Skip to comments.101 Observations from The Fellowship of the Ring (or 101 things you probably missed)
Posted on 01/09/2002 10:56:47 AM PST by Grig
Warning: this article contains heavy spoilers for those who haven't seen the Fellowship of the Rings film nor read the book.
Originally published on our site just before Christmas, I thought my "101 Observations" article was a fairly complete and comprehensive look at hidden and special features in the film The Fellowship of the Ring. However, I've since been getting about a dozen e-mails a day from other readers; and wading through the pile (yes, I read every single one), I have found many more gems that deserve mention.
So here's the updated version of "101 Observations", now even more definitive! I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to write, even if your thoughts or name didn't make it into this article. New items are marked in case you'd like to skim through and find what's been added.
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On Bilbo Baggins
[NEW] The pictures above Bilbo's mantlepiece, in Bag End, are of his parents, but they're actually pictures of Peter Jackson (without his beard) and Fran Walsh, Peter's partner and co-screenwriter. They were on display at Casa Loma in Toronto in November, and the resemblance is a lot more obvious close-up. Darryl Farr
[NEW] Two of the Hobbit Children to whom Bilbo tells his story are credited as 'Cute Hobbit Children', and are listed as Katie and Billy Jackson, who I think are Peter and Fran's kids. Darryl Farr
I noticed that when Bilbo left the Shire after leaving the ring behind, he sang "The Road Goes Ever, Ever On" as he walked down the path. I believe this is the only hint of any of Tolkien's poetry. Did anyone else catch that? Lanny Gore
My favorite bit that I found hidden in Lord of the Rings: Gandalf and Bilbo's singing! Yes, the one song that seemed to last into the movie was written out in the book. I recognized it right off because it happens to be one of the few poems I actually like. Gandalf and Bilbo could be seen and heard singing it while entering and leaving the Shire. Bryan Twomey
I enjoyed Bilbo telling all the little hobbits about his encounter with the three trolls in the forest at the start of his journey... though the story didn't tell the full truth. Andrew Francis
[NEW] One thing I've noticed after seeing film twice is the fact that Gandalf loses his staff to Saruman at Isengard, and I don't recall him having it when he jumped onto the eagle. But he has a staff when everyone joins at Rivendell. Did I miss something? Does the book explain this? Does he have extra staffs? Abellia
[NEW] On first viewing I was worried that Gandalf's staff was taken by Saruman, yet after his rescue by Gwaihir he suddenly has his staff again. However, after seeing the film again, I now realize it's a different staff! Jon Hunwick
[NEW] Regarding Gandalf's first staff: did anyone else notice that it has a special slot in which Gandalf keeps his pipe? Jon Hunwick
[NEW] Funny thing there, Viggo added a personal message in the movie. In the scene where Arwen left with Frodo, he said to her: "Min Älskling", which was probably not in the original script, because it means "my love" in Danish! Jian Kang
It's clear that Elrond thinks of Aragorn as his son, and if you've read the appendices, Elrond basically raised Aragorn. Kevin Combest
[NEW] When Boromir is in Lorien, he says that she (Galadriel) spoke of hope, but he can't see it. Sitting next to him, listening, is Aragorn, also known as Estel. The translation of Estel is hope. Anna
[NEW] For me it was the Ring of Barahir on Aragorn's hand when he touches Frodo's arm at the High Seat and tells him to go on without them. I couldn't believe they showed such a minute detail! Archie
Boromir had on wrist-guards decorated with the White Tree of Gondor. It was fitting that after Boromir's death, Aragorn took them off him and donned them himself. To me, it was like saying, "I'm ready to claim my destiny." Phillip Rowold
[NEW] Boromir is examining the shards of Narsil when he nicks himself. The line, "it's still sharp," was wasted on most of the audience. (Sean Bean played Richard Sharpe in the "Sharpe's Rifles" series, which I consider his best work to date...) Allen Hammack
Boromir's love for the halflings: this is shown when he is training Merry and Pippin and wrestling with them on the ground. It makes his sacrifice for them at the end that much stronger. This is also demonstrated when he asks Aragorn to allow them time to mourn after the events of Moria. Cbake
I did enjoy the fun swordplay between the hobbits and Boromir. Until that point I thought the film was making him to be too obviously obsessed with the ring and corrupted. The_Doogie
