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My LOTR:FOTR Review!!

December 18, 2001 at 1:43 pm by xoanon  - 

If you want to skip the ‘history of TORN and where I stand at this moment’ part…scroll down until you see The Review.

You can thank ICQ for the existence of TheOneRing.net

Well, I say ‘YOU’, but I guess I should really say ‘I’, with the myriad of Tolkien sites out there, and the handful that do a really good job at reporting all the news, you folks really have allot of places to go for your Tolkien fix if TORN wasn’t around. However in my soul I truly believe that we are the best at what we do, and we’re only getting better as time roles on.

So, back to my story.

I can thank ICQ for changing my life…

Back in Christmas of ’98 I was at a dinner with my family when my aunts started talking instant messaging and ICQ, I asked about it. They told me ICQ was an instant messaging program you can get for free on the internet. You can chat with people from around the world.

‘Cool,’ I thought ‘maybe I’ll download it’

After getting the program and working out the settings and configuration, I set my online status to ‘Random chat’, and started buzzing the millions of ICQ folks around the world to find interesting people to talk to.

Random search: *click*: Erica Challis (New Zealand)


Erica Challis (Tehanu) Co-Founder and most level headed TORN owner

That’s how it started; Erica and I met online and chatted about this and that. At the time I was working on a 007 fan page, EON/MGM were then in the middle of shooting ‘The World Is Not Enough’ and I was following all the major players in the 007 online news game. I was learning how they gathered news, how to find locals, how to get photos taken from anywhere around the world. Little did I know how useful that information would be.

‘Do you like books?’ Erica asked me once

‘Yeah, I’m a pretty avid reader’

We discovered we had a few similar tastes in fiction; we were both HUGE fans of Kim Stanley Robinson’s RED/GREEN/BLUE MARS trilogy. We found ourselves talking late into the night about John Boone, Maya Toitovna, and Frank Chalmers, three of the major characters in the space drama about the first colonies to inhabit Mars.

‘How cool would that be if they made it into a movie’ I once commented.

‘You know,’ she said one day ‘they’re filming The Lord Of The Rings here in New Zealand’

Needless to say I was more than a little excited about that. The idea formed in my mind to basically do the same thing I had been doing with LOTR as I was doing with 007, follow the production, find all the information I could, snap a few photos and tell people about it. It was as simple a beginning as that.

Erica was a big Tolkien fan, and was very eager to partner up with me and work on the site. We found some free space on the now defunct ‘Xoom.com’ and set up shop.

‘From The Pages To The Screen’ is what we called it. It was green in color and as basic and simple as I could make it. Web design wasn’t, and still isn’t, my major stock in trade. We had basic info about the characters, and a message board. I later added a weekly poll, and of course, the customary fan-boy hit counter.

The first image we ever posted was a newspaper clipping from one of the local papers that Erica found. The Hobbiton set was being built, this was before anyone was cast in any roles, almost a whole year before filming would ever begin. We hoped for a good response from the internet community. Our hit counter was at 16 when I went to bed that night, and that was due to Erica and I checking out the site to see if the HTML code worked properly…I retired for the evening.

The next morning I woke up to over 900 hits, I can actually remember looking at that number in sheer shock..900+? Where did they come from?! Aint it cool news picked up on our story and first image of the Hobbiton construction, and linked to us..which naturally caused a tidal wave of hits to the site…we were an instant hit in our first attempt.

Absolute joy, Erica and I were happy beyond belief, people were very interested in us! From that we managed to find more and more information, we used ICQ, email and good old fashioned detective work to get all the news we could. The hits kept on coming in bigger and better numbers, we were making a name for ourselves.

Bill Thomas and Chris Pirrotta had known each other a while before they introduced themselves to us, they were two Americans who were interested in Tolkien and had an idea to float to us: What if they created a professional looking website, on a dedicated server with our own unique domain, where we can post all the LOTR news we wanted, as long as they partnered up with us.


Chris Pirrotta & Bill Thomas, my brothers in arms on this jounery we’ve had

I can still recall Erica and I having a meeting to talk this over, who were these guys? What can they do? Should we do this? I cannot tell you how many times in the past 2 and 1/2 years I’ve thanked my lucky stars that we decided to partner up with them. There are not 2 better people to have doing your web design and network administration than Bill and Chris.


TORN accolades through the years

So the four of us formally shook cyber-hands and teamed up. Now all we needed was a domain name, a whole lot of money, and completely new designed site that was easy to navigate, had all the things we needed, and looked good!

