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The Lord Of The Rings: Official Movie Guide
HarperCollins Entertainment paperback £14.99
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring Visual Companion
HarperCollins Entertainment hardcover £14.99
reviews by Christopher Geary
Making-of-the-movie and behind the scenes media books are now a familiar part of the merchandising and promotion of almost every major film. With such event cinema as Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy at least a shelf load of spin-off texts might be expected. These two volumes are not the only books on the market concerning part one, The Fellowship Of The Ring, but as they are both authorised versions their authors did have the advantage of access to the filmmakers during production.
As usual, there are some unglamorous details of the long journey from book to script in Brian Sibley's official movie guide, which also reveals how artists Alan Lee and John Howe influenced the look of Peter Jackson's film. Interviews snippets with the principal cast add to the range of inputs that Sibley assembles here, from Ian Holm as Bilbo, and Elijah Wood as Frodo, to Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Christopher Lee as Saruman, and Liv Tyler as Arwen. But the assortment of human and faerie characters is only half the story of turning fantasy into reality. The making of Middle-earth is explained by the various members of the art department, and production design teams, alongside contributions by the prop manufacturers, construction crew, and visual effects creators.
It's a saga of four years of meticulous work on a magical trilogy, and it's only just begun. Jude Fisher's visual companion to the first film is perhaps noticeably better written than Sibley's book, and to some extent gives away more of the story than the movie guide, so it serves as an excellent primer for anyone who is keen to see the film but is unfamiliar with Tolkien. The centrepiece of Fisher's hardcover is a gatefold map and photo-spread of Middle-earth, and although many of the same pictures appear in both books, by its very nature Fisher's visual companion features a greater range of stills and action shots than Sibley's movie guide.
It boils down to this. If you want a novelist's exploration of Tolkien's realm as depicted on screen, get Fisher's book. If you prefer a technical record of how Jackson's adaptation came about, choose Sibley's. If you have teenage kids fascinated by the whole thing, buy both titles.
tZ There And Back Again: the Animated Tolkien, and beyond - retro article
tZ The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring - film review
tZ The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring - another review
tZ Genre Greats - Lord Of The Wingnuts: Peter Jackson - filmmaker profile
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