The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring begins the journey of one of the greatest trilogies ever made. From one of the greatest high fantasy stories ever written. The Lord of the Rings was written by acclaimed British author J.R.R. Tolkien as far back as 1954. Serving as a sequel series to The Hobbit (more on that later). After viewing the animated film from the 70’s, relatively unknown horror director Peter Jackson put his heart and soul into bringing the once thought unfilmable stories to life.I am a huge fan of Lord of the Rings! I have been ever since I was 6 years old.
But it was really my parents who initially got my brother and I into it. Since they (my dad especially) grew up reading the books. So a live-action big budget adaptation was kind of a big deal for them. We were just along for the ride. I didn’t even read the books until way later. Despite The Fellowship of the Ring having an intense PG-13 rating and 2 hour & 58 minute runtime, our eyes were glued to the theater screen beginning to end. We’ve seen the 2001 original so many times I can recite it word for word. We even bought the movie twice on VHS. One for us, one for our parents. Before I get into further detail, it’s only right to say SPOILER ALERT!…
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring begins long ago in the mythical land of Middle-earth during its second age. Middle-earth is a wondrous land similar to our own, populated by four distinct races. The mortal race of Men, the immortal pointy eared race of Elves, and the ground dwelling bearded race of Dwarves. The opening beautifully introduces us to the primary threat that they face. It all began with the forging of rings of power given to 20 lords. 3 to the elves, 7 to the dwarves, and 9 to men. The “One Ring to Rule Them All” is possessed by the maliciously evil dark lord Sauron. With his defeat came the third age and the 2,500 year loss of the “One Ring.” Until it’s found by the most unlikely race of all. Hobbits are small, curly haired, simple folk, with large hairy feet, and a love of eating as well as pipe smoking. Probably one of the most unique creatures in all of fantasy.
Although it’s Bilbo who discovered the ring, his nephew Frodo Baggins is the one who bears the burden of ring bearer. The great istari wizard (and friend to the Hobbits) Gandalf the Grey uncovers the truth behind the ring. Frodo is joined by his friend/gardener Samwise Gamgee and distant cousins Merry & Pippin. As they begin to leave the Shire, the four hapless halflings avoid the detection of Sauron’s ringwraiths and encounter a mysterious ranger named Strider. The lovely half-elf princess Arwen helps them as well. The titular Fellowship is formed at the Council of Elrond in Rivendell. Where it’s decided that the ring must be taken to Mordor and cast into the fire of Mount Doom.
Since “One does not simply walk into Mordor,” the 9 companions consist of: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, the ranger revealed to be Aragorn (heir to the throne), woodlen elf Legolas, battle ready dwarf Gimli, and cautious if tempted prince Boromir. Together they travel across Middle-earth. Where they’re constantly pursued by fallen wizard Saruman the White’s legion of orcs, goblins, and a particularly threatening cave troll. Unfortunately, Gandalf is lost as the Fellowship encounters a wise council of elves including Lady Galadriel. Who helps Frodo and company on their journey. The first chapter ends when the Fellowship is broken. Boromir dies a hero, Merry & Pippin are taken by a more powerful breed of orc known as Uruk-hai, Aragorn, Legolas, & Gimli go to find them, and Frodo & Sam seek to destroy the ring on their own…
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was brought to incredible life by director Peter Jackson. Who saw the potential in J.R.R. Tolkien’s creation. He and a massive crew under independent studio New Line Cinemas, sought to fully flesh out a Middle-earth that felt real. Jackson’s home country of New Zealand was a perfect location to film it. Production worked tirelessly from 1997 to 2000, getting the script just right, building every location, handcrafting every sword, costume, and visualizing every fantastical creature that inhabits the world. The most impressive being the forced perspective used for Hobbits and dwarves. Since none of the actors are little people. It’s so rare to see such dedication put into any adaptation nowadays. Let alone three of them all filmed simultaneously! The only noticeable change was the removal of character Tom Bombadil. Other parts of the book can be seen in the even longer extended cut.
The Fellowship of the Ring is a perfect franchise starter for a year filled with them. Right from the start Howard Shore’s score transports us to an epic tale of good vs. evil. Then there’s the ensemble filled with actors that rightfully take their roles very seriously. The biggest standout being Sir Ian Mckellen as one of the greatest wizards of all time. Gandalf is a commanding presence with a laid back demeanor. Mckellen gets almost every quotable line in the movie. His best scene by far is Gandalf’s clash with the fiery Balrog. Where he delivers the epic line “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” Elijah Wood brings a reluctant charm to Frodo Baggins. Sean Astin gives Sam a fierce sense of loyalty. Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd make Merry & Pippin a fun source of comic relief.
While Viggo Mortensen was a suitable replacement for Aragorn, who gave him a heroic spirit. This was Orlando Bloom’s first major role, yet he helped make Legolas and his archery skills my favorite part of the franchise. John Rhys-Davies’ boastful attitude made him perfect for Gimli. Before Sean Bean’s contractually obligated death, he made Boromir the most complex member of the Fellowship. There’s also Ian Holm making Bilbo a character we want to know more about. Christopher Lee’s Saruman is just as menacing as all his other villains. Hugo Weaving establishes his fandom credibility as Elrond. Plus Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler as Galadriel and Arwen bring much needed female empowerment to the primarily male ensemble.
There are so many iconic scenes in the first film. Like Frodo first wearing the ring, disappearing, and attracting Sauron’s eye. Arwen unleashing a flood upon the Nazgûl. Or the action-packed fights against the cave troll and original Uruk-hai Lurtz. Jackson’s horror roots even come out in scenes like the Hobbits hiding from a ringwraith, Bilbo’s scary face, or Galadriel’s monologue. All of which terrified me as a kid. The Fellowship of the Ring was such a strong opener that it became one of a few fantasy films ever to be nominated for Best Picture in the year 2001. It was also nominated for Best Director, Supporting Actor Ian Mckellen, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Song, and Sound. It won for Best Makeup, Cinematography, Original Score, and Visual Effects. All of which were greatly deserved. I can’t say how much I appreciate seeing The Fellowship of the Ring at such a young age. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a stepping stone to an already breathtaking adventure.
Followed by: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers