Directed by Peter Jackson
(2001, New Line Cinema)
Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin,
Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, and John Rhys-Davies
The bearer of the One Ring and his companions battle temptation and
mortal enemies as they journey to far lands in order to destroy it in
the forge where it was made.
February 21st, 2016 on blu-ray, for the 15th time
I've been looking forward to this for a long time. My
son and I have been reading the Lord of the Rings, and he just finished
The Fellowship of the
Ring (ahead of me, as he got impatient!). As usual, I'm amazed by it
all, especially the cinematography. And as for my son, aside from
pointing out the inconsistencies with the book, he enjoyed it, too. Of
course, after having seen the three Hobbit movies, these ones are what
he expects from normal fantasy direction. Hmph.
September 6th, 2015 on blu-ray, for the 14th time
I can't believe it's been more than four years since
I last watched this movie -I'm getting slack! As usual, the movie really
inspired me. The music is really moving, even after listening to the
Hobbit soundtracks, which incorporate many of these themes. I think I
appreciate Ian Holm even more, having seen him at the beginning of An
Unexpected Journey. But I now wonder at the director's choice at aging
him so much at Rivendell. Gollum, who has been without the ring for 80
years, doesn't age at all.
July 2nd to 3rd,
2011 on blu-ray, for the 13th time
These are almost back-to-back viewings, except that
this is the movie I've been waiting for -the extended edition on
blu-ray! Now, somehow, I've ended up with four versions of the movie. My
only disappointment is that this version has trailers when it is first
inserted, while the DVD versions do not -it's only the movie, nothing
more. That I have to zip through these trailers is annoying.
But the movie itself seems even more beautiful than the
theatrical version. How that's possible, I'm not sure, but the colors
and detail, especially in close-up shots, or in very green scenes like
Rivendel or Lorien. And the extended edition adds so much more to the
film, as I've mentioned before -simply fantastic!
January 6th to 7th,
2011 on blu-ray, for the 12th time
I was eager to watch this movie on blu-ray, and it
didn't disappoint. However, I was disheartened to find out only the
theatrical edition was included on the disc, and I will have to buy the
extended edition yet again -at a later date, no less!
The movie, once I settled in and accepted that it was the
shorter version, was absolutely stellar. And the blu-ray edition is even
more beautiful and detailed than I've ever seen it (at least at home). I
noticed it in the very first scene, when the map of Middle-Earth
appeared on the screen. It showed so much detail and texture that I was
mesmerized. Similarly with anything that was green, from the Shire, to
Rivendel and Lothlorien, everything was so vibrant and colorful, and
seemed to show more depth than I remember seeing previously. Truly worth
seeing in high definition.
June 15th to 16th,
2010 on DVD, for the 11th time
As I was going away on a long trip, I bought the
theatrical version of this trilogy so I could watch each movie over the
course of one night, instead of the two it always takes for the extended
editions. It wasn't to be, however, as I always got home from my field
work late at night. The one night I got back to the hotel reasonably
early, I only managed to watch two thirds of it before I got so sleepy I
had to turn it off. But the theatrical version is still very well done.
The extra scenes on the extended edition aren't really necessary to
enjoy it, but they do add some subtleties.
It was as heartwarming as ever to see the group set
off and bond. Gimli's posturing before any elf is a nice counterpoint to
the deep friendship he finds with Legolas by the middle of the next
movie. Yet again, a truly enjoyable watch.
December 18th to 19th,
2008 on DVD, for the 10th time
I can't believe I've watched this movie ten times! In
retrospect, this is the calmest of the movies, with only one real battle
scene, not including the short one from the opening scene. Even after
all these viewings, the movie is a pure joy to watch.
