At first I was going to do a book review, but that seems like an enormous task with too few faults. So this is…more of a comparison between the two.
Oh, and this will be of the extended version because I haven’t seen any other kind. I was a toddler when these movies came out, which is a good thing, or I would have torn my hair out waiting for the next one.
There are spoilers here obviously, but I’m not going to give that warning in the future unless the movie is less than a year old. Because if you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t care enough, or you’ll forget the spoiler by the time you do see it.
I now give you…a review of The Fellowship of the Ring movie.
We open with Galadriel recounting how the Ring came into being, and briefly recapping how it got to Bilbo.
It was good, but a little more violent than I remember the book opening.
But that’s okay, because it made me that much more excited when I saw Bilbo in the Shire, and heard the music that my mother had listened to ever since the soundtracks came out!
I have a cool mom.
And every detail of Bad End is SO good, with nothing being too trivial. I was indescribably happy the first time I saw it. But when Frodo comes on, oh, every time I choke up when I see how peaceful he is, and how he has no. Idea. What’s coming. There could have been no other Frodo. The Gandalf introduction was clever.
And then the party scene. I don’t think anything, not Lothlorien or Rivendell or the Grey Havens are more beautiful than the Shire. Maybe it’s because all those Hobbits are so obliviously content. I don’t know why Bilbo didn’t warn Frodo that he was leaving, but when Frodo went home, he seemed to not be surprised, so points for that.
Everything seemed pretty on point from then. Gandalf left to find out what happened, and Frodo went on with his merry life, not concerned about the Ring. It doesn’t say for how long, but somehow I don’t think it was 17 years. Then Frodo just gets up and leaves, not slipping away quietly, not selling his home, but after hearing what Gandalf has to say he has no qualms about leaving his life behind. But I was okay with that, because it would have taken forever to squeeze all that into the movie. And I loved that Sam joined the project in the same way–by eavesdropping and being caught by Gandalf.
Not gonna lie though, I was freaked out when they started going to Rivendell and there was no Merry and Pippin! Not that the way they came onboard wasn’t clever and super funny, but I thought it was unbelievable how Frodo was so concerned about them coming in the book, and in the movie he just let them be swept into it.
And then boom, there they are in Bree! What, no Bombadil, no Barrow wights? That was what bothered me the most about this movie. They didn’t have to have the whole shebang; they could have had just a little bit of him! Why? WHY??
My life will forever be incomplete without this.
Bree was good, though I missed Frodo’s song. And if you didn’t know Aragorn was who he was, I think you’d be really suspicious of him. Not that the book didn’t give that impression of him either, but at least Gandalf left a helpful letter saying “You can trust him, he’s my friend.” But that scene still gives me chills. Really, really good chills.
And then there they are in the wilderness with Strider. I thought that felt a bit rushed. But that’s okay, it’s hard to make a book scene that just says “they traveled” drawn out. I would rather something feel rushed than, I don’t know, an ENTIRE HOBBIT MOVIE BEING ABOUT ONE STUPID BATTLE!!!
The scene on Weathertop was really good, and I always feel that dagger piercing me too, but I didn’t like how Frodo was really out of it after he was wounded. In the book he continued to interact with his friends, and walk when he could. Though granted being delirious the whole time seems more likely if he was turning into a Ringwraith.
And as if the lack of Bombadil wasn’t enough, there was no Glorfindel either! Instead it was Arwen who saved Frodo, who although I love and have been told I resemble, therefore making her my role model in some ways, I sorely missed Glorfindel. And in hindsight I see that she wouldn’t have actually done that. There are reasons she lived with her grandmother in Lothlorien for most of her life instead of in Rivendell.
Saruman was very impressive. Again, there could have been no other Saruman. Or Gandalf, or Aragorn, or Legolas, or any of them.
