As recent cinema history records, films with large budgets and enormous hype are often duds in disguise. The Hollywood institution has become tedious and outdated providing little of the experience a cinema is designed to give. On rare occasions however, a cord of excellence is struck and cinematic bliss is attained in a rare glimpse of motion picture heaven. This cord rings out beautifully in the first instalment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. An unearthly tour de force of celluloid that rivals the greatest films of all time, Fellowship is without a doubt a cinematic event that like many films before will define a new generation.
Fellowship is an enormous three-hour Epic introduction into the world of Middle-earth, Hobbits, Wizards and one tiny Ring. Through events that span a long history of Middle-earth spelled out in an opening featuring the most incredible battle sequence to date, a Hobbit by the name of Frodo Baggins played by Elijah Wood comes into possession of a golden ring. When his long term friend and Wizard Gandlaf the Grey played by Sir Ian McKellan discovers that this Ring is in fact the key to all evil in the land Frodo’s world is turned upside down. Frodo is now forced to quest deep into the territory of the Enemy to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it.
The passion with which this film has been made with oozes from the screen, the blood, sweat and tears are evident in almost all aspects of the production. Firstly Director Peter Jackson has done a superb job in bringing the original novel to the screen, daring to make changes and ultimately enhancing the story for the new format. It can easily be argued the film is in many ways superior to the original source material. The Cinematography is flawless using the natural beauty of New Zealand as well as the modern marvel of computer-generated images. The camera takes you deep into Middle-earth capturing the sights and sounds of the story in a unique and exciting fashion that requires many viewings to appreciate completely.
To say the acting was superb is simply an understatement, there is absolutely no acting they truly are those characters in flesh and blood on the screen. All the cast deserve a mention for their extraordinary effort but in particular Sir Ian McKellan for Gandalf who has now redefined the standard for a `brilliant’ performance. The depth of these characters is enough to supplement the limited time given to the their development and introduction. I would imagine another hour or so of screen time could be added just for each character to be given a better introduction, Alas another hour is a bit much.
The other aspect worth special mention is the special effects, which make Star Wars look like an episode of Farscape. The sheer complexity of each sequence is a massive undertaking for any effects company and would certainly provide a great deal of room for error. Surprisingly enough the finished screen product is flawless. The Cave Troll and Balrog in the Mines of Moria sequence are beyond doubt the most convincing creations on film to date. Alongside the incredible detail of the massive Battle sequences and armies this film is a visual candy bar of computer-generated sights to dazzle anyone of all ages.
The phenomenal Fellowship is also and most importantly a film that does respect its audience with a level must more suited to an adult than a child. Certainly children will enjoy the saga for the sights and sounds it offers, but many themes and sub-texts will go unnoticed. Our heroes are not all heroic and each share a common theme of human corruption. You can relate to all the characters deeply and without difficulty fully aware of the internal conflicts and feelings playing out on the screen. The Film is also much more violent than the rating it has received may suggest, parental supervision is truly highly recommended.
To me this film is a prime example of what cinema is capable of and reminds us all of why we make that sometimes expensive trip to the local theatre. Without a doubt this film will cement itself in the annals of history and forever be known as a landmark in cinema. The world can only wait in anticipation for the second and final instalment of what promises to be a rewarding and emotion filled saga.