The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson, based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The film is the first instalment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and was produced by Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Tim Sanders, and written by Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson. The film features an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm and Andy Serkis. It was followed by The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003).
Set in Middle-earth, the story tells of the Dark Lord Sauron, who is seeking the One Ring. The Ring has found its way to the young hobbit Frodo Baggins. The fate of Middle-earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and eight companions who form the Fellowship of the Ring begin their journey to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.
The Fellowship of the Ring was financed and distributed by American studio New Line Cinema, but filmed and edited entirely in Jackson's native New Zealand, concurrently with the other two parts of the trilogy. Released on 19 December 2001, the film was highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike, who considered it to be a landmark in filmmaking and an achievement in the fantasy film genre. It has grossed over $871 million worldwide, making it the 2nd highest-grossing film of 2001 and the 5th highest-grossing film of all time at the time of its release.
The Fellowship of the Ring is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential fantasy films ever made. The film won many awards, including being nominated for 13 Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards ceremony, of which it won four, for Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects.
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the entire movie.
In the Second Age of Middle-earth, the lords of Elves, Dwarves, and Men are given Rings of Power. Unbeknownst to them, the Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring in Mount Doom, infusing into it a great part of his power to dominate, through it and at a distance, the other Rings, so he might conquer Middle-earth. A final alliance of men and elves battles Sauron's forces in Mordor, where Prince Isildur of Gondor severs Sauron's finger, and the Ring with it, thereby destroying his physical form. With Sauron's first defeat, the Third Age of Middle-earth begins. Unfortunately, the Ring's influence corrupts Isildur, and, rather than destroy the Ring, Isildur takes it for himself. Isildur is later killed by Orcs, and the Ring is lost for 2,500 years, until it is found by Gollum, who owns it for five centuries. The Ring is then found by a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who turns invisible when he puts it on, but is unaware of its history.
Sixty years later, Bilbo celebrates his 111th birthday in the Shire, reuniting with his old friend, Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo reveals that he intends to leave the Shire for one last adventure, and he leaves his inheritance, including the Ring, to his nephew, Frodo. Although Bilbo has begun to become corrupted by the Ring and tries to keep it for himself, Gandalf intervenes. Gandalf, suspicious of the Ring, tells Frodo to keep it secret and to keep it safe. Gandalf then investigates the Ring, discovers its true nature, and returns to warn Frodo. Gandalf also learns that Gollum was tortured by Orcs, and that Gollum uttered two words during his torture: "Shire" and "Baggins." Gandalf instructs Frodo to leave the Shire, accompanied by his friend Samwise Gamgee. Gandalf rides to Isengard to meet with fellow wizard Saruman the White, but learns that he has joined forces with Sauron, who has dispatched his nine undead Nazgûl servants to find Frodo. After a brief battle, Saruman imprisons Gandalf. Frodo and Sam are joined by fellow hobbits Merry and Pippin, and they evade the Nazgûl, arriving in Bree, where they are meant to meet Gandalf. However, Gandalf never arrives, and they are instead aided by a ranger named Strider, a friend of Gandalf's, who promises to escort them to Rivendell. The hobbits are ambushed by the Nazgûl on Weathertop, and their leader, the Witch-King, stabs Frodo with a cursed Morgul blade. Arwen, an elf and Strider's betrothed, comes to Frodo's aid, rescuing him and incapacitating the Nazgûl. She takes him to Rivendell, where he is healed. Frodo meets Gandalf, who escaped Isengard with help from Gwaihir, a giant eagle. Arwen's father, Lord Elrond, holds a council that decides the Ring must be destroyed in Mount Doom. While the members argue, Frodo volunteers to take the Ring, accompanied by Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, elf Legolas, dwarf Gimli, Boromir of Gondor, and Strider, who is revealed to be Aragorn, Isildur's heir and the rightful King of Gondor. Bilbo gives Frodo his sword, Sting. The Fellowship of the Ring sets off, but Saruman's magic forces them to travel through the Mines of Moria, much to Gandalf's displeasure.
The Fellowship discovers that the dwarves within Moria have been slain, and they are attacked by Orcs and a cave troll. They defeat them, but are confronted by Durin's Bane, a Balrog residing within the mines. Gandalf casts the Balrog into a vast chasm, but it drags Gandalf down into the darkness with it. The rest of the Fellowship, now led by Aragorn, reaches Lothlórien, home to elves Galadriel and Celeborn. Galadriel privately informs Frodo that only he can complete the quest, and that one of his friends will try to take the Ring. Meanwhile, Saruman creates an army of Uruk-hai to track down and kill the Fellowship.
