According to the forward by Peter Jackson, the journey from page to screen began in 1997 with a simple idea: film The Hobbit as a single film, then if it was successful, tackle The Lord of the Rings. What unfolded from there is nothing less than an odyssey into the impossible as the beloved “unfilmable” trilogy became films, followed by a trilogy of Hobbit features. Regardless of where anyone falls on their opinions of the films, the fact remains the visuals — both concept and final realization — are nothing less than impressive. And as far as I’m concerned, Howard Shore’s music stands among the greatest film scores in history, a feat every bit as epic as Tolkien’s original precisely because it was designed to work hand in hand with the text as much as it was meant for the screen. For myself, as both a fan of the books and as a student of film, I am all around enamored with what we got, and how we got it is as much a fascination to me.
When I first heard about this book, I had to have it. What I did not expect was how BIG it is. It does not fit on the shelves with my other Tolkien books. It’s too tall. Tip it on its side, it sticks out and becomes a smacking hazard. It’s also heavy, as in History of Middle-Earth heavy. Ok, maybe not quite that heavy, but certainly heavier than one of the three hardbound volumes of that. You could bludgeon small mammals to death with this book. Why you’d want to do that is anyone’s guess, but you could do it. Essentially, it’s a giant sized coffee table book. If you put legs on it, it’s a small coffee table. If you drop it, it’ll make the same sound as the Ring. But don’t do any of that, because seriously… you want to read this book.
Inside is a treasure trove.
Locations, characters, concept art, sets, costumes, props… it’s all here for the asking, the perfect companion volume to any of the Art of or Making of books previously released for these films. Every conceivable “blink and you miss it” detail is here to study and appreciate. And just so the hardcore fans can find what they’re looking for, the table of contents is the map of Middle-Earth.
I’ve been deep diving into this book since I got it, and I’ve still barely even scratched the surface at this point. It’s going to be a while. All the same, I can tell you that this is well worth every dollar for me. It is truly magnificent.
My only regret is it doesn’t quite fit on the shelf. It’s a good problem to have.