News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Lord of the Rings is a cinematic masterpiece with spiritual overtones

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Long before J.K. Rowling and her creation of Harry Potter, the only names known among fantasy epic fans, were J.R.R. Tolkien and Frodo Baggins.

New Line Cinema has just released their movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, written by Tolkien in 1954. The film has already earned $154.5 million since its release, according to official releases.

Being a fan of the trilogy, I anticipated the arrival of the film and was eager to see it.

For those wondering if The Fellowship of the Ring is a safe alternative for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, LOTR does have its own ‘good’ wizard, Gandalf, and there are evil wizards that are mentioned or shown in the film. However, the only ‘powers’ we see Gandalf use are the abilities to create fireworks and light.

Does the film have any spiritual references? Absolutely.

There is an entire book dealing with the many positive spiritual aspects of the film written by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware called Finding God in The Lord of the Rings.

For example, displayed throughout the entire movie is the idea that evil is addictive and consuming. Characters wanting to use the ring [which was created for evil and is evil] for positive purposes end up in their own self-destruction. Many creatures from diverse backgrounds come together in a fellowship to try to destroy the ring.

Gandalf says during the movie, “There is only one lord of the ring who can bend it to his own will. And he does not share power,” indicating that people who give their souls to evil will not be given power, but be enslaved.

However, the film does contain a large amount of violence, as well as scary scenes and images. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend seeing the film with small children.

The movie begins with a ten-minute prologue telling the history of the ring. It was made by the dark Lord Sauron to control all of Middle-Earth by evil. In battle, it was cut from his finger and eventually made its way to a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.

After prompting from Gandalf, a wizard and friend of Bilbo, he gives the ring to his cousin, Frodo. This was a hard task for him, but he finally gave in.

As the story unfolds, Frodo realizes what power the ring has. If Lord Sauron gets the ring, he would rule Middle-Earth in darkness again, leading to the destruction of everything he loves.

The remainder of the film is about Frodo’s adventure and quest to destroy the ring, which can only be done if thrown into a lake of fire at Mount Doom, in the middle of Lord Sauron’s lair. He teams together with eight others to create a band of nine, which is called the fellowship of the ring.

Peter Jackson, I must admit, did a wonderful job directing the movie. From the moment I saw Gandalf step foot in Hobbiton, I was captured by the beauty, awe, and excitement the film had to offer. No small detail was overlooked.

I’d say that Jackson stole the torch from George Lucas when it comes to effects. The effects were jaw dropping, especially when used to make entire armies, whether good or evil, come to life.

One problem Jackson faced was that hobbits are only four-feet tall, and the other diverse creatures are much taller. Jackson used some clever photography tricks to capture this effect, but in the end, the task was conquered quite well.

Perhaps the biggest effect was New Zealand itself, where the movie was filmed. In fact, The Fellowship of the Rings might have well been an advertisement for the country. The sets were extraordinary, looking as if they had come straight from a fairy tale picture book. It truly added another element to make the film believable.

The casting was marvelous. Some fans were disappointed in the casting of Elijah Wood as Frodo, but I disagree. His performance was nearly flawless, almost as if he had flown directly out of the pages of Tolkien and onto the big screen.

Ian McKellan’s performance of Gandalf was equally great. His fierce temper, dignity, and kindness to the hobbits were perfect.

Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen, was just as dark and weather-beaten as pictured in my mind.

The list does not stop there. Each actor was outstanding in his or her own way.

However, the characters themselves were changed around from the original book. Frodo’s companions, Pippin and Merry, seem to be sidekicks rather than main characters and influences on Frodo, as does Gimli the dwarf.

The movie follows Tolkien’s book for the most part. There were some instances when the movie changed things around a little and left out a few scenes, but overall it was loyal to the original literary work.

It would be extremely hard to cram everything the book had to offer into a movie shorter than 5 hours. Sure, I would have liked to have seen the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil, Bilbo’s songs, and Frodo dancing on the table at the Prancing Pony, but there is a difference between a good book and a good movie. These details would have made fans happy but for others just made them bored and wish they had more popcorn.

However, because there are so many scenes that needed to be placed in the movie, it was forced to move along at a fast pace. This makes the entire journey look more like a couple of fierce days and less like the long and grueling months that were depicted in the book.

Many critics have condemned the movie for having an ending that is such a cliffhanger. However, I do not think there is much of an argument there because if it was not included, then critics would be condemning the movie for not following the book.

Don’t get me wrong, these are just minor flaws and cannot compete against the overwhelming success of Jackson’s creation.

    About the Author

  • Tim Harms