The Fellowship of the Ring London Premiere


Lord runs Rings round Harry
11th December 2001


Critics were today acclaiming the new Lord of the Rings movie as "hotter than Potter" as last night's world premiere of the film opened to rave reviews.

The adaptation of JRR Tolkien's classic is set to steal the thunder of smash hit Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, they said.

The Daily Mail's Christopher Tookey warned: "Critics who gave five-star ratings to Chris Columbus's competent but uninspired Harry Potter movie are going to have to find ten if they are to do justice to The Fellowship of the Ring."

"Harry Potter, prepare to fall on your broomstick," said Daily Express showbusiness correspondent Mark Jagasia.

"This is easily the best film of the year - much, much better than Harry Potter, which I only quite liked," said Richard Earl, 14, in The Times.

"Sorry Harry, but I've just seen a movie that runs Rings around you," enthused The Sun film critic Neil Roberts.

The favourable reviews came as actress Liv Tyler and young heartthrob Elijah Wood were among the main attractions at the world premiere last night.

The pair cast a spell on a crowd of 2,000 who were screaming for them as they arrived at the star-studded screening of the £76 million movie.

Tyler was stunned by the reception. "I've seen nothing like this ever before," she said.

Guests - including fellow stars Sir Ian McKellen, Sean Bean and Christopher Lee - arrived beneath a row of burning rings as they entered the Odeon, Leicester Square.

And all agreed that the film would come to be seen as one of the cinematic greats in years to come.
Sir Ian said: "It's indisputably a landmark in movie history. It's biblical."

And Lee declared: "I think it will go down in cinema history - this and the next two - because no-one has ever seen anything like it."

The only major star missing from the premiere of the fantasy epic was actress Cate Blanchett, who gave birth to her first son Dashiell last Wednesday and chose not to attend.

It was left to Tyler to add the glamour to the occasion - which she did in a scarlet Alexander McQueen trouser suit with retro padded shoulders.

She said: "This is so unique in every way. I'm so happy to be here and so happy to be with everybody together - we worked so hard for so many years."

The film, The Fellowship of the Ring, is the first instalment in the trilogy of books written by JRR Tolkien which have been adapted for the big screen.

Filming took place over 15 months in New Zealand and in an audacious move all three films were shot at the same time to save the hassle and expense of rebuilding the lavish sets.

The movie is a visual piece with incredibly life-like costumes, enormous sets and state-of-the-art digital effects which have created huge armies from nothing.

Actors spent hours each day creating the look for the film.

Sir Ian, who plays Gandalf the wizard, pointed out that although the film could make him a worldwide star, few will recognise him.

"Fortunately I'm so well disguised in the film, I think I'll be safe walking down the streets."

Elijah, who plays central character Frodo Baggins, said he had to have special feet glued on to his own every morning to perfect the look of a hobbit.

"My feet were the sweatiest of all the hobbits, so my feet were constantly falling off," he laughed.

Tolkien's trilogy was published between 1954 and 1956 and the books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.

The author sold the film rights to the books for just £10,000 five years before his death in 1973.

There had been speculation that Tolkien's son Christopher had disapproved of the films, although he broke his silence last week to counter the suggestion.

But he added: "My own position is that the Lord of the Rings is peculiarly unsuitable for transformation into visual dramatic form."

And the film's director Peter Jackson said last night that there had been no communication with the estate of the author.

"They made it clear from the very beginning that they would rather it did not happen. That was their position. From our position it would have been much more difficult if we had some bureaucratic approval process from the estate."

Other guests at the premiere last night included actor Richard E Grant, TV's Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Hear'Say and Sir Cliff Richard.

TV presenter Katy Hill, who split from her husband this summer, arrived with her former Live and Kicking co-host Trey Farley and they shared a quick kiss on their way into the cinema.

The film hits cinemas nationwide on December 19.

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