BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #55: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
The Fellowship of the Ring is another film from which I will have a hard time separating my nostalgia. I remember when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was announced – I was in college, and my friends and I were all so excited about it. We downloaded trailers and marketing stills and interviews like they were going out of style. Then when The Fellowship of the Ring was finally released over Christmas break, I went to a midnight screening with my brother and friends and we all sat in awe of the spectacle that unfolded in front of us. Peter Jackson had somehow found Middle Earth and elves and dwarves and made them real, or at least it felt that way.
Undoubtedly, The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite of the original trilogy. First, we get to spend a big section of the film in the shire and with the four main hobbits. Hobbiton is charming and adorable place and the four hobbits are equally as fun and adorable. Once the fellowship splits up in the sequels, everything becomes very dower and sad. Second, I have a real soft spot for films about camaraderie and teamwork. I love to see a group of strangers come together and work for a common goal. “Fellowship” is right in the title of the film and it is the focus of the entire film; again, once it splits I lost a lot of emotional investment.
As a marketing junky for this film I know that it took hundreds of people to make this trilogy happen. From the blacksmiths to the model builders to the body doubles to the people who applied the hobbits’ feet, it was a tremendous effort. But Peter Jackson deserves a great deal of praise for what he did with it and with The Fellowship of the Ring in particular. His world-building is fantastic, as is his commitment to the source material. In the other films, I think that commitment is a hindrance at times, but it served him well with the first film. Also, his control of the tone as the film gets darker and darker. He let’s J.R.R. Tolkein’s source material do a lot of the heavy lifting, but at least for the theatrical cut, he found the right things to leave on the cutting room floor to keep the main plot at the forefront.
There are many fantastic performance is the film; I really can’t think of a weak link. Sean Astin plays my favorite character in the films, Sam. He brings sweetness and vulnerability to Sam, but most of all he plays the unfaltering loyalty that makes Sam my favorite. But I think the standout performance in the trilogy is Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf. There isn’t a single moment when McKellan doesn’t have complete control. But he also brings a kindness and wisdom to Gandalf, and then there are the great moments when he gets to be a badass and fight Saruman or the balrog. The rest of the cast of the fellowship are wonderfully cast, as are the extra who play hobbits and elves and they serve to help add depth to the world building.
I’m sure you can smell the nerdy fan-girl coming from this review but it is a film I genuinely love and was thrilled to rewatch for this challenge.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ranking: Carrier