The Lord of the Rings, written by J. R. R. Tolkien and published in the 1950s, is regarded widely throughout the world as one of the most imaginative pieces of the fiction in the 20th century, if not the whole of English literature, and a masterpiece of epic high fantasy. Tolkien almost created a whole new genre, greatly influencing popular culture for decades, and inspiring books and video games.
One of the main themes of the Lord of the Rings is the epic war between good and evil, the characters in LOTR were originally written by Tolkien to be easily distinguishable from each other in terms of their goodness and capacity for love in the view of the reader. Tolkien mainly achieved by constructing the characters to possess very archetypical characteristics, in such a way that many characters and races described in LOTR wouldn’t look out of place in a classic fairytales.
In the film The Fellowship of the Ring, a cinematic depiction of the first volume of the LOTR trilogy, Peter Jackson (the director) along with his film crew accurately portrays the races of Middle-Earth through a mixture of various techniques such as music, clothing, camera angles and much more. Hobbits
It is the spectacular personality of Hobbits that makes them probably the most loved characters of Tolkien’s massive legendarium, and by analysing the techniques and descriptions used in the film and the book, you can see where Tolkien drew his inspiration from to create the Hobbits, which are the English villagers and countryside dwellers of the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century, a time where the Industrial Revolution’s effects were not as far-reaching as modern times. In the race of Hobbits, Tolkien poured his love for the countryside and, a humble, simple life without disturbances and lot of good food and beer.
Because of this, Hobbits are what Tolkien thought people should be, instead of hurrying with their life in cities They are very simple folk, live in small burrows, farm the land around them, and choosing not to worry or bother about the current affairs or battles occurring in distant lands, because they are too deeply contented with their way of life to know better. They never get into arguments with each other, and treat each other equally. As well as all their humbleness, some of them are also very mischievous, especially Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrine Took.
One example is near the start of the film, when Bilbo 111st party is going on, and Merry and Pippin decide to steal and light up a huge, dangerous firework for the fun of it. Although their mischievousness causes no harm, they are caught by Gandalf. This sort of playful is not like the Orcs, whose impish behaviour does cause harm, but gives a lot of comic relief to the plot, and the audience’s positive impression of Hobbits (especially Merry and Pippin) are greatly increased due to their humorous antics.
In addition to Despite their noticeably unadventurous and conservative spirit, several of these hobbits or ‘halflings’ develop to become some of the most important and central characters in the whole of the trilogy, slaying massive and terrifying beasts, enduring many dangerous journeys and ordeals , and greatly influencing the War of the Ring. This shows that under their patient and simple disposition, they are also resilient, brave and a major force in the fight for good against evil.
This is shown frequently, when the four main Hobbits of the story (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin) constantly face the dangers that the Fellowship faces throughout the the first film, from a small army of repulsive Goblins, charged with insatiable bloodlust, nine Ringwraiths, evil agents of the Dark Lord, neither living or dead and a massive, ancient, fiery evil known as a Balrog. Hobbits traditionally live in burrows, or ‘hobbits holes’. These consist of a tunnel carved into a large hill, and fashioned into a homely den, and they can be seen a lot in the film, particularly the inside of Frodo and Bilbo’s hobbit hole, called Bag End.
The accommodation of Hobbits symbolize their humbleness(not wanting to build huge majestic cities to dwell in, like the Elves or Men do) and their lack of real aspiration to become a dominant race that is remembered by all of Middle-Earth. Also, the use of burrows emphasizes their slightly animal-like (because a lot of animals make burrows) and down-to-earth attitude. Hobbits have a very similar physical appearance to humans, apart from a few strange and sometimes humorous characteristics. Firstly perhaps their most striking and noticeable physical characteristic is their diminutive size.
