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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Jackson
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on The Fellowship of the Ring 
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Andrew Lesnie
Edited by John Gilbert
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • 10 December 2001 (2001-12-10) (Odeon Leicester Square)
  • 19 December 2001 (2001-12-19) (North America)
  • 20 December 2001 (2001-12-20) (New Zealand)
Running time
178 minutes[1]
  • New Zealand[2]
  • United States[2]
Language English
Budget $93 million[3]
Box office $871.5 million[3]

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 high fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955).[4][5][6] It is the first installment in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and 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 (Sala Baker), 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 who considered it to be a landmark in film-making and an achievement in the fantasy film genre. It has continued to be featured on critic lists of the greatest fantasy films ever made, as of 2015. The film was a massive box office success, earning over $871 million worldwide, and becoming the second highest-grossing film of 2001 in the U.S. and worldwide (behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone). As of June 2015, it is the 40th highest-grossing film of all time worldwide unadjusted for inflation.

It was nominated for thirteen Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards ceremony, winning four for Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects. It won also four British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film and Best Director BAFTA awards. The Special Extended Edition was released to DVD on 12 November 2002 and to Blu-ray Disc on 28 June 2011. In 2007, The Fellowship of the Ring was voted No. 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 10 Top 10 special.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Comparison with the source material 3
  • Production 4
    • Filming locations 4.1
    • Special effects 4.2
    • Score 4.3
  • Reception 5
    • Box office 5.1
    • Critical response 5.2
    • Accolades 5.3
    • American Film Institute Recognition 5.4
  • Home media 6
    • Theatrical and extended release 6.1
    • Blu-ray edition 6.2
  • References 7
  • External links 8


In the Second Age of Middle Earth, the Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring in Mount Doom to conquer all. An alliance of men and elves battle Sauron’s forces in Mordor, where Isildur kills Sauron by chopping off the hand wearing the One Ring. Sauron's spirit survives within the ring and corrupts Isildur so that he keeps it instead of destroying it. This decision leads to Isildur's being killed by Orcs, and the ring is lost in the river Anduin for 2500 years. It comes into the possession of Sméagol who is consumed by its power and becomes Gollum. After 500 years the ring abandons him, to be discovered by a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.

Sixty years later, Bilbo celebrates his 111th birthday and is visited by his friend Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo reveals he intends to leave the Shire to stay with the elves of Rivendell, and leave his inheritance to his nephew Frodo. Gandalf convinces Bilbo to leave the One Ring for Frodo. Concerned about Bilbo's ring, Gandalf investigates and discovers it is the One Ring. He warns Frodo and says it retains the evil of Sauron’s spirit. Unfortunately Gollum, who has been captured by Sauron's orcs, reveals Bilbo might have the ring. Gandalf catches Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s friend, overhearing the details of true nature of the ring. He forces Sam to accompany Frodo to the village of Bree in a plan to keep the ring safe. Gandalf goes to Isengard to get advice from Saruman the White, where he learns Sauron has unleashed the Ringwraiths to retrieve the Ring. Saruman reveals his allegiance to Sauron, and imprisons Gandalf on the roof of his tower Orthanc.

On their way to Bree, Frodo and Sam meet fellow Hobbits, Merry and Pippin, and evade the pursuing Ringwraiths. Arriving in Bree, they learn that Gandalf is missing, but a ranger named Strider escorts them to Rivendell. On their way the Hobbits are ambushed by the Ringwraiths at Amon Sul, and Frodo is stabbed with a morgul blade. The Elvin princess Arwen, encounters the group and takes Frodo to Rivendell while being pursued by the Ringwraiths. Frodo is healed by Arwen's father Elrond and wakes to find Gandalf present after he escaped Isengard on a giant eagle. Elrond holds a council to decide the fate of the Ring and Frodo learns that the ring can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. Frodo also learns that Strider is Aragorn, the descendant of Isildur and the rightful King of Gondor. Frodo volunteers to take the ring to Mordor and Gandalf, the dwarf Gimli, the elf Legolas, the man Boromir of Gondor, Samwise, Pippin and Merry all volunteer to accompany him and are named as 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. Before Frodo leaves Bilbo gives him his elven sword Sting

