ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)


DIRECTOR  -  peter jackson

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  fantasy

LENGTH  -  178 minutes

RELEASED  -  19 december 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  new line cinema

OFFICIAL SITE  -  fellowship of the ring

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $109,000,000
the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring at amazon.com

buy the dvd from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
in a small village in the shire a young hobbit named frodo has been entrusted with an ancient ring. now he must embark on an epic quest to the cracks of doom in order to destroy it.




MOVIE FACT:
when the trailer was released on internet on 7 april 2001, it was downloaded 1.6 million times in the first 24 hours.

1,460 eggs were served to the cast and crew for breakfast for every day of shooting.

orlando bloom (legolas) did most of his own stunts and broke a rib in the process.

peter jackson gave the ring used in the movies to elijah wood as gift when the shoot was finished.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring

picture from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring

picture from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring

picture from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring

picture from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring

picture from the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring



RATING:


four out of four possible stars

With a massive marketing campaign presented online, on the air, and on the screen, and a legion of followers that make soccer houligans look like angels, the pressure that has been placed on The Fellowship of the Ring has been nothing short of legendary. It is rare that a film can hold its own under such scrutiny, but with this film, it seems we finally have a winner. This film is so much more impressive that I really ever thought it would be. Being a minor fan of the original books, but not to the point where I've learned to speak "Elvish" (the language the elves speak in the film that some rabid JRR tolkien fans have taken to memorizing), I had modest expectations for this film.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of the fantasy genre and with the most recent releases from Hollywood not achieving acclaim from critics or audiences (excluding Harry Potter, that's more of a children's film), fantasy filmmaking has not become the most reliable type of story telling. A commercially viable yet critically successful fantasy film has not been made in decades. But it seems that Peter Jackson has done what George Lucas (with Willow) and Rob Cohen (with Dragonheart) were not able to accomplish. He's made a film that will appeal to fantasy buffs and non-fans alike. The strong set of elements this film has in its acting, story, and cinematography combine to create a rare achievement.

One of the most intriguing elements of this film is probably the special effects. Using computer generated images, blue screen techniques and matte paintings, the filmmakers have created a seamless film whose effects are awesome, yet not obvious. From the subtle changes in the new zealand landscape, where the movie was filmed, to the epic battles with hundreds of computer generated creatures, this film adds together so many different techniques and yet never lets them get out of hand. There is never a case when the special effects eclipse the story or the actors. Creating this symbiosis between these two elements was probably a trial, but the filmmakers were successful.

To put it mildly. Because so much of this film just defies explanation. Story, character, pacing, cinematography, acting, all of it is perfect. Perhaps it was just a case of the right people making the right choices in each of these areas, but I believe that it was more than that. Such a perfect film can't happen by chance. An aspect of the film which I think makes it so successful is that it is appealing to a wide audience, yet it is not a story that is watered down in order to grab that large audience. Although it has been marketed towards an older group of people than other recent fantasy films, the appeal for this film extends beyond the standard 18 to 35 year old male audience.

It's got a wide reaching attraction for different kinds of people, yet its story is emotionally and technically complex. This is a hard balance to strike right, and yet the filmmakers here have managed to do it. So much of this film is about a balance between the complicated elements of story and visual effects that it would be easy to let one overtake the other. But that never happens. The movie as a whole is engrossing for the entire three hours. And that's something which might scare away some audiences. That three hour running time.

But one of the film's most clear triumphs is the expert way the movie is presented, time wise. With a combination of skillful storytelling, absorbing cinematography, and dead-on editing, this film presents a story that is as interesting as it is genius. But it probably didn't hurt that the film had such a popular and well-respected novel to rise from. I saw this film in a nearly packed theater and when the screen faded to black and the "directed by" credit flashed up on the screen, I heard a collective gasp that the filmmakers had decided to be so cruel and make the audiences wait a few years to see the conclusion to the series.

And it doesn't matter if you've ever set eyes upon any of the books that this trilogy is based on. The film moves forward, presenting new material, but at the same time gives a coherent history and background for all the characters. At no time do the filmmakers stall the story with excessive backstory and exposition. And the exposition that is in the film is skillfully hidden. Obvious backstory can halt a movie dead in its tracks, but in this film, you learn about the characters through action and the progressing of the story. Which is quite a feat, considering that the books from this film add up to almost a couple thousand pages of literature.

But those three long books did not turn into a stumbling block for the screenwriters here. With such a rich amount of text from which to take the story, it would have been easy to confuse and bore the audience with elements from the book that wouldn't translate well to the screen. But the writers here made a success of their screenplay by including as many elements from the story as possible without overloading it and creating a word-for-word version of the books up on the screen.

And it was quite a good choice of casting to put this group of actors on the screen. Because of the epic scope of the novels, this film required a large group of important characters. Although the Hobbit character of "Frodo Baggins" could be considered the main character, this film had at least a dozen and a half major performances from characters whose absense would create confusion in the story. The actors chosen for these many role combine to form an ensemble cast which is impressive, to say the least, in that no one shines above the rest, and yet each one is unique.

Perhaps it's the nature of the characters, being that they're all of different races (Hobbit, Human, Elf, Dwarf, etc.), but the large cast did not weigh down this film. It just made it fuller and more epic. Which was exactly what was required for this story. To pull it off, the filmmakers needed to combine a wealth of difficult elements and mold them into a seamless movie. And although it took three hours just to tell the first part of this story, the parts of this first movie blend together so well that finding an element of this film that is in some way lacking or superfluous is impossible.

It would take quite a few pages here to do justice to every actor's performance that deserves a good word or two, so what I'll do here is outline the best performances. First off, Ian McKellen's performance as "Gandulf the White," a wizard and friend of Frodo the Hobbit, was nothing short of extraordinary. His portrayal of the character was so complete and so convincing that each time he was on screen it was hard to look at anything else. Another actor whose performance was especially strong was that of Viggo Mortensen as "Aragorn," a man estranged from his people, yet in line for the throne.

He added a little bit of humor to his character, balancing it with some dramatic emotion that made his character well-rounded and very convincing. These actors all added a suitable amount of comedy to the screen which, in other films, is an element that is many times lacking. Taking one's self too seriously is a problem, especially among the Hollywood types, but the actors in this film created characters whose humor was heartwarming and whose ability to laugh made their fantasy world all the more real. Humor is a necessary and real element in human (and elf and hobbit and dwarf ...) personalities, and including a little humor with the serious scenes in the film made the whole experience tangible.

This adaptation of The Lord of the Rings has become the type of picture that comes out only a few times each decade. It happened in the nineties with Braveheart and Titanic. If the sequels to The Fellowship of the Ring are any bit as impressive as this first film, Peter Jackson will have accomplished something few directors have achieved.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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