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

Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean
A meek hobbit of The Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron.
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Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life.
  • New Line Cinema Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 19 Dec 2001 Released:
  • 06 Aug 2002 DVD Release:
  • $313.8M Box office:

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Trailer:

Embrace the magic5/10

It is with no surprise that Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring film has received such mixed critics. Many viewers refer to it as being childish, boring and uninteresting. Seems to me that it is bound to the same fate of Tolkien's books, destined to be a target for the same type of misunderstandings that keep attacking this literary masterpiece many decades after it's first publication.

Having read the books several years ago, I went to see this `impossible' film when it came out with many doubts on my mind. I really liked it, but left the theater with as many doubts as I had before. Was it perfect? Well, maybe not, but what an achievement. After watching it a few times on DVD, and thinking about it for some time now, I find myself loving this film more and more. Let me tell you why...

The Lord of the Rings is a fairy-tale of myth and fantasy. Peter Jackson directed a film that was considered, for a very long time, impossible to make, and not only for technical reasons. The narrative roots are incredibly long and detailed, and the storyline is deeply connected with the creation of a fantastic continent from a time unknown called `Middle Earth'. It's author, Tolkien, dedicated a considerable part of his life developing this continent's background, it's mythology and origins, it's different kinds of people, cultures and languages, and therefore it's geographic references are determinant to the unfolding of the story of the One Ring.

Peter Jackson went out to achieve the impossible and came out with a recreation of the original that is pure and true to the story in every detail. The first time the four hobbits meet a black rider on the road, for example, is absolutely faithful to the feeling of the book. The assault of the riders at Weathertop is another great example, and it captures that feeling of danger, density and atmosphere that are the main characteristics of the tale. Jackson also took some liberties with the story, and made some right choices along the way. If the so called `purists' may not approve the removal of Tom Bombadil altogether, it should be comprehensible that the travel from Hobbiton to Rivendel is a very long and detailed one and could easily make a movie on it's own. I felt more uneasy with how short the Council of Elrond was. In the book, the council is where the whole story of the rings is first explained, and many passages from the past ages of Middle Earth are unveiled. It is a fascinating moment of the story, that had to be shortened for obvious reasons. Still, after some consideration, I now agree with the options made by Peter Jackson, and think that the movie prologue narrated by Galadriel was the wisest choice. The magic is all there when Gandalf shuts his eyes the moment Frodo stands in the council and says `I will take the ring'. It is there at Moria's Gate, and at the fall of Boromir. It is a powerful film that doesn't fit the rhythm of the standard Hollywood action movie. It is a film that breeds, that takes time to unfold, it's tale branching in every direction.

I could go on and on, talking about all the different elements that bring this film close to perfection, but I'll end saying that deep down, this is not about action, beards and big monsters. The greatest thing about this film, to me, is that it brought me back to a time when I was in love with a
different world where everything was possible. Reading The Lord of the Rings night after night, I came to understand what this thing of `mankind' really was all about. The corruption of absolute power, the importance and value of friendship, the inevitability of growing up, the strength of hope... That this film could capture that magic, and be a new bearer to it's message of humanism, is a statement to it's greatness. Gandalf's words, that even the smallest person may change the course of the world, and have a part to play in the destiny of all, are immortal.

In the end, this is a wonderful film, but that doesn't mean you are going to like it. I cannot tell you what it is like to see this film if you don't know or love the book. But I hope it may plant a seed on your heart to discover a great world of fantasy, beauty and humanity. I believe Tolkien would have liked that.
One of the greatest films of all time.10/10

Star Wars has been dethroned. Although George Lucas' movies are good in their own right (except for the juvenile elements he puts in to sell toys to finance the franchise), his scripts (which borrow heavily from J.R.R.Tolkien, mythology & religion) can't compare with the brilliance of the literary trilogy `The Lord of the Rings'. Granted, Lucas took on a herculean task in writing & directing his story himself, but Tolkien's words, along with Peter Jackson's faithful adaptation & inspired vision, have created something no one man could equal.

Of course, it helps that Jackson insisted on at least a 2 picture deal, & New Line Cinema was brave enough to foot the bill up front for 3 movies. They spent $180 million to film all 3 simultaneously. With the New Zealand exchange rate, that equals $360 million ($90 million ea.), but since they used many of the same sets, and FX development costs were spread throughout, we're seeing $120-$150 million on the screen. This will ensure consistency in plot, casting, tone, etc.