The Fellowship leaves Lothlórien by river to Parth Galen. Frodo wanders off and is confronted by Boromir, who tries to take the Ring in desperation. Afraid of the Ring corrupting his friends, Frodo decides to travel to Mordor alone. The Fellowship is then ambushed by the Uruk-hai. Merry and Pippin are taken captive, and Boromir is mortally wounded by the Uruk chieftain, Lurtz. Aragorn arrives and slays Lurtz, and watches Boromir die peacefully. Sam follows Frodo, accompanying him to keep his promise to Gandalf to protect Frodo, while Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go to rescue Merry and Pippin.
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Before filming began on 11 October 1999, the principal actors trained for six weeks in sword fighting (with Bob Anderson), riding and boating. Jackson hoped such activities would allow the cast to bond so chemistry would be evident on screen as well as getting them used to life in Wellington. They were also trained to pronounce Tolkien's verses properly. After the shoot, the nine cast members playing the Fellowship got a tattoo of the English word "nine" written in Tengwar, with the exception of John Rhys-Davies, whose stunt double got the tattoo instead. The film is noted for having an ensemble cast, and some of the cast and their respective characters include:
- Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins: a young hobbit who inherits the One Ring from his uncle Bilbo. Wood was the first actor to be cast on 7 July 1999. Wood was a fan of the book, and he sent in an audition dressed as Frodo, reading lines from the novel. Wood was selected from 150 actors who auditioned, including Jake Gyllenhaal.
- Ian McKellen as Gandalf: an Istari wizard and mentor to Frodo. Sean Connery was approached for the role, but did not understand the plot, while Patrick Stewart turned it down as he disliked the script. Before being cast, McKellen had to sort his schedule with 20th Century Fox as there was a two-month overlap with X-Men, in which he portrayed Magneto. He enjoyed playing Gandalf the Grey more than his transformed state in the next two films, and based his accent on Tolkien. Unlike his on-screen character, McKellen did not spend much time with the actors playing the hobbits; instead he worked with their scale doubles.
- Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee: a hobbit gardener and Frodo's best friend. Astin, who had recently become a father, bonded with the 18-year-old Wood in a protective manner, which mirrored Sam's relationship with Frodo.
- Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn: a Dúnedain ranger, the descendant of Isildur, and heir to Gondor's throne. Daniel Day-Lewis was offered the part at the beginning of pre-production, but turned it down. Nicolas Cage also received an offer, declining because of "family obligations", while Vin Diesel, a fan of the book, auditioned for Aragorn. Stuart Townsend was cast in the role, before being replaced during filming when Jackson realised he was too young. Russell Crowe was considered as a replacement, but he turned it down after taking what he thought to be a similar role in Gladiator. Day-Lewis was offered the role for a second time, but declined again. Executive Producer Mark Ordesky saw Mortensen in a play. Mortensen's eleven-year-old son, a fan of the book, convinced him to take the role. Mortensen read the book on the plane, received a crash course lesson in fencing from Bob Anderson and began filming the scenes on Weathertop. Mortensen became a hit with the crew by patching up his costume and carrying his "hero" sword around with him off-camera.
- Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took: a hobbit who travels with the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor.
- Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc Brandybuck: a distant cousin of Frodo. Monaghan was cast as Merry after auditioning for Frodo.
- John Rhys-Davies as Gimli: a dwarf warrior who accompanies the Fellowship to Mordor after they set out from Rivendell and a descendant of Durin's Folk. Billy Connolly, who was considered for the part of Gimli, later portrayed Dáin II Ironfoot in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy. Rhys-Davies wore heavy prosthetics to play Gimli, which limited his vision, and eventually developed eczema around his eyes
- Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf: a prince of the elves' Woodland Realm and a skilled archer. Bloom initially auditioned for Faramir, who appears in the second film, a role which went to David Wenham.
- Sean Bean as Boromir: a prince of the Stewards of Gondor who journeys with the Fellowship towards Mordor. Bruce Willis, a fan of the book, expressed interest in the role, while Liam Neeson was sent the script, but passed.
- Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins: Frodo's uncle who gives him the Ring after he decides to retire to Rivendell. Holm previously played Frodo in a 1981 radio adaption of The Lord of the Rings, and was cast as Bilbo after Jackson remembered his performance. Sylvester McCoy, who would later play Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit, was contacted about playing the role, and was kept in place as a potential Bilbo for six months before Jackson went with Holm.
