Re-Watch: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien‘s novel
Cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Andy Serkis, Sean Bean, Marton Csokas, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Craig Parker, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving
Seen on: 6.1.2022

Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) is an unusual Hobbit in that he actually left the shire to go on an adventure. Now his 111th birthday is approaching and Bilbo feels that it is time to withdraw from the shire. One of his birthday guests is Gandalf (Ian McKellen), a wizard and old friend who suspects that there is something more to Bilbo’s tiredness than his age. Gandalf’s suspicions harden when he sees that Bilbo has a magic ring. He gets Bilbo to leave it to his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) before leaving the shire. The end of Bilbo’s adventure is just the beginning of Frodo’s who needs to figure out a way to keep evil forces away from the ring.

It’s been many years that I last watched the Lord of the Rings movies, but given that they’re celebrating their 20th anniversary, I (and a friend) decided to make a day of watching all three movies (extended editions of course) just like we used to do when we were younger. I was afraid that it would be a little disappointing to do so, but really, the movies stand the test of time – especially the first one.

The movie poster showing Frodo (Elijah Wood) front and center, with the other main characers behind him, most in fighting poses. Below him we can see a group of hooded riders.

The Fellowship of the Ring has always been my favorite of the three films: I love Boromir (Sean Bean), the film has the least CGI battle scenes and is the most character-driven of the three films. Those are all advantages in my book. Nevertheless, I was a little nervous about going into the film after loving it for so long, and not having seen it in probably 15 years. I need not have been. The film definitely holds up to my memories of it (and it is almost frightening how much of it I still know by heart).

Given that the film is decades old (and I’m even older), what is particularly impressive still is how goddamn good it looks. The special effects are simply top notch and it really pays off that they went practical for most of the size-stuff. But also Gollum (Andy Serkis) still looks really good. And also the Balrog, hot damn (quite literally).

Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) in a cave.

Most importantly, the film still manages to grab you, to involve you emotionally and to tell a very good story with even better characters. There are still moments that gave me goosebumps, or where a tear stole into my eyes, or that made me genuinely laugh.

Of course, much like the source material, the film isn’t perfect, like in its lack of women. And my view of it is shaped by a whole lot of nostalgia too. But it is definitely still an experience – and I’m happy to re-watch it again, maybe sooner than in 15 years.

Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) on a horse carriage.

Summarizing: a modern classic indeed.


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