That, mixed with the final battle of Boromir, I thought, improved on the book with Boromir coming out a lot more heroic and valiant despite his actions with Frodo. Sam Freeman
[NEW] The look on Legolas' face when Gimli says, "You have my axe." Gillian Simpson
I think the most surprising and welcome thing I spotted was on the Redhorn Pass Legolas tritting lightly opon the snow's surface while the rest of the Fellowship are slogging through deep snow. Roger Sorensen
[NEW] The coolest thing I noticed was when running through the mines away from the Balrog, while everyone else appears to be running at full speed, Legolas looks like he's jogging. This is true in other places where they are forced to run away. Matthew McDonough
[NEW] I've seen Orlando Bloom as a human, and he looked nothing like Legolas. How did they turn plain, ordinary humans into pure Magic? The Elves seemed to feel immortal and graceful. Crysty
[NEW] The intricate braiding of Gimli's beard: I've always been partial to all things Dwarven (at least where fantasy novels are concerned), and the beard reflected a concern and care for the culture of the race as reflected in Tolkein's work and carried further in the works of TSR, D&D, et al. Al Ward
When the fellowship is running from the Balrog in Moria and they are presented with a gap to cross, Gimli says something quite hilarious. "No one tosses a dwarf!" Could this be a reference to "Dwarf Tossing," an actual event that some participate in? Ben Griep
[NEW] Dwarf tossing used to be an attraction in some New Zealand pubs. There was an outcry about it being undignified, and the practice was, ahem, dropped. Paul Wiggins
On the Hobbits
[NEW] At the opening scene in the Shire, we catch a glimpse of Frodo, back against a tree, reading a book. He puts it down when he hears the voice of Gandalf singing as the great wizard comes riding into the Shire with his load of fireworks. The next scene has Frodo running through tall grass in the woods till he comes to the road. He clearly doesn't have his book with him. I somehow don't think Frodo would be the type to leave any book behind, so what happened to the book? Lee G-M
I was absolutely giddy over Sam's hesitation to ask Rosie for a dance. Wade Thompson
True to the book, Sam was the first of the halflings to slay an orc, "A sturdy thrust with his barrow blade." Brendan L. Agnew
[NEW] When Sam is packing his bags in Rivendell, as Frodo approaches him, Sam says under his breath, "Now what have I forgotten?" This is a reference to the rope that he forgot to pack in the book. Greg Knight
I especially noticed how willing Merry and Pippin were to endanger their lives for their friends. In Balin's tomb, when Frodo is hit by the spear, they leap at the cave troll in anguish for their fallen friend. Similarly, when Boromir gets hit by the Uruk-hai's arrow, the expression on the two hobbits' faces as they tried to charge these towering orcs was gut-wrenching, showing precisely how much their doomed friend meant to them. ledrew
[NEW] I am sure any good Tolkien fan is already aware, but since I have not read the books since I was little, it occurred to me in seeing Frodo and Sam leave together at the end of the film that The Two Towers is a wonderful pun, referring not only to where the climaxes of the next book/film occur, but also to the less than tower-like hobbits. Dan Gallucci
[NEW] On two occasions Arwen whispers to her horse, calling it Asfaloth. Perhaps a nod to Glorfindel: even though his character was trimmed from the movie, his steed was not. David Hudson
The one thing that really stood out for me was that I'd never envisioned Galadriel as being creepy. As kind and gentle as she is after she passed her "test," that was how I'd originally thought of her. This eeriness (very well done, too!) sheds a whole new light for me on the importance of her temptation by the Ring. Elaine Carter
Most might not catch it, but as the Fellowship approaches Lothlorien and Galadriel reads their thoughts, you can just make out her telling Frodo "Your steps bring doom to us" or something to that effect. It shows that, as in the book, no matter what happens, the fact that Frodo has the One Ring spells doom for the Elves because if he fails, then everyone is doomed, yet if he is successful in destroying the Ring, the Elves must leave the land and fade away. Cbake
When they leave the lady of the forest, I definitely remember them all leaving with Elven cloaks. I was pleasently surprised that even if it was not mentioned, they all left with them. I also found it ambiguous as to the lady being an Elven ringbearer. The only shot of her hands are at the farewell and the ring she wears seems to be holding her arm cloth. tsaosham
