THE LORD OF THE RINGS:
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

The Lord of the Rings, the book of the 20th Century, has become the motion picture event of the 21st Century—groundbreaking epic of good versus evil, extraordinary heroes, wondrous creatures and dark armies of terror.
Review by Greg Wright


(2001)


This page was created on December 04, 1999
This page was last updated on June 3, 2005


Directed by Peter Jackson
Novel by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)
Screenplay by Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, & Peter Jackson

Elijah Wood.... Frodo Baggins
Ian McKellen.... Gandalf
Viggo Mortensen.... Aragorn aka Strider
Sean Astin.... Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee
Liv Tyler.... Arwen Undómiel
Cate Blanchett.... Galadriel
John Rhys-Davies.... Gimli
Billy Boyd.... Peregrin 'Pippin' Took
Dominic Monaghan.... Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck
Orlando Bloom.... Legolas Greenleaf
Hugo Weaving.... Elrond
Sean Bean.... Boromir
Ian Holm.... Bilbo Baggins
Andy Serkis.... Sméagol/Gollum (voice)
Alexandra Astin.... Elanor Gamgee
Sala Baker.... Sauron
Timothy Bartlett.... A hobbit
Marton Csokas.... Celeborn
Brad Dourif.... Gríma Wormtongue
Mark Ferguson.... Gil-Galad
Taea Hartwell.... Child Hobbit
Bernard Hill.... King Théoden
Bruce Hopkins.... Gamling
Jay Laga'aia.... Lurtz
Christopher Lee.... Saruman
Nathaniel Lees.... Uglúk
John Leigh.... Háma
Peter Mackenzie.... Elendil
Lawrence Makoare.... Lurtz
Robyn Malcolm.... Morwen
Sarah McLeod.... Rosie Cotton
John Noble.... Denethor
Miranda Otto.... Éowyn
Craig Parker.... Haldir
Martyn Sanderson.... Harry Goatleaf
Brian Sergent.... Ted Sandyman
Harry Sinclair.... Isildur
Bruce Spence.... Mouth of Sauron
Karl Urban.... Éomer
Stephen Ure.... Gorbag
David Wenham.... Faramir

Produced by Peter Jackson (producer), Mark Ordesky (executive producer), Barrie M. Osborne (producer), Rick Porras (co-producer), Tim Sanders (producer), Jamie Selkirk (co-producer), Robert Shaye (executive producer), Ellen Somers (associate producer), Frances Walsh (co-producer), Bob Weinstein (executive producer), Harvey Weinstein (executive producer), Saul Zaentz (executive producer)
Original music by Enya Howard Shore
Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie
Film Editing by John Gilbert, D. Michael Horton and Jamie Selkirk

MPAA: Rated PG-13
for epic battle sequences and some scary images.
Runtime: 178



TV Spot QuickTime (2 MB) (5 MB)
TV Spot #2 QuickTime (5 MB)

Cannes Footage RealVideo

Trailer #1
RealVideo (streaming)
QuickTime (small)
QuickTime (medium)

Trailer #2
RealPlayer (High Bandwidth)
Real RealPlayer (Low Bandwidth)
QuickTime (5.6 MB)
RealVideo (low bandwidth)
RealVideo (high bandwidth)

Trailer #3
QuickTime (various sizes)

Teaser
QuickTime (varies)


The Lord of The Rings:
The Fellowship of The Ring
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Howard Shore, Enya

1. The Prophecy 2. Concerning Hobbits 3. The Shadow Of The Past 4. The Treason Of Isengard 5. The Black Rider 6. At The Sign Of The Prancing Pony 7. A Knife In The Dark 8. Flight To The Ford 9. Many Meetings 10. The Council Of Elrond [featuring the song "Aniron (Theme For Aragorn And Arwen)" composed & performed by Enya] 11. The Ring Goes South 12. A Journey In The Dark 13. The Bridge Of Khazad Dum 14. LothLórien 15. The Great River 16. Amon Hen 17. The Breaking Of The Fellowship 18. May It Be [composed & performed by Enya]

Power Can Be Held In The Smallest Of Things

STUDIO SYNOPSIS:
The Lord of the Rings, the book of the 20th Century is about to become the motion picture event of the 21st Century ? A groundbreaking epic of good versus evil, extraordinary heroes, wondrous creatures and dark armies of terror. Generations of more than 50 million people around the globe, in 25 different languages have grown up with this epic history. The legend has inspired an entire genre of movies, fiction, and has influenced some of the greatest artists of our time. It has made dreamers out of children and adults, and has recently been named the number one most popular book of the century. But it has never been told in its entirety on the screen.

