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4248Tolkien Day

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  • David S. Bratman
    Nov 9, 2001
      Did anyone else go to one of the bookstore "Tolkien Day" video shows? I did.

      The Borders I visited was once, ironically, a movie theatre, but no trace
      of that history remains in the interior today, and the video was shown on a
      small tv screen set up before a few rows of chairs in a space in the
      children's section. Mounds of copies of two new movie tie-in books, _The
      Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide_ by Brian Sibley (a lot of gush with
      good pictures) and _The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion_ by Jude
      Fisher (more gush, more pictures) were parked below it.

      The video is 20 minutes long, and was made by Arden Productions. That
      interested me. These people contacted the MythSoc over a year ago and said
      they were making a documentary on LOTR. They wanted us to round up some
      Tolkien experts. Some of you may recall this. But after passing that
      message along I never heard anything more about it. I guess this is what
      they came up with.

      It begins with an interview with Rayner Unwin, made (as the narrator notes)
      shortly before his death. He gets to speak at some length, but they made
      him read aloud the entirely of the famous report on _The Hobbit_ he wrote
      at age 10. I doubt he was enthused by doing that. He acknowledges that he
      was the person who divided LOTR into three volumes. The narration, though,
      makes it sound as if he, the publisher, was more responsible for the book
      than the author. I suppose that's a side effect of the video being
      sponsored by Houghton Mifflin, a couple of whose representatives also speak.

      Then, on to the movie. A few interviews, especially with Alan Lee and the
      sfx head, also some actors. Lots and lots of behind-the-scenes footage.
      Truck with movie camera drives along paved road photographing Nazgul
      galloping through roadside woods, that sort of thing. (Why didn't the
      Nazgul take the road? OK, OK, I know why not.) And plenty of over-the-top
      narration, apparently from the same over-the-top narrator whom you hear on
      most movie trailers. (Why does he get so much work?) "The most eagerly
      awaited film of all time." Gosh! "People said it couldn't be done, but
      that's what they said when Frodo and Sam set off for Mordor." They did?

      David Bratman