Lord of the Rings may be the most beloved epic adventure ever created. Fans range in age from young to old. But all agree the stories of the Fellowship are engrossing tales of love, death, redemption, and good versus evil. So just where did the magical world of Middle Earth come from? That is the question answered in National Geographic Beyond The Movie The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien may very well have had one of the greatest imaginations ever. Having known little about the man other than his literary works, this documentary delves into the life story of Tolkien and the events that helped shape his creative mind.
This documentary was released before Fellowship of the Ring came out so I am sure just seeing the film footage had people lining up to see this. This opens with some basic background on the story and the major characters. What is really interesting here though are the parallels between Tolkien’s life growing up and the characteristics of Hobbiton and its inhabitants. There are also interviews with several cast and crew members with their thoughts on Tolkien and the story itself. The beginning does move a little slowly because this documentary does assume the viewer knows nothing of the story. However it does pick up quickly and we get to see more of the life of Tolkien. Interviews and video footage takes us directly into the trenches of World War I. It is interesting to see the elements of war and friendship that Tolkien took from this time of his life and put them into his stories. Surprisingly thorough for a 60 minute running time, we get a look at the other times of Tolkien’s life like college where the books really came together. Probably the most amazing aspect of the LOTR books is creation of the Elvish language. He didn’t just make up words here and there. The man literally created the language from the ground up. Also here we get to see how the Finnish language influenced Tolkien. And since every aspect has to be touched on we even get a look at the weapons used in the film and their history. Finally this closes with a great story of a man who took a trek very similar to Frodo and the Fellowship.
I have been a huge Lord of the Rings fan since I was a child. The story always fascinated me and I watched the animated film countless times. Being older now I have a much larger appreciation for the complexity of the story and this documentary showed me a new aspect I had not encountered yet. I knew little of J.R.R. Tolkien before seeing this but National Geographic did an excellent job of summing up the man’s interesting and fabled life in this hour long documentary. Casual viewers probably won’t find it all that interesting but this is required viewing for LOTR fans. This is available individually or in the Fellowship of the Ring box set and I highly recommend checking this out. 8 out of 10.