The Fellowship of the Ring

Salon: The movie of the year
“The Fellowship of the Ring” could have gone wrong in so many ways. As it is, though, I see it as nearly perfect: It’s one of the best fantasy pictures ever made. And it’s a lovely example of how, with care and thought and not all that much money (Jackson will have made all three “Rings” movies for less than $300 million), a director can successfully capture the mood and feel of a book on the big screen. (I read and enjoyed the books more than 25 years ago, but the details of them had gone hazy. Jackson brought them back more vividly than I could have hoped.)
Most of us are happy enough these days to go to the movies and not get screwed, so rarely does a movie even keep its promises, much less surpass them. That’s why “The Fellowship of the Ring” is something of a miracle. It makes the great potentialities of movies seem realistic and achievable. Inventive, magical and relatively inexpensive, it proves that throwing money at a movie doesn’t necessarily make it good — an idea that should be much easier for Hollywood to grasp than it actually is.