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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a classic fantasy that's full of violence and danger, including death. Horrific medieval-esque creatures kill, mostly with arrows and swords. More often, though, they get impaled, decapitated, dismemebered themselves. Middle-Earth characters drink beverages that are akin to wine and beer and smoke something called "pipeweed." There's some don't-try-this-at-home playing around with fireworks.
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What's the story?
In THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, our hero, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), is a Hobbit on a quest to return a powerful ring to the place where it was created, so it can be destroyed. A great wizard called Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has told him that the ring can be the source of great evil. But, of course, this makes it highly sought after by all kinds of scary folks, so Frodo is in for more than his share of thrilling and terrifying adventures. He bands together with heroes from all around Middle Earth to travel to the evil land of Mordor to destroy the ring.
Is it any good?
Somewhere, there are future Hollywood directors who will tell magazine feature writers that they first decided to make movies as they watched this film; it's that good. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a once-in-a-generation, not since Star Wars, transcendent reminder of why we tell stories, why we have imagination, and why we must go on quests to test our spirits and heal the world. And it's a story that invites us into a fully realized world with many different civilizations, all so thoroughly imagined that we don't only believe that they each have complete languages, but that they have dictionaries, histories, mythologies, schools, music, and poetry. Peter Jackson, who directed and co-wrote the script, has created a movie that seems astonishingly inventive and new and at the same time somehow seems as though it always existed inside us. Every detail, from the tiniest plant to the hugest battle, is exactly, satisfyingly right. The bad guys, all thundering hooves and billowing capes, seem to have come from the core of every nightmare since the world began. All three movies in the series were shot at once, so his singular vision can carry us through to the end.
A couple of caveats -- like Harry Potter, Frodo is a character who is more interesting on the page, where we can share his thoughts, than in a movie, where he is primarily called upon to look amazed, scared, or sad. And like Harry Potter, there were benefits to producing a series of films at the same time (continuity, commitment to getting all of the details right), but some drawbacks, too. So, we get glimpses of people who will be important later but now are somewhere between placeholders and distractions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why only Frodo seems immune to the ring's power to corrupt even honorable, wise, and powerful people in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as the notion that "even the smallest person can change the course of the earth."
If you were going to form a fellowship for a grand quest, who would you want to be in it?
How do you think the film adaptation compares with Tolkein's book?
- In theaters: December 19, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 2002
- Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
- Director: Peter Jackson
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 208 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: peril and violence
- Last updated: March 4, 2020
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