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LORD OF THE RINGS - THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

ONCE UPON A TIME, BEFORE WRITTEN HISTORY . . .
ConsideRed by millions tO be the gReatest fantasy-adventuRe stoRy ever told, J.R.R. Tolkien's phenomenaL epic tRilogy The LoRd of The Rings chRonicles the stRuggle between good and evil foR possession of a magicaL Ring that can shift the baLance of pOweR in the woRLd. A woRk of sheeR invention on a staggeRing scaLe, The LoRd of The Rings cakes us back to MiddLe-eaRth and an eRa that pRedates wRitten histoRy, wheRe humans shaRe the woRLd with immoRtaL eLves, poweRfuL wizaRds, industRious dwaRves and…

Hobbits
Human-like, save for their diminutive stature (no more than 3 ½ feet tall), large hairy feet and pointed ears, hobbits live a peaceful, agrarian existence. They enjoy good food, good company, and good humor. Content with their self-sufficiency, hobbits rarely interact with those outside their bucolic ancestral homeland, the Shire. With one notable exception:

Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen )
Gandalf is the only wizard to have ever shown any interest in hobbits. It is said that he and his kind were sent by a higher power to guide and protect the varied races of Middle-earth. As their protector, Gandalf is quite fond of hobbits, perceiving within these simple folk surprising reserves of courage and character. Of all the hobbits, Gandalf is closest with:

Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm)
The story opens with Gandalf's attendance at Bilbo's 111th birthday celebration. Bilbo, mysteriously youthful for his advanced years, has decided to leave the Shire and hand down all of his worldly possessions to his cousin Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). There is one item, however, that Bilbo is understandably reluctant to part with: a magical goldring that bestows upon the wearer the power of invisibility. Bilbo claims that the simple band is nothing more than a trinket but Gandalf suspects otherwise and convinces Bilbo to give the ring to Frodo.

Intrigued by the mysterious ring, Gandalf researches its history and his fears are confirmed. Gandalf shares his findings about the origin of the ring with Frodo: Thousands of years ago, the Dark Lord Sauron created the Great Rings of Power: Three were made for the Elven Kings, seven for the Dwarf Lords, and nine for Mortal Men. Secretly, Sauron also forged a master ring, the One Ring, which contains the power to enslave all of Middle-earth.

For more than an Age, a great darkness covered the lands. The Last Alliance of Elves and Menwent to war against Sauron and his legions of orcs ( monstros storm troopers ). Despite heavy Losses, the Alliance managed to drive Sauron’s forces back into Mordor, to the very slopes of Mount Doom.

Cornered there, Sauron himself took to the battlefield, slayed the Great King of Men, Elendil,and shattered hid legendary sword, Narsil. In revenge, Elendil’s son, Isildur, attacked Sauron with a shard of Narsil and managed to cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand. Sauron’s form crumbled; his forced scattered. The elf Lord, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), implored Isildur to throw the Ring back into the fires of Mount Doom, where it was forged. But Isildur became enthralled by the Ring’s power and decided instead to keep it.

Isildur soon discovered that wearing the Ring made him invisible. But he lost this power when the Ring slipped from hid finger: Roving orcs spotted him and attacked. Isildur was killed. The Ring fell to the bottom of the River Anduin, where it would remain for thousands of years until found by. …

Gollum
Like others who had pssessed the Ring before him, Gollum became enthralled by its enchanting powers. Gollum was once a hobbit-like creature himself, but the corrupting influence of the Ring warped hid mind and deformed hid body. He ultimately vanished into the Goblin tunnels of the Misty Mountains, where Bilbo Baggins found him and found the Ring.

Little did he know that the fate of Middle-earth would now rest in hid hands.

After Bilbo's birthday party, Gandalf tells Frodo that the Dark Lord Sauron knows thata hobbit is in possession of the Ring. Sauron is rebuilding his fortress, Barad-dur, and amassing a new army of orcs in preparation for an all-out war to reclaim the Ring and conquer all the races of Middle-earth. Gandalf informs Frodo that the Ring corrupts and eventually dooms its wearer - it must be cast back into the fires of Mount Doom, where it was originally forged.

