December 3, 2001

A 'Ring' to Rule the Screen
David Ansen

First, let me tell you where I’m coming from. Before I saw “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” I didn’t know the difference between an orc and an elf, or what Middle-earth was in the middle of. This review is coming to you from a Tolkien-free zone. I went in to Peter Jackson’s movie—the first of a trilogy—with no preconceptions. I came out, three hours later, sorry I’d have to wait a year to see what happens next in Frodo Baggins’s battle against the Dark Lord, Sauron, and thinking a trip to the bookstore to pick up “The Two Towers” might be in order.

The movie works. It has real passion, real emotion, real terror, and a tactile sense of evil that is missing in that other current movie dealing with wizards, wonders and wickedness. Jackson’s fierce, headlong movie takes high-flying risks: it wears its earnestness, and its heart, on its muddy, blood-streaked sleeve. The actors look deep into each other’s eyes and swear oaths in quasi-Shakespearean language that could, were it not for the utter conviction with which it is played, topple over into the ludicrous.

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