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NESP Reviews


Master of the Rings
DVD Documentary

Review by Álfta “Svanni” Óðinssen

       This documentary is billed as, “The unauthorized story behind J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.” That is misleading at best. What this documentary is really about are the fans of Tolkien's great work. The vast majority of the film is spent interviewing and chronicling the vast array of people that are Tolkien fans, which include a play write, a lab scientist, a rock singer, an artist and a priest. In between these interviews are short vignettes where we are given a tour of the homes in which Tolkien lived, finally ending with his grave, along with short snippets of facts. While this is interesting to a point, it really gives little information about the story behind the story. While it is interesting to see the various forms of fandom that have developed as a result of Tolkien's work, the documentary was disappointing. The group which conducts SCA style combat recreations where members take on the personas of elves, men and goblins was amusing to watch. The amount of time spent on the rock singer performing songs from his Tolkien inspired album makes me wonder how much money he contributed to the making of the documentary. This film was made in 2001 just before the release of the first Lord of the Rings movie which makes it likely that this was little more than an attempt to cash in on the mania surrounding the Lord of the Rings movies. If you want to see men and women dressed up in medieval armor bopping each other over the head with foam weapons and the houses which Tolkien lived in, then this documentary is for you. If, however, you were hoping to learn about J. R. R. Tolkien and the influences of his work, give this one a pass and see National Geographic's Behind the Movies series about the Lord of the Rings movies.

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