The Fellowship journey over the Misty Mountains but when Saruman magically blocks their path, they venture into the Dwarven Mines of Moria. However, all of the Dwarves who previously resided there have been slain by Orcs, who now occupy the mines, and the Fellowship hopes their presence will go unnoticed. Gollum stalks them and they are eventually attacked by orcs and a cave troll. They escape but are confronted by an ancient demon, a Balrog. Gandalf prevents the Balrog from pursuing them, but in so doing is dragged into a chasm. Aragorn leads the Fellowship to Lothlórien, home of Galadriel and Celeborn, where Gandalf's passing is mourned. Galadriel informs Frodo that only he can complete the quest, and one of the company will try to take the Ring. Meanwhile, Saruman forms an army of Uruk-hai to hunt and kill the Fellowship but bring the holder of the Ring, a hobbit, back to him unharmed.

The Fellowship leave Lothlorien by river to Parth Galen. Boromir attempts to take the Ring from Frodo but Frodo escapes and afraid of the corrupting power of the ring decides to journey to Mordor alone. The pursuing Uruk-hai catch up to the Fellowship, and a fight begins, in which Boromir is fatally wounded by the Uruk-hai commander Lurtz; Merry and Pippin are kidnapped in the belief that they have the ring; and Aragorn beheads Lurtz and helps the dying Boromir find peace. Sam follows Frodo and persuades him that he must accompany Frodo to Mordor. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli pursue the Uruk-hai to rescue Merry and Pippin.


The eponymous Fellowship, from left to right: (Top row) Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Boromir, (bottom row) Sam, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Gimli.

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.[7] They were also trained to pronounce Tolkien's verses properly.[8] 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.[9] The film is noted for having an ensemble cast,[10] and some of the cast and their respective characters include:

Comparison with the source material

The inscriptions on the Ring

Jackson, Walsh and Boyens made numerous changes to the story, for purposes of pacing and character development. Jackson said his main desire was to make a film focused primarily on Frodo and the Ring, the "backbone" of the story.[22] The prologue condenses Tolkien's backstory, in which The Last Alliance's seven-year siege of the Barad-dûr is a single battle, where Sauron is shown to explode, though Tolkien only said his spirit flees.[23]

Events at the beginning of the film are condensed or omitted altogether. In the book the time between Gandalf leaving the Ring to Frodo and returning to reveal its inscription, which is 17 years, is compressed for timing reasons.[24] Frodo also spends a few months preparing to move to Buckland, on the eastern border of the Shire. This move is omitted and combined with him setting out for Bree. Also compressed is the time between Frodo and Sam leaving Bag End and their meeting Merry and Pippin. Characters such as Tom Bombadil and the incidents in the old forest and the barrow downs are left out to simplify the plot and increase the threat of the Ringwraiths. Such sequences are left out to make time to introduce Saruman, who in the book doesn't appear until Gandalf's account at the Council of Elrond. While some characters are left out, some are referenced such as Tom, Bert, and William to show how "The Hobbit" and the "The Lord of the Rings" series intertwine. Saruman's role is enhanced: he is to blame for the blizzard on Caradhras, a role taken from Sauron and/or Caradhras itself in the book. Gandalf's capture by Saruman is also expanded with a fight sequence.

The role of Barliman Butterbur at the Prancing Pony is largely removed for time and dramatic flow. In the film Pippin is seen to identify Frodo explicitly with the phrase "why there's Baggins over there" whereas in the book Pippin is only telling the tale of Bilbo's disappearance when Strider tells Frodo to create a distraction by dancing on a table.

The events at Weathertop were also altered. The location of the fight against the Ringwraiths was changed to the ruins on top of the hill rather than a campsite at its base. When Frodo was stabbed in the book, the party spent two weeks travelling to Rivendell, but in the film this is shortened to less than a week, with Frodo's condition worsening at a commensurately greater rate. Arwen was given a greater role in the film, accompanying Frodo all the way to Rivendell, while in the book Frodo faced the Ringwraiths alone at the Ford of Bruinen. The character of Glorfindel was omitted entirely and his scenes were also given to Arwen. She was tacitly credited with the river rising against the Ringwraiths, which was the work of her father Elrond with aid from Gandalf in the book.

