Movie Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for epic battle sequences and some scary images

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
Genre:
Action/Drama/Fantasy
Length:
2 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
December 19, 2001
Relevant Issues
Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood in “The Lord of the Rings”
Featuring: Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin
Director: Peter Jackson
Producer: Peter Jackson, Barrie M Osborne, Tim Sanders
Distributor: New Line Cinema
“One ring to rule them all,
 One ring to find them.
 One ring to bring them all
 and in the darkness bind them.”

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.

J.R.R. Tolkien 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.

Battle scene from “The Lord of the Rings.” Copyright 2001 New Line Cinema. 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.

Liv Tyler in “The Lord of the Rings” 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.


Viewer Comments
Positive—INCREDIBLE!! To sit for three hours (which did not feel like 3 whole hours) and be given this visual, auditory and imagination fueling feast was spectacular! The casting is faultless. The acting is wonderful. The scenery and soundtrack were unbelievable. New Zealand IS Middle-earth. It was great to see a movie during which I was not offended even once. I very much disagree with the site reviewer about the music and violence. Yes, violence was very much there, but there was no blood or gore associated with it. The bad guy did loose his head, but there was NO gore to it! (A clean cut, more or less.) The orcs were crazy evil looking, but even better than I had imagined they would be. DO NOT take you children!! No one under 15 should see this film, unless you don’t mind them having nightmares of the orcs, goblins, and the Balrog (and he was exactly as I have always pictured him!). The story remains true to the book about 3/4 of the time, which is not bad for today’s theater. Final note: Loved it! Loved it! Go see it (if your over 15).
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Charity, age 25
Positive—For Tolkien fans this one was worth waiting for. It may appear to be long, but so was reading the book. The characters are well established, the plots and the scenery. As for the violence in the movie, we cannot shield everyone from violence that is life. Even in the Bible we have violence. The difference was this was not violence for the sake of violence. It was a battle between good and evil, showing that sometimes even the good go down in a noble cause. The good are on a quest to put an end to evil and on that road, evil is encountered and fought. One day Jesus will come back and He will fight evil.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—John V Carey, age 49
Negative—I was really looking forward to spending an afternoon hopefully enjoying this movie. I had heard it was great! If I had it to do over again I would have saved my money. This movie obviously took a lot of work and I’m sure cost a ton of money but that doesn’t always mean it is going to be any good. For one thing I don’t know why whenever someone does a movie with knights and wizards that they feel they have to make the movie in that wierd “dark” color. I felt like I wanted to constantly adjust my color controls. A quick 3 hours? Hardly! There is about 30 minutes of actual action and the rest of the time there is either a shot of “the ring” or someone in a conversation about a bunch of nonsense. Give me the movie and I could have easily edited out an hour and no one would know the difference. There are some great looking monsters and the wizard is excellent, but the fight scenes are not as spectacular as people are saving (see Braveheart). There are the typical dumb Hollywood things like the wizard not using his power when he really needs it and Hobbits (who did a little training with swords on their way to the mountain) are taking out huge orcs that are bred for nothing but to kill, maim and destroy anything in their path. The ending is ridiculous, they leave you hanging on for the sequel…
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Steve McClellan, age 43
Positive—As a huge fan of Tolkien I can say this movie entirely captures the novels perfectly. People need to not kid themselves. This is a dark story. The comments in the review about the violence are inaccurate. What I would say is that this is the most “intense” PG-13 movie I’ve ever seen. That being said, the casting is absolutely perfect. Gandalf IS Gandalf! Frodo IS Frodo! Aragorn IS Aragorn! The effects are nothing short of mind-blowing. The scenes in the Mines of Moria and the battle scenes are worth the price of admission. I also thought the moral message was very strong. Director Jackson has done a great job showing how we are all tempted by true evil. I plan on seeing this one again and again. The downside is I have to wait 12 more months for The Two Towers!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Todd, age 36
Positive—I read the Fellowship of the Rings during the summer for the first time and could not wait for the movie to come out. Although the movie deviated from the book in some parts esp. (Arwen riding off with Frodo to Rivendell which did not in fact happen in the story) I thought that New Line, the writes, directors and cast did a great job. It was a joy to see the scenes in this movie come to life from the book. I do agree somewhat with the reviewer regarding the violence, too much attention was paid to the battles but overall it was not as violent as Braveheart esp. when you considered that most of these things were fantastical creatures. I’m glad I got a chance to see it and plan to put make it part of my movie collection.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—pgll, age 31
