JUMPCUT’s Favourites: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Year: 2001
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Andy Serkis, John Rhys-Davies, Hugo Weaving, Liv Tyler, Dominic Monaghan

Written by Jo Craig

As a restless ten-year-old, shuffling around the toy section at Woolworths had become an unspoken talent among youngsters, able to sail from aisle to aisle while barely glancing at the shelves and somehow gather that there were no new gadgets to impress. That was until an oval, green box with a black, hooded figure inside caught my eye, and I stopped and asked my Aunt who tolerated my shuffling, “What’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’?”

Remembering that introduction vividly, as well as my super-cool Mum letting me skip school on December 19th, 2001 to view a true spectacle that was ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’, becoming one of the first films I recall being deliriously giddy at the faint mention of it. Combined with two sequels, ‘The Two Towers’ and ‘The Return of the King’, Peter Jackson’s vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s written masterpiece has stood the test of time against modern, CGI enthused films and was the first motion picture that ignited my burning love for the movies.

In summary, ‘Fellowship’ acquaints us with fearless Hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and the most beloved TLOTR character Sam (Sean Astin), embarking on their journey to destroy the one ring and its ruler, the Dark Lord Sauron (Sala Baker). Travelling across Middle-Earth through villages, elven realms, mines and mountains, Frodo, Sam and their selected eight companions, fellow Hobbits Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Boromir (Sean Bean) (not forgetting Bill the trusted steed), combine their efforts as “The Fellowship of the Ring” and battle the evil that stands in their way.  

As a kid, ‘TFOTR’ was made unique by my failure to recognise the cast as actors, as I was still ignorant towards the concept of “acting”. This misconception insisted each role was the real deal, and that movies were some sort of a found footage experience where in some parallel universe Elves, Men and Orcs really were at war. Ah, to be young again. Viggo Mortensen who played my treasured Aragorn has now become a favoured actor who I admire in alternative roles but his portrayal of Strider, the Ranger of the North remains undefeated. With a tremendous amount of production piled into all three movies, ‘Fellowship’ relies on prosthetics and set pieces with a modest amount of CGI to construct its magical world, creating a more intimate experience that the sequels lost to grandeur. The beautiful score (that embarrassingly became my homework music), scenery and props all contributed to an eagerness to explore the outdoors and make flimsy weapons out of deformed sticks and tin foil.

The amount of graft and ingenuity that went into creating Middle-Earth and its inhabitants, winning four Oscars (seventeen for the entire trilogy) for Original Score, Makeup, Cinematography and Visual Effects, has a great deal to say about ‘The Hobbit’; a prequel trilogy that only won the Sci-Fi Tech Award and to this day makes a sixteen-year-old adventure look a thousand “po-ta-toes” better. Each component that brought TLOTR into visual existence created wonder throughout my late childhood and instilled a nostalgic release that triggered every time that tin whistle sang out The Shire theme.

Although the trilogy as a whole is phenomenal, ‘Fellowship’ will always remain my preferred instalment as it showcased film on a scale the world had never seen before, inviting us into a fantasy we were desperate to see more of and of course, the horseback Ringwraiths were badass. A film I could replay and recite until the end of my days and still manage to catch an extra cameo of Peter Jackson, ‘TFOTR’ will remain my ‘go-to’ movie of a lifetime that paved the way for my aspiring career and invoked a passion for exquisite cinema that I am forever grateful for.

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