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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson based on the similarly titled first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Set in Middle-earth, the story tells of the Dark Lord Sauron (Sala Baker), who is seeking the One Ring (Alan Howard voice). The Ring has found its way to the young hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). The fate of Middle-earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and eight companions form the Fellowship of the Ring, and journey to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor: the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.

Released on December 19, 2001, the film was highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike, especially as many of the latter judged it to be sufficiently faithful to the original story. It was a box office success, earning over $870 million worldwide, and the second highest grossing film of 2001 in the U.S. and worldwide (behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) which made it the 5th highest grossing film ever at the time. Today it is the 15th highest-grossing worldwide film of all time. It won five BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director. The Special Extended DVD Edition was released on November 12, 2002. In 2007, The Fellowship of the Ring was voted number 50 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest American films. The AFI also voted it the second greatest fantasy film of all time during their AFI's 10 Top 10 special.

Plot

The prologue, spoken by Galadriel, shows the Dark Lord Sauron forging the One Ring in order to conquer the lands of Middle-earth. A Last Alliance of Elves and Men is formed to counter Sauron's forces at the foot of Mount Doom, but Sauron kills Elendil, the High King of Men. His son, Prince Isildur grabs Elendil's broken sword Narsil, and slashes at Sauron's hand, separating him from the Ring and vanquishing his army. However, because Sauron's "life force" is bound to the Ring, he is not completely defeated until the Ring itself is destroyed. Isildur takes the Ring and succumbs to its temptation, refusing to destroy it. He is later ambushed and killed by orcs, and the Ring is lost in a river. The Ring is found by the creature Gollum thousands of years later, who takes it underground for five centuries, giving him "unnaturally long life." Since the Ring is bound to Sauron, it has a will of its own and wants to be found. Therefore, the Ring consciously leaves Gollum in its quest to be reunited with Sauron. However, it is instead found by the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, much to the despair of Gollum. Bilbo returns to his home in the Shire with the Ring, and the story jumps forward in time sixty years.

At his 111th ("eleventy-first") birthday, Bilbo leaves the Ring to his nephew and adopted heir Frodo Baggins. The Wizard Gandalf soon learns it is the One Ring, and that Sauron seeks to retake it. Taking no chances, Gandalf tells Frodo to leave the Shire with the Ring and sends him to Bree with Sam, with plans to meet him there after Gandalf goes to Isengard to meet the head of his order, Saruman. Saruman reveals that the Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths, have left Mordor to capture the Ring and kill whoever carries it; having already turned to Sauron's cause, he then imprisons Gandalf atop Orthanc. Gandalf is then forced to watch as Saruman orders his orcs to build weapons of war and create an elite Orc army called the Uruk-hai.

While traveling to Bree, Frodo and Sam are soon joined by fellow hobbits Merry and Pippin. After encountering a Ringwraith on the road, they manage to reach Bree, and there they meet a Man called Strider, who agrees to lead them to Rivendell. They agree only because Strider already knows about the Nazgûl and that Gandalf isn't there to guide them. After some travelling, they spend the night on the hill of Weathertop, where they are attacked by the Nazgûl at night. Strider fights off the Ringwraiths, but Frodo is grievously wounded with a morgul blade, and they must quickly get him to Rivendell for healing. While chased by the Nazgûl, Frodo is taken by the elf Arwen to the Elven haven of Rivendell, and healed by her father, Elrond.