November 28th to 29th,
2007 on DVD, for the 9th time
I am consistently struck with how amazing Ian
McKellen is as Gandalf in this movie. He is a much lesser character in
the subsequent movies, as he is a full battle commander there. Here, he
struggles to catch up to the knowledge that others have, and he gets to
show incredible emotion, in all aspects of the film. His sacrifice in Moria was the perfect manipulation of the character, because by that
time, we loved him so much. McKellen should have won an Oscar for this
September 28th to
29th, 2006 on DVD, for the 8th time
This movie has moved into the realm of "comfort
movie". Like Star Wars, I like to pull it out just to see it again, and
to get the sense of awe that it brings to me. I listen to the soundtrack
CDs all the time, but they just make me want to see the gorgeous
This is the first time I have watched the movie since
reading the novel, and it still holds up very well. The pacing is
perfect, as I can't see sitting through the trip to Crickhollow, or the
foreverness of Tom Bombadil. As I mentioned back the first time I saw
the movie (way below), I like the idea of presenting everything
chronologically, as much as possible. In the book, giving so many
flashbacks, mostly in the form of characters telling other characters
stories, worked really well. The movie required something more direct,
and it worked marvelously.
November 21st, 2004 on
DVD, for the 7th time
How many times can I keep saying the same thing?
After seeing The Return of the King, I wonder how many of the plot
threads started in the extended edition of this movie will be picked up.
I would hope to see the Sackville-Baggins's at some point, though I
can't see how they would put that in the movie. Maybe we'll get to see
the three Elvish rings together, between Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel.
Regardless, I can't wait for the extended cut of the third movie!
November 16th, 2003 on
DVD, for the 6th time
It's been one year since watching this extended
version of the movie for the first time. I can't believe I've watched it
four times in that year! How does it hold up? Amazingly well, of course.
That is expected. I can understand how people might not get into it,
though, for it is very long for somebody who is not obsessed with these
I don't have anything new to say about the movie,
except that I simply wanted a primer for the extended version of
The Two Towers this week. I really can't
wait! These extended cuts are truly epics. I still love Arwen's green
traveling suit! It makes her look so much more beautiful than in later
scenes. Concerning Hobbits is still a great and funny scene, and still
seems new to me, somehow.
I don't know if I would go to a "Trilogy Tuesday",
however, and see the extended cuts of the first two movies in the same
day as the opening of the Return of the King. I can see them in the
comfort of my home, with my own bathroom and snack breaks. Still, the
best part about seeing it in the theatre is watching it with other
people who are as obsessed with the movie as I am (or more, since I
won't do it...). I congratulate the people who are going, though. Me,
I'll watch the first two at home, and go see the third one opening week.
See ya there!
January 4th, 2003 on
DVD, for the 5th time
I've never done this before. Watching the same movie
three times in two months is something I never did even for
Star Wars! However, I am talking
about watching the audio commentary all the way through, with barely a
break, for the entire extended DVD cut of the film!
The commentary was just so interesting, and the director
and co-writers such good speakers, that I was mesmerized. It didn't hurt
that I was watching the best movie ever made, once again. It was my
intention to watch only a couple of chapters of the commentary, then go
on to other things, but they held me through it, pointing out specific
instances of scale issues, difficult shots, and most importantly, where
the movie went different from the book and why. They also pointed out
places where critics thought they saw mistakes, like the car in the
Shire or stickers on the apples, which they couldn't find, and neither
could I. However, the bandage on Saruman's hand (after he had slammed it
in a door) was clearly visible in the freeze frame when he is on top of
Orthanc directing the storm towards the mountains! It was all extremely
It took me about three weeks to watch all of the
supplementary materials included in this set, after watching the film
the last time. There is just so much material. I never liked still
photos on the DVD, and this is no different. I think there are a
thousand photos here, and I didn't even thumb through them, for the most
Most of the Appendices were simply interviews,
otherwise known as talking heads. I wish we could have seen more
behind-the-scenes stuff. The first disc is of course mostly
pre-visualization, so that is more difficult to show. Which makes it
even more important, I think. My favorite parts of this appendix were of
Allan Lee and John Howe joining the crew, sitting in Hobbiton and
sketching. It was just beautiful! The rest is simply interviews with
cast and crew sitting in a static environment, which got a little dull
if what they were saying wasn't as interesting, or if they weren't such
good speakers. At least the backgrounds kept slowly shifting, with
Elvish runes or designs that floated behind them, making me wonder if
all the interviews were filmed against bluescreen.
