Tuesday, 18 June 2013

LOTR Books: Recent purchases

I recently bought four books concerning Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. After receiving The Hobbit: Official Movie Guide for my birthday back in January, I realised that even though I am fascinated by the LOTR trilogy, I have no books on it. The Hobbit movie guide gave so much behind the scenes information, interviews, etc, (I definitely recommend this one) that it made me hungry for more information on LOTR. To feed that hunger, I went ahead and bought four very impressive books:

The Art of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by Gary Russell.
The Art of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by Gary Russell.
The Art of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by Gary Russell.
The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films by Doug Adams.

One aspect of the trilogy which I adore is the locations, sets, and general artwork; so much work and so many artists worked on this project and here is a book giving you as much information as possible about some of the artists and their contributions. At the forefront of the teams are of course John Howe and Alan Lee - both world-renowned for their artwork concerning Tolkien's work, and when Jackson embarked on adapting the books, he asked Howe and Lee for their services because he admired their work so greatly. Beautifully pieced together and written by Gary Russell (the time and effort to compose these three books is astounding) you have the creative world behind LOTR at your fingertips, each so stunningly presented that the books are works of art themselves.

I highly recommend these books for any fan of the films and the books. Adapting books - especially LOTR which has so much detail, so many different landscapes, races, etc - takes so much hard work. Even if you have an amazing idea, if it doesn't work then you have to make alterations or start from scratch. There are some fascinating parts in this book that describe the process of making certain sets/costumes/creatures, for example, the Balrog in Moria. You are shown different sketches of how it may have looked, but also they show photographs of the model of a Balrog's head in different lighting so that they could get an idea of how it would look fearsome/dark/deadly.

Below you will find some stills of each of the books. My favourite locations are Lothlorien, Moria, The Great River, The Dead Marshes, and Minas Morgul, so it was really fascinating seeing Lee, Howe, or another artists original drawings, how they changed them, and then how they finally appeared in film. There are a lot of green-screen shots too where we see the actors looking at nothing but a field, but then after the artists and special effects team have worked on it, suddenly the actors are looking at a deep valley full of wildlife and forests. The composition of a Rivendell miniature into a mountainside which is also composed from images of different mountainsides, waterfalls, etc, was particularly fascinating.

All three from 'The Art of...' collection by Gary Russell.
Beautiful front cover showing Argonath on The Great River from Fellowship.

Lothlorien is one of the most visually stunning locations in film history - wouldn't mind living there!

The tower of Orthanc and Barad Dur dominate the front cover for Two Towers.

So much effort went into the lighting of Fangorn in order to create the right mood; should they go for greens/browns/ blues?

The location we were all anticipating the most... Mordor; The Eye of Sauron roars with fire, surrounded by ferocious clouds.

Minas Morgul; Howe's artwork for this is truly outstanding. How can you make a drawing look evil and menacing?

Another book I bought recently was The Music of The Lord of the Rings written by Doug Adams. I haven't read it yet like my other books but I cannot wait to. This is the most detailed, informative piece of work compiled about a film soundtrack - but that's pretty fitting seeing as the size and depth of LOTR soundtrack is enormous and greater than anything in cinema before. Howard Shore's score for the films has been praised critically and commercially, but there are so many reasons why his score is so acclaimed and loved. It transcends the realms of cinema music by lightyears, and it is wonderful that all of his hard work has now been put together in this beautiful book. I've had a quick flick through and not only is the music discussed in detail, but each track is broken down and dissected - it is a dream book for anybody who loves the LOTR soundtrack as much as myself. I can't wait to really get stuck into this book and listen to each track whilst studying its analysis. Here are some photographs:

The book even comes with an exclusive extra recordings disc. 

Snippets from Shore's music notes features his annotations, etc. Amazing!

I love The Lord of the Rings, and these four books - although pricey - were worth every penny. They tell me everything I could possibly know or want to know about Jackson and his teams masterpiece. Never before has so much information and behind the scenes secrets been kept, recorded, and produced for a film than for LOTR, and being a project of such enormity and depth, there is tonnes of information for you to get lost in and wonder at. I'll cherish them always and keep them on my bookshelf proudly for the rest of my life. Thanks Gary Russell and Doug Adams!

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