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THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE LORD OF THE RINGS (article first published : 2004-02-11)

In this age of CDs, DVDs, Big Screen Television with Surround Sound and other technological innovations it’s hard to comprehend how the written word can still achieve a level of appreciation against these competitors. But it does. One of the best-loved stories of all time and (more recently) one of the best movie trilogies of all time, The Lord Of The Rings, has deserved its own Rough Guide.

If one has to compare how Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the story encapsulates much of the author’s actual vision, then one can compare how The Rough Guide To The Lord Of The Rings contains many similar elements that a DVD scene-selection would contain. Imagine a written version of this and you have a product that is not only handy, but keeps true to the original (written) form of the story.

In this handy little book you’ll find facts beyond your imagination. From the amount of eggs used each morning for breakfast to feed the cast and crew during the 16 months of shooting, to the weight of Gimli’s armour. Any avid J.R.R. Tolkien fan would appreciate just how much effort was put into creating a film worthy of a story such as The Lord Of The Rings. You’ll gain interesting snippets about Tolkien, his life and his work. You’ll also learn about the story as a whole, what era it was borne out of and its undying message.

The history behind this story is one that has fed fantasy novels throughout the decades – and there are comparisons of stories by other authors that go to show that this tale has laid down the foundations for any good narrative. By looking closer at some more recent pieces of work (such as Star Wars) it is clear to any observer that these stories are almost mirror images of each other. From Frodo’s sword that glows blue in the presence of Orcs, to Luke Skywalker’s iridescent lightsabre. Look at the characters of Gollum (Yoda), Ganfdalf (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Eowyn (Princess Leia), Saruman (Darth Vadar) and of course Frodo (Luke Skywalker). What this book points out is that The Lord Of The Rings is more than just a clever fantasy novel; it is a formula that works well.

Another great thing about this modest paperback is that it doesn’t try to usurp or make a quick buck out of either the book or the film. Instead, what it intends to do is bring both together and make the link - where so few of us could - from script to screen.

What does it take to transform a story of this calibre into an impressive account in film? Who of us actually recognise the magnitude of the film itself; the hours of shooting, the geographic planning, the reconstruction and preservation of New Zealand’s wildlife, and the absolute intensity of staying true to Tolkien?

An incredibly handy and valuable source of information and appreciation. Cost price R100. - Ruby Bernard




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