In my opinion, Lord of the Rings is the best trilogy in existence in every possible aspect (except cultural impact which, of course, the original Star Wars trilogy will always have). It is excessively difficult for me to choose which movie of the three I like the most, but a strong argument can be made for The Fellowship of the Ring.
And because there has not been one 2016 theatrical release that has yet to hit over an 8 out of 10, I figured it would be worth talking about a movie that gets practically everything right.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a movie that has fantastic acting, great cinematography, breathtaking visuals, solid character development, an exceptional soundtrack, and is all around an absolute masterpiece of a film.
(If you somehow have not seen these movies, I’m going to spoil parts of it. There’s your warning.)
This movie, along with its successors, manages to juggle three different leading protagonists exceptionally well. Of course, Frodo is considered the lead in the entire movie, but The Lord of the Rings focuses so much on not just him, but on Aragorn and Gandalf as well.
Elijah Wood as Frodo is absolutely brilliant. His acting throughout the movie is great, but Wood excels in this role primarily because of his facial expressions. There is so much powerful emotion that comes out of Elijah Wood’s eyes, brows, and mouth.
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn was yet another great choice for his role, and his development is arguably more interesting than Frodo’s. As a side note, there was actually a possibility that Mortensen would not have played the most iconic role of his career; originally, the role was offered to the likes of people like Daniel Day-Lewis and Nicholas Cage (yes, Nicholas Cage…) before finally given to actor Stuart Townsend who played the role only a few days before Peter Jackson sent him home and replaced him with Viggo Mortensen.
As for Sir Ian McKellen, he is practically absorbed into Gandalf. He is so iconic and cool, and it is the arguably the most memorable part of the entire LOTR series.
These three characters together represent one common theme in Fellowship: the virtue of denying power. All three characters are in various levels of power. Gandalf is a powerful wizard, Frodo is given a powerful ring, and Aragorn is born into a line of kings. However, all three of them deny this power given to them.
Gandalf refuses the ring and does not join Sauron at the demand of Saruman.
Frodo is so resistant to The Ring’s power that he willingly tries to give the ring to others he deems more capable than him.
And while Aragorn also is given the chance to refuse The Ring, his true story is about his reluctance to accept the powerful role of king of Gondor because he believes he is not strong enough to resist the mistakes of his forefathers. This reluctance is so strong that when Gandalf commands Aragorn to lead the Fellowship out of Moria, his first instinct causes him to run past Gandalf and vainly fight the Balrog rather than to accept the mantle of leadership.
By contrast, Saruman and Boromir are the opposites of Gandalf, Aragorn and Frodo. Both characters desire power they feel that they deserve. Saruman turns to evil, and Boromir is swallowed by madness, both by their lust for power. The tragedy of Boromir is that his madness comes from a desire to do good and to save people, yet he cannot see the futility of using The Ring to his own means.
Speaking of Boromir, I think Sean Bean is massively overlooked in his role as Boromir. In my opinion, his character arc is the most interesting of all of the characters in “Fellowship”, and I think his final redemption is one of the most powerful parts of the entire movie. It is quite a shame that out of all of his greatness in this role, he will probably be most remembered as an internet meme.
Every single character is given an acceptable amount of development. All nine members of the fellowship are all fantastic.
Yes, even Legolas is fantastic. I have heard this complaint from time to time about how Legolas is such a blank slate character and that there’s nothing interesting about him. While I can understand these complaints, I ultimately disagree. Yes, Legolas has less defining traits about him than any other person in the fellowship, but being a stoic soldier is not an immediate fail as a character. If he was created as the lead character in this story, then this would be a problem, but as a supporting character? I think he is awesome. If, in real life, there was no such thing as a person whose defining traits were constant stoicism and calm temperament, then I would be more keen to these criticisms. But just because it is bad to make a lead character with few defining traits does not mean that it is a detractor for a supporting character to be this way so long as he works well with all other characters.
The soundtrack for this movie is epic. I have seen this movie nearly ten times, and I still get chills during parts of the soundtrack. It is so iconic and memorable and it fits with the tone of not just the movie, but of Middle Earth as well.
And the visuals, holy crap the visuals. The great thing about the Lord of the Rings movies is that they were able to use real sets occasionally. Considering Rivendell and the Mines of Moria are not real places, obviously you need some CGI, but whenever a real set could be used, it was. This added a massive level of realism to this world.
On top of all of this, I am still absolutely baffled at how they handled the height differences. John Rhys-Davies, the actor who plays Gimli the dwarf, is the tallest actor of all the fellowship, and all four actors who play hobbits are obviously not that short. Yet they were able to find a way to make these height issues completely disappear.
What really ties all of these elements together is the close following that Peter Jackson does with the lore of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The movie feels so rich and purposeful because of this. This is one of the many problems that I have with The Hobbit movies; Jackson took so many liberties in those movies and they felt a whole lot less genuine than LOTR. Of course, every Tolkien reader has told me that the LOTR movies take quite a few liberties themselves, but the fact that there is a stark difference between just how authentic LOTR feels when compared to The Hobbit movies, I have to believe that the liberties were much more purposeful.
There are so many themes to talk about this movie aside from resisting corrupting power. One could talk forever about the religious metaphors of The Ring, about the importance of bravery and valor, but one of my favorite themes is, of course, the importance of brotherhood.
The strong camaraderie between Frodo and Sam highlight this theme the strongest in Fellowship of the Ring. Sam’s brave loyalty to Frodo also creates some of the most touching scenes in this movie as well. But the examples also extend to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli; and even Aragorn and Boromir at the very end.
I think, especially in this day and age, most men no longer value strong friendships with other men anymore. I think it is an absolute necessity for men to have camaraderie with each other as having friendships with strong, loyal, virtuous men is one of the best personal and societal goods.
The biggest complaint that I hear about this movie (and of LOTR in general) is that the movies are too long and are sometimes slow. However, I cannot really relate to these people. I can understand hating a slow movie that does nothing with its downtimes, but the Lord of the Rings movies does something with every part of its movie. Every single part of this movie informs or reaffirms what is already established, and if this movie sacrificed those scenes so they could focus on more action and violence, then this would undoubtedly be a worse movie.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the ring is exceptional in its meticulous attention to detail and its execution of events. It is a perfect establishing movie to an unforgettable trilogy. Personally, I think the extended edition is a better movie to watch, but if someone just wanted to watch the original cut of the movie, all the scenes it leaves out do not tamper with the quality of the movie. It feels weird for me to recommend a movie that I know pretty much everybody has seen… if you have not seen The Fellowship of the Ring, what in the world is wrong with you? (Also, as a suggestion, if you have never seen the LOTR trilogy, and someone suggests that you should watch all three movies in one day, do not listen to this person. I have attempted to watch all 3 movies in one day after seeing them multiple times, and it is a tiring endeavor. Imagine how bad it would be if you never saw the movies before and THEN tried to tackle them all at once.)
And of course, I’m giving this movie a 10 out of 10.