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The Essential J.R.R. Tolkien Sourcebook: A Fan's Guide to Middle-Earth and Beyond Paperback – Bargain Price, October, 2003
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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- The Hobbit (1977, dir. Rankin & Bass)
- The Lord of the Rings (1978, dir. Ralph Bakshi)
- The Return of the King (1980, dir. Rankin & Bass)
It isn't that these films receive short shrift or unfavorable comparison to the Jackson trilogy, which would be understandable. It is that Mr. Beahm doesn't reference them at all. What makes it even stranger is that he does mention a previous attempt at adapting the books for film: that is, the Morton Grady Zimmerman script which so irritated Tolkien in the '50s, and which never amounted to anything. If Beahm sees fit to mention that one, why doesn't he mention the three animated movie adaptations, some 320 minutes of run-time, that *were* ultimately produced and which have been available on a fairly continuing basis on video and DVD? It's a baffling omission.
Of course a 264-page sourcebook can't be expected to include EVERYTHING in the extended Tolkien franchise. And much of what Beahm does include is wonderful: I even found an entry for Mithril Miniatures, which I used to collect back in the mid-90s. Ultimately this is an excellent, if somewhat flawed, reference book for all things Tolkien up to the year 2004.
Beahm starts with the Lord of the Rings books themselves and their various editions, from "the most elegant edition" to "the cleverest packaging." From there he branches out to chronicle related works by Tolkien and about Tolkien and LotR, and of course he examines the visual adaptations. He is both reverent and critical. He has harsh words, for instance, for the "full-screen" version of The Fellowship of the Ring, which is "severely cropped to fit the conventional television screen," and warns that the binding of one lavish edition "will not hold up after repeated readings." Audio adaptations, printed products, book- and movie-related collectibles, ring replicas, games and miniatures, websites...these and more fall under Beahm's Sauron-like all-seeing eye.
Then there's Chapter 11, my favorite, that delves into Tolkien-inspired art. Illustrations by Colleen Doran, Tim Kirk, David Wenzel, Steve Hickman, and Donato Giancola enhance an informative chapter on Tolkien artists from the Hildebrandts to Michael Whelan. Doran contributes a number of lovely and delicate full-page illustrations to the book and also provides spot art and illustrated chapter headings, elegant touches that give evidence to Beahm's genuine love for the subject matter.
For fans of Middle Earth, George Beahm's The Essential J.R.R. Tolkien Sourcebook is just that...essential.
All this is backed up with in-depth interviews with the best of the Tolkien artists, including Michael Whelan, Tim Kirk and Colleen Doran. Indeed, Doran provides a host of new drawings especially for this book - and magnificent they are too!
For the Tolkien fan wondering where to go next, this book is a must.