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March 15, 2002
'One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all. And in the darkness bind them.'
That's how the spell of the dreaded ring goes.
Peter Jackson's extravagant, uncompromising revision of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring is the first instalment to J R R Tolkien's masterpiece trilogy.
Unlike most film adaptations that seldom gratify, LOTR lives up to expectation.
The Lord Of The Rings and The Adventures Of Harry Potter (to which it was previously compared) are not in the same league --- in magnitude or execution. Hence even mentioning them in the same breath is preposterous. The latter is strictly kiddy fare, whereas LOTR demands a mature audience.
The film takes you into the world of short, hairy, pleasant hobbits, greedy dwarves, skilled elves, menacing trolls, gruesome orcs and magical wizards.
In the timeless battle between good and evil, the dark Lord Sauron loses his precious ring. Neither body nor soul, Sauron has become a lidless eye and, along with his dark horsemen, is hunting for the ring.
The ring, meanwhile, after making its way from the odd creature Gollum, has found an unlikely bearer in a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). (The adventures of Bilbo Baggins take shape in The Hobbit, which is a prologue to the trilogy). An old friend and mentor to Baggins, the charismatic wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) too is intimidated at the prospect of coming into contact with the spell-bound ring.
Bilbo is throwing a long expected party in the Shire on turning 111 years old, after which he disappears mysteriously to seek another adventure. The ring is passed on to his beloved nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood).
However, 'the ring wants to be found' by its true owner and the dark riders are already in its pursuit. To defeat Sauron from his purpose and save all life forms from inevitable destruction, Frodo must destroy the ring in the Cracks of Mordor, where it was first created.
Since the ring can no longer stay in the Shire, Frodo, along with his loyal band of friends Sam (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) and the clever Gandalf summon the valiant Elrond (Hugo Weaving). Under his council they form a fellowship that finds new members in the scruffy dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), brave warriors Aragon and Boromir (Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean) and elf archer Legolas (Orlando Blooming).
The rest of the film depicts the heroic party of nine, traversing the unruly mines of Moria and combatting continuously with the evil orcs and trolls.
Though the drama and adventure in the film consistently escalates, it takes a moment to garner empathy whenever the fellowship loses its cherished companion. Also, it successfully creates a hypnotic image of the ring, which not only lures the evil but also manages to extract the hidden greed out of the supposed do-gooders.
Hats off to director Peter Jackson for taking the risk of shooting all the three parts simultaneously. Considering that this film does not have an ending, has countless characters and requires tedious explanation for those who haven't read the epic, Jackson comes out a winner.
To his credit, one doesn't feel cheated of any character or episode from Tolkien's original version. No wonder LOTR has been nominated in 13 categories at the soon to be held Academy awards. Technically grand and reminiscent of Star War films, LOTR leaves a stamp of the inconceivable in the viewers mind.
The special effects have been smoothly and authentically staged. As per the story, there are a number of backdrop changes: from the Shire, to Elf land, to Saruman's (Gandalf's superior who betrays him) tower to Lothlorien Palace. Trust Jackson and his expert team to recreate Tolkien's saga just the way he envisioned it. The Oscar-nominated soundtrack by Howard Shore is in sync with the changing mood of the film.
Unfortunately, the women in the film don't have much to do except look like surreal enchantresses. The angelic Arwen (Liv Tyler) plays Aragon's love interest, while Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) is the clairvoyant queen of Lothlorien.
Ian McKellen (Gods And Monsters, X-Men) is perfectly cast as Gandalf. With his towering presence, he brilliantly portrays the mystical yet warm, crafty yet instinctive wizard. Wide-eyed Elijah Wood (The Good Son, Deep Impact), with his immaculate disposition is just right as the righteous and sensitive Frodo.
A fantasy in the truest sense of the word, one savours every bit of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.
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