Even adults they don’t grow more than three feet, and it is possible to mistake them for Men children. Also, they have large bright eyes, clear skin and round, cheerful faces, a tendency to be moderately chubby and to have black or brown curly hair. As with many other races of Middle-Earth, it is primarily the appearance that causes the audience to determine whether a character/race is good or evil. In the case of Hobbits, since they have a very cheerful, bright and portly appearance, the audience would cheer them on in the film because they look so comical.
Additionally, the audience is able to sympathise with Hobbits as they are entirely alike normal humans, and so they have the usual human behaviour and facial expressions. Also, one could say that the appearance of Hobbits makes them very innocent and child-like, due to their large eyes and clear skin. Furthermore, the camera angles used to film the Hobbits show that they are very small. These are primarily high angle shots, shown as if viewed was from a taller characters perspective (Hobbits are probably the smallest characters in the film, so high angle camera shots are frequent).
High angle shots are very effective at showing a particular character in a film as very small, or inferior to the taller character, and this makes the audience sympathised with the pint-sized Hobbits, increasing their impression of them as good characters. One prominent use of this camera angle is when the Hobbits are being chased by the black Riders at night, The camera quickly pans at a normal angle, and the audience can clearly see the height difference from the four Hobbits to the Ring wraiths on their massive horses.
However, when they get blocked off by them, the camera angle is at a low angle behind the hobbit, and shows the Black Rider in front of him, which emphasizes the horse’s size. Earlier on in the film, camera angles are used again to show the Hobbits inferiority when they are hiding underneath a tree, while the Ringwraith on his horse stands near them, trying to detect them. Camera angle shots of the Hobbits makes the audience sympathise with them, and make them think how such a diminutive creature such as them can create any evil, increasing their impression of them as good characters.
The use of colour and lighting is very successful in showing the Hobbits as good characters. They always dress in bright, earthly colours such as green, yellow, accentuating their love of nature. Also, when the audience view the Shire, the home of the Hobbits, the sun is almost always out, drenching the Shire with sunlight, and illuminating the countless and colourful fields and meadows dotted around it making an extremely pleasant and picturesque setting. Obviously no evil character would live here, as it just won’t make sense.
Also it is noticeable that there is no evil or dark colours are seen in the Shire, such as blood red, or metallic black , as this would signify death/industry/fire, which has no place in the idyllic Shire. When viewing the Hobbits and the place they live in, all you can really see is earthly, natural colours Their clothing is also colourful and bright and they choose to dress in practical, old -fashioned farmers clothing like waistcoats and buttoned shirts. In addition, their clothing makes them have a comic appearance somehow, as it is overly bright, and sometimes they were mismatched clothing, e. . trousers too short for them.
As most people know, evil characters having nothing much funny about them, and don’t even try to give off a humorous appeal, which is partly what makes them evil. However, the hobbits peculiar clothing increases the audience’s impression of them. Also, it shows that Hobbits do not care much about their clothing, like Men or Elves do, but devote their mind to more important things like farming and relaxing. Additionally, the music played in the opening scenes of the Shire contribute to the effect of peacefulness of the Hobbits.
It could be described as folk music, with what sounds like flutes and violins and other basic instruments (as though the instruments themselves come from nature, e . g. a hollowed out branch with holes down the side as a flute) creating a soft, calm and mellow soundtrack reflecting the serenity and beauty of the Shire and the Hobbit’s way of life, with short quirky bits to represent the Hobbits mild whimsicality and slow, tranquil parts to show their laid-back and relaxed attitude.
There is a number of pieces of the music that are associated with the Hobbits or the Shire, with many different orchestrations that have become famous and acclaimed for it’s simple use of instruments to evoke a powerful feeling of harmony. As it is with many other races in The Fellowship of the Ring, they each have their own soundtrack, and this music is one of the key factors that determine their alignment with the good or evil sides.
