THREE STARS - CHALLENGING
The struggle between good and evil is personified in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” Set within the realm of “middle earth,” half way between the earth we know and the heaven we seek, Tolkien utilizes the power of fantasy to help us understand both. But it is not a fantasy for young children, because the battles and demons are shown in horrific detail.
“Fellowship of the Ring” begins the quest of young Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). Frodo is an innocent little hobbit whose uncle Bilbo (Ian Holm) gives him a powerful ring. Forged from the fires of Mount Doom by the evil Lord Sauron (Sala Baker), this ring endows its wearer with the power to rule the kingdoms of middle earth. But in a great battle, Sauron lost the ring and is thought to be dead.
However, it is discovered that the evil Lord Sauron had not been destroyed, because the ring was not destroyed when its victor had the chance to do so. Surviving as a disembodied demonic spirit, Sauron is seeking to regain the ring and incarnate once more as supreme ruler of middle earth.
As a Christian, Tolkien's writings carry the general theme of the Biblical explanations about life. Sauron compares with Satan who wants to rule the world.
The Christ figure within the film is Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen). Gandalf sacrifices his own life so that Frodo and his companions can escape a fire-demon from deep within the earth. But Gandalf is not the incarnation of God as is Jesus Christ. He is only a wizard, or holy man. As a man, his power to battle evil is limited. Thus, the future of middle earth does not depend on Gandalf and his wizardry but on the simple courage of the two little hobbits, Frodo and his friend Samwise ‘”Sam” Gamgee (Sean Astin).
This has always been inherent in the Christian message. Often people look to pastors and priests, or saints and popes, to keep us from evil. But evil is a presence that every person, however big or small, must confront. And the battle is won, one by one: Will we join evil and use its ways for our own selfish gain, or will we work to destroy evil and protect the lives of innocent people?
The temptation of the ring is to possess it for one’s own selfish use. This temptation is so powerful and destructive that it tears apart the 9-person fellowship of men, dwarves, hobbits and elves that have pledged themselves to help Frodo take the ring back to the Mountain of Doom and destroy it. Their quest takes them down into treacherous mines and up onto slippery mountain passes. It is the courage of Frodo and the guidance of his good heart on which all hope rests.
It is important to note for those who don’t already know Tolkien’s tale, that this is only the first third of the story. The remaining two thirds will be revealed in two additional films released during the Christmas seasons of 2002 and 2003.
Though the battle between good and evil is not as obvious here on earth as it is in Tolkien’s “middle earth,” the battle still rests primarily on the courage of persons with hearts to choose good over evil.