A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.
Could Jake Gyllenhaal Save Middle-earth?
I have just seen the first `volume' and can say without hesitation that he has succeeded in both his goals. It is not the book but a reading of the book which is inventive and fascinating. It is the kind of experience that makes you want to go back and reread the whole thing in the light of the emphases that Jackson has brought to the story. He focuses on the corrupting influence of the ring and, through this focus, the character of the chief protagonists of the story are revealed. Clearly those most tempted by it are mortal men (Boromir and even, in one moment, Aragorn), those who already have power (Elrond - `The ring cannot stay here'; Galadriel; Gandalf and Saruman), and, of course, those who would not normally desire it but who by accident become ring bearers - Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo. I can see why, in this reading, Jackson decided to leave out the Bombadil episode. Bombadil, like the Balrog, is beyond the ring but the latter is important to the unfolding of the story of the fates of all the characters, Bombadil isn't.
It is a miracle of this reading of the first volume of the book that one can see where Jackson is going and one can get a feel of how the reading is going to unfold. In a sense, Jackson's real trial - as far as those who know the books are concerned - will come with the second film in the series. He has lived up to our expectation by creating even bigger ones: how can he handle the story of the chase andrescue of Merry and Pippin, the storming of Isengard etc - stories which don't really add much to the core theme that is emerging. Or is he now going to add the theme of the great contest of good versus evil to the unfolding reading?
All of this points to the fact that the film, even though it is a feast of special effects, focuses on character. And this also explains why Jackson chose the actors he did for their roles: they are not `big' names - no `Sean Connery', no `Alan Rickman', no `Brad Pitt', no `Sam Neill'etc. He didn't want them getting in the way of the story of character. Ian McKellan's talents, in particular, are used to tell a large proportion of the story: an enormous amount is conveyed simply through his facial expressions and even by the language of his body. The other miracle in all of this is Elijah Wood. Like many others, when I first heard of Jackson's choice, I groaned: but Wood has been extraordinary. He brings, as one friend said, a strange kind of androgyny to the role and this is just perfect. McKellan has already been knighted: give Wood the Oscar.
And then there is Middle Earth: this is, as someone put it, another character in the story and the New Zealand landscape, digitally enhanced on occasion, lives up to its role too.
Enough. See this film! Greatest film ever made? How can one make a claim like that! Silly really; as silly as claiming that `The Lord of the Rings' is the greatest book ever written. Can't one simply love a story, enjoy reading it a number of times amd lose oneself in it. One CAN claim that it is the greatest work in its genre as is the film.
- Dec 22, 2001