A significant new addition is Aragorn's self-doubt, which causes him to hesitate to claim the kingship of Gondor. This element is not present in the book, where Aragorn intends to claim the throne at an appropriate time. In the book Narsil is reforged immediately when he joins the Fellowship, but this event is held over until Return of the King in film to symbolically coincide with his acceptance of his title. These elements were added because Peter Jackson believed that each character should be forced to grow or change over the course of the story.

Elrond's character gained an adversarial edge; he expresses doubts in the strength of Men to resist Sauron's evil after Isildur's failure to destroy the ring as depicted in the prologue. Jackson also shortens the Council of Elrond by spreading its exposition into earlier parts of the film. Elrond's counsellor, Erestor—who suggested the Ring be given to Tom Bombadil—was completely absent from this scene. Gimli's father, Glóin, was also deemed unnecessary. In addition, the movie makes it seem by chance that the Fellowship is made of nine companions, whereas in the book Elrond suggests there be nine in the fellowship in response to the nine Nazgûl.

The tone of the Moria sequence was altered. Although in the book the Fellowship realise the Dwarves are all dead only once they reach Balin's tomb, the filmmakers chose to use foreshadowing devices instead. Gandalf says to Gimli he would prefer not to enter Moria, and Saruman is shown to be aware of Gandalf's reticence, and also reveals an illustration of the Balrog in one of his books. The corpses of the dwarves are instantly shown as the Fellowship enter Moria.[25] One detail that many critics commented upon is the fact that, in the novel, Pippin tosses a mere pebble into the well in Moria ("They then hear what sounds like a hammer tapping in the distance"), whereas in the film, he knocks an entire skeleton in ("Next, the skeleton ... falls down the well, also dragging down a chain and bucket. The noise is incredible."[26])[27][28][29][30]

In terms of dramatic structure, the book simply ends; there is no climax, because Tolkien wrote the "trilogy" as a single story published in three volumes. Jackson's version incorporates the first chapter of '"The Two Towers" and makes its events, told in real time instead of flashback, simultaneous with the Breaking of the Fellowship. This finale is played as a climactic battle, into which he introduces the Uruk-hai referred to as Lurtz in the script. In the book, Boromir is unable to tell Aragorn which hobbits were kidnapped by the orcs before he dies. From there, Aragorn deduces Frodo's intentions when he notices that a boat is missing and Sam's pack is gone. In the film, Aragorn and Frodo have a scene together in which Frodo's intentions are explicitly stated.


Peter Jackson began working with Christian Rivers to storyboard the series in August 1997, as well as getting Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop to begin creating his interpretation of Middle-earth.[31] Jackson told them to make Middle-earth as plausible and believable as possible, to think of Middle-earth in a historical manner.[32]

In November,[32] Alan Lee and John Howe became the film trilogy's primary conceptual designers, having had previous experience as illustrators for the book and various other tie-ins. Lee worked for the Art Department creating places such as Rivendell, Isengard, Moria and Lothlórien, giving art nouveau and geometry influences to the Elves and Dwarves respectively.[32][33] Though Howe contributed with Bag End and the Argonath,[32][33] he focused working on armour having studied it all his life.[34] Weta and the Art Department continued to design, with Grant Major turning the Art Department's designs into architecture, and Dan Hennah scouting locations.[32] On 1 April 1999, Ngila Dickson joined the crew as costume designer. She and 40 seamstresses would create 19,000 costumes, 40 per version for the actor and their doubles, ageing and wearing them out for impression of age.[19]

Filming locations

Arwen faces the Nazgûl at the Fords of Bruinen (Arrow River).