In 3 hours, Jackson has crammed everything essential from the first novel & then some into the film, rewriting some scenes & dialogue with lesser characters for the leads, leaving out only what there wasn't enough time for. Basically, you have two 90 min. movies running back to back. There are no slow spots, just one climax after another. From the opening 10 min. backstory where the Dark Lord Sauron is shown on the battlefield wiping out men & elves 10 at a time with each swing of his mace, I was blown away. The romance between Aragorn, king in exile, and Arwen, daughter of the elf-lord, is played up for the "Titanic" quotient, but it's well done.

The story, sets, costumes & FX are so rich, you'll have to see the film several times to absorb everything. The unspoiled New Zealand locales are spectacular, providing a variety of environments to represent the different settings on the characters' journey. The location sets are imaginative, detailed & weathered, adding to their believability, while the studio sets match them in meticulousness. The costumes are at once familiar & strange, drawing on both the medievil & the fantastic, but more important, they're also functional & practical. The music by Howard Shore is appropriately sweeping, Celtic & folky in keeping with the novel, although it lacks the memorable themes of John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith, but neither would commit a year or more to a 3 picture project. The FX are as they should be, unobtrusive & unnoticed most of the time, there only to support the story not draw attention away from it as in most Hollywood movies which try to coverup illogical plots & bad acting.

I'm particularly gratified by the casting of Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn which was a last minute stroke of luck when the actor first chosen for the part backed out due to differences with the director. I've always thought Mortenson had an intensity & striking but not pretty-boy looks that could portray a flawed, dangerous hero instead of the villains Hollywood always picked him for.

A stellar cast giving some of their best performances, visuals that deliver beyond what I imagined, a perfect mix of humor, passion & tragedy, and a feeling of grandeur, scope & impending doom. Perhaps as an ensemble piece with so many characters & the inability to concentrate on any one, it can't be measured against some of the classic character study films, but even the casual moviegoer can grasp the ideas & not get lost As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the greatest films of all time.
Never before in my life were my cheeks more aching...10/10

...but oh was I thankful for it!!! All through the movie I kept on having this big large smile sculpted into my face. For the record, I'm 25 years old, and I've read "The Lord of the Rings" in three times for the first time when I was six or seven years old. Ever since then, I read it at least once or twice a year - therefore you can count me as a fan, for I follow the same cult fan procedure with "The Hobbit" and "The Silmarillion" as well. Now onto the movie... Gosh, I saw it more than one time, and I keep wanting more of it. It just never gets boring! I really enjoyed the little stuff that is found throughout the movie for fans of the books (the map on Bilbo's table in his house comes to mind, it is exactly as the one in "The Hobbit" book that I own), and I also incredibly enjoyed the intro sequence with the re-telling of the battle against Sauron from the Silmarillion, never has an ultimate evil being been so well depicted on the screen. It truly is Sauron.

Those who argue the movie cuts too many parts or that it changes the story too much are totally wrong. This movie could not have shown the whole first time in its entirety - keep in mind that the audiobook version of 'Fellowship of the Ring' lasts well over ten hours, making a movie this long would, well, make it way too long and besides, how would you financially sustain such a project? I've read a reviewer saying he'd make all three books with the time allowed for the first movie alone. I think it would be a very fast-forwarding experience of a movie with 'Alvin and the Chimpmunks' kind of voices, incredibly stupid to say the least.

Ok, so there are changes in the movie - well, this is Jackson's vision of it. All of us have our own visions of the books, which may or may not be compatible with that of Jackson's, but I can safely assume that nobody can say they have a hundred percent the same vision of the story as Tolkien; that's the thing with books: each reader has a different vision of it. As for me, I was blown away. Never before have I felt so much at home in a movie, it is as if I had taken a walk in the town where I grew up, the Shire, Rivendell, Moria, Lorien, everything felt so much like home, I was moved. I cannot tell of another movie that had me shed tears just by seeing a landscape on screen.

As for the changes, well, I found good reasons behind all of them, and let me tell you right away, I was happy that Arwen saved Frodo, yes, maybe coming from a fan it will look like absolute heresy, but I enjoyed the scene a lot. I did not enjoy it because it was supposedly politically-correct to do so, or that I find Liv Tyler to be absolutely attractive; it was just because I felt like even though it was a big change from the book, it was a very good one indeed, it makes you discover the power, determination, and courage of elves and the fact that even elven women, although great in their beauty and seemingly fragile in appearance do not have anything to envy to their male counterparts. And beside, as Arwen is to become a Queen later on, it was pretty good to see her have a great first appearance.

