I hate the books. Did my A-level English dissertation on “The Influences Of Norse And Christian Myth On Early Fantastic Literature” with specific reference to LOTR and the Narnia books. (Which I hate even more. I despise propaganda, especially when it’s fed to kids.) I read them several times, in a shorter period of time than anyone should have to. There was a period when I could have quoted large chunks of it verbatim, but mercifully age, and a facility for repression, have spared me a lifetime with hobbits in the brain.

When I first heard the films were being made, I thought I’d just ignore them. Then I saw the trailers for FELLOWSHIP…, and thought I’d give it a go. If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it.

But I did. The effects are stunning, and as an adaptation, it’s pretty first rate. They’ve cut out all the bits that made the book crap, and despite it’s three hour length, it only drags in a couple of places. There are only a few really bad bits – noteably the sequence between Frodo and Galadriel, where the scriptwriter seems to have taken a break and let the tea boy fill in, and the effects department clearly needed to be out of the office by half five. Sadly, most of these slow or just plain bad bits come toward the end of the film, so it’d be easy to come away with a worse impression than the film deserves.

But here’s the big flaw: It’s the first part of a trilogy of films. But as I recall, the book were not written, or first published, as a trilogy. They were written as one book in three volumes. Now, I’ve read the books. I know that some of the things that seem weak or needless in part one are there as set up for later parts. But I found myself saying “that’ll be made clearer later” an awful lot to the friends I saw it with, or “no, you just don’t have the full picture”. One the one hand, they’re a bit constrained by the books. On the other, they’ve clearly felt free to play fast-and-loose with the pacing in other places (and the film is better for it), but there are things I can’t help but feel they could have cut from the film without really losing anything, that would have made it a better film on it’s own merits, rather than just as part one of three.

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