Filming took place in various locations across New Zealand. A list of filming locations, sorted by appearance order in the film:

Specific location
in New Zealand
General area
in New Zealand
Mordor (Prologue) Whakapapa skifield Tongariro National Park
Hobbiton Matamata Waikato
Gardens of Isengard Harcourt Park Upper Hutt
The Shire woods Otaki Gorge Road Kapiti Coast District
Bucklebury Ferry Keeling Farm, Manakau Horowhenua
Forest near Bree Takaka Hill Nelson
Trollshaws Waitarere Forest Horowhenua
Flight to the Ford Tarras Central Otago
Ford of Bruinen Arrow River, Skippers Canyon Queenstown and Arrowtown
Rivendell Kaitoke Regional Park Upper Hutt
Eregion Mount Olympus Nelson
Dead Marshes Kepler Mire Southland
Dimrill Dale Lake Alta The Remarkables
Dimrill Dale Mount Owen Nelson
Lothlórien Paradise Glenorchy
River Anduin Upper Waiau River Fiordland National Park
River Anduin Rangitikei River Rangitikei District
River Anduin Poets' Corner Upper Hutt
Parth Galen Paradise Glenorchy
Amon Hen Mavora Lakes, Paradise and Closeburn Southern Lakes

Special effects

The Fellowship of the Ring makes extensive use of digital, practical and make-up special effects throughout. One noticeable illusion that appears in almost every scene involves setting a proper scale so that the characters are all the correct height. Elijah Wood, who plays Frodo, is 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) tall in real life, but the character of Frodo Baggins is barely four feet in height. Many different tricks were used to depict the hobbits (and Gimli the Dwarf) as being of diminutive stature. (In a happy coincidence, John-Rhys Davies — who played Gimli — is as tall compared to the Hobbit actors as his character needed to be compared to theirs, so he did not need to be filmed separately as a third variation of height, and is quite taller than Orlando Bloom, who played Legolas.) Large- and small-scale doubles were used in certain scenes, while entire duplicates of certain sets (including Bag End in Hobbiton) were built at two different scales, so that the characters would appear to be the appropriate size. At one point in the film, Frodo runs along a corridor in Bag End, followed by Gandalf. Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen were filmed in separate versions of the same corridor, built at two different scales, and a fast camera pan conceals the edit between the two. Forced perspective was also employed, so that it would look as though the short Hobbits were interacting with taller Men and Elves. Even the simple use of kneeling down, to the filmmakers' surprise, turned out to be an effective method in creating the illusion.

For the battle between the Last Alliance and Sauron's forces that begins the film, an elaborate CGI animation system, called MASSIVE, was developed by Stephen Regelous; it allowed thousands of individual animated "characters" in the program to act independently. This helped give the illusion of realism to the battle sequences. The "Making of" Lord of the Rings DVD reports some interesting initial problems: in the first execution of a battle between groups of characters, the wrong groups attacked each other. In another early demo, some of the warriors at the edge of the field could be seen running away. They were initially moving in the wrong direction, and had been programmed to keep running until they encountered an enemy.

The digital creatures were important due to Jackson's requirement of biological plausibility. Their surface was scanned from large maquettes before numerous digital details of their skeletons and muscles were added. In the case of the Balrog, Gray Horsfield created a system that copied recorded imagery of fire.


The musical score for The Lord of the Rings films was composed by Howard Shore. It was performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Voices, and featured several vocal soloists. Two original songs, "Aníron" and the end title theme "May It Be", were composed and sung by Enya, who allowed her label, Reprise Records, to release the soundtrack to this and its two sequels. In addition to this, Shore composed "In Dreams", which was sung by Edward Ross of the London Oratory School Schola.