Accompanied by his loyal friends Sam (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), and Pippin (Billy Boyd), Frodo travels to Rivendell, to consult with Elrond regarding the fate of the Ring. En route, they are attacked by the fearsome "Black Riders" (also known as Ring Wraiths), Sauron's indestructible and relentless minions. Frodo's appreciation for the powers of the Ring and the gravity of their quest grows. Stopping at The Inn of the Prancing Pony in Bree to rendezvous with Gandalf, Frodo succumbs to temptation and tries on the Ring. Doing so makes him instantly invisible, but also betrays his location to Sauron. Black Riders descend upon them, but the hobbits are whisked to safety by . . .

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen)
The mysterious Aragorn tells Frodo that the hobbits are in terrible danger. They can no longer wait for Gandalf. Having no other choice, they follow Aragorn into the wild. While crossing the deadly marshlands, Ring Wraiths once again descend upon them. Aragorn and the hobbits bravely defend themselves and drive away the wraiths, but Frodo is wounded. The hobbits must hurry to Rivendell. If Frodo is not healed quickly, he will face a fate worse than death: He will become a Ring Wraith himself. Their journey is hastened by . . .

Arwen (Liv Tyler)
She is elf royalty and Aragorn's unrequited love. With her superior horsemanship, Arwen barely outruns the Ring Wraiths in a dangerous, mad dash to get Frodo to safety. In Rivendell, the immortal elf lord, Elrond, removes a shard of the wraith dagger from Frodo before it can make its way to his heart. When Frodo awakens, he is distressed to find the Ring still in his possession, on a chain around his neck. Why is he not yet free of it?

Gandalf arrives in Rivendell
Gandalf explains why he failed to meet the hobbits in Bree: He was betrayed by Saruman the White and taken captive. Conjuring evil magic and razing sacred trees to fuel furnaces that will hatch a new race, Saruman is breeding his own army beneath Orthanc tower, the formidable . . .

Uruk-Hai
The Uruks are stronger and taller than orcs, more cunning and loyal. Saruman plans to dispatch this private army to find the Ring so that he can replace Sauron as "The Lord of the Rings." To complicate matters, Gollum has escaped from Mordor (or been released) and he also seeks the Ring.

The Council of Elrond
Elrond knows well the evil and danger of the Ring. He recalls watching Isildur come under its spell thousands of years ago. While Elrond insists that the Ring be cast back into the fires of Mount Doom, there is dissention among the free peoples of Middle-earth attending the Council. In particular, there is . . .

Boromir (Sean Bean)
A brave human warrior of Gondor, Boromir believes the power of the Ring can be used as a weapon to thwart Sauron's evil-doing. Aragorn opposes Boromir's plan, arguing that the Ring is purely evil and can serve no good purpose. The obvious tension between Aragorn and Boromir stems from Aragorn's rightful claim to Gondor's throne. Raised by the elves, Aragorn has always resisted his destiny as the future King of Men for fear that he might one day fail his kingdom in the same manner as his ancestor Isildur or the Ring Wraiths (once also great kings of men).

The Council of Elrond is divided on how exactly to deal with the Ring. Frodo bravely takes the initiative: "I will take the Ring to Mordor, though I do not know the way." Stunned by Frodo's bravery and selflessness, Boromir and Aragorn put their differences aside and vow to accompany and defend him on his journey. Likewise Gandalf, Legolas the elf (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli the dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) swear their loyalty to Frodo. With the hobbits Sam, Merry, and Pippin, that brings the number in their party to nine. Elrond is pleased. Nine travelers to oppose the nine Ring Wraiths that will no doubt besiege them at every turn as they make their way to Mordor. Frodo's party is dubbed . . .

The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship sets out from Rivendell on their trek to Mount Doom. Elrond makes it clear that only Frodo, "the Ring Bearer," carries the full burden of the mission to destroy the Ring. The others accompany him by their own choice.

What follows is the Fellowship's harrowing journey to Mordor: The forces of darkness besiege them at every turn. Saruman the White tracks their progress with his Seeing Stone and employs potent magic to impede the Fellowship with blinding snow and avalanches as they cross the dizzying mountain Pass of Caradhras and go into the dark and labyrinthine Mines of Moria. There, the Watcher (an octopus-like colossus) seals the doors of the mine. Trapped inside, the Fellowship is pursued by Gollum and attacked by goblins. Frodo is nearly killed by a giant cave troll, but his friends save him.