[NEW] Not only did I notice the grey elvish cloaks they wore when departing Rivendell, but I liked the Elvish leaf clasp that held them together! Nice attention to detail. Julian Greene
The part of the movie that stuck out the most for me was Gollum and how pathetic he really was...almost to the point of scaring me to death. I read the prologue to the FOTR and I found Gollum almost to be funny. But his desperate and tortured nature added a lot to how the ring made people greedy. Eric Thompson
[NEW] I was amazed to see that no one noticed Gollum's apearance when the Fellowship is going down the river. When the camera goes by the giant bearded statue, we see Gollum hunched over the eyelid of the statue, looking down at the Fellowship. It's impossible to see unless you're looking for it. Jesse Collier
On Balrogs, Orcs, and Goblins
Because some people think the Balrog has wings and some don't (me thinking it didn't) the way they animated it with shadow "clouds" for wings really left it up to you to decide whether they were actual wings or just the darkness the Balrog brings with it. I thought that was very cool. Casey McElveen
The Orcs in the books are never fully described are they hairy or scaly or both? Jackson's Orcs are individually very different, which gives the viewer a lot of latitude in deciding what an Orc looks like. There were enough different Orcs that each viewer could find a favorite that matched his personal idea of what an Orc looked like. Jim Bumgardner
[NEW] When Aragorn runs to the fallen Boromir, one of the Orcs lying on the ground looks around, realizes that the scene is still progressing, and lies back down "dead". Alan Myrold
On the Ring and Sauron
[NEW] The weapon Sauron is holding that's the weapon Morgoth used in The Simarillion. Jamie Demeter
The Ring mumbles its inscription in Black Speech (as best I can translate it from the book Ash Nazg Durbatuluk...) as Frodo stares at it in the council meeting. Coby Moran
[NEW] When Saruman is receiving instructions from Sauron through the palantir, Sauron tells Saruman to build him an Army "worthy of Melkor". Ben Gilbert
The greatest ending line I have heard from any character was from Aragorn when he, Legolas, and Gimli are setting off the rescue Merry and Pippin. "Let's go hunt some Orc." Brendan L. Agnew
I fell into Middle-earth with one little detail in the very beginning. When Gandalf and Bilbo first meet up and Bilbo goes to make tea. Gandalf picks up a framed map from Bilbo's table. A map of the Lonely Mountain I know it's not as hidden or unobvious as any Silmarillion reference, but it is the one that hit the ball out of the park into Middle-earth for me. George Oakley
[NEW] If you look closely in the background you will see the Dwarves waiting for Bilbo as he begins his journey. They are just a couple of very small lights and some dimly lit figures but they are there. Why Mr. Jackson chose not to show any dwarves in the beginning (as in the book) I have no idea. Mark Manning
I liked the fact that when a map of Middle-earth was shown it was nearly identical to the ones originally drawn for the books all those years ago. Chris
Smaug being recreated in the firework display. I also thought that was a great introduction to Merry and Pippin. Dermot Farrelly
There were many parts that simply made the movie. The references from "Riddles in the Dark" to "A Shortcut to Mushrooms" were great and wonderfully placed. Brendan L. Agrew
I loved the chapter titles being worked in "A Long-Expected Party"; "A Shortcut to Mushrooms"; "The Breaking of the Fellowship"; and more. Wade Thompson
[NEW] If you look closely in the scene when Frodo and Sam are first leaving the Shire, there is a car in the background. It is when they are by the scarecrow and Sam is saying, "this is it, if I take one step more, I'll be the farthest I've ever been away from home." Jessica Hildreth
After the battle of Weathertop and Frodo has been stabbed by the Black Rider, they are found resting in a forested area. The stones behind them are the trolls that Bilbo and the dwarves turned to stone from The Hobbit. Leigh Kelsey
[NEW] One interesting thing I found was that almost every single person, including all of the Fellowship and pretty much every important character, had blue eyes. You would have thought they would add some variety. Tom Haren
They included Bill the pony for a brief bit by the entrance to the mines of Moria. Leslie Jefferis
