AFI #50: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I’m going to be critical of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings being on the AFI Top 100 list, so if you’re a big fan forgive me. I’d like to begin by saying I enjoyed this film, both this time and the first time I watched it when it debuted in 2001. I read the Tolkien books as a kid and I love the story. I also think this film and the other two films in the trilogy are wonderful and ambitious adaptations of the stories. Peter Jackson does a tremendous job bringing Middle Earth to life and the CGI and cinematography are great. I think it’s a good film, but it definitely does not belong on the list of the Top 100 films ever made. Here’s why…

The Fellowship of the Rings is not a complete film. It’s only one-third of a film, and while that’s not Jackson’s fault it does, in my mind, eliminate it from contention for this list because it really can’t stand on its own. I know, you’re thinking The Godfather is also a trilogy and surely I won’t argue against both parts one and two being on this list — and you’d be right. But The Fellowship of the Rings does not stand on its own as a story — it ends with a cliffhanger and that means the story is not complete. Sorry if you think I’m being ticky tacky, but it’s just not a complete film.

The fact is you can’t have a real discussion about the film without discussing the full trilogy. The characters are not fully developed and several important characters aren’t even introduced until the second film. I guess I wouldn’t have argued if AFI put the three films together and called it one of the Top 100. But they didn’t do that. Hell, the Oscar committee screwed it up as well. Fellowship got a best picture nomination and it shouldn’t have. Two Towers got the same treatment. Then the Academy went ballistic and threw the whole kit and caboodle at Return of the King and gave it 11 Oscars including best picture. If Return of the King was so good, why didn’t AFI give it the recognition? Bottom line for me is that Fellowship doesn’t deserve to be on this list. That being said, I enjoyed it and it’s a great fantasy film (er, piece of a film).

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