As well as the film director Jackson using a calm music soundtrack to present the Hobbits, he also applies ambient soundtracks, e. . birdsong which add to the effect of the rural and pastoral concept of the Hobbits, and help the audience imagine that they themselves are in the countryside due to the immersive sounds. Hobbits have a very affectionate and close relationship with nature, a characteristic that is not seen in such a huge way in races such as Men or Elves. They are primarily farmers, and many hobbits cultivate the rich, fertile land of the Shire expansively, and many others grow very beautiful gardens which can be seen in the film.
This loving connection to nature sets them apart from the evil characters in the film, because as Orcs and Balrogs and sometimes even Men don’t care about anything except killing and destroying their enemies, Hobbits instead nourish nature and “love all things that grow” as described in the introduction of the film by Bilbo Baggins. One Hobbit that clearly stands out is Samwise Gamgee. He is one of the most loved characters in Tolkien’s story. He possesses some of the usual Hobbitish characteristics, such as being chubby and having curly brown hair.
Also, he shows a lot of behaviour that makes Hobbits famous, such as loyalty, braveness, humour and generosity. Even his name reflects his laid-back attitude. It isn’t complicated like Meriadoc Brandybuck, or grand like Peregrine Took, but is just Sam. There are many examples where Sam risks his life to save his friends around him. On Weathertop, surrounded by the Ringwraiths, he puts himself in front of his three Hobbit friends as they advance. Also, in Moria when they are attacked by the Goblins, he is one of the fiercest fighters in the group, killing many orcs, often by putting himself at enormous risk at the expense of others.
His loyalty is effectively shown when he always refers to Frodo and “Mr. Frodo” or “Master Frodo” and when he accompanies him on the route of Mordor at the end of the film. Men The race of Men are very similar to normal humans, however they are represented as very archaic , with old-fashioned clothing and an outdated syntax. These attributes make them similar to perhaps Anglo-Saxons, or the Vikings, which Tolkien intended as he set LOTR in an alternate universe in olden times.
It would be very hard to analyse Men and all their attributes and behaviour by just watching or reading the first part of the LOTR trilogy, the Fellowship of the Ring, as the audience do not get to see their cities, or the way they treat each other or nature, although Men do feature frequently in the following two films after The Fellowship of the Ring, and it is then that the audience can see them in their cities. As Men are basically modern-day humans, they share the same appearance as them.
However, there are a few slight differences, and this can be seen especially by looking at the men. They are very tall, which symbolizes their noble and royal nature, and are frequently seen with long hair and a beard. Men have perhaps the most complex personality out of all the races of Middle-Earth, both good and evil. This is because they have many different sides to their personality and behaviour, which is in contrast to the Hobbits, who just want a simple life or the Orcs, who are just hell-bent on killing as many people as possible because of their ravenous bloodlust.
Firstly, men are extremely brave warriors, which can be seen in the film when Aragon and Boromir actively take part in battles, such as when battling a mass of Ururk-hai or taking on a gigantic cave troll. Also, they are very generous and kind, shown in the film when Aragon and Boromir treat the other members of the Fellowship with respect, especially the Hobbits. However, Men have a major weakness, and that is exploited throughout the film; their yearning for power. They are very susceptible to corrupted with power and greed, as they naturally want to dominate over others when given power.
Conveniently, a magic item in the film has the ability to corrupt it’s possessor with power, the One Ring, and in the first film alone there are many, many example of how the One Ring leads Men in to inescapable corruption. For instance, at the start of the film, where there is a voiceover going on when the screen shows the events of the Second Age, we are told how the nine Men, who were powerful kings, got given magic rings by Sauron, and how they were blinded by their greed and lust for power and fell in to darkness, eventually to become the Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead.
Furthermore, the audience sees that the yearning for power exists within the personalities of Third Age men, like Boromir. Throughout the film, it is clearly noticeable that he wants to obtain the Ring only to use it for his city’s needs (or his) when talking at the Council of Elrond, and near the end of the film he tries to steal the Ring from Frodo, getting very angry at the little hobbit because he doesn’t want to give it to Gondor.
