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Wayback Wednesday: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

One does not simply watch this movie without taking several bathroom breaks.

The number one thing I’m pretty sure we all miss from our childhoods is all the free time we had. Remember waking up on a Monday (especially during a summer vacation) and not being burdened by responsibilities, obligations or chores? Heaven! You could fit so many fun activities into a day with all of that glorious free time! One way my brother and I utilized that time was watching the infamously-long The Lord of the Rings movies (2001 – 2003). Each of those things is like three and a half hours long and when you watch them with a child’s attention span, it’s really like five hours. We needed all day to watch one! It’s been at least a decade since I’ve seen The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and I think what kept me from rewatching it was that lengthy runtime. But now that I’ve revisited this masterpiece of a movie, I cannot wait to watch the other movies in the trilogy again! I have nine hours I can spare!

Credit: imdb.com / New Line Cinema

Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel of the same name, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring tells the story of Frodo Baggins, a humble Hobbit from the Shire who embarks on a perilous journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle Earth from the Dark Lord Sauron. He is joined by eight companions who help him battle all manners of evil as they travel towards Mount Doom.

It cannot be said enough how iconic and awe-inspiring not only this first movie is, but the entire trilogy as well. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a spectacle, a pinnacle of sensational filmmaking the likes of which just isn’t seen anymore. It almost feels like the epic movies of the 1950s like Ben-Hur (1959) and The Ten Commandments (1956). Peter Jackson is masterful as a director, helming a soaring epic that is a landmark of the fantasy genre. What a fucking fantastic fantasy movie. I genuinely don’t think there’s been a fantasy movie since that has amazed audiences and captured their hearts quite like The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Jeez, between this and the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), fantasy fans must have just been shitting their pants in 2001. Actually, the exceptional filmmaking and use of practical effects and sets in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring reminds me so much of the beloved Harry Potter movie. 

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a stunning book-to-screen adaptation and the amount of detail and work that went into this movie is jaw-dropping. From the beautiful costumes to the incredible practical make-up to the quality performances by an all-star cast, it’s been a long time since a fantasy movie has delivered on all accounts. The gorgeous, otherworldly production design is hands down my favourite part of this movie. It’s the mark of flawless production design because you have no problem stepping into Tolkien’s fantastical world. Hmmm, it would be interesting to watch the animated adaptation from the 1970s and see what Jackson borrowed and what designs are his own. What I especially appreciated was the thoughtful blend between practical effects and CGI. Jackson always knows when to use either one to create the most impactful effect. You guys, the effects more than hold up. Which is so impressive when you consider that it’s 2001. It’s impressive the same way Titanic (1997) is impressive. By the way, check out my review for that movie, here

It’s wild that the scene in which the titular fellowship is formed feels like it should be the end of the movie, perfectly setting up the sequel, when in actuality there’s still another hour and a half of movie left. This is the most obvious criticism of The Lord of the Rings movies but good Lord is this an overlong runtime. It’s an awesome movie so you’re never bored but there were multiple times I was like, “oh wow, that’s right there’s still another whole act of this movie left.” I can only assume it’s extremely faithful to the book because it feels like not a thing is left out of the movie. I’m sure anyone would initially say that there are aspects of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that could have been edited down or removed entirely but the truth is, I have no idea what you would cut. Every scene in this movie serves a purpose whether it’s to accelerate the plot or for sheer entertainment. It’s funny because if you hadn’t watched this movie before, all these made up, hard to pronounce fantastical names for every person, place and thing would have your head spinning. MY head was spinning just trying to remember the difference between Sauron and Saruman. If anything could have been cut, I would say the movie could have cut back on the scoring. It was weird but I noticed on this watch that a lot of times when characters were speaking the movie was scored so you couldn’t hear them over the music. 

Ian McKellen playing Gandalf and Magneto back to back is nothing short of iconic. By the way, check out my review for X-Men (2000), here. Gandalf really is the best character. He is kind of a dick though for leaving the carrying of the ring to Rivendell on poor Frodo’s shoulders. Also, poor Sam (who is definitely in love with Frodo, right?) Merry and Pippin who stumbled into Frodo by accident and ended up going on the worst trip ever. The quartet of hobbits are entertaining in their own right but the gag is that Frodo and the hobbits are not actually the most interesting of protagonists. I really wish the movie and the trilogy as a whole followed Gandalf and the trio of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. They really are the group of characters you most want to go on an adventure with. Legolas and Gimli were always my favourite parts of the series. Orlando Bloom is great in these movies! Why isn’t he in more movies these days? Hmmm, I’m learning that all the elf characters are my favourites. I was equally obsessed with Galadriel and Arwen because hello, they’re fabulous as fuck.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a classic. There’s no topping this incredible first instalment in a phenomenal franchise, though many have tried for the past two decades. Like I said, I’m so excited to go ahead and watch the rest of the trilogy. I’m looking forward to having a lot of the questions I had about the series growing up finally answered. The most important of which is this: Why are they all fighting over this ring? Mama, it isn’t even a diamond. 

Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring? Which movie is your favourite?

Let me know in the comments or on social media! 

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