Box office

The Fellowship of the Ring was released on 19 December 2001 in 3,359 cinemas where it grossed $47.2 million on its opening weekend. The World premiere was held at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. It went on to make $314.7 million in North America and $555.9 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $870.7 million.[35]

Critical response

The Fellowship of the Ring received universal critical acclaim from major film critics and was one of 2001's best reviewed films.[36] The film holds a 91% "Fresh" rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 225 reviews, with an average score of 8.2/10. The site's main consensus reads "Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life".[37] The film holds a score of 92 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 34 reviews, indicating "Universal Acclaim".[38]

Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and stating that while it is not "a true visualization of Tolkien's Middle-earth", it is "a work for, and of, our times. It will be embraced, I suspect, by many Tolkien fans and take on aspects of a cult. It is a candidate for many Oscars. It is an awesome production in its daring and breadth, and there are small touches that are just right".[39] USA Today also gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "this movie version of a beloved book should please devotees as well as the uninitiated".[40] In his review for The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell wrote, "The playful spookiness of Mr. Jackson's direction provides a lively, light touch, a gesture that doesn't normally come to mind when Tolkien's name is mentioned".[41] Entertainment Weekly magazine gave the film an "A" rating and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "The cast take to their roles with becoming modesty, certainly, but Jackson also makes it easy for them: His Fellowship flows, never lingering for the sake of admiring its own beauty ... Every detail of which engrossed me. I may have never turned a page of Tolkien, but I know enchantment when I see it".[42]

In her review for [43] Time magazine's Richard Corliss praised Jackson's work: "His movie achieves what the best fairy tales do: the creation of an alternate world, plausible and persuasive, where the young — and not only the young — can lose themselves. And perhaps, in identifying with the little Hobbit that could, find their better selves".[44] In his review for The Village Voice, J. Hoberman wrote, "Peter Jackson's adaptation is certainly successful on its own terms".[45] Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "It's emotion that makes Fellowship stick hard in the memory ... Jackson deserves to revel in his success. He's made a three-hour film that leaves you wanting more".[46] However, in his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote, "there is a strange paucity of plot complication, an absence of anything unfolding, all the more disconcerting because of the clotted and indigestible mythic back story that we have to wade through before anything happens at all".[47]

In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[48]


In 2002, the film won four Academy Awards from thirteen nominations.[49] The winning categories were for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, and Best Original Score. It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ian McKellen), Best Art Direction, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song (Enya, Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan for "May It Be"), Best Picture, Best Sound (Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Gethin Creagh and Hammond Peek), Best Costume Design and Best Adapted Screenplay.

As of January 2014, it is the 31st highest-grossing film worldwide, with US$871,530,324 in worldwide theatrical box office receipts.[3]

The film won the 2002 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. It also won Empire readers' Best Film award, as well as five BAFTAs, including Best Film, the David Lean Award for Best Direction, the Audience Award (voted for by the public), Best Special Effects, and Best Make-up. The film was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Fight between Gandalf and Saruman.

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "10 Top 10"—the ten best films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. The Fellowship of the Ring was acknowledged as the second best film in the fantasy genre.[50][51]

American Film Institute Recognition

Home media

Theatrical and extended release

The Fellowship of the Ring was released on VHS and DVD on 6 August 2002.

On 12 November 2002, an extended edition was released on VHS and DVD, with 30 minutes of new material, added special effects and music, plus 20 minutes of fan-club credits, totalling to 238 minutes.[52][53] The DVD set included four commentaries and over three hours of supplementary material.

On 29 August 2006, a limited edition of The Fellowship of the Ring was released on DVD. The set included both the film's theatrical and extended editions on a double-sided disc along with all-new bonus material.

Blu-ray edition

The theatrical Blu-ray version of The Lord of the Rings was released in the United States on 6 April 2010. There were two separate sets: one with digital copies and one without.[54] The individual Blu-ray disc of The Fellowship of the Ring was released on 14 September 2010 with the same special features as the complete trilogy release, except there was no digital copy.[55]

The extended Blu-ray editions were released in the U.S. on 28 June 2011.[56] This version has a runtime of 238 minutes[53][57] (the extended editions include the names of all fan club members at the time of their release; the additional 9 minutes in the Blu-ray version are because of expanded member rolls, not any additional story material).


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External links

  • Official website
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring script at the Internet Movie Script Database
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at the Internet Movie Database
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at AllMovie
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at Rotten Tomatoes
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at Box Office Mojo
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at Metacritic
  • Filming locations on Google Maps
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