Weeks of work went into the initial design of the site, many of you would be surprised to know that the look of the site has not really changed much over the years, but it was not the only design we had in mind! There were plenty of other designs we mulled over, Chris really has a canvas in his head, and knows how to design and mix colors, shapes and graphics.

We chose the domain TheOneRing.net from a few others we had in mind. We liked the ‘.net’ because we found that ‘.com’ is very corporate and didn’t give of the ‘community’ feel that we wanted to represent.

The site has certainly grown from it’s initial plans, we eventually added a gaming section, the green books, the fan section, all the community sites, and Peter Jackson’s Official Fan Club is has even found a home here. There are so many hard working people from all over the world who donate their free time to work on the site. It truly has changed my life, and certainly the lives of many people whom I work with.


This is the REAL TORN, all these great folks

I’d like to take the time to thank all of them, very single person who has helped with the site since day one. They all deserve a million rewards for the hard work and generosity through the years, this site truly is forged by and for fans of JRR Tolkien.

I actually had a chance to see this film in late November, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough room for me after all the Alliance Atlantis and Famous Players big wigs and their families were done getting tickets, so I had to wait until the 13th…so I waited…

The 13th…December 13th, the day I was actually going to see THE movie…THE movie I’ve been talking about for almost 3 years…the movie I lived with everyday for the past 3 years..the movie I was involved with from day 1, from the casting, to the production, every set, every scene…we were ‘there’ during the entire process…then, when we started getting involved…Tehanu going to the set, dinner with Barrie Osborne, hearing from the cast and crew…emails from a few of them…set pics, news reports…all of it…it was all going to come down to the 3 hours of film I was going to see on December 13th…the day was NEVER going to arrive soon enough.

I’m a nervous person by nature…I have what is called anticipatory anxiety..I get nervous ABOUT getting nervous…it has held me back from doing a few things in life..trips away from home..(and the Cannes film festival), and other things. In my mind I make a big deal out of things that most other people would have no problem with.

It’s an issue that has been with me since I was about 17…and will be with me for a long while…so imagine my dilemma when I get a call from the folks at Alliance Atlantis that the press screening will be held at the gigantic Paramount theatre in Downtown Montreal…to a person with my anxiety issues it may have well been held on the moon.

For some reason I knew I was going to be there, I knew nothing save the apocalypse could keep me away from seeing this film, this piece of work that we at TORN have worked on for so long and hard, hard enough in fact, that all of the cast and crew have adopted us as ‘honorary crew members’, our part being little, but an important part to the whole.

So there I was, 8:30 in the am, sitting by my computer waiting another 5 minutes before my long (and in my mind tortuous) drive downtown to catch this film at 10 am.

I hoped in my car and said to it ‘ok car, it’s just you and me, so get me down there, with no panic attacks please’, it’s a long way to the ground when you drive off the onramp at the turcott yards interchange.

I headed out and began to slowly feel better as I made my way into the city…I deserved to see this film, TORN and I worked so hard to tell the entire world about it! And I’m going to make it!!

My anxiety lifted (as it always does) and I found myself singing to the Beastie Boys instead of seeing stars and almost passing out. It was truly an amazing experience…no anxiety..only anticipation of seeing THE MOVIE!! I’m going to see it sooooon!!

9:45 am I arrive at the Paramount, it’s closed except for invitation only.

‘Hi, I’m here for the Lord of the Rings’ (happy nerd dance-of-joy in my head)

‘Yes, it’s cinema 7, third floor’

As I’m walking towards the first of three escalators I would eventually take I can hear a young woman behind me say ‘I’m here for Lord of the Ring’, she gets the same directions and soon we were talking about the film. She asks me if I’m looking foreword to seeing it.

Hrm…let me think about that..

We arrive at cinema 7 to a long line or reporters, writers, local Montreal celebrities and many others waiting in line. You can tell who the movie critics are right away because they insist on being let into the theatre immediately (why do I have to wait in line bah, I’m a newspaper movie critic! who cares! -xo)

I eventually get to the head of the line and give them my name, I was very happy to finally meet Gabby from Alliance, we have spoken on the phone so many times in the past, the woman was so sweet, but extremely frazzled…it seems she cannot stand movie critics either…I like her even more 🙂

I get padded down, searched…and questioned (do you have any recording devices on you?). I jokingly make a comment that my hidden camera is in my water bottle (which the bodyguard seemed to laugh..or snort an answer) and eventually make my way into the cinema…this was it…this will be the cinema I see LOTR in…right here…right now.