- Liv Tyler as Arwen Undómiel: a beautiful half-elf princess of Rivendell and Aragorn's lover. The filmmakers approached Tyler after seeing her performance in Plunkett & Macleane, and New Line Cinema leaped at the opportunity of having one Hollywood star in the film. Actress Helena Bonham Carter had expressed interest in the role. Peter Jackson wanted to cast Uma Thurman as Arwen, but Thurman pulled out due to pregnancy, Tyler came to shoot on short occasions, unlike the rest of the actors. She was one of the last actors to be cast, on 25 August 1999.
- Cate Blanchett as Galadriel: the elven co-ruler of Lothlórien alongside her husband Celeborn. Peter Jackson wanted to cast Lucy Lawless as Galadriel, but she declined due to pregnancy.
- Christopher Lee as Saruman: the fallen head of the Istari Order who succumbs to Sauron's will through his use of the palantír. Lee was a major fan of the book, and read it once a year. He had also met J. R. R. Tolkien. He originally auditioned for Gandalf, but was judged too old.
- Hugo Weaving as Elrond: the elven Lord of Rivendell who leads the Council of Elrond, which ultimately decides to destroy the Ring. David Bowie expressed interest in the role, but Jackson stated, "To have a famous, beloved character and a famous star colliding is slightly uncomfortable."
- Sala Baker as Sauron: the Dark Lord of Mordor and the Ring's true master who manifests as an Eye after the destruction of his physical form. Originally hired as one of the several stunt performers for the film trilogy, Baker ended up landing the role. In addition, he went on to play several Orcs as well.
- Andy Serkis as Gollum: a wretched hobbit-like creature whose mind was poisoned over centuries by the Ring; voice and motion capture.
- David Weatherley as Barliman Butterbur: proprietor in Bree.
- Lawrence Makoare as Lurtz: the commander of Saruman's Orc forces.
- Marton Csokas as Celeborn: the elven co-ruler of Lothlórien alongside his wife Galadriel.
- Craig Parker as Haldir: the leader of the Galadhrim warriors guarding the border of Lothlórien.
- Mark Ferguson as Ereinion Gil-galad, the last Elven-King of Noldor.
- Peter McKenzie as Elendil: the last High King of Arnor and Gondor.
- Harry Sinclair as Isildur: Elendil's son and Aragorn's ancestor who originally defeated Sauron.
- Peter Jackson as Albert Dreary: a man of Bree.
Peter Jackson began working with Christian Rivers to storyboard the series in August 1997, as well as getting Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop to begin creating his interpretation of Middle-earth. Jackson told them to make Middle-earth as plausible and believable as possible, to think of Middle-earth in a historical manner.
In November, Alan Lee and John Howe became the film trilogy's primary conceptual designers, having had previous experience as illustrators for the book and various other tie-ins. Lee worked for the Art Department creating places such as Rivendell, Isengard, Moria and Lothlórien, giving Art Nouveau and geometry influences to the Elves and Dwarves respectively. Though Howe contributed with Bag End and the Argonath, he focused working on armour having studied it all his life. Weta and the Art Department continued to design, with Grant Major turning the Art Department's designs into architecture, and Dan Hennah scouting locations. On 1 April 1999, Ngila Dickson joined the crew as costume designer. She and 40 seamstresses would create 19,000 costumes, 40 per version for the actor and their doubles, ageing and wearing them out for impression of age.
Filming took place in various locations across New Zealand.
The Fellowship of the Ring makes extensive use of digital, practical and make-up special effects throughout. One notable illusion used in almost every scene involved setting a proper scale so that the characters all appear to be the correct height. For example, Elijah Wood is 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall in real life, but his character Frodo Baggins is barely four feet in height. A variety of techniques were used to depict the hobbits and Gimli the Dwarf as being of diminutive stature. Fortunately, John-Rhys Davies – who played Gimli – happens to be the correct height in proportion to the hobbit actors, so did not need to be filmed separately as a third height variation. Large- and small-scale doubles were used in certain scenes, while entire duplicates of certain sets (including Bag End in Hobbiton) were built at two different scales, so that the characters would appear to be the appropriate size. At one point in the film, Frodo runs along a corridor in Bag End, followed by Gandalf. Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen were filmed in separate versions of the same corridor, built at two different scales, and a fast camera pan conceals the edit between the two. Forced perspective was also employed, so that it would look as though the short hobbits were interacting with taller Men and Elves. Even the simple use of kneeling down, to the filmmakers' surprise, turned out to be an effective method in creating the illusion.
For the battle between the Last Alliance and Sauron's forces that begins the film, an elaborate CGI animation system, called MASSIVE, was developed by Stephen Regelous; it allowed thousands of individual animated characters, or "agents" in the program to act independently. This helped give the illusion of realism to the battle sequences. The "Making of" Lord of the Rings DVD reports some interesting initial problems: in the first execution of a battle between groups of characters, the wrong groups attacked each other. In another early demo, some of the warriors at the edge of the field could be seen running away. They were initially moving in the wrong direction, and had been programmed to keep running until they encountered an enemy.
