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LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

SYNOPSIS:
In this first part of the trilogy, the shy young Hobbit, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) inherits a ring – a special ring, the One Ring, an instrument of great power. It would enable Sauron, the dark Lord of Mordor to rule Middle-earth and enslave its people. It’s up to Frodo, and a loyal Fellowship including hobbits, a wizard, a dwarf, an elf and men, to return the ring to the Crack of Doom where it was forged, and there destroy it forever. But the journey is frought with great dangers and takes them through the territory held by the dark Lord, who is amassing his army of orcs, the fearsome stormtroopers. And Frodo Baggins also has to contend with the internal dissent that ferments as the corrupting influence of the ring spreads to his friends. But the stakes are high: the course of the future is entwined in the fate of the Fellowship.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is a scene in The Fellowship of The Ring where Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) tells the little Hobbit, Frodo (Elijah Wood), that even a small person can change the course of history. It is one of the key themes of the film; it also made me think of Peter Jackson changing cinematic history with what is not merely a great adaptation of a work of literature, but a real creative elaboration of it in a way that only moving pictures and music and soundscapes can elaborate on words. Of course, Peter Jackson is not working alone, and the enormous team of New Zealanders who slaved for years to create Middle-earth and bring us this filmic wonder have earned their own place in history. Jackson and his co-writers have already clocked up over seven years, his WETA workshop five, and there is still two years work ahead to finish post production on the next two installments. As a feat of sheer endurance and courage, The Fellowship of the Ring is astonishing. As an achievement in filmmaking it’s triumphant. The themes of honour and nobility of spirit, of decency and loyalty are carried through the extended adventures in which we are emphatically and graphically reminded of the enormous power of evil, how it takes many forms and can never be totally destroyed. For humanity to prevail in the face of its darker nature, good must prevail … not just once, but again and again. These primal concerns – concerns that exercised humans well before organised religion - are the drivers of the film. Tolkien’s work has been described as a fantasy recreating a time before written history. I prefer to see it as a time before religions invaded the earth. (Besides, there are books that are ancient even by the time the Wizard Gandalf refers to them, and they already record Middle-earth history.) But the readings of the film are individual; you may find it an allegory of the Jesus story, or of the war against Nazism, or of nothing more than the battle between good guys and bad guys (or bad ghouls), in a fantastic setting. Tolkien and Jackson’s team have provided the canvas for our private imaginings. But the notion of power and its uses and misuses is its moral backbone. To create such a vast canvas, though, even in today’s technology-enabled world, is exceptional. And it relies as much on the cast as on the production design, the digital wizardry, the music and the special work of Richard Taylor’s passionate team who forged (literally) much of the physical items we see. The cast, without exception, lunges us into the reality of Middle-earth, not just with their physicality but their spirit. Each is an accessible and rounded character, even those who play evil beings hell-bent on the destruction of elves, humans, hobbits and all. The greatest achievement of the film is that it so ‘compleat’ to use the older English; every element fuses with the others seamlessly, turning the screen into a giant window through which we are watching a certain pre-history take place in front of our eyes, action which has impact on us today. We are moved by it, scared by it, awed by it, enchanted by it - and sometimes amused by it. This whole-ness of the film, how it impacts on us in every sense, is its mark of greatness. While a giant of a movie, it doesn’t overwhelm us; while it tackles eternal truths, it doesn’t dismiss the smallest details – indeed, it revels in them, uses them as its building blocks with the same dynamic thrust that is applied to the extensive scenes of battle and jaw-droppingly dramatic scenic sequences in settings that range from foreboding to lyrical. The original illustrator, Alan Lee, provided the inspirational fire for the design, and the final result was driven by Peter Jackson’s singular wish to make a film of Tolkien’s work (over three films) which he – himself a big fan – would want to see and love. As a result, he’s made a masterpiece. Or maybe three.

Review by Louise Keller:
The ultimate fantasy, The Fellowship of the Ring is a spectacle with the emotional charge of a thunderbolt on a canvas brushed with master strokes. With authority and disarming creative propensity, Peter Jackson is the artist, the conductor, the creator of illusions borne from J.R.R. Tolkien's epic. The result is a marvellous journey in the magical land of Middle-Earth, where gentle hobbits, noble elves, powerful wizards and humans meld with trolls, leaf-covered ents, misshapen orcs, black-cloaked ringwraiths and Uruk-Hai. The eternal struggle between good and evil teeters on the see saw of temptation; power is an aphrodisiac that is irresistible to many. Music is a powerful tool, and the majesty of horns complements New Zealand's rugged vistas while choral passages and the ethereal charms of Enya sprinkle magic into the world of the elves and hobbits. The extraordinary effects created by computers, compositors, animators, modelers, motion editors, digital paint artists and software engineers are seamlessly integrated, always stimulating and satisfying our imaginations, never deterring or taking away from the film's reality. A magnificent cast places its definitive stamp on each character; it is almost impossible to wish or imagine any different result. Elijah Wood, sincerity and honesty shining from his clear saucer eyes; Ian McKellen, commanding; Cate Blanchett, breathtaking; Liv Tyler, lovely. I especially enjoyed Viggo Mortensen's Strider, and for me the film's most moving moment occurs during his final exchange with Sean Bean's Boromir, in which the latter regains his honour by admitting his human failing. Cinematically inspiring, the costume, production design, prosthetic body parts and make up are extraordinary in their detail, complete in every way. A story about honour, loyalty and friendship, The Fellowship of the Ring is a dazzling adrenalin fantasy rush. Taking us on a magic carpet ride and fulfilling every dream of our imagination, it's an inspiring, stimulating, thrilling, terrifying, exciting and wondrous adventure that is totally unforgettable.

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LORD OF THE RINGS INDEX

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

THE RED CARPET INTERVIEWS
Australasian Premiere, Wellington, NZ

Read Andrew L. Urban's interview with
PETER JACKSON

CATE BLANCHETT interview by Jenny Cooney

TRAILER

FEATURE

FELLOW-TALK

SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

LORD OF THE RINGS:
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (M)
(NZ/US)

CAST: Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson

PRODUCER: Barrie M. Osborne, Tim Sanders,

SCRIPT: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens (novel by J.R.R. Tolkien)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Lesnie ACS

EDITOR: John Gilbert

MUSIC: Howard Shore

CREATURE/MINIATURE/ARMOUR: Richard Taylor

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Grant Major

RUNNING TIME: 180 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2001







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