Little did I know I’d have to wait another 45 minutes to get all the latecomers inside (latecomers!! heresy!)

A man gets on the mic and thanks us all for making it, I hear a few groans and moans as he mentions the film will be 3 hours in length. He then thanks us all for coming today, and the film will start in a few moments.

A few moments..that is all the separated me from Xoanon pre-movie and Xoanon post-movie…my god…this time has come…

I suddenly realize my palms are sweaty…my hands are shaking..and my mouth is as dry as the Sahara…no, this isn’t a panic attack..I’m genuinely nervous about this film, I want all these people to love it, I want them all to experience it the way I will, oh GOD hurry up and dim the lights!!!

The lights slowly dim…the THX logo pops up…then…the New Line Cinema Logo followed by

New Line Cinema Presents

A Wingnut Films Production

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

This is it…I’m in Middle-earth for 3 hours….

Hit me Peter….

The Review

This review will be as spoiler filled as possible, however I will skip over some sections to talk about the interesting stuff, but I will also skip over the REALLY good stuff that you shouldn’t be reading, but experiencing for yourself!..so if you don’t want to know any details…you’d better click away right now.

The film starts with Cate Blanchett’s voice over of the history of the ring. It does indeed begin with the forging of the ring. A very basic overview of the rings of power, 3 for the elves, 7 for the Dwarves and 9 for men, who above all else…craved power the most.

Cut to a map of middle earth…closely focusing on Mordor with Cate talking…

(None of these quotes I will give you are 100% accurate..)

‘But one thing they all didn’t know, was that Sauron made 1 ring, 1 ring with the power to rule them all, and in that ring he put all his malice and rage and hatred…he forged the One ring to rule over all the free-peoples, and with that ring a darkness fell opon the land.’

The story goes onto tell the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, a vast landscape with thousands upon thousands of men and orcs fighting, this really gives us our first taste of the power of MASSIVE, the software program used to create these CGI warriors. The Elves line themselves up in a row, and attack in unison upon command by Elrond…a truly amazing sight to see.

We see the Elves and Men making headway…slowly pushing back their Orc enemy…when suddenly Sauron appears..full battle regalia, with the Ring of Power on his finger…one stroke of his sword and tens of men and elves fly back 100 yards and are killed instantly…another swipe at the throng of men opposing him, they fly off to his right, arms and legs flailing…Elendil stands to face him, and is struck down by Sauron…Isildur runs to his fathers fallen side…and cries in anger and fear at the brooding giant before him, he takes his father’s sword and swings..the sword shatters…falling to the ground..Isildur is left with the blunted end of the hilt…Sauron reaches out for Isildur…falling back…Isildur takes one last desperate swing and slices all the fingers off of Sauron’s hand…the finger and the ring fall to the ground…Sauron throws his head back in rage and pain, the camera pulls back to a very wide shot…a light begins to grow and explodes all around the battlefield..all the orcs fall to the ground and die…Sauron’s body turns to ash and dust…he is dead.

Isildur, recovering from the ‘explosion’, sees the ring, lying near him on the ground…he picks it up, and stares at it in wonder….

Cate Blanchett’s voice fills our ears again as she recounts how the ring brings evil tidings to those who possess it, and Isildur is no different. We are shown the fall of Isildur, as he is attacked by a rogue band of Orcs…killed and dumped into the river…the ring falls to the riverbed…

Cate goes on to tell us about how Gollum found the ring, and how it possessed him, how he wound up a sniveling lanky reptilian creature, living in caves for years and years..

And then, we SEE him!! Gollum! He’s far away and cast in shadow..but it’s Gollum!! we finally hear ‘My preciousssssss’….

Cate’s narration continues to tell the story of Bilbo finding the ring, and making his way back home…to the Shire….

Fade out…

Fade In…

The Shire….60 Years Later

A young Hobbit is sitting by a tree reading a book, what a lovely tribute to Tolkien this is, a book…reminding us all where the roots of this movie is based in. The young Hobbit is Frodo, he hears a wagon pulling up.

Elijah Wood as Frodo is one of Jackson’s great casting achievements among many in this film. Elijah’s wild eyed innocence is used to perfection by Jackson, the sincerity in this character is 100% through and through, this really is Elijah Wood in a wig and fake feet, no acting needed. He is touching in his kindness and bravery, and we can see every emotion in those light blue eyes, Elijah carries his role in this film to perfection, the burden is his, yet we are made to share it with him.

