The Fellowship of the Ring directed by Peter Jackson is a Film based on the first book by J. R. R. Tolkien in his epic series the Lord of the Rings. It is about a young hobbit called Frodo, played by Elijah Wood, who is given a ring by his uncle Bilbo. His friend Gandalf discovers that his ring rules the set of rings handed out many years ago to the different races of beings. Many had tried to use the power of the ring to do well but became overwhelmed with greed and used the ring to gain power.
The dark lord Sauron, who originally owned the Ring, tries to get it and it is Frodo’s task to destroy the ring before his home, the Shire, is destroyed. The film, set in Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle Earth, was filmed in New Zealand. This is definitely the perfect place for Tolkien’s world to come alive as it provides the perfect settings for each event in the book. This, combined with models, computer technology and the studios used, the film producers have done a remarkable job in creating the fictional land described in so much detail in the book.
The set they used for such places as the Tower of Orthanc, the house of Elrond and the mines of Moria were spectacular and added the appropriate atmosphere to accompany the scenes in the story. For example in the book, the House of Elrond is described to be a place of rest and sanctity from the evils of the world. In the film they have created this sense comfort by using white colours and bight lights to symbolise serenity, as the use of white will be regularly associated with peace as the film progresses.
The backdrop showing waterfalls and untouched countryside combined with the elaborate architecture of the house itself, also adds to recreate the mythical place. In the opening scenes panoramic views of the hills and fields accompanied Gandalf the wizard’s journey and was used to introduce the Shire setting. The Shire, had a very medieval Anglo feel to it, but also the architecture of the houses, being built into the ground reminded us that they are of course different and highlights the relationship between them and the earth itself as they are a very rural farming community.
The film left out detail like the role that trees played in middle Earth as was shown in many times in the book. However I was glad to see that the design of the set used in Rivendell, and Lothli?? rien, where there was clearly a forest theme to the architecture, subtly symbolised the relationship between elves and nature. The music in the film was interestingly used. When looking at the film in detail it was obvious that different instruments were used to illustrate different themes.
Stringed instruments and soprano voices were used to highlight parts of the film where there was an air of magic or romance. This again was used in places like Lothli?? rien to show the power that Galadriel had over the emotions of people and the house of Elrond to show the peace there was there. Times in the film where the fellowship was fighting against the Orcs or where they were running from danger, crescendos of brass instruments were used to give a dramatic enhancement. This produced a great effect and makes the viewer have different emotions for different themes.
For instance in times of danger the loud music would stir up an excitation among the audience, and in the same way the viewer is made to feel at ease when the is stringed instruments used. Although the audience is mainly unaware of the importance of the backing music, a sudden change in the dynamics could set their pulse racing and was sometimes used to give a feeling of sudden danger and leave them to find out the fate of the characters. These themes were also very well distinguished not only with the music but by the use of light and the colour, white to represent purity and good, black to represent evil.
There were however some scenes of action where there was an absence of music replaced by a subtle sound effect which I think this was done to show the way Frodo sometimes became overwhelmed and confused by the situation and was then drawn to put on the Ring. This stillness though, I thought, didn’t work well and I felt it would have been better to have some music to create suspense but I think I understand that is was used to put the audience in a trance as Frodo was when he put on the ring and slipped into it’s world.
This didn’t necessarily create suspense but it works in leaving the viewer wondering whether Frodo would take off the ring and fight on or keep it on leaving him vulnerable to attack. The film showed good use of camera work. Where the fellowship is journeying shots paned across vast countryside and mountainous terrains. A diverse collection of different landscapes were filmed to recreate the path to Mordor mapped by Tolkien himself. Close up views of Gandalf were used to show that he was thinking heavily.
The use of perspective was very telling to make the ring look large and dominant although it could be seen that it was small in size. There were many special effects used to provide symbolism. For example, when Bilbo drops the ring it does not bounce or role as a normal one would but falls to the floor like a heavy weight which ironically it will continue to be for Fordo as he progresses through the film. Also the use of the fog when the Black riders are present is symbolic of a spreading evil that is descending upon middle Earth.