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

Director: Peter Jackson

So the third Hobbit film is out now, and the arguments will no doubt long continue as to the merits of Jackson taking one book and making three films of it; having seen exactly none of the Hobbit trilogy, and also not having read the book in nearly 30 years, I can’t contribute to said arguments. However, I do feel sure that no one will deny that he was right to insist that, in the case of Lord of the Rings, three books not be made into one film. (Remember the Ralph Bakshi version? I wish I couldn’t.) The ICheckMovies forum are doing a SF/fantasy challenge in January, so time to dust these beauties off again, although I’m sadly not game to marathon the whole lot at once; reason suggests I should spread them out a bit more than that. Maybe one a week? One a week.

Anyway—I may be a bit heretical in thinking Jackson’s telling of the story, across all three films, improves upon Tolkien’s, but I’ll stand by that. I have reread the three books since I last watched the entire trilogy, and the revisit only confirmed the impression. I did kind of sympathise with those who were heard to piss and moan at length back in 2001 about Tom Bombadil getting the arse in the film, but on rewatching tonight I found myself rather less so; Tom’s fine on the page, but I don’t think that episode would’ve served much purpose in the film. And rewatching tonight also kind of took me back to my very first viewing, a media preview at Hoyts on George St shown on a very big screen. It was AWE-INSPIRING. And I think it’s maintained its stature well, even if the CGI/green-screen business seems much more screamingly obvious to me now than it did back in 2001. The aforementioned digital tomfoolery may be more obvious now, but it’s still well done, with the whole film (natural and unnatural scenery) looking amazing even on the small screen. And it’s so well-cast (mostly; I was a bit less happy with Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett this time round), with New Zealand itself obviously being the real star of the thing. There just seems to be something… definitive about it. And I knew when I left the preview in 2001 that the second and third films were both going to have a hard time living up to that opening. Did they? Well, we’ll have to wait to find out this time next week…

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