Tolkien, the author, modelled the Men’s personality on normal, modern-day humans so it is clear where he got his inspiration for a complex, multi-sided personality from; since humans have the capability to be extremely kind and courageous, but also at the same time have a susceptibility to fall into corruption when given the prospect of power. Additionally, because Men do not appear as much as the other races do in The Fellowship of the Ring, they do not really have an individual music soundtrack, however there are many moments in the film when music is played when either Aragon or Boromir appear on screen.
For example, when the camera shows Aragon as a hooded, mysterious figure staring at the Hobbits, mysterious music is played, causing the audience to not know whether the man is good or evil. When Boromoir is on screen, a lot of themes are played, e. g. when he arrives at Rivendell on his horse, epic music is played, reflecting his noble and heroic nature. Also, whenever Boromir has the Ring, such as when he held it in his hand when the Fellowship are trekking across the snow, eerie, creepy music is played to symbolize Boromir’s temptation towards the Ring.
These themes accurately portray as Men as very complex, and are not as plainly good or evil as the Elves or the Orcs music theme is. As I have mentioned before, Men wear very old-fashioned clothing, however it is very unlike the Hobbit’s old-fashioned clothing. Men primarily travel all the time, so they are frequently seen with wearing travelling cloaks/hoods and other sturdy, durable clothing. However, not all wear the same type/colour.
Aragon, for instance, can be seen wearing black, rugged clothing, which adds to his effect of mystery and emphasise the fact that he’s travels as though he’s a hunter, but Boromir is seen wearing nobler and regal clothing with green and red colours, which instead makes the audience think of him as more of a brave, righteous character. Furthermore, their homeland or accommodation reflects their noble personality. In the film The Fellowship of the Ring we only see one example of a city where Men dwell, and it is only shown for a few seconds, when we see Gandalf riding towards it( near the start) .
It is presented as huge towering edifice of stone, carved out of the mountains. Even though we only see it for a short time, a lot of information can be gathered about Men. This city, called Minas Tirith, symbolizes their nobility and royalty because it is made entirely out of pure white marble (an expensive material) and the fact that it is very tall reflects their tall stature. Also, in the film, you can see that a ray of sunlight is shining on the city, which almost makes the city divine in some way. Orcs, Goblins and Uruk-hai
Orcs, Goblins and Uruk-hai are the brutal, malevolent creatures that serve as the soldiers and henchmen of the Dark Lord Sauron or Saruman. They are a hideous, dreadful horde, pillaging lands and disturbing the calm peace of Middle-Earth under their bidding from their master. They appear many times throughout the trilogy, battling the armies of the Free Peoples ,however, in The Fellowship of the Ring, they seldom appear, apart from when the Fellowship encounter Goblins in the mine of Moria and when they battle Uruk-hai at Amon Hen.
Throughout the trilogy, readers and audiences would easily classify Orcs, Goblins and Ururk-hai as ‘bad’ characters. Part of the audience’s bad impression of orcs is because of their appearance. Possessing black, rough skin like charred wood, broad and flat faces and red gashes for eyes, and walking with a bent posture and a bow-legged stance, they act as the typical fairytale monster that frightens children in Tolkien’s epic fairytale. Their horrible appearance repulses the audience, making them think negatively of them.
However, it is not just the appearance that makes them evil, as that would be just prejudiced by judging and orc’s evil behaviour because it’s ugly. This is why there are many more techniques that Jackson uses to present these hideous beasts. Haunting, deep, foreboding music is used whenever these appear in the film. It is a mixture of slow drum beats and harsh, blaring trumpets, almost like a terrifying marching tune, which emphasizes their war-like nature. The music is especially effective for the scenes in Isengard, where the camera swoops through the large pit, showing the Orcs home and the production of new orcs.
