Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
New Zealand/USA, 2001. New Line Cinema, WingNut Films, The Saul Zaentz Company. Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie. Produced by Peter Jackson, Barrie M. Osborne, Tim Sanders, Fran Walsh. Music by Howard Shore. Production Design by Grant Major. Costume Design by Ngila Dickson, Richard Taylor. Film Editing by John Gilbert.
Sprawling adaptation of the first of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy of fantasy novels (and the first of a trilogy of films) that centre around the adventures of pure-hearted hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood), who must undergo a journey to destroy a ring that turns its bearer towards the evil pursuit of world domination. In the first of the three films made from these wonderful novels, Frodo forms a group of friends who accompany him on his journey towards the destruction of the ring he has in his possession, but it soon becomes clear that the jewel’s power over weak hearts is too much for them and they end up possibly endangering him more than helping him. Beautifully photographed and designed, the film benefits mostly from director Peter Jackson’s perfect pacing that never allows the film’s lengthy running time of three hours to ever feel tiring or overindulgent. Another plus is the casting, with an all-star roster of talented actors filling in the roles that dominate Tolkien’s imaginary world: Cate Blanchett as a powerful elf sorceress will actually stop your heart, Liv Tyler as an elf princess is stunning, and Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean are terrific as the human men in Frodo’s company who are the most susceptible to the ring’s powers. Ian McKellen steals every single one of his scenes with his layered performance as the powerful wizard Gandalf, and the film is peppered with terrifying moments that you will never shake off before the whole adventure is over. Naturally, its being a part of a trilogy means that there really is no ending, but thanks to Jackson’s incredibly good emotional structure the film has a healthy sense of closure before it ends, making the wait for the next adventure not so grueling.
Academy Awards: Best Makeup; Best Visual Effects; Best Cinematography; Best Original Score
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Ian McKellen); Best Director (Peter Jackson); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design; Best Film Editing; Best Sound; Best Original Song (“May It Be”)
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Director (Peter Jackson); Best Original Score; Best Original Song (“May It Be”)
Screen Actors Guild Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Ian McKellen)
Nominations: Outstanding Motion Picture Cast