New Zealand director Peter Jackson’s film of the first volume of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
trilogy (the rest will come over the next two years) is something of a miracle: the art, craft and commerce of film all at their very best. It’s an enchanting, enthralling film of a much-beloved book that satisfies readers while succeeding as a movie—and a great one—in its own right. Jackson and co-writers Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyens take liberties with the text but Tolkien’s spirit permeates every frame, and Jackson moves the three-hour story along with grace and headlong grandeur. The cast is perfect, especially Elijah Wood (as Frodo) and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), who just might—if they keep on as they’ve begun—wind up giving two of the greatest performances ever put on film.