Rivendell was so beautiful. It has an instantly calming effect, and I wasn’t even there! I’m so glad they had a real live Council of Elrond for all those losers who skip that chapter in the book. Granted most of the material wasn’t covered, but they had to do what was best for the movie and give just the information we needed. It kind of ruined the effect though that all the members of the Fellowship just said, “hey, I’ll go on this quest of certain death and fame.” No, that’s like casting yourself in a play! But at least it showed they were brave and loyal.
The romance between Aragorn and Arwen was a bit much, but at least it was a real romance really from the book. And I could see how drawing that out a little more was too great a temptation for the director to resist. Besides, it’s not like we were ever going to see Beren and Luthien, so this romance had to cover two!
Caradhras was a very impressive scene, and I really felt the struggle and desperation of the Company, especially because the only other option was certain doom. It’s got to be really discouraging to know you’re going to die when you haven’t even gotten to Mordor yet!
Again, really good. The Watcher in the Water looked more realistic than Smaug. And I felt as stifled as the Fellowship did in those awful Mines of Moria. The only odd thing was, I expected to have tears at Gandalf’s death, when it was such a dramatically moving scene with such powerful music. But I guess I could never really grieve when I knew he was coming back.
Lothlorien was also beautiful, but in kind of a creepy way. As was Galadriel. I mean, she’s the Lady of Light, and Lothlorien is the Golden Wood, but it seemed really dark and starry to me. Still beautiful, though. I didn’t like how Sam didn’t get to look into the Mirror, but that’s just me being picky.
One thing I give Peter Jackson tremendous points though, for. The only criticism I ever had with Tolkien ever is that Aragorn made Legolas walk blindfolded through Lothlorien so Gimli wouldn’t feel singled out. It took me an entire chapter to forgive Aragorn, and even longer to forgive Gimli. (I finally did, though) But PJ took any mention of that out, and I was so relieved I didn’t have to watch that outrage in person!
Again, I freaked out when the Fellowship left Lothlorien without Galadriel giving them gifts. But she came through. Though not for Boromir! Poor Boromir never got his golden belt! Would it have KILLED you to include that snippet, you mostly competent director you?!
But I liked how Legolas and Gimli finally were bonding.
I was trying to decide if I liked Boromir by this point, when he started being corrupted. He portrayed that so well. He and Frodo nailed that confrontation. So I really didn’t have any faults with the movie after that. I liked that Boromir’s death was included in this, because when the books were being written people had to wait until The Two Towers to see if he lived or not.
*Sigh* Boromir’s death. The one scene in this movie that never fails to make me cry, and it’s not even because he dies so much as he finally respects Aragorn after snubbing him this whole time. It was here where I decided I liked him. Too late, obviously. But the way that he came running up to save Merry and Pippin was so heroic, no one could help but like him! I always loved the relationship he had with those two.
And people scoff at Legolas for being so perfect in looks and archery, but, well, it’s probably an accurate portrayal. Sorry pathetic humans, Legolas is just perfect. Always.
Sam running after Frodo was also super moving, though somehow I never cried during that. Probably because I was just too happy for Sam not letting his Master out of sight. And for Frodo letting him come with. “I’m going to Mordor alone!” “Of course you are! And I’m coming with you!”
Okay, now I’m tearing up. How weird is that?
Something most people probably don’t notice is that Aragorn takes Boromir’s wrist guards things here before sending him over the Falls of Rauros. I think it’s neat that he wanted that memento of him, snobbish though he may have been at times. And the way Legolas and Gimli decide to follow Aragorn on a fool’s errand, oh, so great. This movie definitely ends on a note of hope and determination, even though everyone knows the worst is just ahead.
The “May it Be” song during the credits can only be described as inspired.
Okay, so I don’t know what that was. It was part movie review, part book/movie comparison, and part my thoughts on watching it for the first time…six years ago.
In short, it’s a spectacularly moving and beautiful piece of film that everyone should see once they are mature enough to appreciate it, after of course first reading the book.
Thanks for making it this far! You are probably the only one who did. The Two Towers will be coming at some point; hopefully it’ll be more critical review and less my first impression of it. But no promises.