Negative—I haven’t read the books and I’m sure they are great. The movie, however, was not. BORING. BORING. BORING. Even though the theater was packed, many people left before it was over. This film had NO character build up and slowly dragged along until the end arrived, leaving you with NOTHING to think about. It was just plain pointless. Nothing from a Christian point of view. I gave this movie a chance, but with the bad acting, thin plot, little action, and with it being about an hour too long, I can’t recommend this. If you liked the books and are looking for a sex and profanity free movie, then you will probably like this a lot. But as for me and many I know, this wasn’t worth the $8 or the 3 hours.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Toby, age 16
Positive—A lifelong fan of Tolkien, I was prepared to be disappointed by the film version of The Lord of the Rings. Frankly, I did not trust a non-Christian director to accurately present the story with its very Christian themes and characters. But I was pleasantly surprised and came away feeling that justice had been done. Tolkien’s theme of God’s sovereignty is firmly in place, as is the truth that you cannot use evil to do good (ends do not justify means). Every character is portrayed with depth so that we can feel the struggles they face (some directly with the ring; others with each other or their place in history). While I agree that the film’s violence is over the top for the PG-13 rating, I do not think it departs from the book, which also has bloody battle scenes (so does the Bible, for that matter). I will not allow my children to see the film until they are well into their teens, but we have read the LOTR and The Hobbit aloud as a family (to our four-year-old son)and do not “edit” the Bible when we read about decapitations and other such disturbing things. I would also agree that the films can never hope to replace the books. No film ever should. Books stretch the imagination, and each reader comes away with his own impressions of hobbits, elves, dwarves, orcs, etc. Read the trilogy before you go to see the movie. But see the movie. It is beautifully done and heartbreakingly true to the redemptive story Tolkien portrayed.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Jennie Chancey, age 29
Positive—One of the best films that I have every seen. For those in tune with the spiritual dimension, the battle between good and evil really comes through. As a believer, I was struck numerous times with the a spiritual insight and left the film not only thoroughly entertained but feeling as if I had witnessed a battle that must be or will be like the battle between our Lord and satan and his demons. I am not one to see movies twice but will certainly see this one again. This is not a movie for young children for the reasons that the main reviewer suggests.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Allan, age 43
Neutral—For adults this movie is excellent. The acting, the score, the story, the special effects… these elements were all excellent. For the Christian viewer it was a beautifully done film that captures the war between God and Satan and good vs. evil. It was wonderful to see the religious elements in this film. HOWEVER… I am writing to let PARENTS know this is NOT A FILM FOR CHILDREN. It was truly one of most violent films made in recent years, and the villains, the “things” fighting are grotesque and frightening images. My husband and I saw it on opening day and sure enough there was a boy about 6 sitting behind us with his parents, frightened. I have a 6 year old son, and I would say please do not be fooled by the PG-13 rating. I strongly believe this film should only be seen by mature teens and up. An excellent film for grown-ups. NOT A FILM FOR CHILDREN.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—K. Jones, age 31
Positive—This was an extremely emotionally demanding movie and one of the people I went with came out exhausted. It was a stunning movie, with everything done on such a sumptuous scale. The camera angles were breathtaking at times, and all in all it was an exhilarating experience. The sequence in the Mines of Moriah left me speechless! …This was a very violent movie, though not bloody or gory. It certainly delivers a few “out of the seat” shocks. Certainly don’t take young children, but if you enjoy Tolkein and can handle the length and the intensity of it, it is a magnificent, unforgettable film.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Bruce Waelend, age 45
Positive—I took my 12 and 8 year old sons. My 8 year old, a desensitized veteran of Aliens, Matrix, etc, was terrified all throughout. I stayed with him through the movie, explaining what was happening, which helped him deal with the content. It was not the violence that caused him the difficulties, but his attachment to the characters as the story developed, and his fear for their safety… Both boys are Harry Potter fans, and the Lord of the Rings provides a superb opportunity to contrast the lust and fulfillment for power for self-gain that Rowlings illustrates in her books and movie, with the lust and denial of power for a greater purpose that Tolkien portrays in his. However, I would not recommend taking a child who you suspect will be emotionally traumatized by watching characters they have grown powerfully attached to face forces of evil that are very realistically shown. Using trauma is not the best method for teaching children. While my youngest recognized the need for the ring to be destroyed, and even though I am grateful for the chance to counter the influence of Harry Potter, I wish that I had simply left, and come back to watch the movie again by myself another time… except this would have caused difficulties with my 12 year old, who loved the movie, and recognized its message contrasted to the Harry Potter movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Earl McCluskie, age 42
