The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is, by all means, a sublime work of art, a masterpiece in which the makers of the film managed to combine masterful use of cinematic techniques with an expert implementation of narrative techniques. The following essay is intended to examine the film through the lens of the formalist, genre, and auteur film theories. After a careful evaluation of the film’s technical and contextual peculiarities (editing style, sound, and camera techniques as opposed to the plot structure), one can confidently state that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a piece of cinematographic art that falls under the “must watch” category. The film is recommended to anyone who positions themselves as a connoisseur of science-fiction, fantasy, literature, and, above all else, the works of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the author of the book series that the film has been inspired by. As a novice in the field of analyzing and evaluating cinematographic art, I will also attempt to reflect on how my analytical capabilities may have improved throughout the assignment. Lastly, I intend to try and prove that watching The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a worthwhile experience.
Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Providing contextual Information and Outlining the Aesthetic Choices
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a film directed and produced by Peter Jackson in association with other producers (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The film was released in 2001 (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The film stars among others Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Hugo Weaving, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, and Christopher Lee among others (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The screenplay for the film was created by Peter Jackson in collaboration with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The film’s script is based on the original novel by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. As the director of photography, Andrew Lesnie was in charge of the technical artistry and led the camera crew (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). Since The Fellowship of the Ring incorporates the amenities of computer-generated imagery (CGI), John Gilbert and Grant Major were responsible for film editing and production design respectively (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). Within the story the makers of the film have managed to reflect on a wide range of themes and address a significant small amount of ethical issues, such as friendship, loyalty, honor, duty as opposed to greed, the obsessive need to possess, the desire for power, destruction, and “a will to dominate all life” (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). Thus, the conflict between good and evil is the nucleus of the story itself. The technical peculiarities of the film, that is to say, all that falls within the category of “the plane of expression”, were prompted by the themes and motives addressed in Tolkien’s book and Peter Jackson’s own vision thereof. Interior shooting, panoramic shooting, studio set, and props design – each of those elements was executed with utmost compatibility with the message that the director himself sought to convey. The same applies to the battle scenes, clothing, armor, weaponry, and make-up. With regard to this, one cannot help but admit that Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring represents a holistic unity, which can also be described as a cohesive and coherent whole. Top-notch editing, high-class acting, musical score, well-designed and thought-out mises-en-sc?ne – each of the aforementioned aspects contributes to the integrity of the work of art under discussion.
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The Fellowship of the Ring Through the Lens of the Genre Theory
The whole idea of the genre film theory is based on the premise that a film pertains to a specific genre. However, even more importantly, genre theory postulates that it is the genre of a film that dictates its formal characteristics (film’s technical peculiarities) and the ways that the expressive means of cinematographic art manifest themselves within the film. Apart from that, the genre of a film plays an unprecedentedly important role as far as tuning up the audience is concerned. In other words, genre film theory implies that there is a set of specific regulations that can be applied only to some category of films. As a rule, regulations of that kind are called conventions and are thought to determine the use of expressive means and shape viewers’ expectations concerning a certain type of film.
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The Fellowship of the Ring is a fantasy and adventure film, interspersed with elements of comedy, drama, and horror. The Fellowship of the Ring is a fantasy film set in the fictional world of Middle-Earth, which represents the environment of the film. The plot of the film revolves around the quest, a task appointed to Frodo who is the protagonist of the film. The main character’s mission is to take the Ring of Power forged by the dark lord Sauron back to the Mountain of Doom, the place where the ring had been created and the only place where it can be destroyed. First, the viewers find themselves amongst the meadows, hills, and rivers of the land called the Shire (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). As Frodo and his friends Sam, Merry, and Pippin set out on their quest to the inn of the Pouncing Pony on the borders of the Shire to meet up Gandalf the Grey, they have to hide in the woods near by Buckleberry Ferry to avoid being captured by the Nazgul, the warriors that answer to Sauron alone (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). Seeking to find the answers to “the questions that need answering”, Gandalf travels to Isengard, a city the ominous beauty of which builds up the suspense (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The narrow streets of the village of Bree and the inn of the Pouncing Pony is where the hobbits, also known as halflings, meet Aragorn, a strider and a friend of Gandalf the Grey (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The ruins of the ancient fortress of Amon S?l, more commonly known as the Weather Top, are the place where Frodo is wounded (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). Rivendell is the house of Elrond, the elven lord. This is the place where Frodo is healed, the great council takes place, and the decision is being made to take the ring back to Mordor, the land of Sauron (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The nine become the fellowship of the ring (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The fellowship includes Frodo, son of Drogo, a hobbit; Gandalf the Grey, a wizard; Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the last in the line of Kings of Numenor and the heir to the throne of Gondor; Boromir, Captain of the White Tower of Gondor, the elder of the two sons of Denethor II, the steward of Gondor; Legolas, son of Thranduil, the king of wood elves and the ruler of Mirkwood; Gimly, son of Gloin, a dwarf, whose father was in the company of Thorin Oakenshield, summoned by Thorin himself and the wizard Gandalf to go on a quest of reclaiming the Lonely Mountain and restoring the might of the ancient and once prosperous dwarfish kingdom of Erebor; Samwise Gamgee, a hobbit, a friend of Frodo; Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, hobbits and associates of Frodo and Sam (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). As the fellowship leaves Rivendell, they find themselves in the Misty Mountains, stunning in their dangerous beauty (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). Gandalf falls in the battle with Balrog, a fire demon (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). The rest of the group feels relieved after staying in Lorien, the kingdom of elves ruled by Celeborn and Galadriel (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). Finally, the last thing they see together is the Argonath, the Gate of Kings, a landmark on the Anduin river on the northern borders of Gondor, the kingdom of men (Lynne & Jackson, 2001). By the end of the film, the fellowship is divided, but all of them remain faithful to the promises and commitments they have made.
