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265. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (#10)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guests Andy Melhuish, Deirdre Molumby and Grace Duffy, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, to mark the 20th anniversary of its release, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the Great Rings.”

At time of recording, it was ranked 10th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On What Makes “The Two Towers” the Best “Lord of the Rings” Movie…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. This week, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, we’re taking a look back at the trilogy as a whole. We’ll be publishing three articles looking at the films, one each day. This is the second.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the most interesting film in the trilogy, in large part because it’s neither beginning nor ending of this epic saga. It is instead the story about what it feels like to exist in the middle of this epic struggle between good and evil, feeling small and powerless as the forces move around. It’s the most human of the films in the trilogy, the most nuanced, the most complicated. It is the only film that really lets shades of grey creep into the mix of its epic black-and-white morality.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Escapist Video! On How “The Green Knight” Deconstructs the Hero’s Journey…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday’s article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

With the release of The Green Knight on streaming, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what makes the film so unique and so effective. In particular, how David Lowery uses the film to explore and interrogate the conventional hero’s journey – in particular, the idea that all it takes to make a hero great is an epic adventure.

Non-Review Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug represents a considerable improvement on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Some of the same problems still lurk at the edge of the frame: the pacing needs a bit of work; the movie is about half-an-hour too long; it feels a little too consciously like one extended prelude to The Lord of the Rings. And yet, despite all these flaws, The Desolation of Smaug accomplishes a lot of what it sets out to do.

This is very clearly the same Middle Earth that viewers remember from The Lord of the Rings. Even the least obsessive viewer will still recognise the occasional familiar landmark or setting from the early film. It’s not just the New Zealand locations that shine through; great care has been taken to establish a geography of this fictional landscape. Viewers who have yet to memorise the names and routes on Tolkien’s meticulously-prepared maps can see that this is the same world.

It’s just being seen from a different perspective. The Hobbit isn’t really an adaptation of that much-loved adventure tale, at least not exclusively. It is instead being crafted as a companion piece, with the heroes’ quest providing a handy travelogue of a world in turmoil.

The gold standard?

The gold standard?

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Watch! The Full 1985 Version of The Hobbit! In Russian!

Okay, since there’s no subtitles this is sort of a bit of a niche thing, but I found it and thought I’d pass it on.

Below is the full 1985 version of The Hobbit produced for Russian television. It is… a little less impressive than Peter Jackson’s adaptation, and not just because it’s in less than 48 frames per second and two dimensions. Still, I kinda admire the ambition of it, even if the results are less than spectacular. Check out how they take down Smaug, for an example, or the way that the action cuts back to the “narrator” before any expensive shots are required.

The whole thing calls to mind the sort of stuff the BBC were doing with Doctor Who at the time, and I can’t quite hate it. After all, the matte paintings are great and at least it seems committed to an idea that would have been technically quite difficult for a big-budget movie of the time, let alone state television.

Check it out below and let me know what you think!

Non-Review Review: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

I always feel a little embarrassed to admit that I prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings. Don’t worry, I know that by any objective measure of craft The Lord of the Rings is a far more impressive literary accomplishment, but I never really connected with the characters at the heart of that sprawling epic in the way that I empathised with Bilbo Baggins. As such, it’s a massive relief to me that Peter Jackson turns in an endearing and enjoyable, if padded and indulgent, first instalment in his Hobbit trilogy. The technical advances and the somewhat cynical structuring of the film tend to garner a great deal of discussion and debate, but the heart of Tolkien’s introduction to Middle Earth is still here. The only problem is that absolutely everything else is as well.

And that's just the script to Part I...

And that’s just the script to Part I…

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