Frodo races along a garden path to meet Gandalf on his cart, Gandalf is smoking a pipe and singing a song.

Ian McKellen as Gandalf…what more can be said..you want to see Gandalf? Look at Ian’s work weathered hands, they ARE Gandalf…we get to see some truly great work here from Ian. I felt as though Gandalf was pulled from the pages of the book and made real. I truly don’t think I’ll be able to read the books again and not think of Ian McKellen as Gandalf.

Hobbiton is every bit as good as it looks in all the photos we’ve seen and behind-the-scenes shots on the web. It really is this rural wonderland with happy young hobbit children farmers, animals and a marketplace. One could not avoid the earthy feel of the whole set, it was really ‘one’ with nature. Fabulous set designing from the folks at WETA, truly amazing stuff.

Bag End was exactly as I had pictured it to be, small, round and very antiquated. The details in the set design are extremely evident here, more so than say Moria or Orthanc, you really get the chance to look around Bilbo’s kitchen or living area during the fabulous scene between Bilbo and Gandalf.

Ian Holm as Bilbo, what can you say? He’s an absolute charmer, Ian Holm, I’ve loved him since The 5th Element, but I never really saw his acting chops until I rented The Sweet Hereafter (A film you should ALL see). Holm is brilliant as Bilbo, mind you, I could not get his voice out of my head from the BBC radio series where he played Frodo, and so It took a little getting used to.

Shrinkage, at this point in the film there were a few small examples of the digital and not-so-digital effects used to shrink the Hobbits down to size, this became extremely evident the moment Gandalf arrives at Bilbo’s door. Bilbo answers the door and the gigantic wizard bends his head and makes his way in, he hands his hat and staff to Bilbo, who can hardly carry them, this was ABSOLUTELY FLAWLESS!! How they did it is beyond me, I almost shouted aloud for them to rewind it and let me see that fabulous shot again. The entire Bag End sequence was shot separately, apparently, and both Ians were never in the same room at the same time..I’ve no idea how this was done..but it’s rather remarkable..and no, it wasn’t distracting.

Bilbo’s party is a rather splendid affair, many dancing Hobbits, we are first introduced to Sam, who is forced into dancing with the rather striking Rosie Cotton. And then we meet Merry and Pippin.

These two little Hobbits get themselves into trouble in a great scene devised by Jackson, they manage to steal one of Gandalf’s large fireworks, and light it on fire…inside a tent… which ignites the tent and sends it skyrocketing into the air..to explode into a large dragon! The dragon swoops down towards the terrified Hobbits as they all scatter and hit the ground! The Dragon then bursts into separate fireworks and all the hobbits cheer, except for Gandalf, who places the young Hobbits on pots and pans for the rest of the night.

Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan as Pippin and Merry, are my only concern through the entire film, not the actors per se, they were fantastic in their roles. It was the motivation, the character motivation, there is none. This was a problem for me. They meet up with Sam and Frodo, who now knows about the ring and knows he must go to Bree, and is being chased by the evil black riders. Yet the two young hobbits simply follow him without question or concern, and Frodo lets them. I really think there should have been more of a scene establishing their roles. Perhaps a scene where Frodo tells them to go home, or where the young Hobbits decide to follow Frodo all the way and help him out, I’ve no doubt these were filmed but removed during the paring down process. You have to realize these films were cut DOWN to 3 hours..Peter’s original cut must have been near the 4-hour range. Some things were lost in the process of saving our bums.

Backtracking a bit, I’ve really got to hand it to Sean Astin as Sam Gamgee, he really GETS Sam, the mix of undying devotion, dim-witted innocence, and humor were there. The scene where he’s caught snooping by Gandalf was hilarious! I mean if you can get a room full of crusty movie critics to laugh, you know it’s funny.

There’s a great little homage to the chapter title ‘A Short Cut To Mushrooms’ during this scene, you know all the Tolkien lovers will have a chuckle here. Then we see our first wraith up close..these things are nasty. Bad ass is not the word for them, they make Darth Maul look like a pokemon. The wraiths effect everything around them, so when they’re around the sky gets darker, they effect birds, beasts and creatures. The Hobbits narrowly get away from this wraith by hiding in the roots of a huge tree (one of the very first scenes they filmed by the way).