Using the power of contemporary cinema technology, New Line Cinema is proud to transform J.R.R. Tolkien?s The Lord of the Rings into a history-making motion picture event. Beginning in the year 2001, New Line will present a grand trilogy of live-action feature films—The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King—that will take audiences inside Tolkien?s living, breathing mythology, the world that is Middle-earth. The Lord of the Rings will collectively re-tell the story of Frodo Baggins, who battles against the Dark Lord, Sauron to save Middle-earth from the grip of evil. In the films, Frodo and The Fellowship embarks on a desperate journey to rid the earth of the source of Sauron?s greatest strength, the One Ring, a ring of such power that it cannot be destroyed. His extraordinary adventures across the treacherous landscape of Middle-earth reveal how the power of friendship and courage can hold the forces of darkness at bay.

By shooting all three films consecutively during one massive production and post-production schedule, New Line Cinema is making history. Never before has such a monumental undertaking been contemplated or executed. The commitment of time, resources and manpower are unheard of as all three films and more than 1,000 effects shots are being produced concurrently with the same director and core cast. Helmer Peter Jackson, whose visionary style of filmmaking and emotional acuity won accolades for his Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners, brings his deep love for the source material to the project.

The film features a strong international cast that includes (in alphabetical order) Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Brad Dourif, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davis, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood. But the real star of the film is the story itself - a classic hero?s quest in which the smallest of beings changes the course of the future with the vastness of his courage.

The Lord of the Rings collectively tells the story of Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit who battles against the Dark Lord Sauron to save his world, Middle-earth, from the grip of evil. In the trilogy of films, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, Frodo and his Fellowship of friends and allies embark on a desperate journey to rid the earth of the source of Sauron's greatest strength, the One Ring—a ring that has the power to enslave the inhabitants of Middle-earth. The trilogy chronicles extraordinary adventures across the treacherous landscape of Middle-earth and reveals how the power of friendship, love and courage can hold the forces of darkness at bay.

Director Peter Jackson, whose visionary style of filmmaking and emotional acuity won accolades for his Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners, brings his deep love for the source material to the project. Produced by Barrie M. Osborne, the films feature a strong international cast that includes (in alphabetical order) Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Brad Dourif, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood.

The Fellowship of the Ring is in theaters December 19th, 2001. The Two Towers is in theaters December 18th, 2002. The Return of the King is in theaters December 2003.
© 2001 New Line Cinema

REVIEW


CLICK HERE FOR REAL VIDEO REVIEW
Review by David Bruce

 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS:
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Review by Greg Wright

Peter Jackson's Vision of Middle-earth

The director of The Fellowship of the Ring has walked a very fine line between faithfulness to J.R.R. Tolkien's vision and placing upon that vision his own unique stamp; and he has managed to do it, for the most part, consummately.  Alternately rushed and elegaic, perfunctory and moving, Jackson's film version of the novel manages to portray the key elements that make Middle-earth a fantasy reader's preferred destination.  At the same time, Jackson has lifted some of the lesser themes from the novel into the foreground, presenting some new spiritual ideas to his audience for consideration.

First and foremost, the story remains one of the tension between Free Will and Providence.  The best of Gandalf's words from the book remain intact, if condensed mostly into one speech to Frodo at the crossroads in Moria, reminding Frodo (and the audience) that, first, there are other hands than our own guiding our fate; and second, that it remains up to us to decide what to do with the time that we have (see the treatment of these themes on Hollywood Jesus' reviews of Book I and Book II of The Fellowship of the Ring).

But the first of the elements that makes this uniquely Jackson's picture, and one that works very well, is the emphasis on the temptation of The Ring.  Gandalf, Bilbo, Boromir, Galadriel, Aragorn and even Elrond (partly through the Prologue) are all given extended, lingering chances to ponder the significance of the chance at unrestrained power.  While most of these encounters occur in the book as well, the opportunies that are added (Boromir at the Red Horn Pass and Aragorn at Amon Hen) and the time devoted by Jackson to the other encounters makes it clear that personal response to temptation is one issue with which he hopes to confront his audience.

The second element dominates the closing moments of the film, though it is foreshadowed in the extended treatment of Gandalf's visit with Saruman.  For Jackson, it doesn't seem enough that Tolkien's heroes go on motivated by the conviction of things not seen (the definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1, one with which Tolkien seems utterly content).  Instead, the characters can only go on by knowing precisely where they are headed, and why.  For instance, Pippin and Merry no longer play an unwitting part in protecting Sam and Frodo; instead, knowing that Frodo is leaving the Fellowship, they deliberately draw the fire of the Orcs.  Likewise, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli do not go in pursuit of the two hobbits having to guess at Sam and Frodo's fate; they know.  I doubt that Tolkien would have been enthused at this change.  In his vision, acceptance of not knowing was precisely part of properly understanding the relation of Free Will and Providence. 

