Monday, November 8, 2010

My review of The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring

I was 9 years old when this film came out. It was actually the first film that I recall scared me (the whole creepy Nazgul chase scenes through the forest of Hobbitton scared me). But, even then I recognized that this film was one of the greatest I had ever seen. I hadn't even seen the other two yet. And boy was I in for a surprise. I'll be honest here, This is the greatest trilogy to grace mankind.

Acting/Characters: This is actually the only one that had a performer in it get an Oscar nomination for acting: Ian McKellan as Gandalf for Best Supporting Actor. I feel that he did an excellent job. I have not seen Iris so I cannot say whether or not Jim Broadbent deserved to win over McKellan. But I really enjoyed the performance by the entire cast. They really brought the characters to life. The two characters that I thought has the most character to them were Bilbo and Sam. Sam has the most character throughout the entire trilogy. It was interesting to see Frodo go through the character transition (throughout the trilogy) of sort of nervous wimp to this determined but tortured character. Merry and Pippin provide great comic relief. I really liked this aspect of the film a lot. 10/10

Plot: Fantastic plot. Absolutely fantastic. I didn't actually end up fully reading the book for this one (not the case with the sequels, I successfully read both of them). I really enjoyed the fight scenes a lot. they aren't quite on the scale of the battle scenes in the second two films but they are still awesome. Particularly with Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli. Boromir in Amon-Hen at the end too was pretty awesome. I know as a younger kid I particularly liked how Legolas was just as good as killing with a bow no matter what the range. 100 yards or 5 feet it didn't matter he was gonna get one right in your neck. Great stuff. I particularly like (and again, this is true for the whole trilogy) where they would leave stuff off. They always ended the move in the perfect spot and you just have to see the next one. One thing I have found to be true countless times (and this has been confirmed by anyone I meet that likes the trilogy) If you happen across a clip anywhere whether it is being used in a sermon at church (which has happened to me may times. My pastor likes showing movie clips) or you're flipping channels and you watch it for about 15 minutes before you have to leave somewhere, once you see any portion of the film you get this deep NEED to suddenly go and watch the whole trilogy. They are that good. 10/10

Screenplay: Excellent screenplay. particularly how they blended together so many emotions and got it all across. Whether it was laughing at merry and Pippin or getting engrossed in a fight scene or listening to the history of The Ring, you have to love the screenplay. It is excellent. 10/10

Final Score: 40/40 100% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: (Get ready for the first part of the most exhausting Trivia Time segments ever).

1. Cameos a. John Howe and Alan Lee In. the prologue, the two most famous Middle Earth artists can be seen as two of the nine human kings.
b. Peter Jackson As the belching peasant, outside the Prancing Pony Inn in Bree.

2. Choices/persons interested in roles: Aragorn: Stuart Townsend, Daniel Day-Lewis, Russel Crowe.
Gandalf: John Austin, Sam Niell, Christopher Lee, Sean Connery.

3. Eight of the nine members of the Fellowship got a small tattoo of the word "nine" spelled out in Tengwar, which is the Elvish script created by Tolkien. They got it at a tattoo parlor in Wellington, New Zealand, to commemorate the experience of the movie. The ninth member, John Rhys-Davies, declined and sent his stunt double in his place. Elijah Wood's tattoo is on his lower stomach. Sean Astin and Billy Boyd have the tattoo on their ankles (to commemorate all those hours in the hobbit feet). Orlando Bloom, who plays the archer elf Legolas, has his on his forearm. His tattoo is visible during a fight scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Ian McKellen's is on his shoulder. Dominic Monaghan's is on his shoulder. And the eighth member, Sean Bean, has his tattoo on his right shoulder. Viggo Mortensen has his tattoo on his left shoulder. It is visible on some pictures from the movie Eastern Promises.

4. Although David Bowie was said to be keen on playing Elf Lord Elrond, the part went instead to Hugo Weaving.

5. Originally the narration at the prologue was to be spoken by Elijah Wood, but it was felt that the information imparted had little bearing on the character of Frodo. Ian McKellen also recorded a narration but once again it was felt that Gandalf wasn't the right character to speak it. They eventually settled on Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, as it emphasizes the timelessness of the elves.

6. The bridge in Hobbiton was built by the New Zealand army out of polystyrene.

7. Some of the customers in the Prancing Pony are walking around on stilts to emphasize the height disparity with the Hobbits.

