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Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring

Fifteen years ago, The Fellowship of the Ring was released to millions of hopeful Tolkien fans. Long thought to be an impossible book to adapt to the big screen, Peter Jackson's smashing rendition of The Fellowship of the Ring was a darling of both ardent fans and the critics.

Fantasy, unlike its literary twin Science Fiction, had arguably never had that genre-shattering hit that Science Fiction enjoyed with Star Wars. Instead, it had made do with low budget TV adaptations and children's movies. Even the animated Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit has been adapted as a cartoon, not as a blockbuster. Peter Jackson would forever change how cinematic Fantasy would viewed.

He approached the greatest Fantasy work as an ardent fan but also as a visionary. Jackson realized that CGI had improved to where the fantastic creatures and places of Middle Earth could be painted on the silver screen. Weta Workshop provided both the stunning visuals and intricately detailed props that made Middle Earth come alive. The artistic direction provided by both Alan Lee and John Howe lead to brilliant creature, set, and costume designs that added great depth to what could have been shallow medieval themed designs. The various races all had had their unique look that made Middle Earth an immersive experience.

 The casting was excellent, anchored by Sir Ian McKellen. McKellen was not an initial Tolkien fan but as the movie progressed he read the books and became a booming presence on the set who demanded that the spirit of the books be preserved. The rest of the cast turned in excellent performances including Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Sean Bean as Boromir,

 The script was not an exact match of the book but it captured the sense of wonder and vision that the book encapsulated. There were some notable omissions such as Tom Bombadil but overall the screenplay delivered the best moments of the book. Finally, the beautiful score by led Howard Shore delivered a roller coaster of emotions from the happy Shire theme to the haunting strains of May It Be.

The Fellowship of the Ring showed that Fantasy had arrived as a major force in cinema, not just in literature.The timing was right, with a reeling American public looking to find answers in a suddenly dark world.  The Fellowship of the Ring offered a vision of hope and courage that resonated in that dark hour. Peter Jackson delivered the proverbial home run that forever changed cinema and enthralled generations of fans.


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