Customer Reviews: J.R.R. Tolkien - The Origin of the Rings
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on December 12, 2001
The Amazon review is, unfortunately, very accurate on this title. I was very intersted in the first half of the DVD, even though it felt like an ad for Coren's book, but I was truly disgusted with the "making of" nonsense that followed. We are guided through the process of design and creation of Tolkien-esque characters for the production of....THIS VIDEO. That's all it was. It would have been nice if they had even portrayed the FAKE characters correctly, but thier lawyers were too wise for that. The only reference to the real movie was by a comic-store-guy expecting a jump in bussiness. About 40% of the info is watchable, don't bother with the rest.
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on April 27, 2004
This video spends more time showing people designing costumes for an unidentified production of LOTR than time on Tolkien himself. The most ludicrous thing is the portion discussing the paintings of the Brothers Hildebrandt while showing totally unrelated artwork. The people who put this video together should have, at least, identified the artwork while acknowledging that they had no permission to show the actual Hildebrandt paintings. Instead it gives a false impression that the artwork being shown was by the Hildebrandts. Also the dramatic recreations featuring a man who looked nothing like Tolkien were not labeled as recreations and may be misconstrued by people with less knowledge of Tolkien. Almost a total waste.
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on February 26, 2004
This waste of time pretending to be a documentary is one of the worst things I've ever sat through. It looks like it was made over a weekend by a bunch of teenaged sci-fi dweebs who borrowed their dad's video camera. It was obviously churned out to cash in on the Peter Jackson movie.
The back cover is totally misleading. "This exciting documentary features ... interviews with members of Tolkien's family and a host of other experts!" WRONG!!! I didn't see any members of Tolkien's family being interviewed, and the "host of other experts" consists of the following - a nobody who wrote a Tolkien biography I've never heard of, a very boring University professor, a stereotypical comic-collector-nerdy-boy, and some wannabe fantasy artist who nobody has heard of. Oh, and a writer who writes bad fantasy-for-kids, who claims that Tolkien influenced her in the way she develops characters and plot. Duh ... don't you mean influenced you in every aspect of everything you have ever written?
The way these 'experts' gush over their claim that if it weren't for the book's acceptance in the USA Tolkien wouldn't be popular at all, and would have disappeared into obscurity is quite sickening. Don't these 'experts' know how popular Lord Of The Rings was in the late 1950's & early 1960's all over the English-speaking world, long before it ever went on sale in the US?
The 'experts' describe how the Brother's Hildebrandt made Tolkien popular, all the while paintings that are not by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt are shown behind the voice-over. I assume our intrepid teenage dweebs making rubbish couldn't afford to pay Greg and Tim anything to show their paintings. So we get gushings about Hildebrandt art while watching generic fantasy art by who-knows-who!
The worst part is the last 20 mins or so, in which we watch a pack of self-indulgent kids let loose in a special effects facility making really idiotic, amateur, Tolkien-esque video shots - not even a video, just a few shots of them walking around, firing arrows etc. This was so annoying and horrible that I eventually skipped through it.
If you really want to know about Tolkien and how he wrote his books, read Humphrey Carpenter's brilliant biography. Give this piece of rubbish a very wide berth.
The final sentence on the back cover blurb ... "This is unlike anything you've seen on Earth!" How true that is, and its the like of which I never want to see again.
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on May 25, 2011
A friend loaned this to me because I am a Tolkien scholar and teach a class on LOTR. As I watched it, I was amazed at how shamelessly the writer misrepresented Tolkien's life and the plots of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Whoever wrote this pretty obviously never read the books. Likewise, they know nothing of 20th century history and have obviously never read any Tolkien biographies. Furthermore, the narrator constantly contradicts himself, so almost zero thought went into the writing and editing of the script. The whole script might have been thrown together in a day with some cursory internet research.

Likewise, footage purporting to be The Battle of the Somme in 1916 actually shows US Marines fighting through the jungle in the South Pacific in World War Two, and there is a good deal of very cheesy, low-budget camera work that does not match the narrated description. The massive amount of screen time devoted to riding the publicity wave of the then-soon-to-be-released New Line Cinema film adaptations is wasted, inappropriate (remember the title: the ORIGINS of the Ring), and boring. The film is so low-budget that it hurts.

Finally, the box explicitly claims that members of the Tolkien family appear in interviews, but they do not. Was that a mistake or a lie? Hard to say, but either way this video is not just worthless, it is a waste of 63 minutes of your life. Watching it is painful if you know anything about Tolkien, and dangerous if you don't, since you will come away with all sorts of misinformation. Run away! Spend the money on a good biography of Tolkien instead and you will be much better off.
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on May 30, 2003
This is a pretty amateur production. It appears to have been made in Toronto, using only local sources. One academic is credited as "Professor of English, U of T," and a couple of film reviewers (speculating uselessly about the then-unreleased Peter Jackson films) are described as being from "The Star." Presumably Toronto natives will know who these people are.
The other interviewees seem to be scraped together from whoever happened to be available for cheap. The biographer interviewed is not Humphrey Carpenter, but some unknown. In addition, the filmmakers act as if THE SILMARILLION never existed, and seem to feel that the Brothers Hildebrandt were the first artists to depict Tolkien scenes and characters, completely ignoring Tim Kirk and other early Tolkien artists. And the extensive section showing amateur filmmakers trying to put together their own film of Lord of the Rings is irrelevant and self-serving.
The biographical material on Tolkien is valid, but nothing appears here that's not in any standard Tolkien documentary or in Carpenter's book. They supplement a few historical photos with some footage of actors pretending to be Tolkien and not doing a very good job of it.
On the whole, this video could only be of interest to someone who has only made initial contact with the world of Tolkien; but anyone who has read or seen more should avoid this one.
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on January 31, 2014
Full of errors and wrong information that a casual Lord of the Rings fan would not know were wrong. It was also boring to watch looks like an 8th grade a/v team worked on it
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on October 11, 2002
With all the hype around the films it's neat to see the impact that Tolkien's books have had on the world. I think that's what makes this documentary most interesting. I read the other amazon review commenting on the fake portrayal of characters. Not sure if I agree since Tolkien left so much of his fictional work to the imagination of his readers, they made an interpretation, just like Peter Jackson did. I don't think either is right personally but that's the beauty of imagination. Anyways the Doc has some cool stuff in it, I think they could have made it a little shorter since some of the interviews are more interesting than others. I think it's worth a look.
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on February 16, 2010
I saw this on the web through a vendor I will not name here so as not to offend Amazon. I would never buy this, as I still regret my wasted time. Most abhorrent was the time wasted showing some cosmetician's version of some characters from the book, and it didn't even make much of an effort there. I know a group of high school students who made a fan film with better make-up and costuming than this supposed documentary. In short, this was very disappointing.
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on July 8, 2014
For what it is, it was good. I'll have for years to come for my daughter.
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on May 26, 2015
Good info on Tolkien.
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