The actors were great, they were a lot into their characters, and for the first time, I saw elves as they were, quick, agile, terrifyingly effective in battle - just look at how Legolas dealed with the hordes of enemies without a single hint of fear in his eyes - these are elves as they should be. Gimli was great too, I know people seem to think many characters were not developed enough, but by the actions you can learn a lot. With Gimli a lot can be learned about the dwarves, their pride, deep sense of honor and family, their mistrust of elves, their love for strong beer and a good fight against anything bigger, and their sheer hatred for orcs and the likes. Aragorn was totally the ranger character, the ending scene as he walked toward the horde of Uruk-Hai warriors was great, his attitude, his clothes, everything about him just cried "ranger". Boromir was very well depicted, desperate to save the people of Gondor, by any mean necessary, robbed of all hope, yet in the end he redeems himself by showing his true valour, deep down, he's willing to die to defeat evil, and when he recognizes his king in Aragorn, on his last breath, I felt like watching a hero die, it was moving. The hobbits were all great, Frodo is deeply sad and fatalist, and Sam is just the 'best friend' everyone would like to have, just as it should be. Finally, we have Gandalf, quite frankly, he looks mighty, Ian IS Gandalf. The faceoff against the Balrog in the Moria is a memorable sequence, and just shows how strong he really is, to be able to vanquish such a foe. I can't wait for his return.

Quite frankly, I can't wait for the two other movies... In the meantime, I'll watch this one over and over again. This movie has everything that a good movie needs to have, and more. Plus, it just might bring more people to actually read books that have more pages than the average little 25¢ novel that has no value in it, which is great. Parents, maybe some scenes will frighten your kids, but this movie has almost NO blood (even though it has a good share of battle) and the foes are undeniably evil, plus it has good values in it - friendship, courage, responsiblity, sacrifice for a good cause, and the belief that anyone can help to change things. This is worthy of Tolkien, this is a movie that will go down in history as being one of the best ever, for sure.
Middle Earth comes alive...in breathtaking detail.5/10

When I first saw the trailers for "The Fellowship of the Ring," I had never had any interest in reading the lengthy tome of a trilogy. But seeing the possibility of the movie, I immediately went out and read the whole thing, insisted on receiving it for Christmas, and enjoyed every minute of it. The feelings I had while reading the series were heightened seeing it come to life in the stunning movie. I thought it was a fabulous work of art.

I thought that having Galadriel tell what was basically the prologue of the book was a good idea, as it helped those who had never read the story. It also immediately involved me in the film; I felt I had an insider's advantage on the rest of the audience. Cate Blanchett has a wonderfully deep and emotional voice; the way she speaks Galadriel is almost as effective as her appearence as the Elven queen. Also, showing the last battle of Isildur and Sauron helped unfog a part of the novel that had me a
trifle confused.

The entire movie is full of beautiful sets and landscapes. The Shire was almost exactly as I'd pictured it. Hobbiton is cute and very whimsical. Mordor was frighteningly well done, extremely real. Rivendell had a little bit of a European-tourist-trap look, but was beautiful all the same. The entire backdrop of the movie (the mountains, Moria, Isengard) was perfect; it's amazing that "Fellowship" was filmed in one country.

Now to the characters. All I can say is, "Wow." I was a little apprehensive about the casting at first; I'd created such real images of the characters in my imagination, I almost didn't want them spoiled for me. However, I was not disapointed in the least. Elijah Wood, though not one of my favorite actors, was believable. You could tell from the first glimpse that Frodo was special; Wood's pale, sharp features contrast sharply with the more ruddy, robust look of the rest of the hobbits. He also cries like a little girl. But his weaknesses and strengths make his Frodo an apt choice for the starring character. The rest of the Hobbiton gang was well-chosen, too. Sean Astin ("Rudy" forever to me) was loyal and a bit bumbling, just like the Gamgee of Tolkien's telling. Pippin and Merry were congenial, slow-witted lads, but very brave nonetheless. Viggo Mortensen is outstanding. He has the ability to make Aragorn both menacing and kind. He physically represents Strider to the nines with his strength and virility; the action sequences of his are very passionate and exciting. Some may have complained about Arwen's character being slightly expanded; I thought it a good change. In the books, you have to read the whole trilogy and then rifle through the appendix in "The Return of the King" to learn the history between Aragorn and Arwen. Liv Tyler is ethereal and breathtaking, but at the same time displays the courage and magic that make the Elves the beings they are. Speaking of Elves, I can't help but gush over the handsome and ever-so-talented Orlando Bloom as noble Legolas. Bloom captured the archer's very movements; he treads lightly and fights fearlessly. Legolas's bowmanship was amazing; he looked so natural loosing his arrows machine-gun style. He was my favorite character in the books, and his essence transcends the film. Gimli was pompous and brave, as well. He is well-represented in the movie. Boromir was hopelessly lost, but at the same time valiant and strong. Sean Bean gave an emotionally-charged performance as the tortured warrior. Hugo Weaving was very good as Elrond. He was noble and cold at the same time. And Gandalf. What more can be said of Ian McKellan's showcase portrayal of the wizard? He was magnificent. He could be Gandalf, the kind old conjurer who set off pyrotechnics for hobbit-children. Then he could turn around and stun the life out of you with Gandalf the powerful wizard, facing the balrog with defiance and an iron will. His Oscar nomination is well-deserved.