The second disc is more hands-on. There are still a
lot of talking heads, but at least we get some demonstrations of
techniques that they used, and a little bit of behind-the-scenes
material, like when Sean Astin cut his foot running into the water after
Frodo at the end. Watching them work through the make-up was
fascinating, especially their feet. Seeing some of their off-screen gags
was also fun, as when the Hobbits pretend to talk behind each others'
The most interesting featurette was probably about
scale, how they used so many techniques to illustrate how the different
sized peoples interacted. I also loved the sections on music, as it was
so haunting and unexpected to see such a young boy and choir perform
some of the best numbers.
On a final note, I had been wondering, once I
discovered that Shelob was relegated to Return of the King, instead of
The Two Towers, how the director was going
to put everything in that last section. I was disappointed to learn,
from his commentary for the Mirror of Galadriel, that the Scouring of
the Shire was not filmed at all. I am sure that was the right decision,
as it takes away from the Ring-quest, but it still would have been
wonderful to see. Ah, well. Some things have to go, especially where it
affects the pacing of the film. The purpose of the movie was to destroy
the Ring, and that is probably how it will end (though hopefully we will
see the departure at the Grey Havens).
2002 on DVD, for the 4th time
I can't believe I've watched this DVD twice in a
week! But yes, it's that good! I don't know what more I can say. I still
haven't watched the special features, so there is not much in the way of
Since I've gushed at how good the movie is, below,
I suppose I could mention the two things that I thought could have been
done better in this movie. Initially (see below), I had two main
complaints, both of which I am coming to terms with, as I really have no
choice! I didn't think Aragorn was properly cast, as he looks even less
regal than Boromir, who I can see as coming from a royal lineage. Still,
maybe that's the point, and by The Return of the King, he will have a
The second item concerned Gandalf's fall from the Bridge. It looked more
like a standard TV ploy, where the main character turns away, relieved
to see his enemy fall into the pit, and then is caught unawares. It
doesn't seem like Gandalf to me, but it is less annoying than the first
time I saw the movie.
This time around, I noticed how fake the scene with Frodo and Aragorn on
the stairway in Moria looked. The editing could have been much, much
better there. In that same scene comes my second complaint: the
artificial musical swelling, the manipulation of our emotions by the
triumphant music, as if we didn't know they were going to make it.
Still, these are very minor complaints, and pale in comparison to the
good stuff that we are given all throughout the movie, especially in the
extended version. I loved all the extra hobbit moments, from the new
scenes in the shire, Sam's shy but loving looks at Rosie at the
beginning ("she knows an idiot when she sees one" ... "she does?"), and
their reactions to the gifts at Lorien (like Sam's "what about one of
those nice shiny daggers?" to an amused Galadriel), among so many
November 12 to 13th,
2002 on DVD, for the 3rd time
Can this movie get any better? Every time I think it
can't, I am proven wrong. Now, for the second time on DVD, the movie had
such a terrific effect on me. This is especially true since I resisted
buying (or even renting) the original theatrical release three months
ago. But it was worth it, so worth it...
I am totally immersed in Tolkien's world at the moment. Just having
finished the Silmarillion audio book, and reading
The Lays of Beleriand,
book 3 in The History of Middle-Earth, I am in much the same situation
as I was in a year ago, when the movie first came out.
I really need a bigger TV! While everything was beautiful on screen, the
widescreen version really made me sit closer to catch it all. I would
never do without the widescreen, though, as it captured some really neat
visuals that would have disappeared in any other version, like the Ring
of Isengard, for example, and the entire Fellowship at once.
The movie had the same magic that it had the first two times. The
characters were terrifically depicted, the scenery was just as it should
be, for good or evil, and the emotions run very high. And now there are
so many things that get fleshed out, that it really makes for an epic
story. Nothing is dragged out, but there are many scenes that make slow
and deliberate progress, making it feel like we are actually journeying
The passing of the elves was haunting, as we see them before we even get
to see Arwen, shining in light. The extended scenes in Lorien and
Rivendell, or seeing Gollum in Moria and hiding on the Anduin, were
terrifically placed, and added so much mood to a story filled with mood!
One scene in particular fleshed out Aragorn in a way that I didn't
expect. In the marshes before Weathertop, he sings of Beren and Luthien,
and he tells Frodo that Luthien died. It is consistent with his
fatalistic attitude up to the Council of Elrond. Sure Luthien died of
grief with Beren was killed, but she managed to win over Mandos, god of
death, with her beauty and tragedy, to allow them both to return to the
world of the living, and it was her grandson that freed the world of
Morgoth. She died again, eventually, but for the most part, I think it
was a happy second life.
