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Newsweek LOTR review

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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    Here s the whole thing (and again, the last Homely House becomes a =city=): A ‘Ring’ to Rule the Screen Peter Jackson’s fierce, imaginative movie takes
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 2, 2001
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      Here's the whole thing (and again, the "last Homely House" becomes a =city=):

      A ‘Ring’ to Rule the Screen

      Peter Jackson’s fierce, imaginative movie takes high-flying risks and
      inspires with its power and scale

      By David Ansen
      NEWSWEEK

      Dec. 10 issue — First, let me tell you where I’m coming from. Before I saw
      “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” I didn’t know the
      difference between an orc and an elf, or what Middle-earth was in the middle
      of. This review is coming to you from a Tolkien-free zone. I went in to
      Peter Jackson’s movie—the first of a trilogy—with no preconceptions. I came
      out, three hours later, sorry I’d have to wait a year to see what happens
      next in Frodo Baggins’s battle against the Dark Lord, Sauron, and thinking a
      trip to the bookstore to pick up “The Two Towers” might be in order.
      THE MOVIE WORKS. It has real passion, real emotion, real terror,
      and a tactile sense of evil that is missing in that other current movie
      dealing with wizards, wonders and wickedness. Jackson’s fierce, headlong
      movie takes high-flying risks: it wears its earnestness, and its heart, on
      its muddy, blood-streaked sleeve. The actors look deep into each other’s
      eyes and swear oaths in quasi-Shakespearean language that could, were it not
      for the utter conviction with which it is played, topple over into the
      ludicrous.
      After a dark and stormy prologue that explains the history of the
      ring, we meet our hero, Frodo (Elijah Wood), and his mentor, the wizard
      Gandalf (Ian McKellen), in bucolic Hobbiton. This first half hour is shaky:
      you might feel you’ve been dragged to a Renaissance Faire where diminutive
      hobbits cavort with less than contagious jollity.
      One-hundred-eleven-year-old Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), the current possessor
      of Sauron’s ring, passes it on to Frodo and unknowingly puts the boy’s life
      in danger.
      Tolkien’s mythic tale is both very simple and very intricate: in
      order to save the world from evil, Frodo must return the ring to the fires
      of Mount Doom where it was forged—for only there can it be destroyed. To
      accomplish this, he must form a coalition among the races of
      Middle-earth—elves, dwarfs, hobbits, wizards and humans—to battle the armies
      of the Dark Lord. (Is there an echo here of our current world? If you hear
      it, it lends this war movie an extra urgency.) With his multispecies band of
      nine brothers—the Fellowship—Frodo sets out to the land of Mordor.
      Jackson’s imagination quickens at the scent of evil, as anyone who
      has seen his lurid horror-comedy “Dead Alive” or “Heavenly Creatures” knows.
      “Fellowship” takes hold as soon as the spectral Black Riders appear, hot in
      pursuit of Frodo and his three hobbit pals. Soon, there are festering-faced
      orcs, brutal urik hai warriors and a deadly cave troll in the mines of
      Moria. Jackson’s camera flies like a hawk, swooping and plunging into
      breathtaking scenes of blood and destruction.
      For the film’s design, Jackson turned to Tolkien book illustrators
      Alan Lee and John Howe. The depiction of the landscapes, architecture and
      creatures of evil is stunning. But when it comes to the depiction of the
      good, the movie lapses into art nouveau kitsch. Cate Blanchett’s appearance
      as a golden-locked elven queen is like pre-Raphaelite calendar art. The
      elven city of Rivendell runs to Ye Olde Antique Shoppe. Jackson isn’t the
      first artist to be more inspired by darkness than light.
      With his preternaturally wide eyes, his strong neck and his
      dirt-caked fingernails, Woods makes an ideal hobbit hero, at once ethereal,
      determined and funky. Jackson keeps his movie rooted in the earth—you can
      almost smell the damp forests. Two of the most passionate performances come
      from Viggo Mortensen as the courageous Aragorn and Sean Bean as the
      conflicted warrior Boromir. McKellen is a playfully magisterial Gandalf, and
      he is pitted against no less a foe than Christopher Lee as wizard turned bad
      Saruman.
      This is a violent movie—too violent for little ones—and there are
      moments more “Matrix” than medieval. Yet it transcends cheap thrills; we
      root for the survival of our heroes with a depth of feeling that may come as
      a surprise. The movie keeps drawing you in deeper. Unlike so many overcooked
      action movies these days, “Fellowship” doesn’t entertain you into a stupor.
      It leaves you with your wits intact, hungry for more.

      © 2001 Newsweek, Inc.
    • David S. Bratman
      ... OK, so he does know about books. And he also knows how to spell Baggins . In that case I ll forgive him any residual infelicity in his phrasing. From the
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 3, 2001
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        At 05:07 PM 12/2/2001 , David Ansen of Newsweek wrote:

        >I came
        >out, three hours later, sorry I'd have to wait a year to see what happens
        >next in Frodo Baggins's battle against the Dark Lord, Sauron, and thinking a
        >trip to the bookstore to pick up "The Two Towers" might be in order.

        OK, so he does know about books. And he also knows how to spell "Baggins".
        In that case I'll forgive him any residual infelicity in his phrasing.

        From the review's full criticisms of the Good (the Shire and Lorien),
        combined with the lengthy background article that Joan posted a link to, I
        am torn between wondering whether the problems lie in the reviewer's
        tastes, or in Jackson's being unable to convey Tolkien's sense of good as
        well as he does Tolkien's sense of evil.

        Which only increases my desire to see it and judge for myself.

        David Bratman
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