If you’re to compare the books to the film directly this is where is really changes. The Hobbits make it to Bree rather quickly, and in doing so I felt like Bree was simply another part of Hobbiton, rather than being on the very far fringe of the Shire. However the establishment of the Hobbits being in unfamiliar territory was done very well, with the gatekeeper exclaiming ‘Hobbits! And four of them no less!’, this is where we first see the Hobbits in the world of ‘men’.

Peter Jackson’s cameo was extremely quick…this was one of the shortest cameo’s I’ve seen in any of his films.

In Bree the Hobbits learn that Gandalf is not there to meet him, and they now ponder what to do.

Gandalf, meanwhile has gone to Orthanc to discuss matters with Saruman, Orthanc is in the plush realm north of Rohan, beautiful trees and forests surround this large dark tower. Gandalf fills Saruman in on all the details, only to slowly learn that Saruman has turned sides and is in league with Sauron.

It is pure delight to see Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee play this scene together, you can totally see them both munching into their characters and have a total love and respect for the work. Christopher Lee is really venomous as Saruman, another great casting coup by ANY means. The battle between wizards is much more elaborate than in the book, you see them fighting in only a way wizards can, with magic and spells. However, I love how PJ is extremely subtle about the magic element, just like Tolkien, we don’t see and glowing rods or magic dust or anything, just an element of power, the IDEA of power.

Gandalf is taken prisoner at the top of Orthanc. Saruman seeks council from Sauron as to his next move. He then instructs his orcs to tare out the trees and forests around orthanc and dig deep into the pits and turn the lush green countryside into a dank, acid filled open mine, complete with ropes, pulleys and SPIKEY WHEELS!!

Gandalf does indeed use the help of a passing moth, very much in a ‘Samurai warrior’ type of way, moving quick to capture the moth and give it instructions. When Gwaihir arrives to take Gandalf away it is an amazing scene, I love how he swoops down and Gandalf jumps on, right before Sauman’s eyes. Gwaihir does not talk.

I remember when they were filming on the Bree set, it was one of the first major set pieces to be used during principal photography. The set seemed to be only one long street, and Bree seemed a tad claustrophobic, in the film PJ has managed to open the town up, and Bree is this great old English looking town with all sorts of swarthy looking characters in it.

The Hobbits find themselves at the Prancing pony, as per Gandalfs instructions, and this is where the trouble starts, we see this amazing shot of Frodo, surrounded by all these big men, just wanting to place the ring on his finger and disappear, he can hear something calling his name…Baggins Baggins….

‘Baggins! Frodo Baggins,’ Pippin exclaims ‘He’s my cousin, he’s sitting right over there he is…’

Frodo jumps out of his chair and makes his way over to the intoxicated Hobbit and grabs his arm, Pippin pushes himself away and Frodo trips…the ring he was holding onto in his pocket flips into the air and as Frodo tries to catch it, it slips onto his finger and all of the Pony’s patrons watch Frodo disappear!

The other world we are transported to is pure genius, it is simply amazing, I mean HOW to you interpret the land of shadow and evil? It’s this amazing wind filled shadow realm, where all the people in the ‘real’ world are silhouetted and moving in slow motion. Here Frodo sees the EYE for the first time, this gigantic lidless monster, seeming to set fire to the Prancing Pony inn…it’s gigantic and menacing…and it’s hunting, hunting for Frodo. He makes his way into the corner of the room and removes the ring, suddenly he is grabbed by a stranger and hauled into another room, this is Strider, the mysterious figure who had his eye on the Hobbits since they entered the Pony.

‘You call too much attention to yourself….Mr. ‘Underhill’’

‘Who are you?’

‘I can remain unseen if need be, but to disappear all together, that is a neat trick, be careful, I know what you carry’

‘I carry nothing’

‘Are you frightened?’

‘Yes’

‘Not nearly frightened enough, I know what hunts you’

What an amazing introduction to Strider the ranger! Viggo is absolutely stunning as Strider, the mysterious stranger who seems to know a lot about Frodo and his business.

The Hobbits come charging in and Sam, fists up in the air, warns Strider not to harm Frodo, ever-faithful Sam.

Meanwhile the Dark Riders, having known Frodo’s whereabouts the second he placed the ring on his finger, smash the Bree gates down and head for their sleeping quarters. We see the Hobbits sleeping soundly..as the Riders enter their rooms and brandish their swords and hack the beds to pieces! They are enraged to find the beds are filled with pillows and the Hobbits are nowhere to be found!

