The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring borders on the ideal of “pure cinema” [critique]

The first film in the Peter Jackson saga celebrates its 20th anniversary.

On December 10, 2001, the world premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring took place in London. An event, which was quickly followed by an immense success: from its world release nine days later, the first opus of the Lord of the Rings, by Peter Jackson, was a hit, pocketing nearly $ 900 million in revenue worldwide, globally adored by both critics and the public. The writing of First had fallen under the spell of this first part, as we can see by (re) reading this 4 star review signed by Gérard Delorme.

The Lord of the Rings: the origins of the cult saga of Peter Jackson

Among the torrent of impressions that emerges from this first episode adapted from JRR Tolkien’s trilogy, we are struck by the mixture of humility and ambition. Humility in front of a monumental narrative substance and ambition to illustrate it in the most universal way possible. In fact, one does not go without the other. The result, exciting beyond what one could hope for, borders on the ideal of “pure cinema” that very few (Disney, Hitchcock, Powell, Kurosawa) have
managed to achieve.

By way of“once upon a time”, a prologue, as spectacular as it is concise, establishes the historical context and the forces involved. There follows a calm period, which allows to introduce the main characters (of the Hobbits) and to set up a complex story. There, we are struck by the reality of everything that usually passes for artifice (the costumes, the sets, the interpretation).

The film really takes off from the second third. During this purely spectacular phase, the most incredible sequences follow one another at such a rate that one wonders if one is not going to saturate. It is not so. Peter Jackson has a consummate sense of rhythm and, over three hours, he knows how to spare the breaths as well as the highlights without ever tiring.

He also knows how to surprise, especially with the dramatic depth that wins the story in the last hour of the film. Exhausted by the battles, the characters are each consumed by their own demons, doubt, discouragement and various temptations. They then reach a dimension that has long since disappeared from this kind of spectacle. Of all the characters, powerfully interpreted in varied registers, the most impressive is Ian McKellen as Gandalf, each appearance of which brings a titanic energy.

Aesthetics have its roots even in the Symbolist painters and the Art Nouveau which marked silent cinema (certain scenes in the Elves recall the founding epics to which Peter Jackson paid homage in Forgotten Silver). This ability to invisibly combine the most tried and tested techniques as well as the most innovative is the hallmark of a great filmmaker.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this film comes from there: in spite of its industrial dimension, it betrays in each shot the identity of its author and especially his state of mind. A spirit of pleasure and sharing, strong enough to finalize, after years of work, his vision of a cinema that scares, laughs, shivers, trembles and moves.

The trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring :

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