SFMZ Note: This detailed plot is a combination of imdb's synopsis, excerpts from the script, and our own descriptions.
Prologue, spoken by Galadriel: The world is changed. I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air. . . Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the Great Rings.
The Noldorin Forge in Eregion: Flickering firelight. Molten gold pours from the lip of an iron ladle.
Three were given to the Elves, immortal, wisest . . . fairest of all beings.
Three rings, each set with a single gem, are received by the High Elves - Galadriel, Gil-Galad, and Cirdan.
Seven to the Dwarf Lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls.
And Nine . . . nine rings were gifted to the race of Men who, above all else, desire power.
Nine rings clutched tightly by the Kings of Men . . . as if holding-close a precious secret.
For within these rings was bound the strength and will to govern each race.
An ancient parchment map of Middle Earth, closing in on a place name . . . Mordor.
But they were all of them deceived . . . for another ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a Master Ring to control all others . . .
Sauron is forging the One Ring in the chambers of Sammath Naur, the ring reflecting fiery lava. Fire writing emerges on the plain band of gold, then falls through space and into flames.
. . . and into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life.
A great shadow falls across the map . . . closing in around the realm of Gondor.
One Ring to rule them all. . . One by one the Free lands of Middle earth fell to the power of the ring.
Screaming villagers, men, women and children, run from their homes, pursued by armies of hideous Orcs.
But there were some . . . who resisted. A last alliance of Men and Elves marched against the armies of Mordor. On the slopes of Mount Doom they fought for the freedom of Middle-Earth.
Isildur, son of the King of Gondor, leads an army across the plains of Dagorlad. The Elf Lord, Elrond, commands rank after rank of Elven archers . . . Orcs retreating before the army of the Last Alliance. Elendil holds aloft the great sword. . . . Narsil.
Victory was near! But the power of the Ring could not be undone.
The huge, dark figure of Sauron, bearing the One Ring on his finger, looms over the field of battle. Sauron lays waste to the armies of the Last Alliance. With desperate courage, Elendil leads a charge. The black mace of Sauron lashes out. Elendil's body falls like a crumpled rag doll.
It was in this moment . . when all hope had faded, that Isildur, son of the king, took up his father's sword.
Isildur cradles the body of his father in his arms. The shadow of Sauron falls over him. Isildur snatches up the broken blade of Narsil.
Sauron, the enemy of the Free Peoples of Middle Earth, was defeated.
The blade severs Sauron's fingers . . . and the One Ring flies from his body. Sauron's armor clatters to the ground. His body gone . . . vaporized.
The Ring passed to Isildur . . . who had this one chance to destroy evil forever.
Isildur picks up the severed finger and removes the One Ring . . . transfixed.
But the hearts of Men are easily corrupted. And the Ring of Power has a will of its own.
Gladden Field: Isildur leads a small column of men through darkening woods . . . the One Ring glinting on a chain around his neck. Suddenly, arrows fly. They are ambushed by Orcs . . . Isildur screams.
It betrayed Isildur to his death. And some things that should not have been forgotten . . . were lost.
Isildur materializes under water . . . as the Ring slips slowly from his finger. Ripples of light play across Isildur's pale face . . . he is dead.
History became legend . . . legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years the Ring passed out of all knowledge.
The Ring falls through the murky waters of the River Anduin which lie dark and undisturbed.
Until, when chance came, it ensnared a new bearer! The Ring came to the creature Gollum, who took it deep into the tunnels of the Misty Mountains.
Silt swirls . . . a thin white hand reaches down . . . grasping the Ring. The thin white hand opens to reveal the One Ring.
And there, it consumed him. The Ring brought to Gollum unnatural long life. For five hundred years it poisoned his mind. And in the gloom of Gollum's cave. . . It waited.
Mist shrouded mountains: the gloom of a mountain cavern . . a murky pool of water...in the darkness the shadowy outline of an emaciated figure. A raspy voice mutters in the half light. Bathed in cold moonlight, the world lies dark and still . . . the unsettled quiet before the storm.
Darkness crept back into the forests of the world. Rumor grew of a Shadow in the East . . . whispers of a nameless fear. And the Ring of Power perceived . . . its time had now come. It abandoned Gollum.
Unseen by its keeper . . the Ring falls to the muddy floor of a mountain tunnel. Mountains, their dark green forests and jagged white peaks receding into the shroud of mist.
But something happened then the Ring did not intend. . . It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable. . . A Hobbit. . . . Bilbo Baggins of the Shire. For the time will soon come when Hobbits will shape the fortunes of all. (end of Galadriel's prologue)
Fumbling in the dark, a small hand closes over the ring. A youngish Bilbo peers down at what lies in his hand...perplexed by what he has found. Suddenly, a voice screams . . . its anguish ringing through the cold, dank tunnels. Frightened, Bilbo quickly pockets the One Ring and hurries on.