“The Lord of the Rings” starts with “The Fellowship of the Ring,” which pushed the possibilities of fantasy storytelling to extraordinary new heights. This lavish production follows hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), and Pippen (Billy Boyd), who form a fellowship comprised of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), and men Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Boromir (Sean Bean), to journey to Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring.
Their travels take them through many a dangerous local, the most precarious being the Mines of Moria, presently home to thousands of Orcs. Our heroes square off with the foul-looking monsters and even defeat a cave troll before running for the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. En route, they awaken a monstrous fire beast known as the Balrog, which proceeds to chase them through the mines.
Eventually, Gandalf grows weary of the pursuit and faces the Balrog head-on, and the pair clash swords for a spell before Gandalf uses his magical staff to destroy the bridge, sending the monster back to the mountain depths. Unfortunately, the fire demon uses a mighty whip to pull Gandalf into the abyss, but only after the wizard cries out to his team: “Fly, you fools!” Frodo’s cries echo throughout the mountain, attracting more Orcs and necessitating our heroes to flee as quickly as possible. Don’t worry! Gandalf would eventually return in a different form later in the series (making this scene not quite as intense as the others on a rewatch), but this moment was intense enough to make us think he bit the big one for real.