10. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

November 13, 2018

Director: Peter Jackson
Screenplay: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Sala Baker
Runtime: 178 Minutes


Original UK Release: 2001




With the production of The Lord of the Rings, the landscape of modern Hollywood was reshaped forever. An adaptation of fantasy literature's most enduring epic, the series stands to be judged simultaneously as individual pictures and a singular whole. The Fellowship of the Ring begins with high expectation for its stakes and delivers with an opening instalment that carries with it the best dramatic structure of the three films.


Peter Jackson’s directorial vision is thrown into inventive overdrive with the power of a studio behind him, experimenting with some of most up-to-date computer graphics technology and practical effects for the nature of spectacle, but his reliance also on in-camera trickery and bloody violence gives everything a physically weighted feel and believability. Harking back to his low-budget horror days.


Andrew Lesnie’s cinematography is amongst the most beautiful and organically placed and coloured that the genre has ever seen. The set and costume designs show wonderful attention to intense detail and passion for the world that they’re creating. Its magnitude is towering, its substantial import a constant factor reinforced by Howard Shore’s unforgettably varied and melodically structures score.


While restrained in its presentation of action – mostly restricted to specific moments – the drama is allowed to run while the sprawling narrative stretches itself to unfathomable levels of scale. The collaborative screenplay cuts the fat from the source and delivers a streamlined version of events, while adding conflict to the back stories of certain characters.


All the while written with an aura of utter sincerity and gravitas brought to life by an impeccable cast of proven and unproven performers, from Sir Ian McKellen’s career-redefining Gandalf the Grey, to Sean Bean’s excellent rendition of the newly fleshed out Boromir.


Although ending on a sad note, it’s the emotional impact of things to come that sets this up as the masterpiece that it is.

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