Warning: Spoilers ahead, my precious!
“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”
A few nights ago, my brother and I watched The Fellowship of the Ring film. I’ve fallen in love with Tolkien’s Middle-earth and its inhabitants, so I was anxious to see the story on screen. Here’s the shortened summary of the plot from my book review of The Fellowship of the Ring:
“In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins found a small and beautiful golden ring that makes its wearer invisible. By the time of The Fellowship of the Ring, he’s had it for over sixty years. Bilbo throws an extravagant party for his eleventy-first birthday and the thirty-third birthday of Frodo Baggins, his favorite younger cousin. He gives a speech to the guests as is customary and then fireworks go off; afterwards, no one can find Bilbo. He’s put on the Ring, of course. The wizard Gandalf the Grey convinces Bilbo to pass the Ring on to Frodo; he does so and departs. Years later Gandalf returns to where Frodo lives in the Shire to tell him what he’s found out about the ring and what must be done about it, for this ring is not ordinary; it is the One Ring of the rhyme above. The Dark Lord Sauron already holds the Nine and the Seven – he wants the Ring so that he can find the Three, unite the Rings, and become invincible. The only way to be rid of the Ring forever is to drop it into the depths of the Fire-mountain where it will burn up.
With his hobbit friends, Frodo sets out on an epic journey across Middle-earth, three books, and about one thousand pages to destroy that Ring. In the first book of the trilogy, the titular Fellowship of the Ring is formed: a group of nine Walkers who set out against the Nine Riders or Sauron’s Ringwraiths. The group consists of four hobbits, an elf, a dwarf, two men, and a wizard. On their journey to the Fire-mountain, they fight Orcs, find one of the other Rings, and are followed by Gollum, who owned the Ring before Bilbo and wants it back. In their spare time they eat, blow huge smoke rings, and sing. And let’s not forget the drinking. Honestly, I’m surprised that those drunken little hobbits were able to make it as far as they did without collapsing.”
What I loved most about this movie was seeing the words on Tolkien’s pages turned into pictures. I have a very good imagination and often have little color movies playing in my head as I read something. But if someone else named Peter Jackson cares about the books, then it’s cool to see that someone else’s interpretation. (I don’t think any of the four Harry Potter directors really understood the books, with the exception of David Yates and the last book/second-to-last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. However, that doesn’t explain why the other three Harry Potter films he directed were so awful.) It was so cool to see what everything from Bag End and Lothlórien to Gimli and Boromir looked like. I usually love movies for their humor or amazing characters but I loved the imagery in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Speaking of humor, I was pleased that the film included the novel’s humor. I can only describe the humor as low-key – little jokes here and there, like Gandalf threatening to use Merry’s head to smash through the doors to the Mines of Moria or Aragorn not understanding the concept of “second breakfast”. The humor is never in your face; it’s just the little jabs that you give to a friend to show how much you appreciate them. I love it and I’m glad it was included because if it hadn’t the movie would be three hours of utmost seriousness. Who wants that?
And now on to the characters. The film made me love Boromir and Galadriel even more because it excellently portrayed their struggles with the Ring. Galadriel is quite awesome in the book so I’m not sure if Jackson could have made her any more awesome. But Boromir… I felt a bit sorry for him while reading the book because he couldn’t control what the Ring was doing to him – namely, encouraging him to kill Frodo and take it. I cared about him more in the film and was actually sad when he tried to take the Ring from our favorite hairy midget, was discovered by Orcs, and was man-hugged by Aragorn before he died. Usually, only books make me feel sad.
For some reason when I have reviewed movies in the past, I have never really mentioned the actors even though they’re kind of the most important part. I’m going to do so now! One of my favorite actors was Orlando Bloom because Legolas is, um, hot! (His picture is my current computer wallpaper.) I don’t usually fangirl about someone’s looks because it comes across as ridiculous and I think most of the “hot guys” today aren’t so great, but I can’t help it now. He’s cute or hot or whatever you want to call it and I am going to shut up now before I say anything else that my family will tease me about. I think Bloom did a good job portraying his character but honestly I think even a slug could because Legolas doesn’t have much of a role in the first book of the trilogy. (This fangirl is happy that he does in the second, and that he’ll also be in the upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.) He’s usually doing useless things like prancing about on the snow and when he actually says something, it’s always obvious and therefore useless. (A bunch of Orcs appear. Legolas: “Orcs!” Everyone else: “Gee, we never would have guessed!”) At my library there are many posters with actors holding books to encourage you to read and I realized the other day that Bloom is there along with Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, and other awesome beings. It’s odd, but Bloom is astonishingly average when he’s not dressed as an elf. Please excuse me while I go have a sad. I’ll be back in just a few minutes to continue this review.
Alright, back now – I’ve convinced Bloom to always dress as an elf! My favorite characters in the books are Gollum and the One Ring, as much as the Ring can be considered a character. However, Gollum was barely in the film because he’s not in the first novel much and the Ring only minimally corrupted people in the first film. (Alright, maybe not so. Boromir ended up a bit dead from Ring’s power.) This resulted in my liking some characters in the movies even more than I liked them in the books. Namely, Aragorn – played by Viggo Mortensen. (This actor critiquing is not going so well. I’d never even heard of most of these guys before!) Um, Aragorn is hot in the movies as well but not nearly as much as Legolas so I’m not as biased with him. Mortensen looked exactly as I imagined Aragorn and acted the part extremely well, as well as being extremely attractive if you’re into guys who apparently never take a bath or shave.