Strider is smoking a pipe in a room across the street and can see their movements, the Hobbits are awoken by the noise, and Strider tells Frodo what they are…and that they must follow him if they want to be safe.

Again the story seems condensed here as the Hobbits are walking along following Strider, Merry asks Frodo if they should trust him, and ‘how do we know if he is a friend’. Unfortunately it is not cut like that great shot in the trailer, and Merry’s voice is now only a voice over, I would have liked to see the young Hobbits taking a little more responsibility and show that on screen.

I was rather saddened to see them suddenly reach Weathertop (I know there’s so much more to tell, but I wanted MORE time with Strider before the action starts). The group hunkers down for the night, and when Frodo awakens he is shocked to discover that the Hobbits have built a cooking fire.

‘What are you doing! Put it out! Put it out!’

The shot pulls back and we can see why Frodo is so eager for the fire to go out, we see a distant shot of Weathertop and even from this distance you can easily see the cooking fire. Their position is now known to all the birds, beasts, and other spies in this land.

With the fire out, the Hobbits are more frightened than ever, Strider returns to tell them that the Dark Riders are not far behind, they climb to the top of Weathertop and prepare for battle.

The dark riders attack them from all sides..Merry and Pippin are easily dispensed with, and Strider begins some impressive swordplay and Sam’s attempts to protect Frodo are useless with these massive wraiths…Frodo falls to the floor and crawls back further and further as the witch-king makes his way towards him…Frodo panics and places the ring on his finger!

We are suddenly in the land of shadow and fear again, the wraiths are no longer these black figures, but they are now luminous, shining white ghastly looking ghost men…the king, with his sick looking crown, creeps ever closer to Frodo, just as he is about to reach for the ring, Frodo moves..the King uses his sword to pin Frodo down, searing him right through his shoulder, Frodo screams! But in this shadow world there is no sound but the sound of winds and rain. Suddenly a shadow passes between Frodo and the wraith, we see in the ‘real’ world that Aragorn has taken him down! Frodo removes the ring and suddenly his screams are heard, Sam and Merry rush to his side..

Aragorn kicking wraith butt is marvelous here! He sets fire to a few of them, and scares the rest off, really good fighting skills in this scene, and a great introduction to the more action filled scenes to follow.

Frodo is wounded badly by the wraith weapon, which Aragorn holds in his hands as it turns to dust. They leave the hilly broken down watch tower of Weathertop and make their way into the forest. They stop at a giant statue of three trolls in the woods. (very cute little Hobbit reference, nothing is even mentioned of the statues, they are just there). Frodo’s eyes are beginning to look extremely pale..

‘He is passing into the land of Shadow, there is not much I can do, he needs Elf healing’

Aragorn enlists Sam to help him find a certain flower…as they split up Aragorn is bent over looking for this flower when suddenly a sword tip is at his neck…

We hear a woman’s voice say

‘What’s this? A ranger caught off guard?’

Back at Frodo’s bedside…we can plainly see he is very ill, his eyes are slowly turning pale…his skin is almost white…he is shaking and sweating…suddenly horses hooves are heard in the distance, the Hobbits prepare to hide when a beautiful white horse with and Elven lady rides into the clearing..Frodo looks at her…

We suddenly see from his point of view Arwen, with a wonderful halo effect around her entire body, she’s glowing white…beautiful.

They decide to let Arwen ride as fast as she can with the Hobbit to Rivendell, where the Elrond the Elf can use his medicines to help heal his wound. Aragorn insists he should go with Frodo, Arwen tells him that she is the faster rider and that she must take him.

This entire conversation is in Elvish, it is a wondrous sight to see. Both Liv and Viggo appear at ease with the language and seem to know it through and through.

We ride along with Arwen and Frodo when suddenly they are pressed upon by the 9! They zig and zag and they their best to stop her in her tracks, the camera races along at a dizzying pace trying to keep up with this deadly race. Asfaloth splashes across the ford, the dark riders are wary about crossing the water, but slowly begin to make their way across.

Liv brandishes her sword and exclaims ‘if you want him, come and claim him!’, as the dark riders make their way across, Arwen begins to recite something in Elvish…suddenly the waters begin to rise, and we see a gigantic tidal wave heading towards the riders as an amazing speed! The wave crests are horses heads! They crash into the riders and sweep they away down river.

