The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fabulous, but also violent and scary.
  • PG-13
  • 2001
  • 208 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 66 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 310 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Strong theme of the meekest, smallest folk -- personified by Frodo Baggins, the Hobbit -- becoming greatest heroes in a perilous quest. Gandalf advises Frodo against killing wantonly. Evil forces of Mordor and Saruman are associated with industrialization (more so in the followup The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), whereas the Hobbit and mystic Elf races have more reverence for nature. Major themes include teamwork, perseverance, and courage.

Positive Role Models

The very innocence of Frodo, Samwise, and the other peace-loving hobbits becomes their strength, as greed and the temptation contained in the One Ring tear apart the alliance, preying on the allegedly stronger characters. Hobbits are still shown as mischief-making and fun-loving (and weed-smoking). Lust for power is said to be a particular flaw in the race called "Man," though the long-lost King Aragorn is one noble warrior who does not succumb. Strong female characters are not too prominent in the Tolkien novel but get represented here (even if they are Elves, not humans).


Death and attempted murder by arrows and swords, including the agonizing killing of one character in a pincushion of arrows. People fall from great heights. Wizards batter each other bloody with invisible forces. A toothy, squid-like creature tries to eat the heroes. Supernatural creatures set on fire, impaled, decapitated and dismembered. Lots of gnarled skeletons and bodies showing signs of violent death.


Topless female nude statuary is a barely noticed background feature of the architecture of Rivendell, the village of Elves.


Hard to ignore the original Tolkien books, not to mention a plethora of video games, movie tie-in action figures, role-playing games, plus the movie sequels and other existing adaptations.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Gandalf and Hobbits smoke "pipeweed," a clearly enjoyable experience that makes playful smoke rings and figures. Drinking of vintage wine-like beverages, talk of beer.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysweetypieinusa April 9, 2008

seen all three -excellant

as a mother of 2 daughters and one son , I found this movie violent but fantasy violence to me is completly different than the trash on tv.I would rather my chi... Continue reading
Adult Written byThis dude January 27, 2019

Great movie, but scarier and more violent then some kids can handle.

You would be hard pressed to find a more iconic or better directed fantasy series than Lord of the Rings. The story and visual styles bring the novels to life a... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 15, 2016

Amazing film one of the best films ever made

This film is based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is one of the best films ever made. I watched it when I was 7 but I like to think I'm pretty mature... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 28, 2014


Really? Age 12, 11? I saw this at 9 or 10. And I was not scared! (hello there) My brother is watching this at 6! I mean, sure there is tons of violence! (violen... Continue reading

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?

  • How do the characters in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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