The Lord of the Rings / The Fellowship of the Ring

Role: The Voice of the One Ring

Although the Ring is not a living creature, it seems to have a will of its own. In order to return to its Master, it may tempt its bearer to put it on when agents of the Enemy are near or it may abandon its bearer when least expected. The Ring is a temptation to all who come in contact with it. Even the most powerful are lured by their desire to use the Ring to do good, but it would corrupt them to evil in the end. Frodo the Hobbit is extraordinary in his ability to resist the Ring's will for so long and under such extreme circumstances.

Alan Howard supplies the voice of the Ring, speaking both English and Black Speech, the language of Mordor.
(Source: Northbrook Public Library, Illinois, website.)

Noel Appleby
Sean Astin
Sala Baker
Sean Bean
Cate Blanchett
Orlando Bloom
Billy Boyd
Marton Csokas
Megan Edwards
Michael Elsworth
Mark Ferguson
Ian Holm
Ian McKellen
Christopher Lee
Lawrence Makoare
Brent McIntyre
Peter McKenzie
Sarah McLeod
Dominic Monaghan
Viggo Mortensen
Ian Mune
Craig Parker
Cameron Rhodes
John Rhys-Davies
Martyn Sanderson
Andy Serkis
Harry Sinclair
Liv Tyler
David Weatherley
Hugo Weaving
Elijah Wood
Alan Howard

Lee Hartley
Sam La Hood
Chris Streeter
Jonathan Jordan
Semi Kuresa
Clinton Ulyatt
Paul Bryson
Lance Fabian Kemp
Jono Manks
Ben Price
Philip Grieve
Billy Jackson
Katie Jackson

Everard Proudfoot
Sam Gamgee
Legolas Greenleaf
Mrs. Proudfoot
Gondorian Archivist
Bilbo Baggins
Rosie Cotton
Farmer Maggot
Gate Keeper
Barliman Butterbur
Frodo Baggins
The Ring (voice)

Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths
Cute Hobbit Child
Cute Hobbit Child

Rest of cast listed alphabetically

Peter Corrigan
Lori Dungey
Norman Forsey
Bill Johnson
Elizabeth Moody
Brian Sergent
Timothy Bartlett
Victoria Beynon-Cole
Taea Hartwell
Peter Jackson
Thomas McGinty
Bret McKenzie
Kate O'Rourke

Otho (Extended Version)
Mrs. Bracegirdle (extended edition)
Gaffer Gamgee (extended edition)
Old Noakes (extended edition) - (as William Johnson)
Lobelia Sackville-Baggins (extended edition)
Ted Sandyman (extended edition)
Hobbit (uncredited)
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths (uncredited)
Child Hobbit (uncredited)
Albert Dreary (uncredited)
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths (uncredited)
Elf Figwit (uncredited)
Hero Orcs, Goblins, Uruks & Ringwraiths (uncredited)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Lord of the Films

Without a single cute kid or flying broom, the movie of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy comes to thrilling life

A lowly hobbit, long content to live quietly with his own unremarkable kind in a remote corner of Middle Earth, is given an audacious challenge: return the Ring of Power to the fiery pit where it was forged and, against all the massed legions of evil, save the world. That was the task of Frodo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien's legendary and much-loved The Lord of the Rings.

The One Ring

Director Peter Jackson might have felt a bit Frodo-ish when he got the job of bringing Tolkien's trilogy to the screen. He has made most of his quirky little films (the deranged puppet farce Meet the Feebles, the zombie classic Braindead, the rapturous murder story Heavenly Creatures) in his native New Zealand. True to form, he shot this three-part, $300 million fantasy back home — and back-to-back-to-back. Shooting is completed on all three films, which will be released in consecutive Decembers, beginning with this month's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Now he has to be ready for all sorts of comparisons: not just with the Tolkien originals, but with a certain other fantasy film franchise launched this year.

