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Review: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING - IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall's series of Films in Concert resumes with the first instalment of Peter Jackson's masterpiece trilogy.

Review: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING - IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall

Review: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING - IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall It was 2009 when someone at the Royal Albert Hall came up with the frankly brilliant idea to screen popular films accompanied by a big orchestra. The final chapter of the blockbuster franchise based on JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings had come out six years prior, raking up millions of dollars at box offices across the world. The record-breaking trilogy is still one of the highest-grossing and most ambitious projects ever made.

Thus, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring became the very first film to be screened in concert at the venue. "A wizard is never late" and all that, but the movie is now making its long-awaited comeback alongside the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus after being scheduled for the autumn of 2020.

Conductor Ludwig Wicki joins Peter Jackson at the helm of the night, delivering a gorgeous evening celebrating the exciting adventures of our most beloved Hobbits as they criss-cross Middle-earth to destroy the One Ring and prevent Sauron from returning to power.

The film is grand on its own account, but it's made even grander by the regal backdrop of the Hall. Composed, orchestrated, and originally conducted by Howard Shore its score went to win an Academy Award and a Grammy among other accolades. To say that to experience it live as the movie plays just above its players and singers is magnificent is to downplay it.

Such a context emphasises the prominence and momentousness of the soundtrack. The un-scored moments become uneasy and suspenseful. The slight, airy, flute-y tunes of a Hobbit's party in the Shire are in stark contrast to the deep bellowing horns and threatening baritones we hear in Moria.

The leitmotifs we find in Shore's compositions elevate the story and influence its perception. His musical variations and changes in instrumentation may be subtle and imperceptible when we focus on the images alone, but they are essential to the reception of the product as a whole - and this setting accentuates it.

The Crouch End Festival Chorus brings an ethereal quality to the songs. From "The Prophecy" to Aragorn and Arwen's theme "Aniron", they are stunning in their control of the elvish language and bear an air of ghostly otherworldliness.

From the hair-raising prologue to the credits where all the motifs come together, it's a sensational way to re-watch a fan-favourite film. There were a few glitches on the day we attended and the digital version of Jackson's masterpiece hiccuped a few times.

Still, it was particularly touching to see it on the 100th birthday of the late Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in an iconic performance. The Royal Albert Hall's choice of films to screen is always flawless, but "Hobbits really are amazing creatures".

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is screened at the Royal Albert Hall until 29 May.


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