bigger role than in the books (takes Glorfindel's place at the Ford -- and her line there really bothers me for some reason). I'm not sure what other changes there will be, but I understand that these are the main ones.