Powerful, amazing, epic, one-of-the-greatest-movie-adaptions-ever; these are a few of the many reasons Lord of the Rings is so–awesome!
But now, I have to be like all the other “critics” out there and describe it “normally”…
The Fellowship of the Ring is a fantasy/drama film, which begins in a small village in the Shire where a young hobbit named Frodo has been entrusted with an ancient Ring. He must embark on an epic quest with a dedicated fellowship to destroy this Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, in the land it was made. It stars a whole slew of actors like Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, and Ian Holm. The film is directed by Peter Jackson (The Frighteners, King Kong, The Lovely Bones), and written by him, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. (Running Time: Theatrical Version: 178 minutes; Extended Edition: 208 minutes)(Rated PG-13)
There’s a long, detailed story behind the making of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I won’t go into to many details. But Peter Jackson the director had been fascinated by the Lord of the Rings books since his teenage years, so the desire to put the trilogy up on the big screen had evolved with his skill of making movies. His wife saw the vision, and called upon a friend of her’s to help them adapt the books to film. Originally, Miramax Films was going to produce Peter Jackson and his dedicated team on this endeavor, but they wished to have all three books compiled into one three hour movie. New Line Cinema came to Jackson’s rescue, saying, “Don’t listen to them, Pete! Rewrite the script, make three films, and be faithful to Tolkien’s vision. And don’t worry; we got your back.” And that’s where it began, essentially. (All three films were shot simultaneously in 250 days, estimated)
Acting; this film’s got it, I dare say! And with such a gifted, well-diverse, ensemble cast of “known” actors and “newbies” (like Orlando Bloom, who had gotten the gig three days after he graduated from acting school) The Lord of the Rings film trilogy shows that the director and producers were intent on looking for actors and actresses who would jump into their characters and who already had a love for the books. It is obvious the group enjoyed their part ecstatically, and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else. On a side note: the only member of the entire cast and crew to ever meet J.R.R Tolkien was Christopher Lee (Saruman), who was a good acquaintance of the author. The master storyteller told Lee if there was ever to be a movie(s) made of his books, that he would be honored if Lee were to play the part of Gandalf. Lee auditioned for the part of Gandalf, but Peter Jackson had another idea in mind and cast him as Saruman the white wizard. Wishing to be part of the project in whatever way he could, Lee took the part immediately.
Peter Jackson had only directed slapstick/horror films up until this time, so studios were a bit leery on him directing. But his drama Heavenly Creatures (1995) gave them a twinge of hope. He approached this undertaking as a director desperately trying to be loyal to Tolkien’s vision; if he strayed just a little, he knew it would be a disappointment to his fans, to his cast and crew, and to himself. Constantly, if you were to walk around the set of LOTR you would see a member of the cast or crew reading the books. Constantly. One of the differences the LOTR has compared to other movies is that most everyone there believed in the film. They had faith in the project and knew they would be doing the trilogy justice. They just had to get through it and get it done.
Howard Shore’s musical score deserves a big round of applause for his endeavor. A typical film composer will spend only a couple months working on a film; Shore spent well over two years working on this masterpiece. He was able to create such a feeling to the elements wherever the camera was placed; whether it was in the modest village full of hobbits, or in the eerie mines of Moria. He won an Academy Award for Best Score for this piece of work.
(Its really hard to just talk about The Fellowship of the Ring when all three films were made at the exact same time. I have to try and sanction out other information to save for The Two Towers and The Return of the King movie reviews, if I get around to watching and writing about them!)
Oh! I forgot to mention the script, which was written…marvelously! As a fact, almost every single day on set the writers got back together and rewrote a scene hours–or minutes–before they were about to film them. The fresh, hot off the press script would be slipped under the actors’ trailers the night beforehand, and they new it would probably be pointless to memorize their new lines because they new Peter, Fran, and Philipa would be giving them a completely new one in the morning.
Critically, the film received renowned universal reclaim; the only complaint of the movie was the length, which was excused after a time because both the fans and critics knew if the filmmakers had shortened it any more, it would have been ruined. There was also some disappointment from fans about the scene Tom B. was in in the books, but was cut out of the film. Peter Jackson explained he wanted to keep the scene in the film, “…But it would’ve added an unnecessary thirty minutes to the movie–at least”.
The Fellowship was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director; it won four, including Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, and Best Original Score. (It had lost Best Picture to “A Beautiful Mind”, which I can understand that…sorta….)
It did very well at the box office for its time, grossing $870 million on a $93 million dollar budget. It is currently the 20th highest grossing film of all time.
Oh, I’d give this epic a…uh, 7 stars out of 7. Not a high 7, mind you, but–its just so hard to downgrade this movie. Because it is so…so…amazing. So powerful. I encourage most anyone to watch this movie, and hopefully, continue on to watch the trilogy! (Oh, read the books first, though. They are just as awesome.)