Negative—This was the biggest waste of 3 hours. Extremely slow moving, boring visually, and extreme violence which didn’t further the story. This was a showpiece for fans who just wanted to ooh and ah over seeing the characters brought to “life” on screen. This movie could (and should) have been about 60 minutes long.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Gene, age 43
Positive—I was most impressed with this movie, being a fan of Tolkien’s literary marvels for several years. The conversion of this first film was accurate enough to the text for me, and quite possibly my favorite film, ever. My brother (10) and a friend saw this movie, both enjoying it considerably. I was glad to see the clear distinction between good and evil, to see the ring’s corrupting power shown (like sin’s destroying power), and the trials many of the characters faced to avoid evil. From a Christian perspective, I had no problems with this movie. Evil was presented as evil, good was presented as good, and there was a struggle between the two, physically, mentally, and spiritually, that was obvious. No language, no sex, clean humor, and little violence. I cannot begin to fathom how the violence in this movie can be compared with the likes of The Matrix. The Fellowship didn’t barge into lobbies, shooting enforcers of the law in slow motion and detail…
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—T. Browning, age 15
Positive—The profanity-free, epic high-fantasy, with its battle of good vs. evil—which is waged not just against external enemies but within the hearts of the heroes—offers something like an imaginative cleansing from the dark, occult fantasies and the cynical action dramas…
—Gene Edward Veith, World magazine
Positive—The New Line Cinema rendition of the fantasy classic Lord of the Rings was nothing short of groundbreaking. There is NO sex, NO profanity, and the same Christian hidden message that is portrayed throughout the trilogy. Yes, it was violent, but so was the book. The villains that are killed are not human, they are Orcs. The movie should not even be compared to the Matrix where vigilantes murdered innocent people. This is the Middle Earth equivalent of Spiritual Warfare. Angels and Demons are battling over our soul every day like Orcs and Elves are fighting over the power and lust of the one Ring, the best symbolic representation of pure Sin that I have ever seen in any piece of literature. This is not a kid movie though, I am aggravated by parents bringing their children to a fantasy movie that associate everything fantasy into little childrens books. The article above despite what I believe as an exaggeration is correct in its warning to leave the small children at home…
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Lindsey L., age 15
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie! I am a 16 year old guy who has read the books before so I was looking forward to seeing this movie. I think it was done almost perfectly and the only thing that I disliked about it was that it was a little long at 3 hours including the opening previews. Some parts of the books were left out but it doesn’t diminish the film in the least way. One part that confused me though was the part of Arwen, the elf princess. In the books she hardly has a part, but in the movie it is a much greater role. The movie was violent but not nearly as much as the reviewer said. There is practically no blood and when someone is killed the camera quickly switches to a new scene. The one part which was pretty violent was when a huge orc (enemy creature) was killed by getting beheaded. Some families might be offended by the Balrog. A fiery demon which the heroes are forced to fight but it all ends ok. All in all a fantastic journey to middle-earth!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Kyle S., age 16
Positive—I loved this movie! As someone who is sensitive to violence, I found the violence in this movie “tastefully” done; yes there is lots of slashing and one or two orc heads get lopped, but there is no gore!—as opposed to “Braveheart” (which I have never seen and don’t want to, though friends of mine like it) where the viewer actually sees guts getting spilled. The acting was wonderful, the music powerful and the overall effect was that I was bouncing out of the theater. Of course the books are better—but the movie comes pretty close in my opinion! The orcs are pretty scary and there are some rather intense scenes, so I wouldn’t recommend it for really young kids. As for myself… I am definitely going to see it again!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Anna, age 18
Positive—First off I have to say that I can’t understand how the reviewer can throw around phrases like “Way over the top” and “The most violent PG-13 film ever” This was a very clean film overall, and it only got the PG-13 rating because of the scary digitally animated creatures. Ok so you might not want to bring your 8 year old along, but it is a very tame movie by today’s standards of acceptable and gore. The books had battles in them, and I think Peter Jackson did an amazing job of keeping the often drawn out (yet well written) books into a decent paced action/drama. Make no mistake, this movie was not made to please just hardcore Tolkien fans, but to appeal to everyone, and in this I think it succeeds greatly. I absolutely loved the movie, and will probably see it many times in theatre. The shire is just beautiful and the attention to detail is obvious. This movie is incredible!!…
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Mark Witten, age 16
