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The Big One

When discussing movies that we can view through a Catholic lens, there is perhaps no better fit than The Lord of the Rings. Sure, there are movies that are more clearly Catholic. The Passion of the Christ, for example, is a brutal and moving portrayal of Jesus' passion and death. But there are few pieces of media that blend entertainment and subtle spirituality better than J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece (and Peter Jackson's excellent adaptations of it).

First, a couple of disclaimers. Right upfront, I consider Peter Jackson's trilogy of films to be the single greatest piece of entertainment that mankind has wrought, so I'll admit I'm biased. Secondly, these films simply must be viewed as a single work, not as a trilogy of individual movies. Think of them as 3 acts of a play rather than 3 separate movies, and you'll understand this "Faith in Film" post a lot better.

With that out of the way, let's dive in. The Lord of the Rings begins with the Dark Lord, Sauron. He assumes a disguise and shepherds the creation of 19 "Rings of Power." These rings have the ability to prolong life, imbue the wielder with strength, increase wisdom, and a number of other things. 3 were given to the Elves, 7 to the Dwarves, and 9 to humanity.

But they were all them deceived. Sauron forged a Master Ring in secret, one much more powerful than the others. It gave him the ability to control the other rings and enabled him to launch an assault on the free peoples of Middle-Earth, the world in which Lord of the Rings is set. "One Ring to rule them all."

We see all of this in a prologue. Sauron is challenged by a last alliance of men and elves, defeated in legendary fashion, and the Ring passes through a number of hands over the millennia before coming to one Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit (Halfling) from the Shire. It is in the Shire that our tale begins in earnest...

This Ring is the central part of our story. The MacGuffin, if you will. The first film, in large part, centers on the "good guys" discovering the Ring's origin, learning of its power and danger, and resolving to destroy it. Who are these "good guys," you ask? For the most part, they are the Fellowship of the Ring.

The Fellowship contains 4 Hobbits: Frodo Baggins (Bilbo's nephew and the one who carries the Ring), Samwise Gamgee, Merry Brandybuck, and Peregrin Took (aka Pippin). They are accompanied