What do you get when a group of passionate amateurs tackle beloved material with reverence and zeal? In some cases, hokey fan-fic and short films that demonstrate clearly both the zeal and the amateur status of the creators. But once in a while, you get something more; something special.
The Hunt for Gollum (THFG) is a fan-made film, filling in one small piece of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) saga that happened somewhere other than where Peter Jackson’s cameras were filming and which was rather described by a bit of exposition. We know from LOTR that, after Bilbo’s birthday party, Gandalf went off with questions about the ring, and returned some time later in a panic to send Frodo and the ring away from the Shire to the temporary safety of Rivendell. We find out later than Gandalf had asked Aragorn to track down Gollum so important holes in the story of the One Ring could be filled in, and the result was finding out that the Enemy knew of the Shire, and the name Baggins. THFG focuses on the small adventure of Aragorn’s task.
For a fan-made film, the acting is solid. Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellen don’t have to worry about their places in any Hobbit-based prequel to LOTR, but Patrick O’Connor does a fine job as the usually contemplative Gandalf, and Adrian Webster’s stoic, pale-eyed gaze goes a long way towards convincing us he truly carries “the foresight of his people.” The only place the sub-pro nature of the production really bears out is in the script, which could have lost some of its reliance on LOTR buzzwords (quoting chapter titles was an nice homage in LOTR, here it’s slavish and glaringly repetitive), and tried harder to match Tolkien’s elegant prose.
But that’s the only place THFG can take a cricital hit, and what’s truly amazing is how, in so many other ways, it looks like 40 minutes of additional footage for LOTR that just never made it into the trilogy. Cinematography, effects, costumes and make-up are really top notch, and by precisely matching the visual style from Peter Jackson’s films, RHFG puts us right back into that wonderful feeling of seeing our favorite story brought to life. If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, and especially if you are a true fan of the literature, you owe it to yourself to see The Hunt for Gollum.
Wired: Amazing reproduction of the look and feel of LOTR.
Tired: Amateur nature of the production shows through, though just slightly.
For more background, see our previous post: