The Lord of the Films: The Unofficial Guide to Tolkien's Middle-Earth on the Big Screen Paperback – Sep 1 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
So unsurprisingly I was overjoyed to find out about "The Lord of the Films: The Unofficial Guide to Tolkien's Middle-Earth on the Big Screen." It wasn't quite what I expected, since it's not so much a guide as a collection of Tolkienian trivia and behind-the-scenes information about the moviemaking process -- but it's still a thoroughly enjoyable, highly informative read.
J.W. Braun gives some lavish backstory to the making of the movie trilogy and the stuff that came before it, such as Bakshi's disastrous half-finished cartoon version. He also inserts some nice interviews with people involved in production: artist Paul Lasaine, makeup artist Vance Hartwell, "Zac the Orc," and design artist Daniel Falconer.
Each of the three movies is subdivided into important scenes and stretches of the narrative, and each of these chapters is filled with fascinating facts. Every chapter starts off on a light note with "What the Big Folk Were Saying" -- in other words, the weird and funny stuff that people in the theatres said ("Someone tell that thing his comb-over isn't working"), and there are fun little side-chapters that list various stuff about the movie (the worst merchandising toys! Easter eggs! The animated versions!).Read more ›
I was a bit disappointed, however, as I discovered that most of Braun's facts and ancedotes derived from the information you can learn from watching the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition DVDs. In fact, some might see it as borderline plagiarism.
Now, perhaps some people would rather read this information rather than watch the Appendices from the 4-DVD set, but Braun's sub-par writing really doesn't stand up to the excellent footage, stills and fantastic interviews with Peter Jackson and crew featured on the DVD.
The only thing mildly appreciative about this book is the activity section in the back. Some fun quizzes, crosswords, etc.
Overall, I dont believe this book was worth what I paid for it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
But for Ringers... WOW!... for us, this book is a real treasure. So much information...WONDERFUL 'behind the scenes' stuff ... hours and hours of delightful discoveries that will add to my enjoyment ( and yours, I'm sure ) each time we watch the films. J.W. Braun did his homework, and we are grateful recipients of this absolutely FUN romp through our favorite movies, the films of Middle Earth. Now, along with reading and re-reading LOTR, I'm going to be reading and re-reading Lord of the Films. Thanks, J.W.
You'll like this book whether you're a hard-core Tolkien fan or if you've never read The Lord of the Rings but just like the films. This book is a must-have!
First, the good. If you love the movies, you'll probably learn a few interesting tidbits from The Lord of the Films. These range from bloopers to special effects to legal disputes behind the film. For example, even after watching all of the "making of" extras on the DVDs, I never realized that Kate Winslet and Sean Connery had been asked to be in the film (as Eowyn and Gandalf, respectively). Mercifully, they both said no, allowing us to enjoy the performances of Miranda Otto and Ian McKellan. The book is written for a wide range of audiences, so even diehard LOTR fans will probably learn something. It also includes some interesting interviews (including one with Zac the Orc) and trivia games at the end.
Unfortunately, The Lord of the Films is organized more like a factoid/trivia collection than a historical narrative of the film production. Each fact only receives a sentence or two. This is unfortunate, because some of the issues merit a longer discussion. I really would have enjoyed learning more about where and why the films departed from the book. Some of the changes in the movies work well. For example, I really like how the movie incorporates the Arwen-Aragorn love story from the Appendix. Other changes proved silly. For example, whose dumb idea was it to have Denethor jump off Gondor in flames in Return of the King (in the book, he dies in a funeral pyre)? While these are mentioned in The Lord of the Films, much more could have been discussed. I certainly understand how much of a challenge it must have been to fit all of this information into 220 pages. Nonetheless, if there is a revised edition, I think there is certainly some material that could be cut (such as the comments of moviegoers) to make more room for the more important issues.
Ultimately, The Lord of the Films is a fun factoid book about the film, but it isn't a definitive account of the making of the movies. That gap remains to be filled. The book is also not a substitute for watching the bonus features on the DVDs, which are actually quite interesting. However, The Lord of the Films is worth a quick read and would probably make a nice small Christmas gift for any LOTR fan.