Peter Jackson is a brave soul to take on a project that could have backfired in so many places. Instead of bringing us uninspired kitsch, he serves up raw emotion, graphic battles of good and evil, chilling and wonderful characters, and enough special effects (realistic, mind you) to make John Cameron's mouth water. Knowing that "The Two Towers" was my favorite of the books, I eagerly anticipate the second helping of "The Lord of the Rings."
Greatest `Fantasy' Book become greatest `Fantasy' film10/10

I think it is important to remember that Peter Jackson took up this film not in order just to make a film of `The Lord of the Rings' but because he wanted to make a 'fantasy just like the `The Lord of the Rings'" as he himself put it. After repeating that phrase on a number of occasions the question popped into his mind: "Well, why not the `The Lord of the Rings' itself?". In doing this he, of course, set himself an enormous challenge: he had to make a really good `fantasy' film, one which would stand on its own and be true to what he had originally wanted to do but he would also, and here the task he had set himself was enormous, be true to the original book and to make a film which the legions of people who have loved this book would feel happy with. In the latter task he was certainly not helped by the author or the book: Tolkein, it would seem, hated cinema. The book itself is `HUGE': this was not going to be the kind of task that the James Ivory team set themselves, or Scorsese nor the kind of task facing Branagh with Hamlet; nor was it going to be like the puny task that faced Columbus with `Harry Potter' who had the bigger budget ($130 million for one film as compared with Peter Jackson with $300m for three).

I have just seen the first `volume' and can say without hesitation that he has succeeded in both his goals. It is not the book but a reading of the book which is inventive and fascinating. It is the kind of experience that makes you want to go back and reread the whole thing in the light of the emphases that Jackson has brought to the story. He focuses on the corrupting influence of the ring and, through this focus, the character of the chief protagonists of the story are revealed. Clearly those most tempted by it are mortal men (Boromir and even, in one moment, Aragorn), those who already have power (Elrond - `The ring cannot stay here'; Galadriel; Gandalf and Saruman), and, of course, those who would not normally desire it but who by accident become ring bearers - Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo. I can see why, in this reading, Jackson decided to leave out the Bombadil episode. Bombadil, like the Balrog, is beyond the ring but the latter is important to the unfolding of the story of the fates of all the characters, Bombadil isn't.

It is a miracle of this reading of the first volume of the book that one can see where Jackson is going and one can get a feel of how the reading is going to unfold. In a sense, Jackson's real trial - as far as those who know the books are concerned - will come with the second film in the series. He has lived up to our expectation by creating even bigger ones: how can he handle the story of the chase andrescue of Merry and Pippin, the storming of Isengard etc - stories which don't really add much to the core theme that is emerging. Or is he now going to add the theme of the great contest of good versus evil to the unfolding reading?

All of this points to the fact that the film, even though it is a feast of special effects, focuses on character. And this also explains why Jackson chose the actors he did for their roles: they are not `big' names - no `Sean Connery', no `Alan Rickman', no `Brad Pitt', no `Sam Neill'etc. He didn't want them getting in the way of the story of character. Ian McKellan's talents, in particular, are used to tell a large proportion of the story: an enormous amount is conveyed simply through his facial expressions and even by the language of his body. The other miracle in all of this is Elijah Wood. Like many others, when I first heard of Jackson's choice, I groaned: but Wood has been extraordinary. He brings, as one friend said, a strange kind of androgyny to the role and this is just perfect. McKellan has already been knighted: give Wood the Oscar.

And then there is Middle Earth: this is, as someone put it, another character in the story and the New Zealand landscape, digitally enhanced on occasion, lives up to its role too.

Enough. See this film! Greatest film ever made? How can one make a claim like that! Silly really; as silly as claiming that `The Lord of the Rings' is the greatest book ever written. Can't one simply love a story, enjoy reading it a number of times amd lose oneself in it. One CAN claim that it is the greatest work in its genre as is the film.

10/10