Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Four-Disc Special Extended Edition)

#50 on the 2007 AFI Top 100 Movies List

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955). It was followed by The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), based on the second and third volumes of The Lord of the Rings.

Set in Middle-earth, the story tells of the Dark Lord Sauron, who is seeking the One Ring. The Ring has found its way to the young hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). The fate of Middle-earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and eight companions who form the Fellowship of the Ring begin their journey to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.

Released on 10 December 2001, the film was highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike, especially as many of the latter judged it to be the most sufficiently faithful adaptation of the original story out of Jackson's film trilogy. It was a major box office success, earning over $870 million worldwide, and the second highest-grossing film of 2001 in the U.S. and worldwide (behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) which made it the 5th highest-grossing film ever at the time.

Today it is the 25th highest-grossing worldwide film of all time. It won four Academy Awards and five BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director BAFTA awards. The Special Extended Edition was released to DVD on November 12, 2002 and to Blu-ray on June 28, 2011. In 2007, The Fellowship of the Ring was voted number 50 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest American films. The AFI also voted it the second greatest fantasy film of all time during their AFI's 10 Top 10 special.

Before filming began on 11 October 1999, the principal actors trained for six weeks in sword fighting (with Bob Anderson), riding and boating. Jackson hoped such activities would allow the cast to bond so chemistry would be evident on screen as well as getting them used to life in Wellington. They were also trained to pronounce Tolkien's verses properly. After the shoot, the nine cast members playing the Fellowship got a tattoo, the Elvish symbol for the number nine, with the exception of John Rhys-Davies, whose stunt double got the tattoo instead. The film is noted for having an ensemble cast, and some of the cast and their respective characters include:

* Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins: A hobbit who inherits the One Ring from his uncle, Bilbo Baggins. He is accompanied on his quest by his best friend and fellow hobbit, Samwise Gamgee. Elijah Wood was the first actor to be cast on 7 July 1999. Wood was a fan of the book, and he sent in an audition dressed as Frodo, reading lines from the novel.Wood was selected from 150 actors who auditioned.
* Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey: An Istari wizard and mentor to Frodo, who helps him decide what to do with the Ring. He becomes the leader of the Fellowship after it is decided to take the Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it. Sean Connery was approached for the role, but did not understand the plot, while Patrick Stewart turned it down, as he disliked the script.Before being cast, McKellen had to sort his schedule with 20th Century Fox as there was a two-month overlap with X-Men. He enjoyed playing Gandalf the Grey more than his transformed state in the next two films, and based his accent on Tolkien. Unlike his on-screen character, McKellen did not spend much time with the actors playing the Hobbits, instead working with their scale doubles.
* Sean Astin as Samwise "Sam" Gamgee: A Hobbit gardener and Frodo's best friend. When caught eavesdropping, Sam is made to become Frodo's companion and from then on becomes very loyal. Astin, who had recently become a father, bonded with the 18-year-old Wood in a protective manner, which mirrored Sam's relationship with Frodo.
* Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn: Dubbed Strider, he is a Dúnedain ranger and the heir to the throne of Gondor. He travels with the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor. He is unsure of whether to become King following the failure of his ancestor, Isildur, to destroy the Ring. Nicolas Cage turned down the role because of "family obligations", while Vin Diesel, a fan of the book, auditioned for Aragorn. Stuart Townsend was cast in the role, before being replaced during filming when Jackson realised he was too young. Russell Crowe was considered as a replacement, but he turned it down after taking what he thought to be a similar role in Gladiator. Producer Mark Ordesky saw Mortensen in a play. Mortensen's son, a fan of the book, convinced him to take the role. Mortensen read the book on the plane, received a crash course lesson in fencing from Bob Anderson and began filming the scenes on Weathertop. Mortensen became a hit with the crew by patching up his costume and carrying his "hero" sword around with him offscreen.
* Sean Bean as Boromir: A prince of the Stewards of Gondor, he journeys with the Fellowship towards Mordor, although he is tempted by the power of the Ring. Bruce Willis, a fan of the book, expressed interest in the role, while Liam Neeson was sent the script, but passed.
* Orlando Bloom as Legolas: Prince of the Elves' Woodland Realm and a skilled archer who accompanies the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor. Bloom initially auditioned for Faramir, who appears in the second film, a role which went to David Wenham.
* Billy Boyd as Peregrin "Pippin" Took: A Hobbit who travels with the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor, along with his best friend Merry. He is a prankster, often being a nuisance for Gandalf. Together with Meriadoc Brandybuck (see below), he serves as a comic relief.
* Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck: A Hobbit and a friend (and distant cousin) of Frodo. He helps him find a raft-ferry to escape the Nazgûl, and later travels with the Fellowship on their journey to Mordor, along with his best friend Pippin. Monaghan was cast as Merry after auditioning for Frodo. Together with Pippin (see above), he serves as a comic relief.
* John Rhys-Davies as Gimli: A Dwarf who accompanies the Fellowship to Mordor after they set out from Rivendell. He initially hates Elves, but changes his attitude in the course of the story, particularly after meeting Lady Galadriel. Billy Connolly was considered for the part of Gimli. Rhys-Davies wore heavy prosthetics to play Gimli, which limited his vision, and eventually he developed eczema around his eyes.
* Christopher Lee as Saruman the White: The fallen head of the Istari Order, who succumbed to Sauron's will via his use of the palantír. After capturing Gandalf, he creates an army of Uruk-hai to find and capture the Ring from the Fellowship. Lee is a major fan of the book, and reads it once a year. He has also met J. R. R. Tolkien. He originally auditioned for Gandalf, but was judged too old.
* Sala Baker portrays Sauron: The titular character of the story, who created the One Ring to conquer Middle-earth. He lost the Ring to Isildur, and now seeks it in order to initiate his reign over Middle-earth. He cannot yet take physical form, and is spiritually incarnate as an Eye.
* Hugo Weaving as Elrond: The Elven master and Lord of Rivendell, who leads the Council of Elrond which ultimately decides to destroy the One Ring. He lost faith in the strength of Men after witnessing Isildur's failure 3,000 years before. David Bowie expressed interest in the role, but Jackson stated, "To have a famous, beloved character and a famous star colliding is slightly uncomfortable."
* Marton Csokas as Celeborn: An Elf and the co-ruler of Lothlórien along with his wife Galadriel.
* Cate Blanchett as Galadriel: An Elf and the co-ruler of Lothlórien along with her husband Celeborn. She shows Frodo a possible outcome of events in her mirror and gives him the Light of Eärendil. Tilda Swinton was also a possibility to the role, but she turned it down, since she was going to play a similar role as Jadis, the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
* Liv Tyler as Arwen: An elf, Arwen escorts Frodo to Rivendell after he is stabbed by the Witch-king. She is the daughter of Elrond, and Aragorn's lover to whom she gives the Evenstar necklace. The filmmakers approached Tyler after seeing her performance in Plunkett & Macleane, and New Line Cinema leaped at the opportunity of having one Hollywood star in the film. Actress Helena Bonham Carter had expressed interest in the role. Tyler came to shoot on short occasions, and bonded most with Bloom. She was one of the last actors to be cast, on 25 August 1999.
* Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins: Frodo's uncle who gives him the Ring after he decides to retire to Rivendell. At Rivendell, he gives Frodo a mithril mail-shirt and his own sword, Sting, which can detect the presence of nearby orcs by emitting a bluish glow. Holm previously played Frodo in a 1981 radio adaption of The Lord of the Rings, and was cast as Bilbo after Jackson remembered his performance. Sylvester McCoy was contacted about playing the role, and was kept in place as a potential Bilbo for six months before Jackson went with Holm.
* Lawrence Makoare as Lurtz: The commander of Saruman's orc forces who leads the hunt for the Fellowship as they head to Mordor.
* Craig Parker as Haldir: Leader of The Galadhrim warriors guarding the border of Lothlórien.
* Mark Ferguson as Gil-galad: An Elven-King and last ruler of Noldor who fought in the War of the Last Alliance.
* Peter McKenzie as Elendil: High King of Arnor and Gondor who fought in The War Of The Last Alliance and father of Isildur. Killed by Sauron.
* Harry Sinclair as Isildur: Son of Elendil and ancestor of Aragorn who fought in The War Of The Last Alliance. He got ambushed by Mordor Orcs when The One Ring is passed onto him after he cut off Sauron's hand with his father's sword, Narsil during the war.

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