Does Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog in Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Rings stand as the film’s defining moment?
Of all of the brilliant films in the fantasy genre, none are more celebrated and widely praised as The Lord of the Rings. The original Lord of the Rings trilogy by Director Peter Jackson is one of the most impressive and noteworthy works of cinema of all time. With special effects and VFX that were way ahead of their time, and an ensemble cast of committed and talented actors to bring the characters that J.R.R. Tolkien created- the movie was bound for success from the start. However, some of the more iconic moments in the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, were simple cases of catching lightning in a bottle. Take for example the scene toward the end of the film when the fellowship is making a dangerous attempt to take a shortcut through the mines of Moria. This leads to the iconic ending of the film where Gandalf seemingly sacrifices himself to Balrog- a very large and very well-designed demon creature who is determined to stop the fellowship from exiting the mine.
The scene is a masterclass in acting AND reacting as Sir Ian McKellen carries the scene with an incredible performance as Gandalf- but the cutaway shots to the reactions to this moment are also brilliantly captured. Notable, the line that makes the scene so iconic is the famous “You shall not pass!” yelled out by our favorite grey wizard. Did you know that the line (as originally written) was “You cannot pass!” which would have been the line had McKellen not slipped up and misread it. However, after the impact of the line proved to be what the filmmakers were looking for- the line was kept and has gone on to become one of the most referenced and recognizable quotes in cinema history.
We’ve got all kinds of unbelievable behind-the-scenes factoids and information that help paint the picture of just how monumental this movie and this scene really are. It was even reported that the shooting of the film in New Zealand (Jackson’s home country) reportedly attracted millions of dollars from tourism and Lord of the Rings fans who wanted to visit. It made such a significant impact on New Zealand’s economy that they even created a Lord of the Rings branch of their government which is still active and dedicated to exploiting all financial opportunities related to this trilogy. All of that and so much more in today’s episode of Scene Breakdown where we watch this iconic scene together and talk about some of the little-known facts from behind the scenes!