Aragorn may not groom himself regularly but don’t worry, because he wears a necklace! They somehow cancel out each other. His elfin snogging buddy pictured above (Arwen, not Legolas, you twits!) gives him a necklace called Evenstar towards the beginning of the film. It’s extremely sparkly and all that, but Aragorn doesn’t mind because it’s the manly kind of sparkly. Or something. Anyway, I was momentarily confused because this isn’t mentioned in the book. So far everything else had been true to the book. I don’t doubt that Evenstar isn’t somewhere in the books, but it’s not in The Fellowship of the Ring. I was reading the Appendices last night and read the story about Aragorn and Arwen, but couldn’t find any mention of Arwen actually giving the necklace to him. So correct me if I’m wrong, because I just might not have been paying enough attention.
I am very happy that Peter Jackson cut out many of the singing scenes. Call me a sourpuss, but I didn’t like reading the songs and didn’t much want to listen to them. One of the few major scenes that was cut from the movie is the one with Tom Bombadil. I thought he was cool simply because he’s been around forever and no one really knows where he came from. So I was a little sad that he was missing (although I’d known that he would be from hearing about it) but I can see why – he sings a ton and his scenes would add at least twenty minutes to an already long movie. In the end I didn’t mind too much because I like the guy but I don’t like his singing. Hey, who does that remind me of? Oh yeah, Aragorn and Legolas.
I do like music, just not long dwarf songs. I love Howard Shore’s score for the film. It’s so epic. It really does sound like something the elves would play or, yes, sometimes sing. My favorite pieces are the main theme, In Dreams, and Concerning Hobbits. Shore has been added to my mental list of awesome film composers. Seriously, if you listen to the main theme and don’t start thinking about running off on a grand adventure then there is something wrong with you. Be sure to check out the main theme for the upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey film, also composed by Shore! I love that the beginning is set to the same tune as the dwarves’ song Misty Mountains Cold.
I have a few more little observations about the film. First of all, what’s up with Elrond’s dorky hair doodads? Honestly, you silly elf – those went out of style in the First Age! Secondly, my list of places I want to travel to was already long, but now I think I’ll have to add New Zealand! The Fellowship of the Ring was filmed there and I fell in love with the scenery almost more than I fell in love with Legolas. Those. Mountains. Are. Amazing.
The Fellowship of the Ring is nearly four hundred pages in length. Was the movie a decent adaptation of the original book? I think so. The extended edition is over three hours long but I’m not sure that anything could have been cut. There’s a lot of plot and explanation in the novel and I’m glad that they kept it. In the Harry Potter movies this was often missing, with disastrous effects. My younger brother either hasn’t read any Tolkien or read some a long time ago, but he understood what was going on. The only things I had to explain to him were the Ringwraiths (“They fused themselves with nine of the Rings.”) and the difference between Aragorn and Boromir because he couldn’t tell them apart (“Aragorn is hotter.” “Whatever, nevillegirl.” “Well, he is… but Legolas is better than both of them!”). My brother even laughed, which isn’t something he does often because apparently he likes imitating a robot. When did he laugh? At the scene when Bilbo desperately wanted the Ring and went a little crazy. Quentin made me rewind the movie so we could see that part several times.
The biggest change, besides the deletion of Tom Bombadil, was the addition of the elf Arwen. In the first book she basically just stands around looking pretty. In the film it is she and not Glorfindel-the-elf-who-I-am-pretty-sure-is-never-mentioned-again who rescues Frodo from the Ringwraiths. I’m all for girl power, but I’d rather have Jackson stick to the original storyline. Yes, Tolkien does seem to forget about half of the human race. Even this feminist/equalist isn’t bothered by that because it’s part of the quirkiness that comes with reading Tolkien. The other main quirky bit is that Tolkien’s male characters are always hugging each other, singing, wearing long hair, wearing tights in the case of Legolas, and occasionally even professing their (brotherly) love for each other, causing me to snicker.
I was very impressed with the film because the characters and places looked like they were described. In particular I was impressed with the amount of detail shown in Bag End, Rivendell, and Lothlórien. You already know that I really like Legolas, but I think Bloom was cast perfectly for the role, as well as Mortensen, Elijah Wood (Frodo), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), and Sean Bean (Boromir). I’m not kidding when I say that one of the greatest disappointments of my early childhood was realizing that many characters in the Harry Potter movies looked nothing like how they were described in the books, so I appreciate films that are true to the books.
Now for some random Lord of the Rings-themed stuff! Check out these picture parodies on Liam’s blog. We command you, my precious! My favorites are the one with Sauron’s house and the one with, “What are we holding onto, Sam?” I have to say that I am all the more impressed (and doubling over with laughter) now that I actually kind of understand Lord of the Rings, Liam. Although I still refuse to believe that you aren’t the spitting image of Galadriel.