The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Teen to Adult
2 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
December 19, 2001
“One ring to rule them all,
It is this quote that has stirred many imaginations since The Lord of the Rings by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was first published. This was the famous sequel to The Hobbit which was first placed in print in 1937. This Oxford scholar took the English language and created a language of his own in order to transport us to a world that never existed. It was a place called Middle-earth: homeland of the legendary Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs (or Goblins), Mankind, and the innocent Hobbits.
Tolkien, during his lifetime, had immersed himself in languages and literature. He was the founder of a group of Oxford friends known as “The Inklings”. One of its members was C.S. Lewis. Tolkien is credited with being directly responsible for Lewis’ embracing of the Christian faith. The lines between good and evil are clearly drawn in their books, unlike the blurry lines in the Harry Potter series.
As a longtime fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings, I have devoured everything that has been printed. I collected the calendars for years and have enjoyed the fantasy world that Tolkien painstakingly created. Many were disappointed by the animated attempts to translate his works. I was content to just have the Middle-earth exist in my imagination, though the many artists who have lended their imaginations to Tolkein’s work are also to be commended.
I must confess that I was caught up in the anticipation hype of this film coming to the big screen. Technology now possesses the ability to convincingly bring such stories to life. Having attended the first showing in our area, I have some serious reservations.
New Line Cinema has created a lens that will now-and-forevermore color how people look at Tolkien’s trilogy. The wonderful cover art on the books has been now replaced with movie shots. This three-hour epic does capture the spirit of the primary characters, but it unfortunately expands the violent scenes present in the story.
This film version traded in no sex and no profanity for THE most violent PG-13 film ever! The studio towed a thin line to not end up with an R rating on this one. The MPAA warning that this film contains “epic battle scenes” is certainly not descriptive enough—it closely resembles the violence of the R-rated “Braveheart.” While “The Lord of the Rings” contains no ground-breaking special effects, it has broken into new territory for a wider acceptance of brutality. The savagery here makes “The Matrix” look G-rated!
“The Lord of the Rings” begins it story with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) the wizard arriving to help celebrate Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) 111th birthday. At the party, Bilbo stages a dramatic disappearance. He plans to leave his home and head out on one last adventure. His disappearance captures the attention of Gandalf. We soon learn that the ring that Bilbo found during his first adventure has great power. Bilbo leaves everything to Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). Frodo, because he is pure in heart, is able to carry the ring. Gandalf tells Frodo the history of the ring and how the dark lord Sauron (Sala Baker) has evil intentions for its use. The ring must be returned to Mount Doom so that it can be destroyed.
Frodo is accompanied on his quest by his devoted friends Sam (Sean Astin), Pippin (Billy Boyd), and Merry (Dominic Monagham). Human warriors, an Elfin archer, and a Dwarf join forces to accomplish this mission.
The acting and cinematography in this film is nothing short of excellent! Liv Tyler as the warrior Arwen and Christopher Lee as Saruman turn in good performances. Peter Jackson does a good job directing this challenge. However, the musical score was somewhat disappointing. Some of it seemed forced and really didn’t fit the mood.
If you’re looking for a portal into another world, this is it. it’s well worth a look. But I say this with two reservations: 1) the books plus your imagination are still far superior to big budget extravaganzas; 2) leave the children at home. As said above, the violence is way over the top. Children may be dulled to violence due to media and video games already, but New Line is showing gross irresponsibility in this area.