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?