#11: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

When and how did I watch this?

June 5th, 2017, on DVD.

Had I seen this film already?

Yes.  Of the LotR trilogy, it’s the least watched and least familiar to me.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Fellowship of the Ring is designed to introduce us to the characters and kickstart the overall plot. We fall in love with the hobbits and the Shire, understand the history of the ring and the fate of Frodo, and we see Gandalf for the powerful wizard he is. It’s been a few years now since I’ve seen it, and as expected all of these other films have sort of muddled the finer details of what occurs. Having seen The Two Towers not long ago doesn’t help either.

What do I know about it now?

Peter Jackson really knows how to make these stories come alive.  We’re drawn in instantly by the history of the lands and the advent and fate of the Ring of Power, introduced to us with a CGI driven series of events, yet still presenting a very human story of good and evil, and the terrible result of pride over nobility. This is before we even get to the meat, before Frodo sets off with the heft of the ring around his neck, his encounter with the lovable trio of Aragorn the tough guy, Legolas the heartthrob elf, and Gimli the lovable dwarf, and the fellowship’s trek to Mordor. Along the way is a series of dramatic peaks and valleys, encounters with terrible entities — hardly indentifiable as creatures at times — temptations among the fellowship, a dramatic backstory with Aragorn — possibly the most compelling character in the film — two near-death experiences with Frodo, and several high-tension situations in the mines of Moria. Whew.  A lot happens in this film, and it’s wise for the viewer to pay attention. Otherwise it’s pretty easy to get lost. The pinnacle is certainly the trek through the mines, and the film production team really shows off their prowess with the cave troll/orc battle sequence.

What are some themes in the film?

Pride, trust and friendship, good vs. evil

Did this affect me personally?

The fate of Bilbo Baggins is a lesson to be learned for all.

Why is this ranked #11?

Ranked only a few spaces above The Two Towers and just two below Return of the King, it’s hard to disassemble the trilogy.  Fellowship is likely the most open-ended, but also naturally does the best job introducing us to everything and thrusting us into this unforgettable fantasy world. There’s a lot more violence in the film than I had remembered. Oh, and there’s The Meme.

One-Does-Not-Simply

Yep, that one.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She did, and actually paid attention to the whole film in this case.

Would I watch it again?

Just like Empire Strikes Back, yes, but in order.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

This might be slow and lengthy for those not already into the fantasy genre, but it’s certainly not a disappointment, and is still one of the best films ever made.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

No question.  Fellowship of the Ring establishes the trilogy, provides us with bookended storylines (Bilbo, Moria) for those who won’t look beyond this film, while engaging us with gripping epics (Aragorn, Frodo and the ring, the fate of Gandalf) that will force us to consider a second helping. What might make this film so incredible is its ability to create this world without us even really noticing — this place has never existed, yet by the end of LotR, we’re almost convinced, if not wholly entertained.

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