The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Release year: 2001
Director: Peter Jackson
Screenwriter(s): Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien (novel)
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Ian Holm, Billy Boyd, Sean Bean, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee
Rating: Won 4 Oscars: Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects. 9 Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Ian McKellen), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Original Song, Best Sound.
Bilbo Baggins leaves his magic ring in the care of his nephew, Frodo. The wizard Gandalf discovers that the ring is in fact that of the dark lord Sauron whose spirit has endured since he was destroyed thousands of years before. Gandalf sends Frodo to Rivendell where a council decides that the ring must be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom where it was made.
When the first part of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (LotR) trilogy opened in theatres in December 2001 many fears among devotees of Tolkien’s work were laid to rest. It seemed that Jackson had done what all said was impossible and brought Tolkien’s fantasy epic to soaring life. The public rewarded him by making The Fellowship of the Ring and the following instalments great successes. LotR is so successful for several reason, but four stand out more than any other: the casting is perfect, the music is spectacular, the effects are groundbreaking, and the trilogy is made with great love of the original work. In the first instalment we are introduced to the harmonius and carefree Shire. When the Ring of Power enters the frame Frodo (Elijah Wood, Sin City 2005) is tasked with a greater burden than he had ever thought he would have to carry. The film has a slow but charming start before things really kick off after the forming of the fellowship who are tasked with helping Frodo find his way to Mordor and Mount Doom. The leader of the Fellowship is the wizard Gandalf in the guise of the amazing Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters 1998) in the role of his career; he receives perfect support from, among others, Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence 2005) as Aragorn, Sean Bean (Ronin 1998) as Boromir, and Sean Astin (The Goonies 1985) as Frodo’s faithful friend, Sam. Among the first film’s many standout moments is the Mines of Moria, culminating in Gandalf’s epic and now classic showdown with the Balrog at the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm. Filmaking for the ages, if you haven’t seen it yet then what are you waiting for?
NB. All LotR films exist in two cuts: a cinematic version and an extended version. The cinematic cut is very good and will do for most viewers. However, the extended cut delves more into the background of Boromir and shows more of Aragorn and the hobbits. The extended cuts definitely gives a more complete picture, although there is still no Tom Bombadil.
Christopher Lee, who plays Saruman the White, first auditioned for the role of Gandalf but happily accepted the part of Saruman as he wanted to be part of the project any way he could. He reads The Lord of the Rings once a year and has done so since it was published. He is also the only cast member to have met J.R.R. Tolkien, and through their corresponce, Tolkien gave Lee his blessing to play the part of Gandalf if a movie were ever made.