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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Sam’s top 5 of all time

#1: ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’
“Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” saw a classic story brought to life through expert editing and sweeping cinematography. (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

Finally, the day has arrived — my favorite movie of all time! I can’t believe that after all this time, we are finally here. My favorite movie is Peter Jackson’s 2001 epic, fantasy adventure film “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

Based on the first installment of the famous trilogy of books by J.R.R. Tolkien, “Fellowship” includes an ensemble cast of Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Sir Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and many, many more. The story follows Frodo’s heroic journey to destroy the all-powerful One Ring and prevent it from reuniting with the Dark Lord Sauron. The friends and foes Frodo meets along the way will forever shape his life.

Like many who worked on “Fellowship,” Jackson has been a die-hard Tolkien fan since birth. Before making “Fellowship,” he was best known for his indie horror films such as “Heavenly Creatures” (1994) and “The Frighteners” (1996). When he decided, along with his co-writer and wife Fran Walsh, to adapt all three Lord of the Rings books into movies, many were apprehensive.

Jackson and Walsh brought along writer Philippa Boyens as well and the three take everything that works in the first book and seamlessly translate it to the big screen. They understood that at the root of Tolkien’s novels is the battle of good versus evil, and they played heavily into that with their screenplay. Jackson expertly crafts scene after scene, going from large-scale action scenes of massive armies clashing to smaller, more intimate character-to-character moments. They have the perfect amount of heart to balance the ever-growing darkness.

The acting in “Fellowship” is also well-done. Everyone fully commits to their silly characters and goofy-sounding names, making them as serious, lifelike and authentic as possible. McKellen is transcendent as Gandalf, while Wood and Mortensen are flawless in their respective roles. However, a special shoutout goes to Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee, not just for having an awesome name but for being the real hero of this film and the trilogy of films as a whole.

“Fellowship” would not be as great without Howard Shore’s excellent score. The various themes for each character weave together terrifically throughout the three-hour duration and the One Ring motif always gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it. Andrew Lesnie’s cinematography brings the out-of-this-world sets and locations to life with vibrant colors and framing.

The real star of the show is editor John Gilbert, who makes the runtime feel two hours shorter than it is. The film also pioneered many groundbreaking CGI techniques, including massive crowd effects and later impressive work on the full CGI character Gollum.

All three “Lord of the Rings” films were a cultural phenomenon when they were released in the early 2000s. Die-hard book fans were ecstatic that the films were being made, and new fans were introduced to a whole new world. Each film did well at the awards circuit, including the third film, “Return of the King” (2003), which tied the record for most wins at a single Academy Awards ceremony with 11 honors. Combined, the three films have earned almost three billion dollars at the box office.

Overall, while all three “Lord of the Rings” films are excellent in their own ways, I believe “Fellowship of the Ring” stands above the rest. It has the perfect blend of comedy, action, emotional stakes and spooks to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. It’s irresistibly re-watchable and quotable, firmly securing it as my favorite movie of all time.

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About the Contributor
Sam Cohen
Sam Cohen, Movie Columnist
Sam Cohen (he/him/his) is a junior majoring in Film and Media Studies. He won the Special Grand Jury Prize for his Comedy short film “The Gum Run” at the 2019 Montclair Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers Competition. Sam writes weekly reviews of recent TV Shows and Movies while occasionally reviewing older, forgotten classics. When not reviewing, discussing, or watching films, Sam is also a part of many extracurriculars on campus, including being a co-captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity, and an officer of the Film Society.

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