The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring story is perhaps one of the best know in literature

I remember when I was first introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien’s wonderful world of hobbits, elves and wizards. It was in high school and I was immediately hooked on the four books that make up the series. Tolkien’s writings are so rich with imagery that you can see this world unfold in your mind’s eye. Because the mental pictures were so strong for me I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the live action presentation of the first book of the ring trilogy, ‘ Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings ’. Mixed because although I truly love this series of novels I had some trepidation that proper attention to the details would not be given to The Lord Of The Rings. Upon my first viewing all such reservations evaporated like a mist over Hobbiton.

The Lord Of The Rings is perhaps one of the best know in literature. Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is given a simple looking gold ring by his uncle, Bilbo. Bilbo had found the ring years ago while adventuring. Shortly after the notable wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) visits Frodo informing him that the ring is not only magical but it is the dreaded One Ring, forged in evil and sought by the epitome of evil himself, Sauron (Sala Baker). Gandalf tells Frodo that the ring must be destroyed to save middle earth and the real adventure begins.

The Lord Of The Rings has persisted for so many decades because it works on a variety of levels. Sure, the most obvious is the tale of adventure but that is only the mere surface. The Lord Of The Rings shows the burden of responsibility, how this small group must preserver against the most brutal odds to carry out their mission to save the world. There is the message of overcoming prejudice when Gimli the dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) befriends an elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), two races that traditionally hated each other. There is the many displays of true friend as Frodo is aided by his fellow hobbit Samwise (Sean Astin). There is not a story in the English language that defines such a deep, enduring and altruistic relationship. There is forbidden love between the human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and the elfish royal Arwen (Liv Tyler). At the heart if the enduring theme of good versus evil.

The Lord Of The Rings is a true tapestry where every thread is rich in depth and color. Tolkien was the type of author that created a complete world inhabited by believable creatures of his own device. The language, traditions and style of each race comes to the screen here as if the screenwriters tapped into the fertile imagination of Tolkien and filmed it directly from his mind. The Lord Of The Rings transcends any single genre. The Lord Of The Rings is an action film that also serves as a romance, buddy movie, road picture and fantasy all in one.

For such an epic to work the cast has to mesh, each contributing to the production. Fortunately, the production company assembled a cast that was up to the challenge. What most likely made this more critical is that the principle filming for all three films in the series was done at the same time. This resulted in the cast and crew living together for about a year and a half. Some excellent performances fit seamlessly together to recreate the fantastic world of Tolkien. As Frodo, Woods nails the role. There is a sense of innocence blended with a yearning for adventure and unfailing commitment to responsibility. Austin as Samwise brings this little hobbit to life. The many motivation of this character is his dedication to his friend, a loyalty that transcends any danger. McKellen has proven over the years that there is no role he cannot master. There is little doubt that the entire cast has enjoyed the books. In a film made from such a well-loved and enduring set of books there is a responsibility for the actors to interpret the roles in such a fashion that fans see their imaginations come to life.

Prior to The Lord Of The Rings trilogy director Peter Jackson was perhaps best know for his film Heavenly Creatures. The Lord Of The Rings films represent a major break from his resume and a drastic change in style. Jackson himself looks like a hobbit. Often barefoot on set this furry person seems to dart around the set yet he was in full control. He insisted that the live action for all three films in the series be done at once. This was a move worthy of the wisdom of Gandalf! This permits the audience to become invested in The Lord Of The Rings certain that all three will be presented.

In many action/adventure or fantasy films the special effects overwhelm the acting. Jackson perfectly avoids this pitfall by using the effects to create the wonderful world of middle earth and allowing the actors to drive the many storylines. This successfully gives the production a lot of heart. Each set is so close to the descriptions in the novels that I felt a sense of familiarity. The comfort of Hobitton, the grandeur of Rivendel and the foreboding darkness of Mordor are all brought to life with exacting detail. For a film of almost three hours there was no hint of pacing problems. The Lord Of The Rings enfolds the audience and whisks you into it. Jackson proves here that he is a master of creating an environment for the audience. The lighting, color balance and audio are nothing less than perfect.

The disc should be held as the new ‘show off your system’ DVD. The audio and video are reference quality. One caveat has to be mentioned, the audio is very loud. I often watch films late at night, something not possible here. The bass roars out of the sub woofer almost constantly. The lower frequencies are present in both front and rear speakers. For best effect your system should have full speakers for all speakers. The second disc is packed with extras that include a look at Twin Towers, the next installment and the upcoming extended film release due for DVD in a couple of months. A set of featurettes provides a lot of background in the fanciful world of Tolkien and how his words were translated to the screen. If you have ever loved these books The Lord Of The Rings is a must have. If you are unfamiliar with the novels get a and go out and read the books. You will not be disappointed. Frodo Lives!

Review by Doug MacLean of

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