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Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

This classic "Action-Fantasy" story of good verses evil, friendship and sacrifice, is a rousing, adventure tale that brings Tolkien's novel, The Fellowship of the Ring to life. In the world of the mystical, magical middle earth, a young Hobbit Frodo Baggins, with the help of a wizard, his fellow Hobbit friends, and 4 warriors, sets out on a dangerous journey to throw an evil, all powerful ring into the fires of Mount Doom, to defeat an evil presence, threatening to destroy all the communities.

The cast includes: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, and Andy Serkis.

Directed by: Peter Jackson. Screenplay by: Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel "The Fellowship of the Ring."

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Power Can Be Held In The Smallest Of Things -
One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

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This tale of adventure, danger, courage and friendship begins on a place called middle earth, a land of long ago that is not only inhabited by humans, but also dwarfs, fairies, elves, dwarfs, little people known as Hobbits, wizards, both good and bad, and forces of evil. The evil Orcs and unseemly co-horts are still a potential force of great harm to the other people of middle earth because of the unseen presence of the evil Lord Sauron, who continues to search for his ring, so he can have a physical presence once more, and bring his evil plans to rule home to roost...

While Lord Sauron was physically destroyed in a great battle centuries ago, his all powerful evil ring was not destroyed in the Fires of Mount Doom because its evil power got a hold of the human who had killed Lord Sauron. This human warrior foolishly refuses to throw the ring into the fire, thus giving Lord Sauron, now in spirit form a way to still be an evil influence, which only grows through the centuries of time.

Through some mishaps, the ring is lost for centuries until a Hobbit, Bildo Baggins gets a hold of it and takes it back to his Hobbit village. He secretly keeps it close to him, as a prized possession. As he gets older, he shows no aging. Finally, at his 100th birthday celebration, he decides to leave, and mysteriously disappears temporarily when he puts on the ring for a moment. To his young nephew, Frodo. Bildo gives all his property, including this evil ring, after Gandalf, the wise wizard, puts a little pressure on him. The evil influence of the ring on Bildo is clearly seen temporarily when Gandalf puts some pressure on Bildo to leave the ring behind.

Bildo's behavior clues Gandalf into the realization that this ring has an evil hypnotic effect on people. Gandalf soon discovers that this is Lord Sauron's all powerful ring created by Lord Sauron to empower his evil plans for middle earth.

Uh oh! This explains why the Orcs are preparing for war, and why the mysterious black horse , ghoul riders are currently riding around the countryside - they are looking for the ring! Every time someone puts the ring on, it gives a clear signal to the evil seekers of the ring exactly where it is located. Since Bildo had foolishly put it on at his birthday party, guess who was on the way to collect it, and kill the current ring bearer?

Gandalf quickly sends Frodo, who is now the ring bearer, with his three Hobbit friends, Merry, Pippin and Samwise, on a journey to the Prancing Pony Pub and Inn, where Gandalf plans to meet them after he goes to consult with the head wizard, Saruman the White (Christopher Lee). Gandalf solemnly warns Frodo, "You must remember, the Ring is trying to get back to its master. It wants to be found."

Of course, both the Hobbits and Gandalf are heading into big trouble, a first installment of exciting, suspenseful, scary adventure that draws the audience into their dangerous situations, as the story is masterfully told, with building suspense, the close calls with the evil ones, as our heroes sometimes find themselves jumping from the frying pan into the fire. All these tense situations cause the audience to sit on the edge of their seats, only to breathe a sigh of relief when the Hobbits, finally find a safe refuge in the land of the elves, thanks to the wits and courage of the gallant, sword-wielding ranger, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and the beautiful elf princess, Arwen 'Evenstar' Undómiel (Liv Tyler), who saves Frodo from death and a damned hellish existence, as a unworldly slave of Lord Sauron, like the ghoulish black riders.

Unfortunately, Gandalf finds out the hard way that Saruman the White has fallen under the influence of Lord Sauron and is actively using his powers to help create a new army of hybrid Orcs that can fight during daylight hours. After being Saruman's prisoner, he finds a unique way to escape only a wizard could come up with, and he heads for land of the elves for the council of representatives meeting, to decide what must be done.

It is decided that the ring must be thrown into the Fires of Mount Doom, to destroy its evil power and Lord Sauron. During the meeting, the ring's destructive influence is seen, as they all break into arguments, which stop only when Frodo bravely once again agrees to be the ring bearer, as he has a strong resistance to its evil influence.

Frodo, his three Hobbit friends (Merry, Pippin, and Samwise), supported by the protecting forces Gandalf, ranger Aragorn, warrior Boromir (Sean Bean), Legolas the Elf (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli the Dwarf (John Rhys-Davies), all make up the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, a group of 9, dedicated to the destruction of the evil ring.

The audience knows that the respite in the land of the elves is now over, and are soon to be engrossed with the next installment of adventures that this special Fellowship must endure and conquer, including not only their own weaknesses, but also the inevitable battles with the Orcs and other various evil creatures of this world and the under world sent to stop them in their quest and steal the ring back, wanted for dastardly purposes.