8. The big trees in Lothlorien forest are made of rubber.

9. The climactic fight scene was shot in the middle of a heatwave, with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. Many of the actors playing the Uruk'hais had to be carried off the set with heat exhaustion.

10. Legolas's arrows in the final battle are computer generated. It would have been physically impossible for even the most gifted archer to fire off so many arrows so quickly.

11. The Tolkien estate was never in favor of Peter Jackson's film adaptation but seeing as J.R.R. Tolkien signed the rights away in 1968 for $15,000, there was nothing they could do about it. Tolkien's grandson Simon came out in support of the production and was disowned by his relatives. Tolkien's son Christopher Tolkien later retracted any opposition.

12. Production designer Grant Major personally supervised the translation of all the writings in Balin's tomb into Dwarvish. He was then horrified to learn that a visiting J.R.R. Tolkien scholar had taken great offence at seeing the phrase "Joe was here" among the writings. They scoured the contents of Balin's tomb and found nothing, only to learn that the scholar - who was overly serious about everything to do with Tolkien - had been told this by a crew carpenter who has having a joke at his expense. Intrepid fans later published screen captures and translations of Moria wall segments where the runes spelled "John was here" and "Made in New Zealand". During pre-production, Weta artists asked Tolkien expert Michael Martinez if there were any examples of Orc graffiti in the book. Martinez found one citation (in the scene where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum see a defaced statue in Gondor). He used other passages to argue that the Orcs would have used runes to carve graffiti on Moria's walls.

13. It is estimated that filming of the trilogy pumped about $200,000,000 into the New Zealand economy. The New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, whose remit was to exploit all the economic opportunities the films represented.

14. Fans were offered the chance to have their names in the special edition's hugely lengthy closing credits for $39.95.

15. Hobbiton was made a year before production began to make it look like it was a natural, lived-in place, complete with real vegetable patches. The greens department regulated the length of the grass by having sheep eat it.

16. The large tree that stands above Bag End was built especially by the production department. Every leaf had to be manually attached.

17. 1800 Hobbit feet were made for the production. (A world record).

18. 29 Ring Wraith costumes were made in total.

19. During the Council of Elrond, leaves are continually falling in the background to suggest that this is a meeting that is taking place outside. This meant about half a dozen crew members were positioned above the set, dropping leaves at various intervals. This also meant that the production department had to collect sacks and sacks of leaves during autumn, and of course dead leaves turn brown fairly quickly. Which also meant that every single one of those leaves had to be individually painted.

20. Although Bilbo Baggins's opening scenes are in Hobbiton, Ian Holm never actually worked on the location. His scenes were all done against blue screen.

21. The nocturnal screams of possums were used for the screeches made by the Orcs in the mines of Moria. Also, The main sound elements for the cave troll were a walrus, a tiger and a horse.

22. The scripts were essentially being rewritten every day of the 15 month shoot, most of which with the added input from the actors who were all now heavily involved with their characters.

23. When Arwen escapes from the Black Riders through the river by flooding them, the spell she speaks isn't subtitled. According to the Encyclopedy of Arda (see External Links: Miscellaneous # 58), she says: "Nîn o Chithaeglir lasto beth daer; rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer", which means roughly "Waters of the Hithaeglir, hear the word of power, rush, waters of Bruinen, against the Ringwraiths"

24. During filming, most of the members of the Fellowship took up surfing in New Zealand in their spare time. Among them was Viggo Mortensen, who wiped out terribly one day, and bruised one whole side of his face. The next day, makeup tried to mask the bruising and swelling, but were unsuccessful. Instead, Peter Jackson opted to film Mortenson from one side for the entire scene. In the scene in the Mines of Moria when they find the grave of Gimli's relative, Aragorn is only seen from one side in the whole scene.

25. Peter Jackson originally contemplated having the character of Tom Bombadil, a character that was in the book but never made it to the movie, incorporated into a cameo scene in which the Hobbits are walking through the forest and see a man with a feathered cap dart through the trees, then they hear Tom singing and begin running through the forest, but ran out of time to film it.

26. Orlando Bloom originally auditioned for the part of Faramir. He was called back and subsequently cast, instead, as Legolas.

27. New Zealand's army was cast as extras for large battle scenes in the film, but was forced to back out due to having to serve as peacekeepers in East Timor.

28. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, were filmed simultaneously. The back-to-back shoot lasted a record-equaling 274 days, in 16 months - exactly the same time as taken for the principal photography of Apocalypse Now.

29. When Christopher Lee and J.R.R. Tolkien were in correspondence, Tolkien gave Lee his blessing to play Gandalf if there ever was a film version of Lord of the Rings. Years later, Lee campaigned for the part of Gandalf in this production, but was offered the part of Saruman instead. Lee, who wanted to participate in the project anyway he could, accepted the role of Saruman.

30. Christopher Lee reads "The Lord of the Rings" once a year and has done so since the year it was published, and is the only member of the cast and crew ever to have met J.R.R. Tolkien. As well as being the only member of the cast and crew to have met J.R.R. Tolkien face to face, Christopher Lee was also the first person to be cast in the trilogy because of his extensive knowledge of the books. He frequently visited the makeup department and often gave tips about the facial design of the monsters.

31. Peter Jackson gave one of the rings used in the movies to both Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis as gift when the shoot was finished. They both thought they had the only one.

32. Cate Blanchett joked that she took the role of Galadriel because, "I've always wanted pointy ears".

33. Ian McKellen based Gandalf's accent on that of J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

34. Gandalf's painful encounter with a ceiling beam in Bilbo's hobbit-hole was not in the script - Ian McKellen banged his forehead against the beam accidentally, not on purpose. But Peter Jackson thought McKellen did a great job "acting through" the mistake, and so kept it in.

35. Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), who is trilingual in English, Spanish, and Danish, requested the script be revised to let Aragorn speak more of his lines in Elvish.

36. The Orc blacksmiths shown beneath Isengard are actually the WETA Workshop staff who made the weapons used in the film.

37. Over 12.5 million plastic rings were made in order to fabricate simulated chain mail for the movie. Two crew members spent the length of the shoot linking the rings by hand into suits of armor. By the end of production, they had worn the fingerprints off their thumbs and index fingers.

38. The portraits hanging above the fireplace in Bag End are based on the likenesses of director Peter Jackson and producer Fran Walsh.

39. The scream of the Ringwraiths is actually Fran Walsh, the co-writer and co-producer of the film.

40. The cast often had to fly to remote shoot locations by helicopter. Sean Bean (Boromir) was afraid of flying and would only do it when absolutely necessary. When they were shooting the scenes of the Fellowship crossing the snowy mountains, he'd spend two hours every morning climbing from the base of the mountain to the set near the top, already dressed as Boromir. The crew being flown up could see him from their helicopters.

41. When Frodo is leafing through Bilbo's Book in Rivendell, a page with dwarven runes is shown. The runes translate thus: "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole." This is a reference (actually a direct copy) to a map in the book "The Hobbit" and the runes tell of the secret entrance into The Lonely Mountain.

42. While filming the trilogy, Viggo Mortensen got so into character that during a conversation, Peter Jackson referred to him as "Aragorn" for over half an hour without him realizing it.

43. Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned for the role of Frodo

44. Pregnancy changed Peter Jackson's vision of "Lord of the Rings". Originally, he wanted to cast Lucy Lawless as Galadriel and Uma Thurman as Arwen. Unfortunately, both actresses became pregnant after being asked to read, and the roles were filled in by Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler, respectively.

45. When Bilbo finds the Ring at the start of the movie Gollum shouts "My Precious" however Andy Serkis wasn't on set that day so Dominic Monaghan stood in for him.

46. When Pippin is being hit with the apples after asking about second breakfast, it is Viggo Mortensen himself chucking the apple at his head. They had to shoot the scene 16 times to get it just right, and Billy Boyd says he believes Mortensen enjoyed himself immensely.

47. When Gandalf has his big stand-off scene with the Balrog, Ian McKellen is actually acting to a ping pong ball.

48. Warwick Davis, Timothy Spall and Robert Trebor auditioned for the role of Gimli.

49. A rubber puppet with a horrific face was superimposed over Ian Holm's face when Bilbo Baggins catches a glimpse of the ring again in Rivendell. Holm was so delighted with the puppet that the design team had a cast iron version of it made for his mantelpiece and gave it to him as a parting gift when Holm wrapped all his scenes on the film.

50. While Christopher Lee was always Peter Jackson's first choice for the role of Saruman. Jackson did consider Tim Curry, Jeremy Irons and Malcolm McDowell for the role.

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