If Jackson ever fretted, he needn't have. Like Frodo, he should emerge triumphant, for The Fellowship of the Ring is a bigger, richer, way-better film than Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (or Sorcerer's, depending on where you live) Stone. Jackson's work is not simply a sumptuous illustration of a favorite fable; though faithful in every detail to Tolkien, it has a vigorous life of its own. And it possesses a grandeur, a moral heft and emotional depth, that the Potter people never tried for.

Part of the difference between the films and their relative achievements derives from the source novels. Rowling's work is an intimate epic, a Tom Brown's School Days with some fabulous sleight-of-hand, and featuring a trim trio of central characters: the Magical Musketeers of English adolescence. Tolkien's is an Iliad, a vast tale of war, sprawling across Middle Earth in a metaphor for the Allies' battle against Hitler (in the book, the Dark Lord Sauron) or, for that matter, the U.S. and the Northern Alliance against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Its cast of characters is huge, varied (humans, dwarves, elves, wraiths, Orcs, Ents) and adult.

The only childlike creatures are the Hobbits, short of stature and averse to responsibility. In this sense, Frodo and his pals Pippin and Sam, whose maturity is won in bitter trials, have echoes in Harry and his chums Hermione and Ron. But the Hobbits' journey has heartache at its core: they are like kids drafted into a holy, hellish war. And Frodo, as the Ring bearer, has what amounts to a suicide mission: the Ring both empowers and corrupts anyone who would have it.

So any apt adaptation of Lord of the Rings is bound to have a gravity, even a kind of dread, about the awful task at hand. Jackson's film has that gravity. But it is also a buoyant experience — an excellent film and a ripping yarn of a movie — because the characters are lively and engaging, and because the production team put such skill and joy into designing a movie Middle Earth. The landscapes, a cunning mixture of computer images and real New Zealand, bestow a distinct and beguiling personality to each realm: the elves' sylvan fairy land, the dwarves' dark Mines of Moria, the fabulous castle of chief wizard Saruman and, of course, the Hobbits' own Shire.

Think of the River Bank from The Wind in the Willows, but on the grandest scale, with dozens of Hobbit homes built into hillsides. The hutches have a sturdiness — part medieval, part Art Nouveau — that takes its style cues from the natural environment; lots of solid furniture, and hardly a right angle in sight. The Hobbits blend in, too. They are short, round-faced, curly-haired and hairy-footed, and the movie perfectly visualizes them. One of the film's small miracles is the persuasive integration of these 1.1-m-tall creatures into scenes with all the bigger people. It's done with forced perspective, back projection, clever intercutting and frequent doubling of the standard-size actors by small folks seen from behind.

It's said that, in movies, 90% of good acting is good casting. Every time a new actor shows up — Viggo Mortensen as Prince Aragon, Sean Bean as gruff, troubled Boromir, Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler as two great ladies of the wood and lake — the viewer says, "Yes, he/she is just right." As Frodo, Elijah Wood uses his giant eyes to project a kind of haunted innocence. And Ian McKellen has a lovely time as the wizard Gandalf; he sparkles with wisdom, humor, sympathy and worry. Together they paint a living portrait of Middle Earth's many peoples and conflicting agendas.

A few caveats for parents: the film is never gross, but it's sometimes scary. At 2 hr. 58 min., it will test children's endurance and their bladders — but probably not their patience. (Besides, an informal poll of New Yorkers who'd seen the 2 hr. 32 min. Harry Potter film indicated that adults thought it slow and stodgy while the kids complained that it wasn't long enough.) Fellowship may disappoint children because it lacks a conventionally satisfying resolution; the movie ends, as the first book does, on the cusp of a great adventure. Like Oliver Twist in the Workhouse, kids may be wailing, "Please, sir, I want some more" for the next 12 months.

But that is the seductive tease of great bedtime stories. Jackson's achievement is nearly at that level. His movie achieves what the best fairy tales do: the creation of an alternate world, plausible and persuasive, where the young — and not only the young — can lose themselves. And perhaps, in identifying with the little Hobbit that could, find their better selves.

Richard Corliss

Time, 19.12. 2001

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