At the time of 'Fellowship of the Rings' release, the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy was the highest selling book worldwide besides the Bible. It was one of the most influential and loved works of the 20th Century. The big question was, is it possible for a film to be made, matching the high standard of the novel? Reading a book and watching a movie are two completely different things. One is left for your own interpretation and visualisation, the other is given to you. In my opinion, 'Fellowship of the Ring' succeeded in almost every way in bringing the book to life. Of course not everything can be included. Many things, but only the most irrelevant things, were cut out from the book, including the character Tom Bombadil.
Peter Jackson masterfully exceeded all expectations in making the first book of the trilogy. The time and work obviously put into the film is astounding, the production being so detailed that it seems to mimic Tolkien's perfectionism and, like Tolkien's work, the time spent on the production of the film has guaranteed an exceptionally high standard adaptation.
Firstly, there are the special effects. This film was such a benchmark because everything looked so real. The creatures, landscapes, and even the almost unnoticed genius in making the Hobbits to scale is so realistic that you begin to believe that it could all be real. Watching the film is such an incredible experience, and you know that you're watching something special when the film has the ability to completely draw you into a fictitious world.
The settings and Art Direction are also a major factor in bringing Middle-Earth to life. New Zealand was the perfect location for filming, as it is so natural and untouched. The landscape is a major part in the film because Tolkien was so incredibly descriptive and the designers, and the locations in New Zealand have definitely given the book justice by making Middle-Earth a beautiful, inviting and magical place.
But did Peter Jackson capture the magic of the book in his film? I believe he did. There are plenty of things to like about the film. The thrilling battle sequences, the engaging plot, the state of the art special effects, and of course the characters. The cast includes such accomplished actors as Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Liv Tyler and John Rhys-Davies. Despite Elijah Wood (Frodo) only really using one facial expression for almost the entire film, he was nevertheless innocent and very well cast, as were the rest of the ensemble cast who gave fantastic performances. The musical score is memorable and symbolic and now the tunes are attached with 'The Lord of the Rings', so much so that it would seem as though they were written as Tolkien was writing the book.
So Peter Jackson, a relatively unknown director at the time of the film's release, created what may be one of the greatest Fantasy film adventures of all time from a classic novel. He took filmmaking to a new level and set a benchmark for films in the future.