Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Classic Movie Review “A Groundbreaking Emotional Epic Fantasy Tale”

The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

Now that “The Hobbit” trilogy has concluded, I knew the only other thing to do with my life is to jump right into “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  It’s hard to write about this amazing trilogy and say something different then what has already been said.  Truly the “Star Wars” of our time, “The Lord of the Rings” films are masterpieces and it all starts with “The Fellowship of the Ring”.  A more than excellent first chapter into the middle earth saga; with pitch perfect casting, grand storytelling, ground breaking effects, and wonderful emotion/ Peter Jackson kick starts his first middle earth trilogy in grand fashion.

Years after Bilbo’s adventure with the Dwarves at Erebor, the shire throws a huge party for him in which Gandalf comes to attend.  Bilbo bored with his life in the shire attempts to disappear and go off to live with the elves.  Before Bilbo departs he passes on his magic ring that he got off of the creature Gollum in the Misty Mountains to his nephew Frodo Baggins.   Gandalf discovers that this was the ring that Sauron created to rule over the lands of Middle Earth that have been lost for hundreds of years. Now Sauron has been gaining more power in Mordor and is on the hunt now for Frodo and the ring.  It’s decided that the only way to achieve victory against Sauron is to destroy the ring in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor.  Frodo takes on this task along with a Fellowship to protect him on the way.

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(Major Spoilers Ahead!  If You Have Not Seen This Film Go Watch it Immediately And Come Back Later!)

The first thing I have to say coming off “The Hobbit” trilogy the filmmakers do an excellent job of linking together these two trilogies.  There are so many little callbacks to “The Hobbit” in “Fellowship” that I didn’t really take notice of the first time around, that “The Hobbit” trilogy helps brings more attention too.  It was a lot of fun trying to find those little tie-ins that Jackson helped lay the ground work for.

Unlike “The Hobbit” though, never once did we ever have to doubt whether the filmmakers come up with enough material to make a three hour feature instead it’s just the opposite.   J.R.R Tolkien’s works of “The Lord of the Rings” is so jam packed full of material and story that it would be nearly impossible to follow the book note for note (this is where the adaptation process comes in).  Jackson and his team of screenwriters bring in the core essential elements of the story and its themes.  This is how you adapt a book to film.  While there are numinous difference between the book and the movie, the spirit and the narrative strokes still remain.  Jackson changes the stuff that would not work on screen but also keeps a great amount of original material that is in the book.  Once again this is not a hard and fast rule to how you should adapt a book to film (Jurassic Park is nothing like the book but is a lot better as a result). Yet here I think is the prime example of how most us desire to see our favorite stories translated to the big screen.

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At 179 minutes this never once drags on.  Peter Jackson keeps things moving at a good pace, not too fast and not too slow.  The buildup is perfect.  Jackson gives us background into the world of Middle Earth with a grand opening scene of the war against Sauron in the prologue.  It sets the stage for our basic understanding of the ring and where the story is heading making it easily accessible to people whom have not delved into the books; not to mention it’s an epic and exciting opening and is only a taste of what kind of battle sequences that are to come.

After our prologue Jackson sends us into the shire to meet the hobbits.  This whole segment at the beginning during the party for Bilbo exemplifies why I love watching “Fellowship” so much.  This isn’t the best movie in the trilogy but it is easily the most watchable.  “Fellowship” has a great blend of fun and dark tones.  We know there are darker times to come so wisely the filmmakers don’t hit us hard with it right out of the gate.  Not to say darkness is present but it’s more restrained then say “The Two Towers” or “Return of the King”

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This is also the lowest scale of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, meaning we aren’t quite there to the large armies or thousands attacking one another, which means we stay focused of our main cast of characters, the fellowship; Frodo, Sam, Gandalf the Grey, Aragon, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir (and plenty others).  By this focus, it means we get attached to our main characters and care about them.  The action all revolves around them and thus the narrative stays focused on them, and the audience can create a bond through their distinct personalities.

Speaking of action and adventure, there is no shortage of it here.  Looking back there is actually less of it than I remember (yet that goes back to how well the narrative draws you in),but the action here are all memorable set pieces.  The prologue, the Mines of Moria, the Balrog fight, the ring wraiths, Borormir’s last stand, are all terrific set pieces.  Two in particular are most memorable because of the emotion behind them, the Balrog fight and Borormir’s last stand.

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Everyone by now has heard by now the line “You Shall Now Pass”.  It’s been parodied to death but no matter how times you hear it, it never loses its gusto.  One of the most memorable moments in film history is during the Balrog fight when Gandalf the Grey turns around on the bridge to face the Barlorg of Moria head on, and stares him down. And in one glorious moment he yells, “You Shall Not Pass!”  It’s so epic and powerful and Gandalf brings down the Balrog, but at a terrible cost, giving his own life for the others of the fellowship.  He falls into darkness along with the Balrog and Howard Shore’s incredible music kicks on and it’s hard to hold back tears and emotion.

The only other scene that can match it is Boromir’s last stand.  Boromir towards the end of the film starts becoming corrupted by the ring and attempts to take it from Frodo.  Frodo gets away but a revelation comes upon him, a look in his eyes almost saying, “what have I done, what have I become?” Then the Uruk-Hai attack in a large number, abolishing the fellowship.  Aragon, Legolas, and Gimli fight off a group of them on their own and get separated, leaving the hobbits open to attack.  Mary and Pippin are about to be taken when Boromir comes running out to save them killing as many Uri-Ka as he can to protect the hobbits.  He starts taking arrows to the chest but still he keeps fighting until it becomes too much and the hobbits are taken.  But in this moment Boromir gives his life defending the hobbits, redeeming himself, and not dying a monster.  Just the sheer act of trying to redeem himself gets enough emotion alone.  It’s powerful and one of the many emotional moments that Jackson is able to create with this franchise.

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The short version of this review is this movie (and series) are incredible and anyone should watch these films.  “Fellowship of the Ring” is the perfect starting point for the trilogy and great extension of “The Hobbit” trilogy.   If you just finished “The Hobbit” please do yourself a favor jump right into this trilogy you won’t disappoint yourself.

Final Score

10/10

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