In Rivendell Frodo meets Gandalf, who explains why he didn't meet them at Bree as planned (he had escaped Orthanc with the help of an eagle). In the meantime, there are many meetings between various peoples, and Elrond calls a council to decide what should be done with the Ring. The Ring can only be destroyed by throwing it into the fires (that is, lava) of Mount Doom, where it was forged. Mount Doom is located in Mordor, near Sauron's fortress of Barad-dûr, and will be an incredibly dangerous journey. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring to Mount Doom as all the others argue about who should or shouldn't take it. He is accompanied by his hobbit friends and Gandalf, as well as Strider, who is revealed to be Aragorn, the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. Also travelling with them are the Elf Legolas, the Dwarf Gimli and Boromir, the son of the Steward of Gondor. Together they comprise the Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship set out and try to pass the mountain Caradhras, but they are stopped by Saruman's wizardry. At Gimli's insistence, they decide to seek safety and travel under the mountain through the Mines of Moria. They discover that an attempt by Gimli's cousin Balin to colonize it has failed. They are attacked by Orcs and a Troll, and encounter a Balrog, an ancient demon of fire and shadow, at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Gandalf confronts the Balrog on the bridge, allowing the others to escape the subterranean realm, while he falls with the creature into the abyss below.

The group flees to the Elven realm of Lothlórien, where they are sheltered by its rulers, Galadriel and her husband Celeborn. While resting, Boromir tells Aragorn about the troubles afflicting the land of Gondor and the people's desire to see a strong King rescue it from destruction. Frodo meets Galadriel, who tells him that it's his destiny to handle the Ring and ultimately destroy it. Before they leave, Galadriel gives Frodo the Phial of Galadriel, and the other members also receive gifts from them. Taking the straight path to Mordor, they travel on the River Anduin towards Parth Galen. After landing at Parth Galen, Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo, believing that it is the only way to save his realm. Frodo manages to escape by putting the Ring on his finger and vanishing. Aragorn encounters Frodo, but unlike Boromir, Aragorn chooses not to take the Ring. Knowing that the Ring's temptation will be too strong for the Fellowship, Frodo decides to leave them and go to Mordor alone. Meanwhile, the rest of the Fellowship are attacked by Uruk-hai, who Saruman had ordered to hunt down the Fellowship and take back the Ring. Merry and Pippin, realizing that Frodo is leaving, distract the orcs allowing Frodo to escape. Boromir rushes to the aid of the two hobbits but is mortally wounded by the orc commander Lurtz, Boromir regrets having attempted to steal the Ring and then dies. Merry and Pippin are captured prompting Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas to begin their pursuit of the orcs with the intent of rescuing the hobbits, leaving Frodo to his fate. Before Frodo departs Sam decides to join him and together they head off to Mordor.

Cast

Before filming began on October 11, 1999, the principal actors trained for six weeks in sword fighting (with Bob Anderson), riding and boating. Jackson hoped such activities would allow the cast to bond so chemistry would be evident on screen as well as getting them used to life in Wellington. They were also trained to pronounce Tolkien's verses properly. After the shoot, the nine cast members playing the Fellowship got a tattoo, the Elvish symbol for the number nine. The film is noted for having an ensemble cast, and some of the cast and their respective characters include:

  • Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins: A hobbit who inherits the One Ring from his uncle, Bilbo Baggins. He is mostly accompanied by his best friend and fellow hobbit, Samwise Gamgee. Elijah Wood was the first actor to be cast on July 7 1999. Wood was a fan of the book, and he sent in an audition dressed as Frodo, reading lines from the novel. Wood was selected from one-hundred-and-fifty actors who auditioned.
  • Sean Astin as Samwise "Sam" Gamgee: A Hobbit gardener and friend of Frodo. When caught eavesdropping, Sam is made to become Frodo's companion and from then on becomes very loyal. Astin, then a father of one, bonded with the eighteen-year old Wood in a protective manner similar to Sam and Frodo.
  • Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn: Dubbed Strider, he is a Dúnadan Ranger and the heir to the throne of Gondor. He travels with the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor. He is unsure of whether to become King following the failure of his ancestor, Isildur, to destroy the Ring. Nicolas Cage turned down the role because of "family obligations", whilst Vin Diesel, a fan of the book, auditioned for Aragorn, before Stuart Townsend was cast in the role, before being sacked during filming when Jackson realized he was too young. Russell Crowe was considered as a replacement, but he turned it down after a similar role in Gladiator. Producer Mark Odesky saw Mortensen in a play and it was Mortensen's son, a fan of the book, who convinced him to take the role. Mortensen read the book on the plane, received a crash course lesson in fencing from Bob Anderson and began filming the scenes on Weathertop. Mortensen became a hit with the crew, method acting by patching up his costume and carrying his "hero" sword around with him offscreen.
  • Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey: A wizard and mentor to Frodo Baggins, who helps him decide what to do with the Ring. He becomes the leader of the Fellowship after it is decided to take the Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it. Sean Connery was approached for the role, but didn't understand the plot, while Patrick Stewart turned it down as he disliked the script. March 9, 2008 Before being cast, McKellen had to sort his schedule with 20th Century Fox as there was a two-month overlap with X-Men. He enjoyed playing Gandalf the Grey more than his transformed state in the next two films, and based his accent on Tolkien. Unlike his on-screen character, McKellen did not spend much time with the actors playing the Hobbits, instead working with their scale doubles.
  • Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck: A Hobbit and a friend of Frodo. He helps him find a ferry to escape the Nazgûl, travels with the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor, along with his best friend Pippin. Monaghan was cast as Merry after auditioning for Frodo.
  • Billy Boyd as Peregrin "Pippin" Took: A Hobbit who travels with the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor, along with his best friend Merry. He is loyal but a prankster, often being a nuisance for Gandalf.
  • Sean Bean as Boromir: A prince of the Stewards of Gondor, he journeys with the Fellowship towards Mordor, although he is tempted by the power of the Ring. He feels Gondor needs no King, but becomes a friend of Aragorn. Bruce Willis, a fan of the book, expressed interest in the role, while Liam Neeson was sent the script, but passed.
  • Orlando Bloom as Legolas: Prince of the Elves' Woodland Realm and a skilled archer who accompanies the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor. Bloom initially auditioned for Faramir, who appears in the second film, a role which went to David Wenham.
  • John Rhys-Davies as Gimli: A Dwarf who accompanies the Fellowship to Mordor after they set out from Rivendell. He is initially xenophobic towards Elves, but changes his attitude in the course of the story, particularly after meeting Lady Galadriel. Billy Connolly was considered for the part of Gimli. Rhys-Davies wore heavy prosthetics to play Gimli, which limited his vision, and eventually he developed eczema around his eyes.
  • Christopher Lee as Saruman the White: The fallen head of the Istari Order, who succumbed to Sauron's will via his use of the palantír. After capturing Gandalf, he creates an army of Uruk-hai to find and capture the Ring from the Fellowship. Lee is a major fan of the book, and reads it once a year. He has also met J. R. R. Tolkien. He originally auditioned for Gandalf, but was too old.
  • Sala Baker portrays Sauron: The main antagonist and title character of the story, who created the One Ring to conquer Middle-earth. He lost the Ring to Isildur, and now seeks it in order to initiate his reign over Middle-earth. He cannot yet take physical form, and is spiritually incarnate as an Eye.
  • Hugo Weaving as Elrond: The Elven master of Rivendell, who leads the Council of Elrond which ultimately decides to destroy the One Ring. He lost faith in the strength of Men after witnessing Isildur's failure 3,000 years before. David Bowie expressed interest in the role, but Jackson stated, "To have a famous, beloved character and a famous star colliding is slightly uncomfortable."
  • Cate Blanchett as Galadriel: Galadriel is the co-ruler of Lothlórien and a mighty Elf, along with her husband Lord Celeborn. She shows Frodo a possible outcome of events in her mirror and gives him the Light of Eärendil.
  • Liv Tyler as Arwen: An elf, Arwen escorts Frodo to Rivendell after he is stabbed by the Witch-king. She is the daughter of Elrond and lover of Aragorn, to whom she gives the Evenstar necklace. The filmmakers approached Tyler after seeing her performance in Plunkett & Macleane, and New Line Cinema leaped at the opportunity of having one Hollywood star in the film. Tyler came to shoot on short occasions, and bonded most with Bloom.
  • Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins: Frodo's uncle who gives him the Ring after he decides to retire to Rivendell. At Rivendell, he gives Frodo a mithril mail-shirt and his own sword, Sting, which can detect the presence of nearby orcs by emitting a bluish glow. Holm previously played Frodo in a 1981 radio version of The Lord of the Rings, and was cast as Bilbo after Jackson remembered his performance. Sylvester McCoy was contacted about playing the role, and was kept in place as a potential Bilbo for six months before Jackson went with Holm.
  • Lawrence Makoare as Lurtz: The commander of Saruman's orc forces who leads the hunt for the Fellowship as they head to Mordor.

Comparison with the source material

Jackson, Walsh and Boyens made numerous changes to the story, for purposes of pacing and character development. Jackson said his main desire was to make a film focused primarily on Frodo and the Ring, the \"backbone\" of the story. The prologue condenses Tolkien's backstory, in which The Last Alliance's seven year siege of the Barad-dûr is a single battle, where Elendil is simply killed by Sauron, and his defeat is a quick swipe from Isildur using the broken Narsil. Sauron is shown to explode, though Tolkien only said his spirit flees. Isildur keeps the One Ring as a commemorative, but is not corrupted by it as described in the narration. He is advised to destroy the Ring, but nothing is said of him and Elrond actually going to the Cracks of Doom as shown later on with Elrond and Gandalf's discussion.

Events at the beginning of the film are condensed or omitted altogether. In the book, the time between Gandalf leaving the Ring to Frodo and returning to reveal its inscription is 17 years, which is compressed for timing reasons. Frodo also spends a few months preparing for his journey to Bree which is compressed to a day, to increase dramatic tension. Also compressed is up to when Frodo and Sam leave Bag End and the meeting of Merry and Pippin. Characters such as Tom Bombadil are left out for plotting reasons as well as increasing the threat of the Ringwraiths. Such sequences are left out to make time for Saruman, who in the book only appears in flashback until The Two Towers. Gandalf's capture is also expanded with a fight sequence. Saruman's role is enhanced: he is to blame for the blizzard on Caradhras, a role taken from Sauron and Caradhras itself in the book.

A significant new addition is that Aragorn must overcome his self-doubt to claim the kingship. This element is not present in the book, where Aragorn intends to claim the throne at an appropriate time. He reforges Narsil immediately when he joins the Fellowship, but this event is held over until The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King film. All this was done because of Peter Jackson's belief in "character growth", the idea that every character must change or learn something over the course of the story. Arwen Evenstar also has a greater role in the film, replacing the book's character of Glorfindel in rescuing Frodo. Elrond is also different from his counterpart in the printed novel; in the film he doubts the strength of Men to survive without a King. Jackson also skims the Council of Elrond into establishing the Ring quest, by moving exposition from the chapter into earlier parts of the film.

The tone of the Moria sequence was altered. Although the Fellowship only realize all the Dwarves are dead once they reach Balin's tomb, the filmmakers chose to use foreshadowing devices instead. Gandalf says to Gimli he would prefer not to enter Moria, and Saruman has a telepathic communication with Gandalf, and also reveals an illustration of the Balrog in one of his books. The corpses of the dwarves are instantly shown as the Fellowship enter Moria.

The book simply stops in terms of dramatic structure, as Tolkien wrote it as a single story published as three. Jackson's finale is played as a climactic battle, to which he introduces the (unnamed) antagonist referred to as Lurtz in the script. In the book the battle leading to Boromir's death is told in flashback in the second volume, but in the film their encounter is shown in real time. Adding to the ending before the wait for the next film, Aragorn is aware of Frodo's decision to leave.

Production

Jackson began working with Christian Rivers to storyboard the trilogy in August 1997, as well as getting Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop to begin creating his interpretation of Middle-earth. Jackson told them to make Middle-earth as plausible and believable as possible, to think of Middle-earth in a historical manner.

In November, Alan Lee and John Howe became the primary conceptual designers for the film trilogy, having had previous experience as illustrators for the book and various other tie-ins. Lee worked for the Art Department creating places such as Rivendell, Isengard, Moria and Lothlórien, giving art nouveau and geometry influences to the Elves and Dwarves respectively. Though Howe contributed with Bag End and the Argonath, he focused working on armour having studied it all his life. Weta and the Art Department continued to design, with Grant Major turning the Art Department's designs into architecture, and Dan Hennah scouting locations. On April 1 1999, Ngila Dickson joined the crew as costume designer. She and 40 seamstresses would create 19,000 costumes, 40 per version for the actor and their doubles, ageing and wearing them out for impression of age.

Filming locations

A list of filming locations, sorted by appearance order in the movie:

Fictional
Location
Specific Location
in New Zealand
General Area
in New Zealand
Hobbiton Matamata Waikato
Gardens of Isengard Harcourt Park Upper Hutt
The Shire woods Otaki Gorge Road Kapiti Coast District
Bucklebury Ferry Keeling Farm, Manakau Horowhenua
Forest near Bree Takaka Hill Nelson
Trollshaws Waitarere Forest Horowhenua
Ford of Bruinen Arrowtown Recreational Reserve Queenstown
Rivendell Kaitoke Regional Park Upper Hutt
Eregion Mount Olympus Nelson
Dimrill Dale Lake Alta The Remarkables
Dimrill Dale Mount Owen Nelson
Lothlórien Lake Wakatipu Queenstown
River Anduin Rangitikei River Rangitikei District
River Anduin Poet's Corner Upper Hutt
Parth Galen Paradise Glenorchy
Amon Hen Mavora Lakes Milford Sound

Special effects

The Fellowship of the Ring makes extensive use of digital, practical and make-up special effects throughout. One noticeable illusion that appears in almost every scene involves setting a proper scale so that the characters are all the correct height. Elijah Wood, who plays Frodo, is 5ft 6in (1.68 m) tall in real life, but the character of Frodo Baggins is barely four feet in height. Many different tricks were used to depict the hobbits (and Gimli the Dwarf) as being of diminutive stature. (As a matter of good fortune, John-Rhys Davies — who played Gimli — is as tall compared to the hobbit actors as his character needed to be compared to theirs, so he did not need to be filmed separately as a third variation of height.) Large and small scale doubles were used in certain scenes, while entire duplicates of certain sets (including Bag End in Hobbiton) were built at two different scales, so that the characters would appear to be the appropriate size. At one point in the film, Frodo runs along a corridor in Bag End, followed by Gandalf. Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen were filmed in separate versions of the same corridor, built at two different scales, and a fast camera pan conceals the edit between the two. Forced perspective was also employed, so that it would look as though the short hobbits were interacting with taller Men and Elves. Even the simple use of kneeling down, to the film makers' surprise, turned out to be an effective method in the making of this illusion.

For the battle between the Last Alliance and the forces of Sauron that begins the film, an elaborate CGI animation system, called Massive, was developed by Stephen Regelous that would allow thousands of individual animated "characters" in the program to act independently. This helped give the illusion of realism to the battle sequences. The "Making of" of the Lord of the Rings DVD reports of some interesting initial problems: In the first execution of a battle between groups of characters, the wrong groups attacked each other. In another early demo, some of the warriors at the edge of the field could be seen running away. The reason was not that they were programmed for cowardice (or survival) and could not see the enemy so they just ran away, but that they were initially moving in the wrong direction, and had been programmed to keep running until they encountered an enemy.

The digital creatures were important due to Jackson's requirement of biological plausibility. All were scanned from large maquettes before numerous digital detail of their skeletons and muscles. In the case of the Balrog, Gary Horsfield created a system that copied recorded imagery of fire.