Many critics are inclined to think that “movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy dramatize archetypal quests and show off spectacular visual effects” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014, p. 256). The evidence supports that Peter Jackson is sometimes blamed for relying too heavily on visual effects (Davis, 2014). On the other hand, visual effects are essential for creating convincing and vivid imagery. Taking the aforementioned facts into consideration, the construct of an archetypal quest is incorporated into the canvas of the film quite harmoniously. In addition to that, the book and the film are full of archetypal characters: the elves representing wisdom, fairness, and harmony; dwarves – skill, pride, and valuing family connections; hobbits being a symbol of resilience and the comforts of home, wizards being the guardians of peace and knowledge; and men combining greed, obsession, moral corruption, as well as loyalty, the ability to resist evil, dignity, duty, and honor.
Assessing Social/Personal Impact of the Film
Originally, The Lord of the Rings was a trilogy written by J. R. R. Tolkien and published early in the 1950s. It goes without saying that Tolkien’s contribution to culture and world literature is difficult to overestimate for it is a whole universe, artistically perfect in its entirety and utterly unprecedented in its magnificence. Tolkien was a philologist, researcher, and writer who has managed to create a universe admired by both his contemporaries and the following generations. The Fellowship of the Ring is the first part of the trilogy that introduces the viewers to the complexity of the world envisioned and verbalized by Tolkien. In this respect, it is essential to point out the following. The fictional world of the Middle-Earth combines features peculiar to Scandinavian mythology and the mythology of the British Isles. In other words, British and Scandinavian folklore served as a source of inspiration for Tolkien while the writer has been working on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings book series.
It probably goes without saying that Peter Jackson’s aim was to artistically reinterpret the original work by J. R. R. Tolkien. However, most importantly it is a fictional cinematographic universe of its own that the director has managed to create. In a way, Peter Jackson’s vision is based on multiple works by Tolkien, namely, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Silmarillion, and the collection of fairy-tales. Legendarium is a literary term that applies specifically to the mythopoetic world that a particular author has created. At the same time, Peter Jackson is not given enough credit for the monumental tasks he and his team had had in mind and in completion of which the makers of the film have succeeded (Peterson, 2012; Travers, 2001). The forces of good and evil envisioned by Tolkien and portrayed by Jackson may be difficult to characterize, as is the relationship between the characters. Clearly, one might think that Tolkien and Jackson tolerate violence as a means of “solving the struggle between good and evil” (Jorgensen, 2010, p. 54). Evidently, this is not entirely true. The violence portrayed in the film and evils that the characters struggle with are individual and prove themselves to be a way of complying with the genre conventions, in accordance with the feudal nature of societies that the writer had invented and the makers of the film have preserved. With regard to this, it has to be pointed out that the aspects mentioned above in no way diminish the merits of the film and, most importantly, of the original book. Taking all the aforementioned facts into consideration, it possible to assume that The Fellowship of the Ring had an unprecedentedly significant impact on cinematographic art, not to mention that the film has become some sort of a revelation for me personally and here is why. First of all, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been among my favorite books for a very long time. The Fellowship of the Ring can be considered one of the films that have revolutionized both the specialists’ and cinema connoisseurs’ understanding of the guiding principles of cinematography as such and the expressive means it operates with.
Studying cinematography is an important and educational experience. While watching and analyzing a film, one gets a chance to live through the events that one may never experience in real life. On the other hand, the art of cinematography can be a great way to gain experience and to minimize the difficulties one may encounter when learning how to navigate various aspects of everyday life. The Fellowship of the Ring, the book and the film, teach us how to co-exist in harmony, how fragile the world we live in is, and shows how crucial attaining peace is.
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Learning how to analyze a film improved my ability to understand the intent of the film itself and to deduce the messages being conveyed at the same time. By and large, my ability to use film theory and criticism to find and interpret the meaning of a film needs improvement. I admit that my skills as a film analyst need some work, especially because I still tend to trust my instincts. In other words, it is difficult for me to stay objective when evaluating a film. In any case, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has a very special place in my heart. I am certain that all those who take an interest in studying mythology and English literature will also take pleasure in watching this masterpiece of cinematographic art. To conclude, it is necessary to admit that the course helped me to understand that cinematography, like any other form of art, is intimately related to society, mostly due to the following reasons. During this course, I have come to realize that nothing is trivial. I understood that paying attention to details is crucial and it does make a difference. Developing analytical skills can actually make one a more perceptive person. Therefore, it is possible to say that analytical skills apply to virtually all spheres of human activity. Lastly, film criticism, in particular, may help one to understand how systems created by people work.