Director: Peter Jackso
The almost universal accolades the film has won dare you to view it other than in a fawning manner. But, hey, what is Elijah Wood's face doing all the time as Frodo Baggins? Why is he so pain-stricken, aloof and downright yielding at times? Where is J.R.R. Tolkien's Frodo, the guy who combined the gumption of a medieval peasant with the dash of a Star Wars warrior?
For all the hype surrounding an authentic depiction of the 'Book of the century', Director Peter Jackson's take on Lord of the Rings is a clever ruse played on the audience. Often seeming like a robust film, it actually tones down Tolkien's fierceness and dark power. The fellowship (of hobbits, dwarves, elves and humans) which sets out to save Middle Earth from the Lord of Mordor's evil power is full of heroic courage and troubling ambiguities. But they seem more like characters straight out of a good moral tale—they draw back too easily from a temptation and are benign from the word go. Mordor's army is grotesque and ghost-like—yet it fails to instill the sense of dread that demons of fantasies do. But wait, the movie instead offers a different fare—a merry-go-round ride through fantasyland where images culled from cinematic and literary traditions are repackaged for contemporary consumption. The hooded warriors, tortured demons, wicked wizards, all seem more out of a high school library. But the ruse is such that the movie is over before you can even perceive the bluff. For 178 minutes you have been so engrossed in the twists and turns and the hint of something grand that the finale leaves you asking for more.
In Lord of the Rings, Hollywood has found that elusive formula: a format where it could mesh reverie and mythology with its own traditions. This was one area where the east still stole a march—how could the West ever match up with Asian dragons and demons? The smartly-successful rendition of Tolkien's work has taken the mythic out of the eastern cultural sphere—more importantly, it has cured Hollywood of the animated feature disease where legends were considered mainly the stuff for cartoons. But would this formula be as successful as Hollywood's other exports? Going by initial reactions, the call is going to be a tough one. Indians, for instance, have their traditions—why would they go for a story which evokes similarity with Chandamama and Pauranic tales?