The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.
For me the end of 2001 had a massive impact on my life; on the books I read, the music I listened to and my acceptance of myself as a geek. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released and I can honestly say, that for me it changed a lot. I have always been a swot and a geek and I was bullied for it, but until LOTR was released as a film I had only ever felt like an outsider. Admittedly being thirteen/fourteen is not easy for anyone, but from the moment that I first heard Galadriel speak against a blacked out screen and Peter Jackson drew me into Tolkien’s world, I realised that I should wear the label placed on me by others with pride not with shame, and as I analyse the film below, it taught me to work with others and their differences not against them.
Fine, it wasn’t just Lord of the Rings that helped, I grew up a lot when I was thirteen/fourteen, but Tolkien became an integral part of my life. From the moment I was stood in a cinema foyer and on a small TV screen I saw Frodo being thrown up the crumbling stairs of Moria in a trailer, until right now when I’m sat with a copy of ‘The Children of Hurin’ next me with a bookmark halfway though, J.R.R. Tolkien has been a massive inspiration. He inspired the first series of fantasy books I endeavoured to write (which are shoddy beyond belief but still important to me at least); his use of deep and fantastical history has inspired the current series of fantasy books I’m writing; and his characters have taught me to never give up.
I have immersed myself deeply in Tolkien’s world, so much so that the opening line of the film irritates me a great deal. Having just finished reading ‘The Silmarillion’, and while much as been lost from these tales, Galadriel does still live, and does in theory still remember it all. So yes, the opening line draws me in and annoys me intensely, but once I get past it, the film itself is a classic.
For many people, the Fellowship, consists of the nine companions who set out from Rivendell heading to Mordor, but for me the true fellowship of the ring is Frodo and Sam. From the very start of the threat when Gandalf hurries to the Shire to persuade Frodo to flee and Sam decides it is an ideal time to trim the verges, the two of them set off on a journey together that will cement their friendship and in the last film help save the world.
But sticking with the Fellowship of the Ring for now, at the beginning it is the two of them. While the others join them and then with an almost perfect ‘last one in, first one out’ policy, leave again, at the end it is Frodo and Sam carrying on to Mordor.
In the Shire when Sam suddenly stops in the middle of a field, proclaiming that one more step will take him further away from home than ever before is one of the most poignant moments in the film. Once I stop chuckling at the crows resting their wings on the arms of a scarecrow, and Sam takes that extra step he is truly beginning a journey that takes him and Frodo further away from home than most others in Middle Earth would ever journey.
In truth the fellowship of the ring, in my terms, doesn’t end at the end of the film, the first Lord of the Rings film is just the first step of Frodo and Sam’s journey together.
However, the film is not just about Frodo and Sam, and the definition of the Fellowship isn’t just about the companions who even just briefly accompany the ring. The dynamics between members of the Fellowship, is also about redemption as well. Aragorn and Boromir wish to redeem the legacy of men that Isildur had marred, by learning to get on with each other but also learning to resist the power that the one ring can hold over men so easily. Aragorn is more successful at this than Boromir, but even he redeems himself almost immediately by giving his life in the attempt to save Merry and Pippin.
The developing relationship between Legolas and Gimli as well, in a way symbolises the antagonistic relationship between Elves and Dwarfs, and how pointless their feud really is in the long run. While their relationship is prickly at first, as they begin to encounter other enemies together, they both begin to realise that being enemies with each other only makes the orcs, the trolls, and Sauron’s other followers stronger, because they are not using their full strength to work together to defeat them because they are also busy fighting each other.
And then there is Merry and Pippin, who for the first film tag along and have an adventure. While it is wrought with grief for them, they are redeeming the errors of their youth, by growing in the first film. For both of them, it takes all three films for them to grow up entirely, but the Fellowship of the Ring is the beginning of that journey for them, and it nearly always makes me cry when they distract the orcs to let Frodo escape at the end.
Because while the Fellowship is about accompanying the ring to Mount Doom, what the fellowship is really about is learning to work together, to redeem themselves from the past, from deep seated prejudices and from the bliss of youth, in order to defeat an evil force. It is about different people coming together, despite cultural and generational differences trying to make the world a better place. Peter Jackson managed to create a visually stunning backdrop to this story, and Howard Shore made a beautiful soundtrack, but the real reason the film is a classic is because neither of this aesthetic things are used to detract from Tolkien’s original idea of the Fellowship, they are there only to enhance it.
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