Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm
Released: December 26, 2001
Grade: A+


9:45am.  Boxing Day.  Standing in queue.  Regent Cinemas.  Queen Street Mall.  A Channel Ten reporter and cameraman approach the lady behind me for an interview.  “So have you come to the movies to get out of the heat?”.  “No!  I’ve been waiting for this movie for a very long time.”

The Fellowship Of The Ring is the first novel of J.R.R. Tolkien’s revered trilogy and after much searching, New Zealand director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures) was selected to bring Tolkien’s words to life.  The enormity of the project forced New Line Cinema to shoot all three films over a nine month period to reduce costs and meet the $270m budget.  The Two Towers and The Return Of The King are slated for release on Boxing Day of the next two years.

At the Cracks of Doom, a ring was once crafted that gave the Dark Lord Sauron the power to cover the lands in darkness.  In a moment of weakness, he was defeated and the ring lost forever.  Thousands of years later, the ring has found its way into the hands of young 3’6” Hobbit, Frodo Baggins (Wood).  The powerful wizard Gandalf (McKellan) hears word that Sauron has risen and his henchman are seeking the ring to return him to power.  Told to flee, Frodo travels with friends Sam (Astin), Merry and Pippin with instructions not to let the ring go nor let its unbelievable power control him.

Reaching the elf village at Rivendell, Frodo understands the importance of his quest and the gravity of the situation.  A fellowship is formed to guide and protect him en route to the only place where the ring can be destroyed, Mount Doom.  Joined by Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn (Mortensen) and Boromir (Bean), the unassuming Frodo will battle “the evil that does not sleep” to save the world from obliteration.

This film is something special.  Like a mystical fairytale, the intricate detail of the world and its characters resonates fiercely on screen.  It’s a beautiful setting and the seamless visual effects turn fantasy into reality.  Jackson and Australian cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (Babe) use a varied blend of colourings and camera angles to perfectly capture the action and suspense.  Exercising a variety of instruments, composer Howard Shore has choreographed a wonderfully complex soundtrack and is supported by Enya’s closing lullaby.

20-year-old Elijah Wood (The Ice Storm) was born to play Frodo Baggins and is absolutely incredible as our soft-spoken hero.  He is the best actor of our generation.  In painting his canvas, Jackson has not overused his cast and leaves much to be developed and explored in the next two films.  Drawing on his vast experience, Ian McKellan (Gods And Monsters) flawlessly balances the mix of light-hearted comedy and spine-chilling drama as the aging Gandalf.

Sealing a place in cinematic folklore, fans of the novel are united in praise for The Fellowship Of The Ring.  A sincere story with genuine spirit.  One ring to rule them all.