Neil Young’s Film Lounge – The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Rings

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

LORD OF THE RINGS – THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

7/10

US/New Zealand 2001
dir. Peter Jackson

L.O.T.R. kept me entertained for best part of 3 hours last night, ditto the folk of Mansfield who watched it with me in their Odeon. Butnonsense, no matter how entertaining, exciting and spectacular it may be, is still nonsense. It’s kind of painful watching Shakespearean actors mouthing these garbagey lines as if they’re some kind of great Arthurian poetry. The first half hour (in Hobbit-town or whatever the f*ck it’s called) is almost unbearably twee. It does get better as it goes on, however, and since it goes on for ages this means it ends up pretty good.

But it’s such dopey, pretentious (much more full of itself than Harry Potter) kids stuff underneath that I can’t give it more than a 7. It isn’t a film to be thought about at all – if anything, it’s actually anti-thought – and the more you go into what it’s actually saying, the more offensive it gets (olde style fascist land-is-good, industrialisation-is-bad themes are never far from the surface, and the ‘racial’ elements are so shocking to be absurd).

And while the settings supposedly go from Rivendell to Moria to Mordor to god-knows-where else (courtesy of the New Zealand tourist board, who must be pinching themselves about their good fortune) it actually all takes place in different suburbs of the same grim place : SQUARESVILLE. The whole thing is a gamers wet dream, with all these elfs and trolls in their pointy hats. Awful Celticky pan pipey music all the way through, softening us up for the end-credits onslaught from Enya… though there is one hilarious Jackson-on-mushrooms moment when he humiliates Cate Blanchett by making it look as though she’s stumbled into a very bad Toyah Willcox video from 1981. This is just one of many moments that feel like out-takes from The Keep, though Lynchs Dune is also in there as well (and also just maybe bits of Stalker, which was equally unbothered about making any damn sense.)

For me, however, the most irritating thing is one of the little details Its the way Sam, who’ssupposed to be Frodo’s best pal (and no kind of social inferior) keeps calling him ‘Mister Frodo’ all the way through. Would it kill Frodo to say ‘Sam, just call me Frodo’? At the very end, Sam says ‘Mister Frodo’ again, and Frodo turns round sort of smiling and you think F*CK YES, he’s actually going to tell him to stop acting like he’s some kind of servant flunkey. But he doesn’t, and you end up just hating the character, the writer, the director and everybody else involved in the whole damn palaver.

21st December, 2001
(seen Dec-20-01, Odeon, Mansfield)

by Neil Young