(PG) 178 mins 00000

A filmmaklng coup that overshadows Star Wars and Harry Potter

At long last, a sword and sorcery adventure that really delivers the goods. Writer-director Peter Jackson secured around £300m from Hollywood and then buggered off back home to New Zealand with atop notch international cast to film all three of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels in one go. We won’t see The TWO Towers and The Return Of The King until Christmases 2002 and 2003 respectively, but on the strength of The Fellowship Of The Ring Jackson has pulled off a filmmaking coup that overshadows

both Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Like all great sword and sorcery tales (and Tolkien created the blueprint for the genre), the theme of The Lord Of The Rings is the war between good and evil. If you’re not one of the 100 million and rising readers of Tolkien’s books, his good and evil is embodied by the elves, dwarves, hobbits and humans of Middle Earth (a rough approximation of Europe 7,000 years ago) and the scourge of the land, the dark lord Sauron and his orcs, goblins and trolls. Crucial to victory is the magic ring forged by Sauron in the volcanic Mount Doom: ‘One ring to rule them all.’

Three thousand years before the events of The Fellowship Of The Ring, Sauron was defeated by those forces of good after which the ring vanished into obscurity. Until 3,000 years later the hairy- footed 3ft tall Bilbo Baggins chanced upon it, as detailed in Tolkien’s children’s book The Hobbit. Now Sauron is returning to power, and he wants his ring back. In fact, seeing as the ring is imbued with Sauron’s life force, it too wants to be reunited with its master. This is the crux: all-powerful as it is, the ring also corrupts whoever wields it. And so the forces of good determine to cast it back into the inferno and destroy it and Sauron once and for all. Enter the ten-strong Fellowship of heroes, lead by the wizard Gandalf (played by Ian McKellen) and Bilbo’s nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood), the only being pure enough of heart to carry the ring through Sauron’s realm Modor to Mount Doom.

Tolkien’s great achievement was to create a very English mythology, locating it in a fantastical yet believable world. Jackson’s great achievement is to bring the author’s 1,000-page tome to life, transporting the viewer into that world, not merely realising the fantastic elements with special effects spectacle (though they are very spectacular), but through storytelling flare and marvellous performances from his cast. Where The Phantom Menace was ultimately a series of sfx shots strung together, The Fellowship Of The Ring is visceral and breathtakingly dramatic; where The Philosopher’s Stone was a by-the-numbers blockbuster, The Fellowship Of The Ring is an inspired labour of love. It’s a monumental achievement. (Miles Fielder) I General release from Wed 79 Dec. See feature.


People said 11 September would change all our worlds. This was perhaps a little too sweeping a statement even for such a horrific event (I for one haven't stopped going to the pub or hating Toploader). It has. though, certainly changed the way we react to New York as a city and as brand. The star in Serendipity, directed by Brit Peter Chelsom. is as much the location itself as the actors who fill it. The camera lingers lovingly on its ice rink. on the plush Waldorf-Astoria and Bloomingdale's department store. What might have merely added a little local colour (plus presumably a spot of advertising revenue) now lends this fairly routine love story a

sense of genuine (though hardly serendipitous) pathos.

When Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) and Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) collide while looking for the perfect pair of gloves for their respective other halves. love is well and truly in the air. But while fate has brought them together. the rules of the rom-com dictates that it should also keep them apart. And so gusts of wind. small children and hideous 'world musicians' do their best to ensure that Jonathan and Sara's love is frustrated until, when both are on the verge of marrying other pebble, their seeds of doubt finally flower into all-out. wide-eyed adoration.

Serendipity is not a substantial film. and its key reference points (romance, astronomy) are hardly

Pleasant seasonal fare

likely to have the male half of the population rushing to their local multiplex. But a few fine moments of comedy and decent performances by both Beckinsale and the ever-reliable Cusack lift it out of mediocrity and make this a pleasant piece of seasonal fare. (James Smart)

I General release from Boxing Day.




(15) 99 mins 00..

Writing-directing partners Scott McGehee and David Siegel follow their 1994 debut Suture with this assured adaptation of Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's 1947 hard-boned crime novel. McGehee. Siegel and their superb star Tilda Swinton have distanced themselves from the first screen verSion of Holding‘s nOvel, 1949's The Reckless Moment directed by Max Ophuls. re- imagined the original source material rather than remaking the earlier film. And they‘re right to do 30: changes in social and domestic life over the past half century now compromise elements of the original plot.

Holding's tale concerns a mother who goes to extreme lengths to conceal the murder of her daughter's low life lover. Her actions are complicated by the appearance of a blackmailer who threatens to ruin the daughter by exposing the crime and the romantic affair. Ophuls' film stuck closely to the novel and so have McGehee and Siegel for the most part. but with one major alteration: the daughter is now a son and his lover and the murder victim is a man.

Flne update of a classic hard- bolled crime novel

This change doesn't merely prowde The Deep End With a modern spin, it ensures plot and drama remain plausible and tense throughout. The threats applied by the blackmailer (played by E. R. 's smoothy Goran Visnjic) increase the preSSure on Swmton's Margaret Hall to throw herself at the mercy of the authorities. But Margaret fears for her son Beau (Jonathan Tucker) being outed in such a traumatic manner he's about to start at a prestidgious music school. while his father is an absent at sea Navy commander who wouldn't take the revelation well and the problem is compOLinded by both of them finding it difficult to talk ab0ut his gay lover.

Thus the tenSion is ratcheted ever tighter. as Margaret desperately attempts to deal with the blackmail demands while maintaining the domestic life of her other son, daughter and live-in father-in-law. In this manner the traditional web of intrigue is replaced by the effOrt of hiding a crime Within the confines of the home. It's a brilliant move on McGehee and Siegel's part. and one which shows great fidelity to Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's much undervalued writing. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 74 Dec.

113 Dec 2001 ~13 Jan 2002 THE LIST 29