The Fellowship of the Ring Review
It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing; such a little thing
There is something truly magical about the Lord of the Rings trilogy; a perfect storm of writers/director/casting/effects/score all backed by a studio that had faith in the vision – the filming of the unfilmable turned into the fantasy film to end all fantasy films, one to ‘rule them all’ if you will. Of course, the literary source is itself something special, and Jackson’s work to bring it to the screen cannot be underestimated, as not only is the essence there, but the excitement, dread and scale of it all. All changes were for the better, in cinematic narrative, and quite simply we are unlikely to ever see its like again. (See, The Hobbit for how not to do it, but that is a discussion for another time).
The Fellowship of the Ring had a lot on its shoulders; it was the first of the planned trilogy, that had already been filmed, so it had to succeed to give the next two parts any chance, and boy did it succeed. In December of 2001 (quite a different time!) the film was released to critical and commercial acclaim. In narrative terms, it is the most linear story, the coming together of the various characters that would, after this film, go their separate ways and have their own separate story elements, but here, it is all contained, so the thrust, themes and design are all together. It was the perfect opening. Bold, epic, heartfelt, emotional and engaging. All this and more. I never get tired of watching it, indeed, it seems to get better with every watch, there is so much to every scene; a truly magnificent piece of film making.
So good was the film, and so much footage was there left, that it was granted an Extended edit (not a director’s cut) that is even more rich, even more involved, even more to enjoy. Awesome.
And I don't mind telling you, dear reader, that in this presentation, with this picture and sound, I felt the same euphoria as I felt when I first saw the film in the cinema; perhaps the only film do actually do this.
The Fellowship of the Ring 4K Video
The Fellowship of the Ring was shot on 35mm film using an array of cameras including Arricam ST, 35IIC, 35III, 435, 535, 535B, Moviecam Compact, S, and Mitchell Cameras. The source for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release was made from the original camera negative which was recently scanned and cleaned up, with colour correction, at 4K resolution resulting in a new 4K DI. The disc presents a native 4K 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 2.4:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Fellowship of the Ring on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Both Theatrical and Extended are cut from the same 4K DI so look identical, and they are stunning. Gone is the tint of the previous Blu-ray, and we are left with a beautiful filmic image.
A beautifully filmic image
Detail is amazing, skin texture (bitten finger nails and grime whenever there is a close up of the ring in someone’s hand), the weave of clothing, the creases of leather armour, or decorative inlay in metal armour, individual rings of chain mail, worn edges of blades; leaves on trees, smoke, snow, craggy rock faces – wherever you look the image has something to show.
The WGC and HDR really open up the colour palette, giving a depth and range to the primaries that is beautiful; check out the autumnal colours of Rivendell, the lush greens of the Shire, or the deep blues of the skies; all are stunning.
Black level is incredible, the depth of shadow detail in the mines is amazing, while the white end is gleaming; how bright is Galadriel!
The source is pristine, there are no digital issues, there is a light sheen of grain, and the whole image is amazing.
The Fellowship of the Ring 4K Audio
The Dolby Atmos surround track really opens up the sound environment giving a genuine 3D experience. The mix is amazing with layers upon layers; dialogue is clear and natural sounding, being dominated by the frontal array, but having directionality when needed. Ambient effects are myriad, whether it is the chatter in a pub, the hoot of orcs in the mines, birds or a single chirp of a cricket in Rivendell, there always seems to be something to turn your head.
The various action scenes really ramp up the immersion, the prologue battle scene, with its arrows and sword clangs, Aragorn’s stand off with the Wraiths, or best of all the cave troll, orcs and Balrog in Khazad-dûm, which is so rich with sound as to be utterly absorbing. The bass is incredible, Sauron exploding, fireworks, the drums in the mines or the roar of the Balrog – all utterly out of this world. Outstanding.
The Fellowship of the Ring 4K Extras
None included in this set.
The Fellowship of the Ring 4K Verdict
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 4K Blu-ray Review
Being the first in the trilogy, with the most direct and together storyline, The Fellowship of the Ring, is a near masterpiece with everything coming together to form a perfect whole; casting, score, effects, characterisation and editing all making for a truly magnificent film, that just gets better with time.
A perfect whole
The set from Warner is terrific: holding all three films in both their Theatrical and Extended cuts, Fellowship being just the first to deliver with stunning native 4K pictures that are detailed, well coloured with amazing black levels that truly are beautifully filmic images, and with a thoroughly immersive Dolby Atmos surround track that is engaging, absorbing, effects laden, and with tremendous bass – all making for incredible viewing. No extras at all though.
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