Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Tolkien DVD Review - Xoanon @ 22:10 PST
Review of "JRR Tolkien: The Origin of the Rings An Authorized Tribute" DVD Video
Trinity Home Entertainment, 2001
Directed by Sean Buckley
Produced by Guy Porter
Narrated not credited

I saw this DVD mentioned somewhere on the web a few months ago; it looked intriguing, if only because it seemed to be a minor mystery in who made it and why, and so I ordered it when I purchased my JVC Lord of the Rings DVD player. I had quite forgotten about it when I received an email saying that it had been delayed, but that it would be mailed soon. Two days ago, it came into my mailbox.

It is still somewhat of a mystery to me. The narrator is not credited anywhere on the DVD box or the DVD disc; yet, he sounds exactly like Donald Sutherland. The photography is mediocre; I mean, this is unauthorized: There are no exclusives with anyone from the Tolkien Estate or Tolkien Enterprises. In fact, there isn't anything at all from either Tolkien Estate or Tolkien Enterprises. There are no images from the Tolkien calendars or "authorized" artistic creations, and absolutely nothing, of course, from New Line concerning the new films.

And yet, there is a charm about this DVD tribute. For, as the title suggests, it IS a tribute to JRR Tolkien and his creation of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

You do get a nice biography of Tolkien's childhood and early years. Author Michael Coren, (J. R. R. Tolkien : The Man Who Created the Lord of the Rings, available from Amazon.com), has quite a lot to say throughout this DVD. Now, I had not heard of Coren before today, but after searching Amazon, I find that he has written at least 6 or so biographies of British authors, (CS Lewis, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, HG Wells). He seemed very knowledgeable about Tolkien.

The other frequently questioned face in the DVD is a professor of English Literature at "U of T" (University of Tennessee? Toronto?) named Dr. Ian Lancashire. Lancashire also seemed very informed and learned of Tolkien's works, and as we find out later in the DVD, he wrote to Tolkien as a young undergrad about LOTR, and amazing him, Tolkien wrote him back. We get to see the letter in the DVD. I admit, I shared Lancashire's smile during this portion of the DVD. How cool would it be, in all honestly, to get a letter from JRR Tolkien? Would it not become a hallowed and valuable family heirloom? It would in my house!

We also get to hear a psychotherapist's take on the whole Middle Earth "escapism" theory; I wasn't sure what was meant with these portions of the DVD. Was this to reassure us that we're all "normal", or was it to warn us against ourselves? Hehe

We also get to hear from two comic book writers, (BONE and Children of the Sorcerer, I think they were), and how Tolkien influenced them. A fantasy store owner talks about how fast movie calendars sold out and how LOTR influenced Dungeons and Dragons and similar-type games.

You then get a rundown of how the various costumes were designed and made for THIS DVD. Unfortunately, the designs and costumes are...well...compare them to the New Line film props and costumes, and these looked rather silly. Imagine the new film being compared to Rankin and Bass's The Hobbit cartoon. You get the idea.

However, keep in mind, this is a TRIBUTE to JRR Tolkien. Again, the idea of tribute works very well with what this DVD has to offer. It is a charming DVD of how Tolkien has influenced so many and what influenced HIM to write this masterpiece. For the price of $17 or so, (yes, it's very inexpensive), it really is a nice addition to your Tolkien collection.

"JRR Tolkien: The Origin of the Rings An Authorized Tribute" is available in either VHS or DVD format.