We even get more fleshing out of Boromir, a character that I absolutely
loved! I didn't think he could be fleshed out any more from what we were
originally given, but he really becomes even more of a hero trying to
save Merry and Pippin from the orcs. His death scene is still the second
most powerful moment in the whole film, and a grand justice to the
The most powerful moment in the film comes in an unexpected place, a
calm and quiet time. It is the loyalty that Sam shows Frodo at the very
end, refusing to let his friend abandon him, knowing that he might have
to walk across the water to get to him. As mentioned below, the loyalty
shown by Merry and Pippin is also amazing. I loved the look on Merry's
face when he realizes that Frodo is leaving them. The smart one in the
group, he is.
There is so much more detail, and it is not worth describing it all,
because it has to be seen. There is joy, like the new scene in the Green
Dragon pub, which was fun, there is menace, like when Gandalf utters the
words of Mordor in Rivendell (see the shock on Elrond's face!), and
there is a moment when I burst out laughing, after Pippin realizes that
he ate four pieces of Lembas, when a tiny bite can fill the stomach of a
I have not watched any of the special features on this DVD yet. I want
to savor the movie, first. There is a multitude of them that I think it
will take weeks to get through them all! I did find the Easter eggs,
though. Down from the scene selection of The Council of Elrond (click on
the ring that appears) is a very funny, though very adult, spoof from
MTV -not suitable for kids. On disk 2, select on the right "48", then go
down, and click on the tower to see the 4-minute Two Towers preview that
was tacked on to the end of the Fellowship near the end of its
I even let the credits roll to the end, where there is a full twenty
minutes of a list of fan club members. I didn't read any of the names,
but simply listened to the music, which has longer cuts of the
soundtrack that I enjoy endlessly -I wish I could get my hands on a
I have one complaint about the packaging of the DVD, though. Reading the
liner notes, there are so many spelling mistakes! I can't believe that
such a carefully prepared disc would have such troubles. Did they not
have a proofreader? The introduction has things like "case" instead of
"cast", and "created new score" instead of "created
a new score". Worse
are the spelling mistakes in the chapter titles, like "Balin' Tomb"
instead of "Balin's Tomb", or "Farewell to Lorsen" instead of "Lorien",
and "Parch Galen" in place of "Parth Galen". This is especially
disappointing since the French titles are perfectly spelled, and in the
last two cases, they are words from Middle-Earth, and so should not have
been changed even minutely from one language from the other! Even a
casual proofreader should have discovered these mistakes.
Still, the movie was great, and thoroughly enjoyable, once again. I do
think it is better than Star Wars, but in a completely different way.
This is very epic, with a strong story to tell, and has a very deep
sense of history, because the background to The Lord of the Rings is
very deep and long. I think I could watch this film over and over, day
January 22nd, 2002 in the Theatre,
for the second time
Awesome and incredible... but not quite as good as the first time I saw it.
I found the movie to be less powerful this time around. Whether it was because of anticipation, fatigue or anything else, I'm not sure, but I'm sure it was my fault! I found the opening scenes to be a little slow, and the visuals to be less impressive (though they were still amazing). I think I was sitting too close to the screen! This screen was bigger, and there was just too much to see. So beware -and sit far back.
I was impressed in the themes present in the film. Yes, it was dark, and the darkness is gathering and growing. The capitulation and betrayal of Saruman makes the world dangerous on two fronts, one of which was an ally until not too long ago. But I was amazed at the guilt theme. Gandalf feels guilt for giving the burden of the Ring to Frodo, as does Bilbo. Pippin's face after Gandalf's death was also apparent in its guilt, something I didn't notice before. For it is possible that the orcs would not have found them if he didn't knock the armor down that shaft (though I don't think Pippin had anything to do with it in the book). And of course, Boromir feels so guilty about attacking Frodo.
