Skip to comments.A Christian Review of The Fellowship of the Rings
Posted on 12/18/2001 6:04:52 PM PST by jrherreid
Review by Steven D. Greydanus
There can be no more fitting tribute to Peter Jacksons The Fellowship of the Ring than to apply to it the words with which C. S. Lewis acclaimed the original book when Tolkien first wrote it: Here are beauties that pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a [film] that will break your heart.
J. R. R. Tolkiens wildly popular epic masterpiece The Lord of the Rings has been repeatedly hailed in surveys as the greatest book of the 20th century over the sour objections of snarky literati unjustly deriding it as escapist and adolescent, damning it for its unconcealed lack of interest in such things as introspective character exploration, sex, and, in short, everything that the literati have decided is important and must be dealt with in any literary work that they are going to take seriously.
This peevish critical Tolkien-bashing has been cheerfully and solidly rebutted by more appreciative critics and scholars, among them Tolkiens successor at Oxford, philologist T. A. Shippey (J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century). Other recent works have focused on the significance of Tolkiens world as a work of serious mythopoeia and religious imagination (for example, Joseph Pearces J. R. R. Tolkien: Man and Myth and Tolkien: A Celebration).
If someone dislikes it, poet and literary critic W. H. Auden once declared of Tolkiens epic saga, I shall never trust their literary judgment about anything again.
I feel exactly the same way about the first of Jacksons three films, one of the grandest, most joyous, most resonant, most richly satisfying films in years, a film that is an absolute must-see for both Tolkien fans and newcomers alike. (One caveat: Younger audiences may find the intense battle sequences and scary creatures more overwhelming on the big screen than on the printed page. Somewhere from ten to thirteen is probably a fair cutoff age.)
Like Tolkiens book, Jacksons The Fellowship of the Ring vividly conveys a sense of a great event ripped from a larger historical continuity, as rife in complexity and persuasive detail as our own world. Seldom if ever has the ancient theme of good versus evil been given mythic shape with such conviction and imaginative force. In fact, never before has this sort of epic mythopoeic adventure been successfully treated in a major film. Only Star Wars came close, transposing the melodic structures of myth and fairy tale into the register of science fiction.
Yet The Fellowship of the Ring not only has a specificity and moral depth lacking in Star Wars, its also a pure representative of its genre. In this film, an unbroken string of mediocre to terrible fantasy movies (Legend, Willow, Dragonslayer, etc.) has finally been broken. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Fellowship of the Ring is unprecedented in its class; it is the uncontestable Citizen Kane of its genre, and may well be the first of one of the most noteworthy film series of all time.
Jackson and his team achieve this level of credibility in part by not approaching their subject as fantasy. Like Tolkiens books, Jacksons The Fellowship of the Ring has the weight of epic historical drama; one takes it more seriously than Braveheart or Gladiator. Yet its also more entertaining and more fun than either of those. Virtuoso moviemaking at every level, it combines eye-swimming production design, vanishingly invisible special effects, screenplay adaptation both faithful and inventive, masterful combat sequences, and cinematography as lush and soaring as the subject matter itself.
I have MY tickets...
But they are for Saturday!!! :(
Seriously... I Do love Tom... Loved his songs, loved his love of his woods and his lack of corruptability. He may be the reason I am still single... No one has measured up.... But I won't whine about it... got that out of my system the first couple of threads. I can visit Tom any time I want!
And his socks were yellow.
Expect a full review later this evening.
BTW, nice horses!
Have to make some coffee...
Not me! However, since I live on the left coast, I still have over 4 hours to go. :-(
WhAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Got me there,got to get a bumper sticker like that.
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