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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Director - Peter Jackson, Cinematography - Andrew Lesnie

“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. Three were given to the Elves, immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven to the Dwarf lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of Men, who, above all else, desire power. But they were, all of them, deceived, for another ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a Master Ring, to control all others. And into this ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One Ring to rule them all!”


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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Director - Peter Jackson, Cinematography - Andrew Lesnie

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something…. That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) dir. Peter Jackson

“It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Obligatory Depressing and Cliff Hanging Part Two of Three, but tops both of the others

My favorite of the three Peter Jackson ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. Mostly because of Andy Serkis’s wonderful achievement (along with no doubt an army of special effects technicians) as the character Gollum, which should have won a best actor nomination (at least), had the academy been a bit more open minded. While much of the character was computer generated, the part was actually motion captured and acted by a real actor, every move, every facial expression was duplicated by a human being, which accounts for the uncanny realism of the effect (while the computer generated characters in other films seem to be missing that certain 'spark of life’).

The film picks up where the last left off, with the fellowship split up into three groups. The captured hobbits Merry and Pippin and their adventures among the Orcs and the Ents. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas running across the Rohan riders and getting involved in their stuggles (while searching for the two hobbits). Finally, Sam and Frodo, and their new companion Gollum as they make their way toward the dark tower. Meanwhile, the wizard has come back from his fiery death as 'Gandalf the White’ and has much to do with two of the storylines, and we have an epic battle for Helm’s Deep (a mere teaser for the giant battle to come in the third film).

A problematic 'middle film’, with no clear climax and with a dangling ending, it nevertheless proves to be a complex, multilayered enjoyable film from beginning to end. Quite the achievement when you take into consideration the sheer volume of new characters and situations the audience has to digest, the overlapping storylines and character motivations, not to mention the technical problems involved in showing all this eye popping detail to an audience and not having them claw their own eyes out from sheer mental overload.

Had this to say on Netflix at the time:

Believe me, you don’t have to be a ’D&D’ geekazoid to enjoy these films. I didn’t read the books first, was, in fact, bored with the rings on my first attempt to read the 'fellowship’ book years ago. But curiosity got the better of me after the first movie, and I worked my way through all three of the books this summer. This is now my third viewing of this 'Two Towers’ movie. It just gets better each time, and I can’t wait for the third one (which you get a tantalizing peek at in the bonus disc). I was really worried that Golum would end up being some sort of 'yoda’-ish computer generated embarrassment, but I was simply blown away by the expressiveness of the character’s eyes and found him even more believable than some of the 'real’ actors (Liv Tyler for instance). Also noticed on the third viewing, more than a few references and lines that got me thinking, re: 9-11 and another 'two towers’.

5 stars out of 5

Released 2002, First Viewing July 2002 with revisits since, including the ‘extended directors cut’ versions

Elizabeth I in TV and film, from Bernhardt to Blanchett – in pictures

Sarah Bernhardt

Shot in Paris in 1912, Les Amours d’Elisabeth, Reine d’Angleterre or The Loves of Elizabeth, Queen of England was a short four-reel French silent film based on the love affair between Elizabeth I of England and the Earl of Essex.

Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex.

Flora Robson

The Sea Hawk was a 1940 American Warner Bros. feature film starring Errol Flynn as privateer defending his interests against the Armada.

Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex.

Bette Davis

The Virgin Queen was a 1955 DeLuxe Color historical swashbuckler in CinemaScope focusing on the relationship between Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh, and was the second time Davis played the English monarch; the first was 1939’s The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex.

Glenda Jackson

Elizabeth R was a BBC TV drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971.

Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex.

Miranda Richardson

Elizabeth I was portrayed hilariously as Queenie in the 1985 BBC comedy sitcom Blackadder Part II.

Photograph: BBC.

Anne-Marie Duff

The Virgin Queen, from 2006, explored her whole life, from days of fear as a potential victim of her sister’s terror; through her great love affair with Robert Dudley into her years of triumph over the Armada, and finally her old age and enigmatic relationship with the Earl of Essex.

Photograph: BBC.

Cate Blanchett

The 1998 feature film Elizabeth is loosely based on the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign.

Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex.

Helen Mirren

Elizabeth in the TV serial Elizabeth I, for Channel 4 and HBO, for which she received an Emmy Award in 2005.

Photograph: Channel 4.

Cate Blanchett 

The sequel to 1998’s Elizabeth, the 2007 feature Elizabeth: The Golden Age covered the later part of her reign.

Photograph: Universal/Allstar.

Vanessa Redgrave

Columbia Pictures’ 2011 Anonymous presents Lord Oxford as the true author of William Shakespeare’s plays, and dramatizes events around the succession to Queen Elizabeth I, and the Earl of Essex’s rebellion against her.

Photograph: Columbia Pictures.

Anita Dobson

The BBC has announced that Anita Dobson will play Queen Elizabeth I in the dramatic reconstruction forArmada, a BBC2 documentary series airing this spring.

Photograph: Mark Edger/BBC/PA.


Aragorn: Long have I desired to look upon the kings of old. My Kin.