Celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring this month, it’s apparent that this amazing film will always be an outstanding look at wonderful fantasy and friendship. Although the live-action film is a bit too mature for my kids (aged 9 and 7), it’s quite apparent that the characters within The Lord of the Rings have all the heart one could ask for when looking for acceptable role models. It also presents viewers with the longstanding notion that mistakes do not have to define a person in their efforts to do good.
I remember watching this film in theater, along with the other two films in the trilogy, and being enthralled by such an incredible story. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was not only epic on the big screen, it gave incredible snippets of humanity from one scene to the next. These moments continue to teach us what it’s like to form bonds of friendship and what it means to hold onto those bonds even on the brink of destruction. This monumental experience is burned into my brain, and for a period of two years, from 2001 to 2003, three films provided the grandest in-theater experience that I can recall in my lifetime.
The Lord of the Rings and Its Epic Character
It’s not often that a film can produce a feeling of “this is bigger than life.” Not only does Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings feel gigantic, the characters are big in personality and the dangers associated around “the One Ring” are terrifying, while also feeling impossible to escape. This movie presents an enjoyable pace and lovable characters to hold onto, while understanding those supporting Frodo on his journey to destroy the ring of power have their own relatable qualities we might find in the real world.
Boromir wants the ring for himself, so he might defend his lands better and drive out the evil forces. In a moment of weakness, building from the effects of the ring on him and his desire to save his people, Boromir eventually attempts to take the ring from Frodo. Does Boromir represent the majority of us or only a few? He wishes to save his people, and he becomes blinded by his fears that he will be unable to save his home without help. Living in fear doesn’t mean we should react by harming others, but we understand that an action lashed out of fear does not have to define who that person is.
As soon as Boromir realizes that he was blinded by the ring and his desire to own it, he realizes his fault. Although he doesn’t have an opportunity to apologize directly to Frodo for his actions, he does what he can to make right by the Fellowship by guarding those who are in danger. The fate of Boromir is an incredible journey, because his life ends knowing two things: He failed Frodo and his bond with Aragorn will not let him fail at saving Mary, Pippin, or his home of Gondor.
It’s easy to see the wrong in another’s action. It’s difficult to see and admit the faults of our own. Boromir talks to Aragorn as he lies dying on the ground, and both men commit to each other despite mistrusting one another throughout the entirety of the film. It’s a wonderful way to express that change does not have to be impossible. Even in the darkest of hours, moments of togetherness are possible, even when it seemed inevitable that it would never happen. Although this moment in The Fellowship of the Ring is sad, it’s also a reminder to us all that life does not always grant us easy victories. Depending on one another is a message that should never get old and will always hold true as we look to the future.
Depending on Others Despite the Unknown
One thing is for sure when it comes with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Life isn’t easy and doing good can take a great deal of strength. Not only do we see the toll the ring takes on Frodo throughout the trilogy, we see the courage required to even venture on such an unforgiving mission. To destroy the one ring by going into Mordor, “Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly,” said Boromir.
How do you depend on others who do not necessarily believe that success is possible? Frodo understands what is at stake, and how life in Middle Earth will change if the ring is not destroyed. Despite the uncertainty of such a task, he agrees to it and must rely on the strength of others to help him in this great cause. Frodo does have true friends by his side, but he also has a few join the Fellowship who show they’d rather argue than deal with the likes of someone who’s different.
The verbal sparks between Gimli and Legolas prove that there are legitimate tensions between dwarves and elves. As Gimli mentions, “I will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an Elf! Never trust an Elf!” This type of hatred is spoken so easily, and the underlying realization that this conflict could easily disband the coalition never goes away. However, the two of them find a way to put past their differences to work toward the greater good. If good doesn’t come together to stop evil, the fighting between the good will only allow evil to march through unobstructed. Gimli and Legolas could’ve hindered the Fellowship; instead, they made it a priority for them to succeed regardless of their feelings towards one another.
The ability to see beyond what feelings have been bred for so long allows both characters to realize that one might not be as bad as previously believed. Does this fully take shape in friendship within the first film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy? No, but the entire film breaks down these prejudices and allows one to work side by side. If that doesn’t resemble the truest forms of friendships, where preconceived notions are mistaken and trust is built out of wanting to do good, then Gimli and Legolas run the gamut all the way through to The Return of the King.
The Fellowship Celebrates Strength in Their Imperfections
Does the Fellowship succeed in its quest to protect Frodo all the way to Mordor? No. Do mistakes lead to the demise of some characters? Yes. Pippin’s curiosity leads to sounding the enemy’s alarm, ultimately leading to Gandalf’s great fall. Does Boromir attempt to steal the ring from Frodo? Yes, but he ultimately tries to protect the other “little ones,” after Pippin and Mary try to distract the enemy so Frodo has time to escape on his own.
Whether it be selfish curiosity or bickering allies, The Fellowship of the Ring presents a group of individuals who signed up for what appeared to be a one-way trip and it’s clear early on that each step of the way will be an incredibly arduous task. This journey and its obstacles are what makes someone a hero, while it equally highlights how bonds of friendship can come together, even in the unlikeliest of situations when all seems lost.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is perfect for highlighting positive messages for our youth. In the end, despite a character’s flaws, doing what is right and good stands above all else. It’s a brilliant testament to the creators and the cast for putting together such bonds that were not obvious from the start, but left viewers with heartfelt emotional bonds by the film’s end. Watching Pippin and Mary look on mournfully, as Boromir continues to fight until he ultimately falls to his knees, is emotional to watch. It brings about the true connections these characters have built together, and watching the two hobbits futilely attack the Orcs after Boromir’s fall isn’t without meaning either. Their sorrow leaves them wanting to fight as passionately for their fallen member of the Fellowship – despite the outcome.
Boromir asked Mary and Pippin to go, but they could not leave his side. Despite their inability to aid him, their place was by his side. Much like Sam refuses to leave Frodo when he’s told to go back, their steadfastness to Boromir proves that friendships are an everlasting quality where staying by someone’s side to the end means more than anything else. They made a commitment to the Fellowship, to Frodo, and everyone’s actions ultimately come to do what’s best for the group in the end. Much like Frodo attempting to leave everyone else behind to protect them from the long and dangerous journey, the rest of the group is equally bonded to protect one another – and it holds true after Boromir’s death when Mary and Pippin are captured.
Though no one wishes for a deadly encounter with Orcs to prove oneself, it’s clear that the members of the Fellowship have created a bond that’s worth hoping for in real life. It’s a tale worth revisiting over and over, and as a parent, I cannot wait for my kids to watch it one day. Friendships, adventures, and stepping up to do the right thing in the face of making mistakes – it’s powerful to see and that’s something I don’t think will ever change.
What are your thoughts on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring after 20 years? What elements from the story do you or your kids take away from it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.