The battles were amazing, once again. Aragorn's defeating the Ringwraiths at Weathertop was really cool, as he slashed at them one by one. Boromir's death is still the best part of the movie, I think. He knows that he is a walking dead man, but defies death to deal out death; unfortunately, it is not enough. I can understand why some people were disappointed by the magical battles, but magic in Tolkien's world is very different from other fantasy worlds. These wizards cannot conjure up fire, or levitate people out of danger (as was impossible in
the stairwells in Moria). Their skills are obviously focused through their staffs. I really enjoyed that battle. And Gandalf has a new staff after he escapes to Rivendell.
The ending is, of course, a cliffhanger. But I don't think it is without hope. Frodo and Sam are making their way to Mordor without having anybody lusting after the Ring (yet). Yes, Merry and Pippin are captured, but they have three warriors in their wake, intent on their rescue. But there is also a sort of resolution, if not the obvious kind. The task of the Fellowship is finished; responsibilities lie elsewhere. The King must lead his people. The Ringbearer must complete his task. One journey has ended, and two others have begun.
The movie is dark, also. I have heard that maybe it is too dark. But for Good to triumph, don't they have to go through darkness? The world was on the edge of the abyss. Unlike some stories, however, it is not too dark to get out of without a magical cure. We know what has to happen, and from now on, Frodo's story is one of resisting temptation and letting go of the Ring.
I noticed the music more this time around. Wow, is it powerful! When our heroes are in trouble, the music becomes more edgy, when they are at peace, the music is also peaceful. The elves shine in white light, accompanied by wind instruments which seems to make them look even lighter. And I loved the counterpoint when the Uruk-hai are chasing the group down the river -soft on the river, nobody knowing that they are in immediate danger, and a hunting-style of music for the running Uruks. It was great stuff.
I didn't have as much trouble with Galadriel and Elrond this time (though Elrond's line "you will be the
Fellowship of the Ring" is a little cheesy). The ones I thought could have used some work were Aragorn and Arwen. Their scene together where she pledges her love to him is very nice, but when they were separate, I found their performances a little wanting. Aragorn's "ride hard", and "let's hunt some orc" could have been changed to better lines. Arwen's look of panic as the black riders start crossing the fjord at Bruinen is also misplaced, as if she doesn't believe the waters will obey her chant.
For the most part, though, I truly enjoyed the movie once again. I really loved the beginning, where Gandalf meets up with Frodo, entering a peaceful Shire. It is truly an idyllic setting, and it will be terrible to see it put to waste in the third movie. It is so easy to get mixed up in the battles and seriousness of the what comes afterwards, that we forget about the Shire, and the beginning of the story, where everything is joyous, fun, and jolly for a while. Bilbo's calling of everybody's clan name and his insult is just hilarious.
This is a movie to watch over again, especially when the next installments come out. For it was really something special.
December 26th, 2001 in the Theatre
Absolutely fantastic, stunning, and exhausting. The transfer to the screen was done in an incredible manner, with characters that grow, and show a range of personality that changes throughout the movie.
I sincerely did not expect to be so blown away by this movie.
Dare I say that this is the best movie I've ever seen? Was it better than Star
Wars? I don't know if I am in a position to say that, having only seen the movie one time, and being a great fan of Tolkien's Middle-Earth epics. As far as reading goes, they are so far above anything
Star Wars can produce. In movies... well, I think it was even better than
Star Wars. There, I said it. But I'll have to see it a second time to make sure.
The first thing to notice are the visual effects. The orc armies swarming over the screen, battling the elves and mannish armies, were stunning. The towers of Isengard and Minas Tirith (for the
two seconds that we see of it) and Barad-dur were incredibly depicted. The felling of all the trees around Saruman's lair and the delving of deep caverns to create his army was masterfully directed in the visual sense.
Smaller effects like Frodo's glowing sword, Gandalf's fireworks, and Bilbo's disappearance were also really neat to watch.
The landscapes were characters in their own right. The locations that they found to shoot in New Zealand were incredibly beautiful. Rivendell was so calm and peaceful, as expected, and just...
beautiful; I'd love to live there. The Shire was so green, and all the places that the hobbits and their companions
traveled were beautiful. And all the evil places were ugly, but in a sense that we still couldn't rip our eyes away from them.
