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"Both of them possess inner strengths, wisdom and innocence or purity that will enable them to save the day."


Raymond Teague is the author of Reel Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
Inspire, Explore and Empower
, from Unity House. 

He is an award-winning
journalist, an editor of spiritual publications, a popular New Thought
speaker, and a lifelong movie buff. 

His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.

  Raymond Teague, 
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(2001, 178 minutes, PG-13)

Is it a cosmic coincidence that since the terrorist event of Sept. 11, two of the biggest, most talked-about movies have been the first installment of J. R. R. Tolkien's Ring trilogy and the first book in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series?

From the Reel Spirit perspective, hardly. With the specter of darkness in the world and what to do about it so much in the forefront of people's minds, the debut and the popularity of the films The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone make perfect sense.

Spirit is clearly speaking to us about the nature of evil and the appropriate response to it through these stories of fantasy that all-too-uncomfortably reflect our twenty-first century versions of reality.

In both films, an almost invisible, insidious evil threatens the world (Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Dark Lord Sauron in The Lord of the Rings), and in both films, a young or small innocent person is charged with saving the world from that evil (the young wizard Harry Potter himself and the youthful-looking, diminutive hobbit Frodo Baggins, played by Elijah Wood, in The Lord of the Rings).

The heroes of both works are symbolic. First, Frodo, like Harry, is a reminder that, as Jesus says in Luke 9:48, "the least among all of you is the greatest." While some might discount Frodo's or Harry's abilities because of inexperience, age or size, clearly both of them possess inner strengths, wisdom and innocence or purity that will enable them to save the day.

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future," says the woods queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) to Frodo. Frodo, as does Harry Potter, serves as a reminder not to judge by appearances. Frodo may be small, but his abilities suggest that it will be the meek who shall inherit Middle-earth.

The wise wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is convinced that Frodo does indeed have what it takes to lead the Fellowship to destroy the seductive ring of power. The wizard knows that Frodo is a pure soul intuitively attune to the right and the good. When Frodo doubts, Gandalf says, "Trust me, Frodo, you'll know what to do."

The importance of personal choice in life is a major theme of The Lord of the Rings. In touching on the power of individual choices, Gandalf cautions Frodo, "Do not be too eager to deal out death or judgment." Gandalf seems to have faith in an over-riding divine plan, despite any appearances to the contrary.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the times that are given to us," Gandalf says.

In the fast-paced action-adventure film that is The Lord of the Rings, the old-fashioned, time-honored values of friendship, loyalty and bravery are much in evidence, as they are in Harry Potter.

All of the Fellowship, whether hobbits, elves, dwarf or humans, exemplify bravery. Friendship and loyalty are seen in Frodo's three buddies, especially Sam (Sean Astin), called by the ranger Strider (Viggo Mortensen) a "stout heart." Gandalf himself gives a moving oath of allegiance: "I will help you bear this burden, Frodo, as long as it is yours to bear."

Plus, we find those more overtly spiritual concepts of light, grace or unconditional love, and unity.

The elf princess Arwen (Liv Tyler) beckons Frodo to "come back to the light" when he has been injured, and prays to save Frodo by transferring whatever grace has been given her to him.

It is the elf king Elrond (Hugo Weaving) who speaks most succinctly to those at the council of Middle-earth about the strength in unity: "You will unite or you will fall." The advantages of those with differing talents and skills working together becomes obvious as members of the Fellowship face one danger after another.

The film, mostly true to Tolkien's masterpiece, makes it abundantly clear that greed and lust for power fuel evil. The allure of the ring and its power are terrifyingly seen in the reactions of the usually mild-manner Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) and Galadriel, as well as the human warrior Boromir (Sean Bean). Elrond even remembers the long-ago greed of a human warrior who refused to destroy the ring and thus "evil was allowed to endure."

Can friendship, loyalty, bravery, light, grace, and unity eventually overcome evil and the power of the ring? Stay tuned for the next two episodes in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy - or read or reread the books ahead of time.

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