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Swope, A.J. (2002). The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Directed by Peter Jackson Produced by New Line Cinema, 2001; 2 hrs., 58 min.. Fort Da, 8(2):90-94.

(2002). Fort Da, 8(2):90-94

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Directed by Peter Jackson Produced by New Line Cinema, 2001; 2 hrs., 58 min.

Reviewed by
Alan J. Swope, Ph.D.

The Fellowship of Power and Technology

The film version of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1954 heroic quest novel, The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Part 1), preserves many of the book's qualities. In particular, it captures a central theme of the novel: the corrosive effects of power and personal ambition on human relations. Unfortunately, power has trumped again. The pace and texture of the book are overwhelmed by the movie's special effects. The director, seduced by his technical prowess with special effects, subverts Tolkien's artistry in the process. This subversion of cinematic storytelling by special effects technology is one aspect of American technological hubris that has become a serious artistic problem, especially in film.

To its credit, The Fellowship of the Ring film does realize much of the charm and menace of the book. Middle Earth and the Shire unfold on the screen, much as we imagined them when we first read this book in the 1960s. Movie magic — in moderation — can bring visual fulfillment to the written word. The film's opening scenes of Hobbiton and Bag End (Bilbo's home) are reassuringly familiar. If only the filmmakers could have sustained that fidelity to Tolkien's book throughout.

The 60s generation welcomed Tolkien's trilogy enthusiastically. Hippies embraced the Hobbits, those irresistible characters who lived a peaceful pastoral life, devoid of machinery; who dwelled in the pleasures of food, drink, song, and company; and who practiced the art of smoking a particular kind of pipe-weed or leaf in clay pipes. While peaceful and sedentary, and only two-to-four feet in height, they did possess an unusual capacity for courage and cleverness. They were an embodiment of Flower Power. The 60s was also the era of the Free Speech Movement, when college students were challenging perceived abuses of power on the campus and in Viet Nam.

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