Positive—When I left the theater all that I could say was “Wow!” This movie was both aesthetically and thematically incredible. I was amazed at the exquisite details of the costumes and scenery. The juxtaposition between good and evil paralleled closely with Biblical themes. Although some of the scenes were too intense for small children, I’d definitely recommend the movie (and the book!) to others.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Erin, age 19
Positive—This was not a movie… This was an experience. I’ve read the other reviews, and they make good points. I disagree with the main review, the violence was not overly extreme. it’s there, but not gory. Even the scene with the decapitation was done very quick and cleanly with no gore. I would encourage others whether you’ve read the book or not, to go see the movie and let yourself go. This is one of the few movies I’ve seen where it reaches out and completely captivates you. It draws you in and you feel like your experiencing the movie along with the characters. Every aspect of this movie was excellent, the story, the content. The character development and acting was superb. The visuals were stunning. I took my 6 and 8 year old sons to it, and they loved it. So as far as children go, don’t go necessarily by age. You know your children, you determine if they can handle it based on how you know them. From a Christian standpoint, I see nothing objectionable. I have eight years of Bible training…
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Dave, age 31
Positive—I have been a ardent Tolkien fan since the 70s. I’ve read The Hobbit and LotR at least twice, parts of the Sillmarilion and Unfinished Tales. So I, as well as a couple of friends, were eagerly waiting for this release. My heart would go out to those who have never read the story. This is a l-o-n-g movie and may try the patience of those not familiar with the story. The main characters are portrayed quite well and the visuals are impressive. But my biggest complaint is that some of the fight scenes have been extended at the expense of explaining key points of the story. The fine details of the book are the very things that makes Lord of the Rings such a good read and these are often lost in any film rendering. From a Christian standpoint there is little to object to although a couple of scenes may be too frightening for very small children. Overall: good but not great, read the book(s) first.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Tony John, age 47
Positive—This was a really good movie. I highly recommend it, although if you have read the books before (even a couple of years) it’s really helpful in understanding what’s going on. Yes, there is violence, and little kids (say 11 and under) will probably be really scared by the orcs and other bad guys, but all in all, I really liked this movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—The Carrot, age 18
Positive—From someone who has not read the books, the film is excellent. This film has excellent special effects, wonderful character acting, and well thought out plot placement. The remarkable acting jobs by Wood and McKellin are very well executed, as well as the rest of the ensemble cast. As far as objectionable parts of the film, there is some startling violence in battle scenes, but nothing that emphasizes terribly gory, or bloody aspects. The most frightening aspect of the film is the portrayal of evil, and each character’s susceptibility to it. A good representation of life, in that each of the characters there exists evil (sin) and each have the potential to become truly evil. Even the most pure of heart with the best intentions are able to be overtaken by their inward desires for power and self gratification. So different from the common films today that preach inner good and inward righteousness and are so far from the truth of human nature. Not a movie for children.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Sarah, age 18
Positive—First off I have to STRONGLY disagree with the reviewer on the violence in this movie. The Matrix is a far more violent movie, this film has some violence. The violence is really never shown in this film, if one looks closely most of it is off screen. Many times arrows will be shot at something, then it will cut to a shot of the target of the arrow falling down, only in a few instances do you see graphic violence. Much of the violence during huge battles is caused by fast cutting and a general sense of chaos. Braveheart’s battle scenes show graphically the effects of weapons on a human body. There are only a few instances in Lord of the Rings where you actually see blood or anything graphic in nature. Moving on now, this is one of the best films, if not the best film of this year. I have seen this film twice now, and can’t wait to go back for more. Every aspect of this film is amazing, from the acting, to the special effects, the music, and the cinematography…
My Ratings: [5]
—Matt, age 20, non-Christian
Positive—What a somewhat unfair review of “Lord of the Rings”: As a person who spent 3 years out of my life, as an actor, to be a part of this “Trilogy” project alongside almost over 200 other New Zealand actors. I find the review kind of insulting, I spent 3 hours in a makeup chair having the prosthetics attached to my face to become a fearsome “Orc”, and spent several days and long long nights, riding a horse, or freezing in the mountain locations to bring Peter Jacksons vision to light. Of course it isn’t a childrens movie, it’s mindless fantasy for the child in everyone of us to delight in, and as a christian I would not suggest you take young children to it.
—Flyboy Orc
Positive—Incredible stuff! NO sex, NO profanity. Perfect movie in my book. Musical score is great, fitting the various moods perfectly. The violence, while done rather tastefully, may be offensive to some viewers.
