Angie Kathleen L. from OREM, UT Reviewed on 9/18/2009...
This is specifically for Lord of the Ring enthusiasts. National Geographic's Beyond the Movie exploration of The Lord of The Rings fellowship tries to correlate events in the book with life experiences of the author, JRR Tolkien, while admitting that Tolkien denied any connection to WWII. This production explores ancient Finish history and language as a possible source for Tolkien's invented languages. It also parallels the literary quest to rid the world of an evil thing that the world wrongly created with modern issues with machinery and ecological destruction. All-in-all, it seems more an attempt to create than to explore. Still, it is a thought provoking look at not only what may have molded Tolkein's mythical worlds, but what may be needed to inspire heroes for today.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Great behind the scenes look at FOTR
John | Chicago | 02/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I popped this DVD in last night and was surprised. I guess I shouldn't be, with National Geographic producing this. The DVD does a great job of exploring the events that influenced JRR Tolkien, including Industrialization and World War I .I was also surprised with the footage and interviews. These are not interviews of some random Tolkien "experts", but with his best friend, war buddy, and also the man Peter Jackson himself. The rest of cast speaks also, some in full costume on the set. There is tons of footage from the movie. This adds a lot to the DVD.There is also an in-depth study of the origins of the Elfish Language. Very nice. My favorite part of the DVD was seeing how the filmmakers modeled Hobbiton after the childhood village of Tolkien. The bridge is exactly the same! Cool stuff. The houses look just like the village of Bree. Overall, this DVD is a worthy effort. It gives an in-depth look at the origin of the novels and also the movie."
Lopsided Examination of the Roots of Rings
Peter Swift | 03/21/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It was interesting to see which influences National Geographic deemed worthy of exploring, and which they ignored. All falling along predictable political lines, of course.The horrors of war? Environmentalism? Anti-industry? These messages are all delved into, and rightfully so...Tolkien did see the violence of war first-hand, after all, and he did see the rude intrusion of industry and "progress" on the land that he loved (see the "Scouring of the Shire"). But isn't part of the message that some things ARE worth fighting for? And what about Catholicism, Christian ethics and self-sacrifice? Or his emphasis on family and friendship? All were fundamental to Tolkien, but are nowhere to be found in this documentary. Wasn't his close friendship with C.S. Lewis, the man who encouraged him to continue writing more than anyone else, even worth mentioning?!? Instead there's a strange tangent about a guy walking across Africa...whom Tolkien never met.If you can hardly wait for the next installments of the Rings Trilogy, then there is some stuff here you'll enjoy--snippets of interviews with Peter Jackson, comparisons of Hobbiton and Tolkien's own hometown, as well as some interesting (if frustratingly truncated) anthropological information concerning Beowulf and the middle ages generally. But this is a very lopsided presentation, and if you know anything about Tolkien, you will be annoyed."
Better rental than a purchase
David G. Jung | California USA | 03/17/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased it with high hopes that it would really give some good insight about how Tolkien came up with the LOTR. Unfortunately, the insights were rather weak. It was really well researched, but there were no interviews with Tolkien of any kind. One would have thought that some insight from Christopher, his son and editor of the Silmarillion, would have been included in this, but it wasn't. There was never any mention that the story of Bilbo Baggins was a story he told to his kids, and because they liked it so much, he began to write it down.I found out more about Tolkien by reading the CD sleeves of the radio dramatization of LOTR (ISBN 0553456539) than I did with this DVD, I feel completely jipped.If you want to see it, I recommend renting it. It's not worth adding to your collection."
Anglo-Saxon Buffs, This is the DVD for you!
Peter Swift | Cogan Station, PA United States | 06/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of Tolkien's works, I mean a fan of the works beyond the movie and beyond the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then you might be interested in watching this DVD. If you're looking for a behind-the-scenes dvd about the blockbuster movies by Peter Jackson, then you might want to turn off this DVD after the first ten minutes and pick up a Fellowship of the Rings boxed set. This documentary fulfills its claim of going beyond the movie. It certainly does! This dvd goes beyond even the works of Tolkien and centers around the author's life and influences. If you're interested in languages and history, you might find sections of the DVD fascinating as National Geographics takes us to places like Finland and spends what seemed to me to be ages talking to people about language and myths. I'm not really a linguist, nor am I a historian interested in Norse mythology, but I am quite intersted in Tolkien and the things that influenced his works. For these reasons, I found this DVD to be filled with a wealth of information that goes beyond the shallow tv-style approach to movie backgrounds. This DVD explores several possible influences on the Lord of the Rings trilogy ranging from foxholes in World War II to epic poems such as Beowulf. It was very interesting to see how historians and archeologists can shed light on modern fantasy novels and can influence our interpretations of the events within them. I do have a few detractions for this DVD. It is true that when I purchased it, I expected more of a behind-the-scenes look at the films by Peter Jackson, and I think the cover and description is somewhat misleading in this way. I was surprised, and not unpleasantly, by the content, but some of the sections discussing language seemed to drag on for a while and leave the audience behind. If you're a Tolkien addict, check out this DVD. If you're a Peter Jackson addict...buy the boxed set of FoTR."
Seeing the Big picture
Peter Swift | 06/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"All of these reviews seem to be deeply offended that master Tolkien was made out to be an environmentally minded individual. National Geographic explores his outside influences that shaped his storytelling and yes, his love for the enviorenment and witnessing evils of mass deforestation during the early twentieth century crept into his epic 'Lord of the Rings'. The entire Ents plotline and Saruman destroying the foerst under the wheels and iron of the Orcs was a huge part of the philosophical side of the story. IT can also be found in the haven of the Shire and the horror the hobbits find at the end when Bilbo's party tree is leveled by the occupying Orcs. The Elves themselves grow so disenchanted with the ensuing progress enroaching on their woodland homes that they depart from the Grey Havens never to return. I mean really, you would have to be completely ignorant to ignore the fact that Tolkien was an environmentatlist at heart, and that doesn't make him or anyone else with that belief a "freak" or a "loopy tree-hugger".
I'm sure that Tolkien would've been heartbroken at the excessive crimes against nature inflicted by corporate powers and other "descedants of Orcs".
This is a pretty interesting piece that takes you to the root of Tolkien's influences in the early twentieth century from the industrialization of the world and horrors of two World Wars. It's for those who try to see "the big picture" and not for those who only wish to see special effects, and sword fights. Don't get me wrong those are fun too, but to wallow in ignorance is something Mr. Tolkien was never one to partake in."