After fleeing the goblins, dodging arrows, and leaping across the collapsing stone stairs of Khazad-Dum, the Fellowship is cornered by the Balrog, a forty-foot-tall winged demon whose skin crackles with fire and smoke. Gandalf heroically holds the monster at bay long enough for the Fellowship to escape, using the last of his strength to collapse the bridge from beneath the Balrog's feet, but perishes when the demon pulls Gandalf down with it. The Fellowship, grief-stricken over Gandalf's death, arrives battered and broken at Lothlorien, an elven city in the trees. There, they are attended to by . . .

Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett)
Possessor of great magic and the power to see the future, Galadriel is effectively queen of all elves. She reassures Frodo, who is despairing and on the verge of abandoning the quest to destroy the Ring. He is overwhelmed with grief, and by the increasing burden of the Ring itself. Galadriel shows Frodo visions of what may happen if he does not finish the quest. She tells him that even the smallest person can change the course of the future. Frodo takes her encouragement to heart.

Refreshed and re-armed by the elves, the Fellowship leaves Lothlorien. Almost immediately the Uruk-Hai descend upon the weary travelers. With every league they travel, Frodo can see the Ring's corrupting influence affecting his companions, tempting them-especially Boromir. It all culminates at . . .

Amon-Hen
It is a mountainous region just across the water from Mordor's western-most edge. Boromir finds Frodo alone in the woods and pleads for the Ring. Frodo realizes that Boromir's judgment has been impaired by his lust for the Ring, and he resolves himself to destroy it at Mount Doom. Boromir forcefully tries to take the Ring from Frodo, but he is thwarted when fast-thinking Frodo puts it on his finger and vanishes. While invisible, Frodo learns more about the Ring's special powers; he sees with telescopic clarity all the forces of Sauron arrayed throughout Middle-earth, preparing for war and domination. He sees Sauron's giant eye, sweeping like a searchlight in all directions . . . seeking the Ring.

Frodo's deeper understanding of the powers of Sauron and the Ring lead him to mistrust even his companions. Aragorn reaffirms his commitment to Frodo: "I swore to protect you." "Can you protect me from yourself?" Frodo asks. Aragorn sees that Frodo is right, that the Ring inevitably corrupts all who are near it. Remarkably, only Frodo seems to be able to resist its corruptive influence. Frodo realizes that he must continue the journey to Mordor alone. Frodo's bravery once again astounds Aragorn. He considers his own destiny. Is he as brave as this young hobbit?

With the Fellowship seemingly on the verge of collapse, Saruman the White makes his final move. His Uruks ambush the scattered members of the Fellowship. Boromir, now free from the Ring's grip, hears the cries of Merry and Pippin and rushes to help them. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, battling Uruks themselves, fight madly to join Boromir, who is hugely outnumbered. Meanwhile, Frodo, intent on going the rest of the way to Mordor alone, slips away by boat.

By the time Aragorn reaches Boromir, he sees that his friend is mortally wounded. Merry and Pippin have been captured by the fleeing Uruks (believing them to be the Ring Bearers). As he ies dying, Boromir laments humanity's imminent fall. Without a king, and with the Ring so nearly in Sauron's grasp, surely there is no hope . . .

Aragorn can no longer deny his own destiny. Inspired by the courage of Frodo and Boromir, Aragorn vows to protect the people of Middle-earth-starting first with Merry and Pippin. They must be rescued.

Meanwhile, Sam tries to rejoin Frodo, but Frodo is committed to going alone. As Frodo paddles away from shore, Sam stubbornly jumps into the river in pursuit - even though he cannot swim. Frodo pulls his spluttering best friend from the river. "I am glad you are with me," Frodo says. "I hope the others find a safer road."

Thus begins the LoRd Of The Rings Trilogy . . .
Frodo and Sam entering Mordor, shadowed by Gollum (and later teamed with him), hunted by the Ring Wraiths (who have been reconstituted and now ride winged steeds known as fell beasts), trying to evade the eye of Sauron in his own land, resisting the Ring's growing influence as each step brings Frodo closer to Mount Doom.

Merry and Pippin kidnapped by the Uruk-Hai, but soon to be liberated by the most unlikely of saviors: a living, walking tree called Treebeard.

Saruman the White, enraged that the Ring has eluded his grasp, sending forth his entire army of Uruk-Hai to crush the humans at the fortress of Helm's Deep ~ where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli rally the troops.

Arwen refusing to depart Middle-earth with the rest of the elves, choosing instead to follow Aragorn ~ a choice that will cost her her immortality, and perhaps her life.

Courtesy New Line Cinema

Published December 20, 2001

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