Lord of the Rings:Fellowship of the Ring, which is the first installment of this trilogy, is truly a labor of love and dedication of not only the marvelous director Peter Jackson, but everyone who was involved with all the aspects of the film. It is no wonder that the film was nominated for 13 academy awards, of which they won 4 of them.

The very best effort of everyone involved was inspired by the love of Tolkien's novel trilogy. The entire cast and production crew and supporting people made an 18 month commitment for the filming of all three films in this trilogy in the rugged outback of New Zealand.

This commitment of dedication, inspiration and love for Tolkien's adventure story flows throughout the quality of direction, acting, screenplay, locations, stunning special effects, set designs, art direction, costumes, make-up, cinematography, musical score and production values, which all magically come together to create a truly marvelous, classic film, which fully captures the spirit of Tolkien's story.

Great attention was paid to detail in everything the audience sees and experiences, everything from the beautiful elfin language, to the fur on the Hobbits' feet, to the ghastly black riders and Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths, not to mention the glorious sets, making the audience feel like they've been transported back to this fantasy, fairy-tale land, making it all very real and gripping, in this stressful roller coaster ride of a near continuous battle between good and evil.

The man who was the driving inspirational force, behind all the enthusiasm and high quality work, that cut no corners was the terrifically talented director/producer/writer, Peter Jackson, a New Zealander, whom some actors in his cast called the original Hobbit, as Jackson is a short, sort of chunky, enthusiastic sort who offers inspiring direction to the cast, encouraging their own enthusiasm for the project.

The cast of actors and actresses really got into their roles and brought the best of their talent and effort to the film, bringing the script to life.

Ian McKellan, a knighted, British stage actor, earned an Oscar nomination for his wonderful portrayal of Gandalf.

His counter part, Christopher Lee, also gives a stunning portrayal of evil, as the turn coat wizard, Saruman the White.

Young, 21 year old Elijah Wood does an excellent job portraying the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins, who finds himself in the difficult position of being the ring bearer of a most evil ring, which forces him to leave his home and face a perilous journey, one he is not prepared to take by himself. His main gift is his ability to resist the evil urges that come from the ring. My favorite scenes with Frodo are his close shaves with the black riders.

It becomes apparent that if Frodo and his fellow bumbling Hobbit friends are to be successful, and not suffer some awful fate, they will need the help of experienced warriors to defend, guide and help them.

The ruggedly handsome Viggo Mortensen does a very convincing job portraying the ranger, a human warrior, Aragorn, who comes at the nick of time to save the Hobbits at the Prancing Pony from the black riders, who were hunting Frodo. Viggo prepared for his role by taking sword fighting lessons from an expert hired to train the actors. Viggo excelled, learning more than what was expected.

Sean Bean is also convincing as the human warrior, Boromir, the heir to a kingdom, who has a weakness for the ring, but is an excellent, brave fighter. Bean brings his own unique edge to the characters he plays, and is fun to watch.

John Rhys-Davies does a great job portraying the dwarf warrior, Gimli. His make-up / costume was quite a work of art, an ordeal for him to undergo. Anything for your art!

The battles with the Orcs and friends in the dwarf mines are well done and quite exciting, as are the above ground skirmishes which inevitably happen after they leave the land of the fairies. The choreography of the battle scenes was top notch. Real people, with black belts, wore the ugly Orc masks / costumes and were convincing in the battles with our heroes.

Liv Tyler, offers an interesting portrayal of the elfin princess, Arwen 'Evenstar' Undómiel, who is the one who rides Frodo, wounded by a black rider, to the safety of the land of the elves, with the black riders giving chase. She crosses a river, says a spell in elfin, and washes away the black riders. This is one of my favorite sequence of scenes. Conferring with her love, Aragorn, she takes Frodo and at a full gallop, on a big horse, she flees to the river, with the group of black-shrouded riders on black horses giving chase, not quite catching up to her. The suspense builds until she crosses the river, says her spell, and gets rid of the riders. Tyler fell in love with the elfin language, and does a good job.

Cate Blanchett has a small, but powerful part as Galadriel, Lady of the Galadhrim, in the land of the fairies, who finds a dramatic way to bolster Frodo's courage and resolve to complete his dangerous mission.

The action-packed screenplay, adapted from Tolkien's novel, was written by Peter Jackson and his wife/partner, Fran Walsh (also a producer) and Philippa Boyens, this being her first effort on a major film project.

The gripping cinematography was by an Australian by the name of Andrew Lesnie, a cinematographer who is active making films in Australia, such as the classic hit, Babe, and the sequel, Babe in the City.

Enya , an Irish composer wrote the songs and Australian composer, Howard Shore wrote the inspiring musical score.

Peter Jackson recruited Alan Lee, who is widely recognized as one of the most popular and prolific fantasy artists in the world, to create the sets. This is his first film effort, and he did a fantastic job. Life in a Hobbit village, or a Elf castle, or the grungy underground mines of the dwarfs are fascinating to see.

Rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences and some scary images. (Peter Jackson got his start in horror movies, though there isn't much blood or gore at all).

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If you enjoyed LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, you may like the sequels, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWIN TOWERS, and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING. Other recommendations include: STAR WARS - EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MEACE, HARRY POTTER & THE SORCERER'S STONE, and THE MUMMY RETURNS.