Copyright © 2001 by New Line Cinema
The first in the series of three based on the bestseller from J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ is about the One Ring in possession by the Dark Lord Sauron to conquer Middle-Earth. In his battle against the Elves and Men, Sauron’s body was destroyed but his life force lives on in the ring. The ring has to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom where it was made. Known to corrupt its wearer, the ring remains dormant for another 2,500 years until it is found by Gollum (Andy Serkis), who keeps it with him for the next few centuries. After a chance meeting with Gollum, it finally ends up in the hands of a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). 60 years later, he passes the ring to his nephew, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). As Frodo learns the truth, he sets out with eight other companions on a journey to the very same volcanic mountain to stop this evil from returning.
‘The Lord of the Rings’ has been hailed as one of the greatest trilogies in the history of film and the most acclaimed fantasy epic to date. It is a sweeping take on an all-encompassing tale about the quest to vanquish pure malice contained in a ‘precious’ accessory. And only a true fan such as Peter Jackson and his committed crew can bring the pages of this beloved classic to life. It clearly shows that years of research have been put into this labour of love even before filming began.
It is no wonder then that New Line Cinema took a chance and green lit Jackson to film the entire trilogy in one go. It is unprecedented and remains so until his next ‘trio’ of ‘Hobbit’ movies come along a decade later. And to think that he was turned down by a few other distributors before he finally got his funding for not one but a three-part deal. The risk paid off with hefty pay checks going to all whom were involved with this colossal project. Just hypothetically curious, should the introductory chapter fail, wonder what would happen to its continuation?
Guess the film makers would still have to proceed with the release of their investments. Thank their lucky stars, what is being presented is a marvel to behold; a densely written fable about the corruption of ultimate power and the repercussion it has on many of the rich-filled characters which crosses path with it. The marketers may have you think this is just another fantasy escapade with postcard-like scenic locations, swashbuckling sword fights and mythical creatures (they are all in the check list) but it is so much more than that.
The real magic comes from the flawless casting for its chief characters. Wood and Ian McKellen (Gandalf the Grey) strike a right dose of screen chemistry as the unexpected ring bearer and his wise wizard friend respectively whilst Frodo’s gardener, Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee (Sean Astin) and Dúnedain ranger, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) are both loyal with huge dollops of valour to boot. For comic relief to lift the sense of imminent doom, we get in the form of John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), Billy Boyd (Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took) and Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandybuck).
Ambiguity is also used to underline some of its players’ motivations. We are never exactly sure of the actual intentions of Galadriel, Elf Queen of Lothlórien (Cate Blanchett) and Boromir from Gondor (Sean Bean) when each is tested by the ring’s dominance. The former manages to resist its temptations while the latter gradually descends into irrationality but redeems himself after an ‘invisible nudge’ with reality.
Notable mention goes out to Christopher Lee as Saruman the White and Liv Tyler whose role as Arwen has been greatly expanded to provide a stronger female presence in an otherwise male dominated adventure. Being the only other woman (for now), Jackson’s re-imagination of Arwen is every bit capable of handling any situation as her counterparts while still looking fabulous doing it. Easily one of the best rescue missions ever brought to life, it is chilling and magical all at the same time. Even Lee’s Saruman gets to flex his combat prowess mano a mano with Gandalf.
Girls (and guys) everywhere will sure to remember Orlando Bloom as the next heartthrob to ogle at. His well chiseled features blends seamlessly with the picturesque beauty of New Zealand. Only gripe is his portrayal is a little one dimensional. It is merely nitpicking though to a superb production that seemed impossible to be brought to the big screen a while back. By the time the credits appear with the calming voice of Enya, my only Christmas wish is for ‘The Two Towers’ to be released the very next day.
Rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences and some scary images