Over at the blog, Educlaytion, a different March Madness has begun, a Movie March Madness and the brackets are up. So get on the ball and get behind my movie entry, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. If you haven’t seen the whole trilogy, get it on your Netflix queue now! It is based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel (1200+ pages), Lord of the Rings. The page number alone gives you an idea of the task Peter Jackson set himself by taking it on. Publishers eventually separated the book into three volumes for publication. The first volume being the Fellowship of the Ring, the second, The Two Towers and the third, The Return of the King. The main title of the novel refers to the story’s primary antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who had, in an earlier age, created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. The binding words on the ring are,
“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
The best of the three movies is the first one, The Fellowship of the Ring, and being the first it carries the responsibility of introducing the story and the characters. We meet the fellowship, a mismatched group of men, hobbits, an elf and a dwarf, and we are immediately attracted to them because of their dedication to the cause and their determination to complete the mission; they have the Ring and must see it destroyed in a fiery mountain. They are like an underground group who forms secretly and strikes out to overthrow the government.
On the way they must overcome many obstacles. Some of these obstacles are in the form of some wonderful and horrific beings. An early one and my favorite are the Ringwraiths or the Nazgul. They appear later in the trilogy riding flying creatures but in Fellowship they are on jet black horses who have bloody hooves and flaring nostrils. The Nazgul used to be nine mortal men but they succumbed to Sauron’s power and attained near immortality by becoming his wraiths or servants bound to the power of the One Ring. They are sent out to find Frodo who is the ringbearer and has the unpopular task to destroy it. Tolkien describes the wraiths in his sequel, the Silmarillion, as “the Enemy’s most terrible servants; darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death.” Peter Jackson’s Ringwraiths embody this perfectly. They wear black hooded cloaks which are ragged and torn and stream out in a wind created by their swift black steeds as they ride. He has them emit high-pitched shrieks that strike terror in the hearts of all who hear them. Your heart is in your throat in this scene where the Ringwraith is riding past the Hobbit’s hiding place.
Two pivotal battles take place in the first movie and they are not between two huge armies but rather members of the fellowship versus some pretty formidable opponents. Both of these take place in the dark Mines of Moria. The Orcs, creatures living in the mine and minions of Sauron, are alerted to the fellowship’s intrusion into one of the underground chambers. They arrive in force but the group bars the entrance and hacks and shoots any arms or legs that try to break through. The Orcs bring a huge Cave-troll who bashes down the door and enters the room with many Orcs. Even though the Fellowship fights bravely and kills the troll it seems they will be out numbered when all of a sudden the Orcs stop fighting and stream out. The Fellowship runs to the rear door while Gandalf, the Wizard, bars the entrance door with a spell only to have it crash open with a counterspell. Gandalf runs with the others knowing that behind him is the Balrog of Morgoth. Eventually he must stand and fight this creature in an amazing battle while the others escape.
This is a major turning point in the story, for the Fellowship will now be without their strongest magical member as they go on to face more trials in order to save the world from the domination of pure evil. All of this is surrounded by a fantastic soundtrack that plays on all your feelings: sadness, joy, terror, hope. If it wasn’t for the storytelling in this first film there would be no reason to go on and complete the trilogy. So vote for The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring – and vote often!