Was the story incomprehensible to the common viewer? To the person who has no knowledge of the Rings of power, to the person who knows nothing of Arda and Middle-Earth, there shouldn't be a problem. For one thing, the movie is about a quest, if nothing else. And that should be enough for the casual viewer. For those interested in the history of the Ring, the story gives more than enough explanation, showing us the forging of the Rings of Power, Sauron's deception of the elves, his battles, and finally his defeat at the hands of Isuldur. Since I am such a fan of the Second Age, I loved watching the Last Alliance defeat Sauron. I have never liked the way Sauron is depicted, with all the jagged armor, but it is consistent with just about all other artists and, I believe, with Tolkien's vision itself.
The story continues by showing how the Ring wanted to go back to its master and caused itself to be lost at the Gladden Fields, lying at the bottom of the river for thousands of years until Smeagol found it and became Gollum. And then the Ring continues its quest and
loses itself, so that Bilbo finds it, and thus it comes to Frodo. The background given is clear, concise, and I think it was very understandable, even if people didn't
understand or remember all the names involved. And for those people who were not interested, the visuals were spectacular, so that it is just as enjoyable.
(Speaking of names that were not understandable, I think it would have been
better to say "the heir of Isuldur" instead of "Isuldur's
heir", as the latter is more difficult to comprehend when the character
The real story begins with Bilbo's eleventy-first (111th) birthday party, with his usual tricks. He leaves the Ring to Frodo, but has a lot of trouble doing it before he goes to the elves of Rivendell. We get a little more history of the stuff that happened on Bilbo's quest in The Hobbit, and we get quiet conversation between
Gandalf and Frodo after that.
Once again, as with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's
Stone, people will complain that the movie is nowhere near as comprehensive as the book, and at some places it even deviates from the story as told. Abridged versions of this story are always made the same way: the first thing to go is always Tom Bombadil. While I would have liked to see this Miar (he is of the same species as
Gandalf, Saruman, the balrog and Sauron), he is not integral to the plot and would have also slowed things down quite a bit. How exciting could they have made the hobbits being swallowed by a tree? The scene where the hobbits are scared by the trolls was also cut. I really thought this would have been shown because Bilbo foreshadows it in his story to the little children at his party. The trolls that Frodo and company are scared of are, of course, Bilbo's stone trolls. We get to see those statues, but not their effect on the little ones.
The one deviation from the story as told that I absolutely loved was the chronological depiction of the events that took place. It was necessary in terms of the story, and I thought it
gave the movie a much better pace than it would have otherwise. When Gandalf leaves Frodo, he travels to Minas Tirith to research Isuldur and Gil-Galad's
campaign against Sauron, and discovers the fate of the Ring. He tracks down Gollum (though we don't see this) and discovers that the servants of Mordor have found the former hobbit as well. Instead of getting a lot of talk around the fireplace between Gandalf and the others, we actually get to see the incredible fight between him and Saruman, his imprisonment, and finally his escape from the prison on Isengard. From his point of view, we see the creation of Saruman's army, and his Uruk-hai orcs.
Another deviation from the book was Arwen's recovery of Frodo after his assault on Weathertop. But it was well worth it. Our first encounter with an elf was time-stopping, as the radiance of the Eldar race shows itself. The scene showing the nine black riders chasing after her and Frodo as they made their way desperately to Rivendell was amazing. I was also amazed to hear Arwen call upon Uinen, wife of the god Osse, lord of the waves, when she needed help defeating her foes at the fjord.
The creation of the fellowship of the Ring was very nicely depicted as well. The council of Elrond was extremely short compared to the chapter in the book, for which I was very thankful. There was not very much in the way of character building when it came to Gimli the dwarf or Legolas the
elf, however. But they both showed their strengths and especially their fighting ability when needed. Their characters will be fleshed out, I'm sure, much more in
The Two Towers, where they become friends instead of barely civil to each other. They do a good job of being simply civil to each other for the sake of the quest, glaring, making rude remarks about the stature of each other and about their fighting skill. That was fun to see.
I was totally mesmerized by Legolas' skill with the bow.
Merry and Pippin didn't get too much in the way of character development, either. Pippin was always hungry, but other than that, I kept getting them confused. Many might think that they were completely useless in this story, and I would agree, except that they, too, will get expanded roles in the next two movies. What impressed me, though, was their unhobbit-like courage. Their loyalty to Frodo, especially in Moria and then again at Rauros, where they lead the orcs away from their friend, brought tears to my eyes.