Score

The musical score for the Lord of the Rings films was composed by Howard Shore. It was performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The London Voices and featured several vocal soloists. Two original songs, Aníron, and the end title theme "May It Be", were composed and sung by Enya, who allowed her label, Reprise Records, to release the soundtrack to this and its two sequels. In addition to this Shore composed "In Dreams" which was sung by Edward Ross of the London Oratory School Schola.

Awards

In 2002 the movie won four Academy Awards out of thirteen nominations. The winning categories were for Best Cinematography, Best Effects (Visual Effects), Best Makeup, and Best Music (Original Score). Despite its praise by fans, the other nominated categories of Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ian McKellen), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Music (Best Song) (Enya, Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan for "May It Be"), Best Picture, Best Sound, Costume Design and Best Writing (Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published) were not won.

After the close of its theatrical run, it ranked in the top ten highest grossing movies worldwide, with takings of $871,368,364 USA dollars from world-wide theatrical box office receipts (movie ticket sales).

The movie won the 2002 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. It also won Empire readers' Best Film award, as well as five BAFTAs, including Best Film, the David Lean Award for Direction, the Audience Award (voted for by the public), Best Special Effects, and Best Make-up.

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was acknowledged as the second best film in the fantasy genre.

DVD release

Extended Edition

The success of the theatrical cut of the film brought about an Extended Edition (208 minutes), with new editing, added special effects and music. This version was released on DVD November 12, 2002 along with four commentaries and hours of supplementary material. It was so successful that the sequels were each given similar releases.

Notable among the restored scenes is a new beginning to the film (following the prologue) and many character-building elements, showing sides of various protagonists (notably Aragorn and Galadriel) that were absent from the theatrical cut, which was largely edited around the character of Frodo. Additional scenes included:

  • Isildur's death.
  • Bilbo's opening narration "Concerning Hobbits".
  • Bilbo at Bag-End avoiding the Sackville-Bagginses.
  • Bilbo and Frodo dialogue at the party scene, while avoiding the Sackville-Bagginses.
  • The Hobbits at the Green Dragon.
  • Frodo and Sam seeing Wood Elves making their way to the Grey Havens on their first day of their journey across the Shire.
  • The crossing of Midgewater.
  • Aragorn singing "The Lay of Lúthien".
  • Sam shows Frodo the trolls when they are at Trollshaws.
  • Gandalf reciting Black Speech at the Council of Elrond.
  • Aragorn visiting his mother's grave.
  • The Fellowship given a goodbye at Rivendell.
  • Gandalf warning Frodo about Boromir near Moria.
  • Gandalf revealing the mithril mines to the Fellowship inside Moria.
  • Lothlórien panorama added.
  • Sam's poem about Gandalf's fireworks.
  • The Fellowship have flashbacks from when they were given their gifts from Galadriel.
  • Celeborn and Aragorn have a conversation in a flashback.
  • Aragorn and Boromir seeing Gollum on a log.
  • Fan Club credits.

An Easter Egg is present on the first DVD of some editions of the extended edition. It does not appear in the UK version because the film was only rated a PG, however this spoof was rated a 12. It can be accessed by going to the final page of the chapter menu and then scrolling down until a golden ring appears. The Easter Egg, originally aired during the 2002 MTV Movie Awards, is a parody of the Council of Elrond scene and stars Jack Black and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Additionally, on the second disk of the extended edition, there is another Easter egg. It can be accessed by going to the final page of the chapter menu and scrolling down under the chapter numbers (like 30-33). Go to the bottom and a silhouette of two towers will appear. It is a special trailer for "The Two Towers" that was added on during the end of the theatrical run of the movie.

Limited Edition

On August 29, 2006, a Limited Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring was released. This Limited Edition contains two discs. The first is a two-sided DVD (also known as DVD-18) that contains both the Theatrical and Extended editions of the film. At the beginning of each side of the disc, the viewer can choose which version to watch. The second disc is a bonus disc that contains a new behind-the-scenes documentary.

Notes

External links

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