The digital creatures were important due to Jackson's requirement of biological plausibility. Their surface texture was scanned from large macquettes before numerous digital details of their skeletons and muscles were added. In the case of the Balrog, Gray Horsfield created a system that copied recorded imagery of fire.
The musical score for The Lord of the Rings films was composed by Howard Shore. It was performed by the 100-strong New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Voices, The London Oratory School Schola, and the Maori Samoan Choir, and featured several vocal soloists. Shore wrote almost four hours of finalised music for the film (of which just over three hours are used as underscore), featuring a number of non-orchestral instruments, and a large number (49-62) of leimotives.
Two original songs, "Aníron" and the end title theme "May It Be", were composed and sung by Enya, who allowed her label, Reprise Records, to release the soundtrack to this and its two sequels. In addition to these songs, Shore composed "In Dreams", which was sung by Edward Ross of the London Oratory School Schola.
A special behind-the-scenes trailer was released in 2000. The trilogy teaser was shown before Thirteen Days and the teaser trailer before Pearl Harbor. The final trailer was with the television premiere of Angel and before Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Both trailers appeared as Easter eggs on the Rush Hour 2 and Little Nicky DVD and on the VHS.
The Fellowship of the Ring was released on VHS and DVD in August 2002.
In November 2002, an extended edition was released on VHS and DVD, with 30 minutes of new material, added special effects and music, plus 20 minutes of fan-club credits, totalling to 228 minutes. The DVD set included four commentaries and over three hours of supplementary material.
In August 2006, a limited edition of The Fellowship of the Ring was released on DVD. The set included both the film's theatrical and extended editions on a double-sided disc along with all-new bonus material.
The theatrical Blu-ray version of The Lord of the Rings was released in the United States in April 2010. There were two separate sets: one with digital copies and one without. The individual Blu-Ray disc of The Fellowship of the Ring was released in September 2010 with the same special features as the complete trilogy release, except there was no digital copy.
The extended Blu-Ray editions were released in the US in June 2011. This version has a runtime of 238 minutes (the extended editions include the names of all fan club members at the time of their release; the additional 9 minutes in the Blu-Ray version are because of expanded member rolls, not any additional story material).
The Fellowship of the Ring was released on 19 December 2001 in 3,359 cinemas where it grossed $47.2 million on its opening weekend. The world premiere was held at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. It went on to make $315.5 million in North America and $556 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $871.5 million. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 54 million tickets in the US in its initial theatrical run.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 91% approval rating based on 228 reviews, with an average rating of 8.18/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 92 out of 100 based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and stating that while it is not "a true visualization of Tolkien's Middle-earth", it is "a work for, and of, our times. It will be embraced, I suspect, by many Tolkien fans and take on aspects of a cult. It is a candidate for many Oscars. It is an awesome production in its daring and breadth, and there are small touches that are just right". USA Today also gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "this movie version of a beloved book should please devotees as well as the uninitiated". In his review for The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell wrote, "The playful spookiness of Mr. Jackson's direction provides a lively, light touch, a gesture that doesn't normally come to mind when Tolkien's name is mentioned". Entertainment Weekly magazine gave the film an "A" rating and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "The cast take to their roles with becoming modesty, certainly, but Jackson also makes it easy for them: His Fellowshipflows, never lingering for the sake of admiring its own beauty ... Every detail of which engrossed me. I may have never turned a page of Tolkien, but I know enchantment when I see it".
In her review for The Washington Post, Rita Kempley praised the cast, in particular, "Mortensen, as Strider, is a revelation, not to mention downright gorgeous. And McKellen, carrying the burden of thousands of years' worth of the fight against evil, is positively Merlinesque". Time magazine's Richard Corliss praised Jackson's work: "His movie achieves what the best fairy tales do: the creation of an alternate world, plausible and persuasive, where the young — and not only the young — can lose themselves. And perhaps, in identifying with the little Hobbit that could, find their better selves". In his review for The Village Voice, J. Hoberman wrote, "Peter Jackson's adaptation is certainly successful on its own terms". Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "It's emotion that makes Fellowship stick hard in the memory... Jackson deserves to revel in his success. He's made a three-hour film that leaves you wanting more". However, in his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote, "there is a strange paucity of plot complication, an absence of anything unfolding, all the more disconcerting because of the clotted and indigestible mythic back story that we have to wade through before anything happens at all".
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