It’s hard not to think of Joseph Campbell while watching the first film installment of The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s renowned fantasy trilogy, which has remained No. 1 at the box office since its opening in December. Underneath the movie’s sweeping spectacle and captivating characters, it’s your basic hero’s story.
After a short prologue establishing the peril Tolkien’s imaginary world, Middle Earth, faces as a result of the unearthing of the Dark Lord’s ring of power, the wizard Gandalf visits old friends at a village of hobbits, a diminutive home-loving race. Events take place quickly, and soon the young hobbit with hairy feet, Frodo Baggins, is charged with an overwhelming task: to journey to an evil land and cast the ring back into the fire of its origin.