When the Elves dismounted from their horses they didn't "bounce" when they landed. I thought I was just imagining it when Arwen dismounts early in the movie and made a conscious effort to follow it and later in the movie Legolas repeats the feat. Apparently Elves don't need to cushion the landing when dismounting as we do! Coby Moran
[NEW] In one of the bird's-eye-view shots of Barad-Dûr, you see the road pattern towards the main gate. Later you see a shot from the same angle of Isengard, and it has exactly the same road pattern. It really is a miniature Barad-Dûr. Rolf Mak
[NEW] I liked how at Isengard, the Orcs slipped in a comment to Saruman about the trees being strong and having deep roots. During this scene, the music sounded like the trees were in pain. If Tom Bombadil couldn't make the movie, at least some of the trees did. Trevor
One thing that struck me in retrospect was that while we see the Sword of Elendil broken, we never see it reforged. I doubt that this was simply overlooked rather, I suspect that the introduction of Anduril (which in the book takes place immediately following the Council of Elrond) has been put off till the end of The Two Towers, or perhaps the beginning of The Return of the King. Jackson and Co. appear to be taking a more gradual approach to Aragorn's development as the Heir of Isildur, and I'm inclined to speculate that the Sword will be delivered to him at some later point to symbolize his acceptance of that role perhaps replacing the banner he receives from Arwen? Perhaps being delivered by Arwen herself, giving Liv Tyler something to do in the second movie? I'm interested to see how this element is handled. Elizabeth Broadwell
A really good feature of the movie I noted was that, in the books, The Fellowship of the Ring ends with Boromir getting riddled with arrows. It isn't until The Two Towers begins that he finally dies with the promise of Aragorn to save the fate of mankind. Jackson did a great job of wrapping up the movie so that viewers can have some sort of "intermission" feeling instead of a cliffhanger for a year. Draq
Peter Jackson's cameo. Of course he is known for making cameo appearances in all his films. However, I didn't set out to find him in this film, as I was more intent on enjoying the entire experience. However, when his bearded face and wirey hair popped up on the screen as the hobbits entered the city of Bree, it brought a smile to my face Mike Hladky
[Peter Jackson] is the bearded burp-guy in Bree. It's easy to miss him, he's only on screen for like half a second, I think it's when the hobbits enter the Prancing Pony Inn. Filip
Right before the "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" message, something was written in Elven (but translated into English). Phillip Rowold [Actually, that's not Elvish, but Maori, one of the official languages of New Zealand. -Ed.]
[NEW] The narration explained that Gollum found the ring, but didn't explain the story of Sméagol. Terry Cryer
One thing that I wish they had added was the Elves that meet Frodo and the other hobbits right after the encounter with the Ringwraith when they leave the Shire. But that is just a small complaint. Tyson DuBravac
When the hobbits jumped on the ferry to escape the Ringwraith and next thing you see them knocking at the gates of Bree. That was a punch to the stomach because the scene after that in the Brandybucks Marsh was important in my opinion. Marc Verdel
[NEW] I wish a few moments had been spared in Bree to introduce Bill. The friendship that forms between Bill and Sam adds a little light to Sam and makes him more than simply a stalwart companion. I had almost completely forgotten about him until they came to the Gate of Moria and had to send Bill away. Jim Bisbee
If I absolutely had to find one missed minor exculsion, it would have to be that Jackson neglected to expand on the Legolas/Gimli friendship that was all but nonexistent in this film. This 'opposites attracting' theme from the novels was both interesting and humorous. Kiaran Ritchie
[NEW] In the book, it was Merry who gave Gandalf the idea for opening the door into Moria. It would have been nice to leave him this piece of business, to show that the younger hobbits are gradually becoming useful. Gillian Simpson
[NEW] In the book, one of the Orc's feet comes through the door and Frodo stabs it, shouting "The Shire! The Shire!" My sister and I really loved this bit in the book and were disappointed it wasn't included. Jessica
[NEW] Sting is supposed to glow blue when Orcs are near, right? Well, how come, when it switches to Frodo 'fighting' the cave troll, did Sting stop glowing blue? It didn't seem to notice that many Orcs were in the same room at the same time! HYRULENUTTER
[NEW] Gandalf's sword should be glowing in Moria just as much as Frodo's. I can't believe they missed that one. Logboy
