Friday, June 20, 2014

J.R.R. Tolkien - Master of the Rings (2001)

Director: Chris Gormlie

Writer: Robert Di Napoli

Composer: Rick Wakeman, Mostly Autumn, Paul Farrer

Starring: Robert Di Napoli, Aryk Nusbacher, Helen Kidd, Prescilla Tolkien, Father John Tolkien, Rayner Unwin, Roger Dean, Ken Hensley, Rick Wakeman, Ian Collier, Heather Findlay, Bryan Josh

More info: Amazon, IMDb

Tagline:  The definitive guide to the world of the Rings

Plot:  Discover why J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings has become an icon of 20th century culture.  This documentary features stunning new 3D computerized animations of Middle earth, a host of illustrations by the Brothers Hildebrandt, rare archive footage of the author himself and in-depth analysis by leading Tolien scholars from around the world.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

It's been a long time since I watched the massive extras from the Peter Jackson LOTR films but I recall learning an awful lot from therm...and they were entertaining and fun (the bits about Tolkien's life and the creation of this world). Watching those will spoil you. 20 years ago this Master of the Rings DVD set would have been great. It does cover a bit about where Tolkien came from and the genesis for creating The Hobbit and later LOTR. The best part is the 3D map of Middle Earth and getting to see the locations while hearing about them. The live action recreations are hokey but they serve their purpose with a minimal budget. It also covers the influence the books have had on literature and music. The Brothers Hildebrant paintings are wonderful to see. The set includes a booklet with some of the illustrations (50 of them are an extra on the DVD). Other DVD extras include interactive interviews and inspirations (this section runs 11 minutes and has footage not seen in the documentary). There's also an added CD of music selections by Rick Wakeman, the keyboardist from the band, Yes.

If you are old enough to have known and loved Tolkien's work long before the Peter Jackson films beginning in 2001 (like before the Reagan administration), then you might find this worth your time. Will you watch it more than once? Probably not, but it does have that CD you might dig. If the 2001 film is what brought you to read the books or at least get into the genre, you should save your money. Right now you can get this set for under $4 shipped. It's worth it but hopefully you've got an idea of what you're getting so you won't waste your time on top of the four clams.

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