More loyalty came from Samwise Gamgee. He was really the only person that I found seemed different from how I found he should have been. But I can't explain why I felt that. His loyalty to Frodo, both out of friendship and his promise to Gandalf, were extremely gratifying. That he goes with Frodo away from the Fellowship is no surprise, but his determination to follow his charge into the water even though he can't swim is
Aragorn, who is Strider to the hobbits, was well played. He is the reluctant hero, the King to regain the throne in the third movie, but reluctant to take power at this time. He fears the weakness in his blood, the same blood that ran in the veins of Isuldur. He leads the group, after Gandalf, and releases Frodo at the end. He battles wits against Boromir, the heir to the Stewart of Gondor, more than once. Boromir thinks they should use the Ring to defeat Sauron,
and to protect his homeland. He tries to steal the Ring from Frodo, and dies a heroic death at the end. We don't get any description of Boromir's death in the novel, but this death is worthy of any hero. His guilt over what he tried to do is apparent on his face as he tries to protect Merry and Pippin from the Uruk-hai, but it takes four arrows to kill him, and even then he holds on long enough to tell Aragorn what happened to the hobbits.
This almost makes him a more developed character than Aragorn, and previews
what the men of Gondor will be capable of in the Return of the King.
The role of Frodo was perfectly cast. Elijah Wood is Frodo; there is no doubt of that. He is the most reluctant hero of them all. He decides to take the Ring when the others would fight over how to use it. He falters whenever he has to do something big, make a decision, or NOT use the Ring. We can see the temptation written all over his face, as well as the uncertainty, not to mention the relief when Sam joins him at the end.
The character who steals the show, however, is Gandalf. Ian McKellen did an incredible job with the old Wizard, the Istari. He also faces uncertainty, and doesn't know all the answers. His letting Frodo decide whether or not to take the route through Moria is a strange one, given that Frodo didn't know anything about the decisions he was to make, but that is the only note that felt false. The pain on his face was heart-aching when he sees Frodo volunteer to take the Ring south to Mordor. And when he dies fighting the Balrog, it is gut-wrenching, even though I felt that the scene could have been better-made (Gandalf should have fallen in battle, not being tripped by a whip thrown up from the dark depths afterwards).
Speaking of the Balrog, it was just as I could have imagined it, just as Morgoth would have made it. For the brief period it was on the screen, it was incredible.
Galadriel and Elrond are the last characters to speak of. They were elves, and so they were radiant, amazing to watch. Elrond carried some very strange facial expressions, that made him look more like the guy the actor played in
The Matrix more than an elf, but otherwise he just had to sit around and look wise. Galadriel's refusal of the Ring from Frodo was downright frightening, but her reaction "I passed the test!" sounded more like a schoolgirl than a ten thousand year old elf.
There is so much more to say, but I think I'll wait until the next time, which should not be too long from now, to comment on more. There were so many details, like the leaf-clasps to their elven cloaks, the beauty of Frodo's Mithril armour, or the countless giant statues and watchtowers fallen and chipped that littered the land, doubtless from the time when Gondor and Arnor were strong, before the Great Plague and the wars against Sauron. They make the movie feel like more than just a movie, that there is a history behind the story that we would like to see more of.
And indeed there is. For a brief account of all that took place before Bilbo found the Ring, the first Appendix and the Tale of Years to the Lord of the Rings tell an intriguing tale. The Silmarillion is even more intriguing, but it is difficult to read for the first time, mainly because of the gigantic timespan that it traverses, and the countless names of elves, dwarves, men and places that it divulges in such a short book.
The movie itself is exhausting. A simple quest that is not so simple in execution, with characters that grow and change as the three hours pass. There is so much detail, so many huge obstacles that are overtaken by the strength of the characters, that it is impossible to see it all in one viewing. This is a movie that I will return to again and again and again. Its depth was captivating. I think even for people who have not read the books, it tells an interesting story. More than that, it is visually spectacular, and the visuals could be enjoyed without paying any attention to the story whatsoever. But for those who want to invest in the story, it is well worth it, and