A couple of things I didn't like: where was Samwise during the mirror of Galadriel scene? Or when Legolas shot the "dark" flying creature on the banks of the Anduin or the attack of the wolves. And I didn't like Aragorn confronting Frodo before he took off for Mordor. Anthony Gracey
[NEW] When the Fellowship leaves the Lady of the Wood they all receive a gift, but you only find out about Frodo's. This seems somewhat awkward, because in the chase for Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, they drop their gifts as markers for Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Alan Myrold
Most of all the fact that everyone saw Frodo leave annoyed me the most for some reason. Animefanz
[NEW] After Boromir dies and is placed in his boat, the weapons of the Orcs he slew are not placed there also! The movie was fantastic, but wow, an easy detail that should not have been missed, as Faramir sees the boat and the weapons later on! Sean Lukie
The movie's length is its only possible deterrent: I really wanted it to be longer. Brendan L. Agnew
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Next time you head to the theater for another showing of The Fellowship of the Ring, you'll know what to look for. I hope this compilation lets you appreciate some of the richness and the nuances that have been included in this epic film. Stay tuned for ongoing Middle-earth coverage!
Yup, and there as a line in the men's room!
My 12-year-old couldn't make it and had to leave during the movie (that's what he gets for ordering a large Pepsi)...
The things I noticed this time that I didn't notice the first time was the cloaks and clasps, and that Legolas trod on the top of the snow while the others sunk.
Maybe MTV will do a "Pop-Up Video" version! ;)
I'm going to bet dollars to donuts (and I REALLY like donuts) that any details from the first movie that are important to the later movies will be covered in the intros to those movies. They're also going to have to explain lembas or figure out some way for the orc hunters and captives to be eating.
I like the idea, but I'de rather have the info appear quietly in the black bar area and have it on the DVD. DVD's can have multiple subtitle tracks, they don't take up that much room so it is very doable.
Ever see that "pop up video" episode of Drew Carey?
Personally, I expect that Galadriel will play a greater role in all three movies than she did in the books. This is a way of dragging in an occasional female character. The easiest way for them to do this is to cover her giving of gifts to each of the Fellowship thru flashbacks at appropriate points in the story. For instance, we might flashback to her gift to Gimli just before he challenges Eomer in defense of her honor. And Sam's gift has to be in the ROTK to explain the quick recovery of the Shire from Saruman's devastation.
Speaking of female characters, I've seen a couple of stills with Arwen and Galadriel in what looks like Lorien. Not in the book. And I'm really looking forward to Eowyn!
No, as I was too busy beating everyone else to the urinals!
I know, I know. You're just hoping she's a big character in the story, right?
Prior to taking him to see the movie, I downloaded the moria scene and we watched it slowly together. When it happened he was familiar with it and it didn't frighten him that much. Really, there was not a whole lot of blood, just very fast violence that ended pretty quick.
I was describing to my husband last night the part of the ROTK where the orcs catapult human heads into the city during the seige of Gondor. I wondered aloud how they were going to manage that bit of cinematography!
Now to put this in perspective, my brother is a devout Christian who never reads fiction. My nephew and I can discuss the fantasy genre for hours.
My nephew loved it so much he is now reading the books. My brother took 2 things from the movie. This quote and that there was not a single curse word.
I'm not saying you're a bad parent for taking your son, I just think there are few children who could see this movie without having nightmares from it.
Twelve year old son dislikes horrors intensely, but loves fantasy and sci-fi. The second time we saw the movie he was able to associate what he was seeing to what we had read. And finally started grasping the themes.
The books and the movie take time to absorb. Not something to get on the first viewing or reading. Now that I have seen all of these additions to the movie, cannot wait to get it on DVD and study it.
(Hey all! Lay off stanz...so he didn't like the movie. Oh well.)
Shadowfax, Gandalf's silver-grey horse doesn't appear until The Two Towers.