The third element comes at the very end of the film, as Sam sinks into the waters of Anduin, reaching out for help.  To this point (the exception being very brief sequences in the Shire), Jackson's film has been exceedingly dark.  Even in Rivendell it is fall, and the colors are muted; and most of the truncated Lórien sequence takes place in twilight.  Why?  Where is the light?  Jackson answers with a vision straight from Michelangelo: the vision of the hand of Man reaching out to God for Salvation, coming in the form—here—of the hand of another Hobbit assisted by a bright Light.  It's an audacious addition to Tolkien's vision, and it works!

Visualization from the Printed Page to the Screen

A (mostly) live-action film has been in the minds of many a fan since the days of the first Star Wars movie.  The ability of cinema technology to blend live-action sequences with CGI and other special effects has finally made the film presentation of even the most fantastic images a reality.  So how does TFOTR score?  Excellent, in most ways.  The art direction in general is fabulous (well, it kind of had to be, didn't it?), and certain locations (the Shire, Rivendell and the Argonath, as examples) are terrifically realized.  Overall, though, the world of Middle-earth seemed a little greasier and dirty than I had imagined it.  Am I alone here?  Am I revealing my borderline-Boomer status?  Let's hear from the X-ers on this one...
Expanded Roles for Some Characters... 

It's natural that some details of the plot and characters should change in order to make the transition from book to screen.  In past efforts, as in the present, it has been obvious that you just can't pack all those characters into the available screen time.  So what do you do?  Obviously a lot have to go (like Tom Bombadil!) and others must be presented as composites.  But what's up with the expanded roles for Arwen and Elrond?  In the book, they surface only in Rivendell, while in the movie, they explicitly become significant players in the drama.  Why?  Presuming that expanded roles weren't the price to pay to get the actors Jackson wanted, it's pretty easy to account for Liv Tyler's presence.  With the second movie still a year away, you can't really wait until the second movie for Éowyn to appear as the series' primary romance interest.  A viable love interest must appear early to give the movie a strong, young, attractive female character, making the stand-alone-film formula work.  It does leave one to wonder, though, what role will actually be left for Éowyn to play as the story progresses.  Will Tyler be given less to do in Part II?  Hmmm...  Regarding Elrond, his newly-visualized (Prologue) warrior status (though true to the novel) will presumably just simplify things, obviating the need to account for his sons Elladan and Elrohir...  We shall see.
...And Reduced Roles for Others

Tom Bombadil is not the only character MIA.  There are myriad others.  But, as with other adaptations, Bombadil's absence is the most significant, and troublesome.  Does he disappear simply because, like the rest of us, Jackson has no clue what Bombadil is to represent?  Certainly, Tolkien spent a great number of words on Bombadil for a reason, and it could only have been to clarify things spiritual: for instance, that there are powers in the world over which things material (and even magical) have no power.  Do these spiritual implications come through strongly enough in the movie without Bombadil?  Do they need to?  Jackson seems to have substituted magically-powered females and wizard-duels for the role intended for Bombadil.  Why do Elrond and Celeborn seem so, uh, reserved in comparison to their female counterparts?
The Performances

It's certainly a pleasure to see many familiar faces from around the world cropping up in wonderful and delightful ways.  After The Matrix, for instance, it's great to see Hugo Weaving get a turn at ancient nobility as Elrond.  Likewise, it's absolute genius to cast Ian Holm as Bilbo.  And while other international favorites such as Christopher Lee, Ian McKellan and Cate Blanchett contribute in major roles, I'll go out on a limb here and nominate Sean Astin as the casting coup of the series, and the heart of the film.  Ever since Rudy, Astin has deserved a shot at anchoring a major film, and here he shines.

The Bottom Line

Though it's clear that this is a darker—and scarier—vision of Middle-earth than comes across on the printed page, we really don't know about the bottom line yet, do we?  Obviously, the film succeeds as terrific entertainment for adolescents and adults, and will no doubt sate the appetite of Tolkien addicts as least for a few months.  Box-office records will fall, and fall mightily.  But what about the entire series?  Will it become flabby and perfunctory, like the Star Wars series?  Or will it actually build momentum, and end with as satisfying a conclusion as the novels?  We shall only be able to wait and see, I am afraid. 

In the mean time, what do you think?  Is the movie an offense to the culture?  A Balrog on your Bridge of Khazad-dûm?  A flower in your Ithilien?  Has Tolkien been slimed?  Let us know your thoughts!

E-mail Greg Wright here

LOTR Coverage Index

OFFICIAL SITE
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring © 2001-2002 New Line Cinema. All Rights Reserved.