Lord of the Rings

AFI Rank: #50 (10th Anniversary list)
Year Released: 2001
Director: Peter Jackson
Actors: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring was a powerhouse of an ensemble film, featuring an all-star cast, fantastically detailed sets, an almost insane attention to detail, and gorgeous cinematography. It's no wonder that while only released in 2001 it immediately vaulted to the #50 spot on the new AFI Top 100 listing, while other classics like Doctor Zhivago dropped off the list completely.

I should caveat first that I grew up reading and adoring the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I re-read it probably once a year. I absolutely adored Aragorn, and all of my daydreams were about me as Aragorn's loyal companion. In the books, you see, Arwen hardly appears. She's a footnote in an appendix. This first book is all about men, men, and more men. I suppose Galadriel shows up at one point, to pass around presents, but that's about it.

So when I went to see the film, it was almost a religious experience. The Weathertop scene, where the hobbits are calling out "Strider" in panic, had me shiver. These were my dreams coming to life.

The attention the WETA workshop put into every scene is legendary. They literally had the book open and were reading the pages to know what to do. They hand carved proper Dwarvish ruins along all surfaces of the caves in the Mines of Moria. Viggo learned to speak Elvish and lobbied for more dialogue in the language. They tended to the gardens at Hobbiton for a full year so it had a "lived in" look.

Yes, they had to cut out some of the book. Heck, the movie was already 3 hours long! I do not mind that at all. And I also do not mind that they gave Arwen a part! Up until now we had ONE FEMALE. That was it. One. I realize the book was written in the "dark ages" of 1954 but still! Surely there could be more females involved. Even with the TWO whole females in the movie, they never even interact. They are both there solely to be foils to the menfolk.

Still, one cannot blame Jackson at all for that. The responsibility for that goes back to J. R. R. Tolkien. Some purists were already upset enough that Arwen got to speak in the movie :). I imagine a hostile rage would have erupted if more than that occurred.

So absolutely I adore Lord of the Rings, and I own all the different versions on DVD. I highly recommend watching it. It is glorious in its own right, and so much of what it shows and says has infiltrated its way into modern culture. Watching TV, reading novels, or going to movies can often involve an expectation that you "get" the references involved.

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