Frodo lets out a yell and falls off the horse, Arwen hovers over him just long enough to see him pass out, Arwen tears up as Frodo passes out, or perhaps he dies…

Frodo awakens to see Gandalf sitting before him smoking a pipe in Rivendell. He has been healed by the Elf Elrond and is now in his home.

Rivendell is a wondrous place, in all honesty it was not how I pictured Rivendell to be, it was much more open than the idea of it in my mind, it was really in tune with nature. With it’s large open archways, vast balconies, and terraces. I pictured Rivendell as this giant house of white marble and gold, but when you think about it, where else would an elf live? If he wanted a home why wouldn’t it be open to the forest where they feel comfortable?

The Council of Elrond scene was one of the highlights of the film, we are introduced to Boromir in this scene, and there is no illusion as to his wishes. There is a long debate about the ring, what must be done, and how it would be achieved. When Boromir raises the idea of using the ring, Aragorn opposes it, Boromir asks ‘what does a ranger know of such things’ with such a distaste in his mouth you can see the tension in the air.

Legolas leaps to his feet to defend Aragorn, giving him his full name and birth right, and Boromir looks at him in wonder, and a new light ‘YOU are Isildur’s heir? And the rightful king of Gondor…Gondor needs no king, the Stewarts have taken care of its people for hundreds of years’.

The real tension between Boromir and Aragorn is, in my opinion MORE fleshed out in the movie than the book, I really felt the conflict between these two characters. How would you feel if suddenly you came face to face with the person who is destined to replace you as the heir to a land that your father, grandfather and great-grandfather ruled? To know that you will not have that honor, and to know that your family’s reign is over? You’d naturally hate that other person. And Aragorn knows it, he tells Legolas to calm himself and sit down (in elvish! Gotta love it!).

Gimli makes his case for not keeping the ring in Rivendell, why trust the elves? What good are they? Legolas again stands and insists that dwarves would fare no better with the ring, and indeed, would most likely be more tempted to use it. Boromir again tries to convince them to give the ring to Gondor…and suddenly there is pandemonium…all are shouting, screaming and debating…amid the chaos..Frodo stands..

‘I will take the ring..’

No one hears him

‘I WILL TAKE THE RING!’

Total silence…

‘Though….(long pause, this is an AMAZING PAUSE!!!)..I do not know the way’

It is of course decided that Frodo would bare this ring, and take it to mount Doom, and destroy it. Sam insists on joining him in this quest, Gimli and Legolas will represent their people as well, Aragorn pledges his allegiance, and Boromir will go to represent the people in the south, Gandalf will lead them, Merry and Pippin insist on going, all are agreed.

‘Right,’ says Pippin ‘Where are we going?’

The Fellowship move out, here we finally see the long road ahead of them, they travel for many miles and see many different landscapes, and there is a brush with a large flock of birds, in a great scene.

Saruman, through his many spies and foul creatures, learns of the company’s plan to go by Red Horn Pass, Saruman travels to the top of Orthanc and summons all the winds and lightening he can to bury the company in mountains of snow. We see a great shot of Legolas walking on the snow, with the rest of the company left neck deep in it.

The company makes its way back down and into moria (I’m not going to give EVERYTHING away to you am I!) suffice it to say the watcher in the water scene is magnificent. When they enter Moria and see the dead dwarf bodies all around, Boromir exclaims ‘This isn’t a mine…it’s tomb’.

Moria…how can you explain perfection? It was amazing! In one set you get a feeling of claustrophobia and a sense of the grand vastness that was dug into the mountains as well. The large halls were enormous! The sounds, look and feel of Moria was impressive. The only complaint is that it goes by way too fast! They are supposed to be there for 4 days, yet the pace makes it feel as if they are there for only 1 day. I would have preferred a small scene where they are huddled together in rest, and Gimli would tell them a tale of Moria of old, during it’s grand height, when Elves and Dwarves are friendly and Moria was a wonderful city.

We are given great glimpses into this mine/city…and we soon find Balin’s tomb..Gimli is devastated to find it..and the company pays its respects, when Gandalf finds the journal detailing the battle with the Orcs..

This is where we see that scene from the TV special, with the Orcs and the Cave Troll…This scene is really well done, the battle lasts a lot longer that the scene from the TV clip, they battle all the orcs and goblins that make their way into the room, and the Cave troll is this giant menacing creature with his eyes on Frodo. The Troll manages to knock Aragorn out for a moment and lunges his spear at Frodo, impaling him, here is another scene where we think Frodo is dead. Merry and Pippin loose all their fear of the creature and jump on it’s back in anger. Legolas lets off a round of extremely well placed arrows and the creature falls to the ground dead.