My Ratings: [5]
—Nomie, age 33
Neutral—My twelve year old son has been waiting years for this movie to come out so we went on the opening night. I have mixed feelings concerning this movie. First of all, I do feel that some of this movie parallels the Bible with good verses evil, the young Hobbit reminds me of David trying to fight Goliath, the middle world being like Hell could be, etc. The evil that it is in this movie, is a bit scary for young viewers. My son loved it. I am reserved to recommend it to other parents, but to a person who has read the books I think you owe it to yourself to see what will probably be a movie that becomes a classic.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Amber A Langehennig, age 30
Positive—I was not into the world of Tolkein enough to finish even the first book. Too detailed. Too… well, you really had to be interested. The film is an adequate adaptation of what I did manage to read and splendid telling of a story overall. I especially liked the strong distinction between good and evil and the lines here and there about the journey… that it takes suffering, that there is only one way, that others will try to deter you and it may even sound like wisdom but it is really deception… This film may not be a perfect allegory for Christianity, but it certainly holds to many of its principles. The “magic” in the film is not offensive overall, meant purely to be imaginary. But the violence was something else for a PG-13 film! A bad guy gets his head chopped off! that’s pushing it. Overall, though, it was a good movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Lori, age 27
Positive—I have read the Trilogy several times, and eagerly anticipated this film. It is the most visually striking film I have ever seen, almost overwhelming. I agree that the violence is overdone, although there were no gory, blood squirting shots, as could have been done. I agree that this is way too intense for children. My chief complaint is the lack of character development. The film relies so much on visuals that you do not get to know the characters on their own terms. By the time Gandalf falls in Moria, you see the characters’ grief, but you cannot share it because you don’t know him. Most of the major themes of the book are there. We see Arwen say a prayer, which surprised me. A higher power or purpose is mentioned several times, which is keeping with the spirit of the book. I heard no swearing, and there was no sexual content at all.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Jim L, age 40
…I have to disagree on many of the reviewer’s observations: you cannot take Tolkien and make it child’s play. The books are very deep, both theologically and emotionally; and there are battle scenes. I felt the director did an excellent job of not making the violence all blood, guts, and gore (which *would* have deserved an R-rating!); most of it is in fast action, hardly seen due to camera angles. it’s worth the rating, not merely with violence but scary sequences as well. I’m eighteen and was scared out of my wits during certain intense fighting scenes… not to mention the transformation of Galadriel during her temptation. (Which is ultimately one of my two favorite scenes.) Would the Old Testament be R-rated? If the Bible were produced, everyone would demand that it be translated word for word… and it would be worthy of an R-rating for more than just violence. Tolkien’s works were violent; there is no other way to get around it. You cannot make the Lord of the Rings without it. I would be more cautious due to the magical elements and emphasis on evil than the violence; and I think this is what will drive many people away. Unlike the reviewer, I went in fully remembering everything I had read pertaining to Tolkien’s opinion of his works: I went in with a Christian world view. And what I saw astounded me. Simple lessons of friendship, courage, compassion, and making the most of the time you have are only the tip of the iceberg for a much larger picture of the corruption of evil and the power of pride. There are shocking parallels between main characters and Biblical truths (and even biblical characters themselves!). The wizards and elves are symbolic of the angels; the director did an incredible job with lighting to ensure this connection. We learn that the Orcs, much like Satan and his minions, are fallen creatures; they were once elves, but are now enslaved by the Evil One. There are no shades of gray: there is good and there is evil. All absolutes; nothing is relative. Particularly symbolic to me (enough to give me goosebumps) are two scenes that empower two different truths. One is the temptation of the Queen of the Elves (Cate Blanchett); the other is when Gandalf (Ian McKellen) sacrifices himself for his friends. All during that climatic scene between the forces of good and evil, one thought kept flooding through my mind: “There is no greater love than he who sacrifices himself for another.” My father accompanied our little group, and we had a deep theological discussion afterward over dinner. I think The Lord of the Rings is an excellent film that all mature viewers should see, unless they are overly concerned with magical elements. (And they’re creepy—I shouldn’t neglect to mention that.) In fact, Christians should be thrilled since it will get people thinking about truth. I would only encourage, however, that children under fifteen (unless emotionally capable of handling this dark and often terrifying production) be left at home, and that the parents go in fully prepared to discuss it with their teens. The critics are calling it Oscar material, a masterpiece. And for once, they’re right.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
Charity Bishop, age 18