It contrasts with the calm, mellow soundtrack of the Hobbits because it isn’t as violent or harsh. A very important moment in the first film regarding the musical soundtrack occurs. While the camera swoops and swerves over the orcs of Isengard destroying nature, deep, thundering music is played. However, as the camera pans around, a small ,flying creature flutters in the screen, and suddenly the music transforms to a much more calm, uplifting mood, with soft, heavenly choirs singing in the background. Because of the music, the audience know that this creature is good.
Juxtaposing the music of two different things, such as the industrious, evil orcs and the good flying creature emphasizes their difference. As well as using deep, blaring music to signify their ugliness and hatred, Jackson also uses ambient soundtrack to portray them, much in the same way as Hobbits, like when clashing metal is heard whenever the audience views Orthanc and underneath it, reflecting the Orc’s industrious nature. Orcs treat nature with contempt and disgust, and this is shown effectively in the film. In a particular scene, the orcs of Isengard are seen burning and chopping down trees in a forest near them.
The wood chopped is then used to power something that creates new orcs, or maybe tortures captured Elves. Not only that the Orcs destroy nature, which is in it a hateful act, but they also generate more Orcs, releasing more malicious war-machines into Middle-Earth. Furthermore, I think that the orcs were attributed with this hatred of nature because their creator, Tolkien, himself hated the industrialisation and mechanization of the countryside around him, and the people who created the industrialization and how it was replacing picturesque nature with massive factories.
It can clearly be seen in the film that Isengard is represented as a huge industrial barren wasteland, with a lot of heat and noise, slowly growing outwards as the forest around it gets destroyed, like a city slowly urbanizing the countryside around it. As well as proving their hatred of nature, it also increases the audience’s negative perception of them, disliked the Orcs even more. This is in stark contrast with the Hobbits, who are perhaps the race that most loves nature. For example, the Hobbits extensively farm and grow gardens, cherishing and nourishing the delicate countryside around them.
They have no detrimental effect on the countryside around them. Orcs, however, actively and senselessly demolish nature and use it for evil deeds, not caring for a second how appalling it is to destroy nature. Goblins are perhaps a whole different race to Orcs and Uruk-hai, and do not originate by torturing and Elf or a Man, but as I said before, Tolkien isn’t explicitly clear how the evil servants of Saruman and Sauron are created in such massive amounts. Goblins dwell in the dark caverns of Moria, which is straight away a bad characteristic.
Both Orcs and Goblins are nocturnal, and only hunt and come out in the darkness. This aversion to sunlight, a thing revered by races such as Hobbits and Elves as it helps nature grow, symbolizes their hatred of all good. They are similar to Orcs in appearance, however they appear as slightly smaller and weaker than them, wielding scavenged, broken weaponry that they have stolen from Dwarves and other races and possessing larger eyes so they can see in the dark. However, they still posses the typical characteristics of ugliness and bloodlust.
There are many scenes in which the Goblins are in. A good example when they try to attack the Fellowship while they are trapped in a huge room. When the first orcs get through the door, they are instantly shot down by Aragon and Legolas, yet the dozens of orcs that arrive later do not show any emotion at their fallen comrades. This would be strange and cold behaviour to the audience, who would expect that even the most evil minions have to help each other out so they can defeat the enemy.
But no, as dozens more orcs gets slaughtered, more come and battle the Fellowship. This is in stark contrast to the Fellowship’s reaction to injury or death of one of their own members. A prominent example is when Frodo gets speared by the huge cave troll. When the film shows this, the music become instantly sad and melancholy, and the camera switches to each face of the Fellowship, showing their utter disbelief and sadness at the sight of a fallen comrade.
What’s more, the Fellowship becomes extremely angry, and starts to focus all their energy to kill the troll. This not only shows that they work as a team to defeat their enemy, (how else would nine characters destroy dozens of orcs and a massive cave troll by themselves? ) but they also register sad emotion at the apparent death of their friend. The audience’s negative impression of the Orcs/Goblins increases greatly due to their lack of emotion at their dead companions.