Frodo slowly opens his eyes to the amazement of his companions, and he reveals the mithril shirt that Bilbo gave to him in Rivendell.

More orcs are on their way, it’s time to run! The company makes it close to the Bridge of Khazad-Dun, but they are too high to reach it, they need to climb down a series of extremely steep steps to get to it. And something is coming that is so huge it shakes the entire mine, and the stairs start to crumble and fall beneath their feet!

After an amazing leap by Aragorn carrying Frodo, they make it to the bridge…but it is too late, whatever this giant thing is, it is coming for them. Gandalf makes them all cross the bridge, as he prepares for battle.

The Balrog…the balrog…THE FREAKING BALROG!!! I’ve seen it before, I must admit to you now…some folks at WETA Workshop handed me these photos of the Balrog and close-up of the Balrog’s face a while back. But this was the REAL Balrog…his skin was lava..cooling on the surface with red-hot lava breaking through beneath it…it lumbered down the large hall…and wings or no wings?

It had wings! But they seemed small and underused…almost burnt..or something like Tyrannosaurus Rex’s arms. They are there but serve very little purpose.

But it’s eyes! It’s horns and mouth! It lets out a mammoth roar! And the heat from it’s mouth what tangible in the theatre! I swear to god I lost some eyebrow hair during that shot.

Gandalf takes his deathly fall…and the next clip just had me going…

Elijah Wood you acting bastard genius you!!!

The look, body language and yell let out by this 20 year old is enough to bring your soul to a standstill..Frodo Baggins just saw one of his best friends die right before his eyes…it truly is one of the best scenes in the film, you just need to SEE it, if only just for that!!

The next scene just outside moria really tugs at your heartstrings, all the hobbits are crying, they’re devastated, Shores score really shines at this moment, the lament for Gandalf is tangible here, this isn’t a ‘maybe he’ll return’ death scene, we know he’s gone, it’s over, Gandalf is dead.

Aragorn is the first to come out of his reverie and tells the Hobbits to get up and start walking

Boromir, showing a love for the haflings begs for pity on the Hobbits, and let them grieve…but they must move on, and to Lothlorien, Aragorn thinks the lady of the Golden wood may help them.

Lorien, everything I pictured it to be, some of it was lacking and some of it was very different that how I pictured it, but yet again I liked it. The scenes in Lorien are rather short, again I know this is for time. I know that they filmed the scenes where Galadriel gives her gifts to each of the fellowship, we’ve seen it in trailers and in some pictures. But it was missing from the film, a victim of time. We do see, however, Galadriel giving Frodo his gift, this is obviously because it is used in a large degree in future films.

What was different was PJ’s take on Galadriel, we know that many people in Middle-earth fear her, and that she is truly beautiful yet horrible at the same time. Jackson and Blanchett really play on this theme, Galadriel seems to know she is feared by many, and uses that to some degree…the tone and manner of her speak is of a person who knows all and is only holding back her terrible powers out of her own free will.

The mirror of Galadriel scene has a new take that I seemed to enjoy, yet others I speak to did not seem to like it. So try and look out for that.

The Fellowship make their way down to Anduin to the pillars of the kings, what an amazing site…these gigantic stone pillars, truly amazing, you really get the sense that this is something awesome! I loved it.

I’m not going to review the end of the film, because I want you to experience it for yourselves. I know we all KNOW how it’s going to end, but you haven’t seen it yet, and this is where the real joy of watching this film, is the fact that you are WATCHING the whole thing take place. It truly is amazing. And yes…there is Orc dismemberment..and even decapitation…Highlander style…

How much did I love this movie? Well my butt was numb at the end of it, I was tired, hungry and my neck was sore…but I wanted to stick around and watch it again! It truly is a wonder to behold, I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. And I’ve lived, breathed, eaten and slept this film for almost 3 years, so you cannot get any higher expectations than that!

I will be writing a whole lot more about this soon, and I do apologize for the delay, it takes me a long time to form all my thoughts, emotions and love for this piece of work, the books and the film into text.

Thanks you PJ, WETA, New Line and everyone for this amazing piece of cinema history.


my room is a LOTR shrine

Posted in Old Special Reports on December 18, 2001 by

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