The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

A perfect visualization of Tolkien’s universe, the movie stands alone as a separate but equal work of art. This Ring rules them all!

==I made it out alive!==

I’ve been awaiting this movie for three long, torturous years (See [[Let’s Party]] from January, 1999!). I remember my first glimpses of The Shire and of Bree, grainy pictures taken by spies from fan sites. I remember finding out who was to be in the cast, and loving the names. But mostly, I remember a growing sense of anxiety and anticipation as the date approached for the release.

For the past several months leading up to the release, my wife has been playfully telling people that she was putting the house on suicide watch for December 19th. She knew, she **knew** that given how much I was looking forward to the release of this movie that it was simply not possible for it to live up to my expectations.

Thankfully, I’m still alive, and she was wrong. [[The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring]] is quite simply the best movie I’ve seen in years. To be honest, I’m not sure if a movie has ever so completely delivered on its promise.

===It’s an eleven, man===

Do you remember in the movie *This is Spinal Tap* where one of the band members expains that he has the loudest amplifier in the world because the dial goes to 11? That’s kinda like my thoughts on Fellowship. It so completely captured the emotions, settings, characters, and events of the book that it ends up having a scale of its own.

===The Wonder of it All===

I saw [[The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring]] twice on opening day, and I’m still trying to pull together coherent thoughts about the perfection of this piece of art.

==Book vs. Movie==

Yes, there are differences from the book; some of them small, and some of them not so small. But, that is irrelevant. For those of you out there that are (for some insane reason) disappointed with the movie because it doesn’t have a particular scene, or something was changed a little bit, I’d like you to consider the following.

There are many different versions of [[King Arthur]] floating around, from *Le Morte’ d’Artur” by Sir Thomas Mallory to ”Excalibur” by John Boorman, to ”The Mists of Avalon* by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Each of these brings a unique vision to the telling of a mythical tale in which the core tale is the same, but some of the details differ. Each brings a **truth** to the tale because of the power of myth.

J. R. R. Tolkien was keenly aware of this power, and with a wink and a nod presented himself not as author, but rather as translator of an old dust covered text that he uncovered and was able to decipher because of his unique understanding of ancient languages.

In the forward to the book, he explains that even he has not translated everything literally, but rather he has tried to convey in our language, as best as he can, the wonder of the tale that he discovered.

Therein lies the power of the story… it’s not in the exact details of every scene, but rather in the **Truth** of the tale.

This **Truth*’ has been captured wonderfully (the same as “Excalibur” beautifully captured the ”’Truth”’ of Arthur) in Peter Jackon’s creation, a ”’sub-sub-creation”’ of one of the greatest ‘*sub-creation** ever composed.

==The Mathematics of it==

Let me put my mathementicians hat on for a second. Consider a 2 dimensional space where the axes are defined as Expectation vs. Results. The expectations are what you take into an experience with you, and the results are what you take out. Now, if you pick a point on the graph (e,r) which describes your expectation and the results, and then draw the rectangle with that point at one extreme, and (0,0) at the other, the area of that rectangle gives you a gauge as to how good your movie going experience was: the greater the area, the better the experience.

You’ve had it happen to you before, you go into to see movie with very high expectations that it just doesn’t deliver, you get a rectangle with a small area, and you were disappointed (see the [[Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace]]).

You’ve also had it happen where you went in expecting to hate a movie, and it turns out to be pretty good. The total area of the experience is larger than you expected, so you enjoyed the movie.

Now, what happens when you go into a movie with very high expectations and the movie delivers beyond what you could have imagined? That’s called *magic” and it’s what happened with ”Fellowship of the Ring*

==The Acting==

We’ll start with Sir [[Ian McKellen]], AKA Gandalf. If he isn’t exactly as you imagined Gandalf as you read the book, then you’re just wrong. His performance is so organic that I fear he will be overlooked when it comes time for the Academy to make its nominations (he was already overlooked by the Hollywood Foreign Press at the Golden Globes… what a crime!). Sir Ian McGandalf so completely captured the subleties of this complex character, from his wit to his rage, that I never perceived him acting. He simply was Gandalf.

As for the hobbits, I can’t praise them enough. When I heard they were making this into a film, I wasn’t sure how they’d be able to pull off creating hobbits without drawing attention to either little people in the roles, or special effects to make people look small. But they did, and on top of that, each of the actors emmersed themselves into their hobbit roles so completely that I never thought of them as anything but hobbits. Remarkable.