Thursday Night Movie Club
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
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Release Date: December 19, 2001

Director: Peter Jackson
Sean Astin
Sean Bean
Cate Blanchett
Orlando Bloom
Billy Boyd
Ian Holm
Ian McKellen
Christopher Lee
Dominic Monaghan
Viggo Mortensen
John Rhys-Davies
Andy Serkis
Liv Tyler
Hugo Weaving
Elijah Wood
Sam Gamgee
Legolas Greenleaf
Bilbo Baggins
Frodo Baggins
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowhsip of the Rings poster
"One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie."

So starts a poem that leads off the trilogy. Being a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien for years, I was very aprehensive on how Peter Jackson would start off this complex tale that spans 3000 years. I knew I was in good hands from the pre-credit sequence, if you can call it that. Jackson succinctly, but with great detail, tells the history of the "Rings of Power", from their creation, subsequent double-cross by the Dark Lord Sauron, to the last alliance of Men and Elves that ends with the downfall of Sauron. "But the hearts of Men are easily corrupted. And the Ring of Power has a will of its own!" Thus ends the Second Age. Sauron is destroyed, but His Ring endures and is lost. The story of the Ring passes from history, to legend to myth. "And some things that should not have been forgotten... endures!"

The Council of Elrond from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingWOW!! J.R.R. Tolkien is smiling in his grave. Never, in his wildest imaginations, did he ever think his novel could be translated to the big screen. This is a tour de force film from unknown Peter Jackson. How he convinced New Line Cinema and WingNut Films to bankroll this, I'll never know. Thank the Lords of Kobol that he did!

The first installment of Tolkien's trilogy (only known as a trilogy because his publisher made it so) is breathtaking, beautiful, scary, thrilling and amazing. Jackson got all of this one! The main story follows Wizard Gandalf the Gray discovering that Hobbit Bilbo Baggins has accidentally stumbled upon Sauron's lost Ring of Power. After 3000 years, Sauron's disembodied spirit has gradually begun to retake form. The Ring has "heard its Master's call." The Ring wants to be found and subtle hints at the beginning of the tale show that the Ring can no longer stay hidden. The War of the Ring has begun!

I can be here all night recapping Tolkien's tale, but it is way too complex to put down in any sort of review. The bottom line for the rest of the tale comes at the Council of Elrond, where the free people of Middle Earth must decide on "This one fate! This One Doom!" The Ring must be destroyed! The crux of the tale is: if anyone claims the Ring for his own, Lord Sauron can be overthrown. The problem is that the Ring-Bearer would be corrupted by the power of the Ring and become the next Lord Sauron. If the Ring survives, Middle Earth "will fall, to the ruin of all!"

Ian McKellan as Gandalf and Elija Wood as Frodo in the Mines of Moria The task falls on the small shoulders of Frodo Baggins to attempt the impossible, take the Ring, in secret, and cast it into the fires of Mount Doom, deep in the heart of Mordor where only it and Sauron can be completely destroyed.

The Fellowship is made up of representatives of all the Free Peoples of Middle Earth: 4 Hobbits (Frodo, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took), Gandalf, Elf Legolas, Dwarf Gimli, and 2 Men (Aragorn/Strider and Boromir of Gondor).

Director Peter Jackson has painstakingly recreated the world of Tolkien, down to every last minute detail. The movie warrants multiple viewings for any fan just for the added detail he added. The Shire is exactly recreated, except that the Hobbit hole of Bilbo is a little too spacious, to Weathertop, Rivendell, Carathrus, Orthanc, Moria, Lothlorien and Barad Dur. Extra pleasure is found in the extra visual treats Jackson gives us: the Trolls turned to stone, the Argonath, the broken statues that perpetuate the landscapes.

Photo of the Argonath Howard Shore's soundtrack is among the greatest written, with themes covering the Hobbits, Elves, and the dangers from Mordor. This is topped off by two songs, sung by Enya, that are right on and absolutely gorgeous to listen to.

Jackson has crafted a beautiful, scary tale where even the good can be corrupted. The tale stars in the surene enclave of the Hobbits, but quickly moves out into the real world where there is danger and fear around every bend. Ian McKellan is wonderful as Gandalf with his sidewase glances that tell more than he is willing to share verbally. The cast is wonderful with great performances by Christopher Lee, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett (who also narrates) and the four Hobbits. The Nine Black Riders (Nazgul) are especially frightening!

Jackson's script deviates slilghtly from the original tale but that is not a problem. I only have 2 complaints: nothing is mentioned about the fact that Bilbo Baggins is the "only" person in Middle Earth who willingly gave up possession of the Ring, and the 9 members of the Fellowship are meant to counteract the attack of the 9 Nazgul. Minor complaints at best!

This is wonderful storytelling... and there are 2 more to go! Like I said, "Wow!"

Favorite scenes: Gandalf reaching for the Ring on the floor from the right edge of the screen; the Ring suddenly whispers as Gandalf and Frodo are discussing Sauron; the Ring reflecting fire that engulfs the arguing members of the Council of Elrond; the pan shot of the 2 Argonath statues.

Take note, through the entire trilogy (of movies as the book is only one story that the publisher separated into three volumes) how Peter Jackson cleverly spills the names of the characters in the movie. Each character's name is revealed at very intersting times. Boromir's name revelation comes at a very specific point. His name is not revealed until he picks up the Ring, that has fallen from Frodo, and becomes ensnared by its evil.