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Real Middle Earth, The

3.4 out of 5 stars 156 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is the most popular work of fiction ever created.  It is a tale of epic proportions held together by its unforgettable setting, Middle Earth. The great trilogy introduced the world to Gandalf, Frodo and Aragorn, but arguably the book’s true star does not utter a single word. It is Middle Earth itself -- The Lord of the Rings’ unforgettable setting -- that remains Tolkien’s greatest achievement.
This fascinating documentary takes us in Tolkien’s footsteps and investigates the landscapes and buildings, the places and names that helped shape Middle Earth. Sir Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring) narrates this fascinating exploration into an imaginary world that seems so real we pore over its maps and contemplate its journeys and its quests. Is this because the foundations of Tolkien’s imagined world were inspired by very real places? 
Was there a real shire in the English countryside that inspired the Shire of Middle Earth?  What influences shaped the darker and more troubled lands beyond its borders?  How did European languages fuse in Tolkien’s creative genius to create a vocabulary that evokes extraordinary places and heroic adventures? The quest for The Real Middle Earth takes us to England’s west midlands, to Warwick and Oxford, to an ancient Lancashire school, to Saxon burial sites and many other places, including the real Dead Marshes, otherwise known as the Great War battlefields of the Somme.
Extra Features 
• Profile of Stephen Raw, the official mapmaker of The Lord of the Rings
• Profile of the prosthetics team behind The Lord of the Rings special effects.
• Extended interviews with Tolkien scholars Helen Armstrong, Patrick Curry, and John Garth.

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Review

This is a technically beautiful work. This very interesting, well-written, information-rich documentary would be a useful addition to a course on the works of Tolkien, or for a program during a meeting of the Tolkien Society or a fan group. Recommended. --Educational Media Reviews Online

Any library with and interest in J.R,R. Tolkien will want The Real Middle Earth, a documentary that investigates the places, names, and worlds which helped shape Tolkien s Middle Earth. The visuals on this DVD are stunning, the concepts lend great insight into the making of this classic world, and extra features include a profile of the official mapmaker of Lord of the Rings the team behind the epic film s special effects, and extended interviews with Tolkien scholars. --California Bookwatch

he film features the places where Tolkien lived and the locations he loved, such as Warwick, Oxford, an ancient Lancashire school, and Saxon burial sites, which may have influenced the imagined world of his books. One of the many Tolkien scholars interviewed offers an interesting notion that the dark side of Middle Earth may have come from Tolkien s experience in the Somme Valley during World War I. --School Library Journal

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Narrated by Bilbo Baggins (Sir Ian Holm)
  • Directors: Multi Media Arts Limited
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Janson Media
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2016
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MV8AHC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,285 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The Real Middle Earth is an amazing documentary that takes the viewer on a tour of the real-world locations that inspired the fantastic settings of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy trilogy "The Lord of the Rings", later adapted into popular feature films by director Peter Jackson. From the heritage of European languages that Tolkien drew from to enrich the fantastic languages of Middle Earth, to the real "Dead Marshes" known as the Great War battlefields of the Somme to Saxon burial sites, Warwick and Oxford, and much more, The Real Middle Earth is a singularly inspirational and captivating tour. Bonus features include a profile of Stephen Raw, the official mapmaker of "The Lord of the Rings"; a profile of the prosthetics team behind "The Lord of the Rings" special effects, and extended interviews with Tolkien scholars Helen Armstrong, Patrick Curry, and John Garth. A "must-have" for any true Tolkien fan. 105 minutes, color.
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The narrative is good, but the biography of Tolkien was more informative than this documentary. Finding the original places that inspired him to create the middle Earth was very interesting, but in my opinion many comments assume we know these original places, and for those of us who don't know the English land well it was hard to know what they were talking about. Virginia Wolf said that the work of imagination was like a spider web faintly but firmly attached to reality by its four corners. This documentary is showing us where those 4 corners are
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I found this story about places in England and their relationship to locations in Tolkien's Middle Earth to be fascinating. Each place, each name, and each little river has its own story to tell, and all those stories combined to help Tolkien create his grand vision for his own fantasy landscape. Ian Holm's narrative keeps the tale interesting and vibrant throughout, though its appeal will most likely be greater for Tolkien scholars and serious enthusiasts of his Middle Earth literature.

I see lots of negative notes here, but they all seem to have a common thread of "it's not what I expected." Well, it's what it's title says it is; we can't much improve on that, so that criticism is rather like going to see a hockey game and complaining that they weren't playing golf.
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The content is not exciting, but might be engaging for the true Tolkein enthusiast. The video's aspect ratio is wrong, causing the entire video to appear squashed on Amazon Prime. It's annoying to view. The microphone levels are pegged, so even with the volume at low levels, it sounds distorted and over-loud. The problems may have been created by whomever converted the video from (likely) Betamax to mp4 format. Surely this was not originally produced in 2007, but rather converted in 2007, because it looks like a lot of this footage predates modern digital video cameras.
Like a lot of today's historicization videos, there are extensive slides using the Ken Burns effect (panned slides in lieu of video content).
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Interesting enough, and it shows some of the geographic and cultural influences in Tolkien's life that shaped his fictional world. My biggest gripe was that the subtitles were not synced with the video. There was a several-second lag between something being said and it appearing in the subtitles, which made watching with the titles on very distracting.
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Informative - if conjecture, and how can it be otherwise?

Tolkien didn't leave a "roadmap" to describe his personal travels with his imaginary ones. But so what? When we read or view the expert conjecture of the "last days of Pompeii" we don't discount it all because there wasn't a BBC camera "on location" for the shoot. We accept (sometimes with a bit of skepticism) the analysis of those who have made a study of the topic....and it's the same here.

This documentary moves a little slowly but it is informative and does make the viewer aware of interesting "snippets" they might have not known...did you know that old maps of Dormston, Worcestershire, carry a place named "Bag end" not far from Tolkien's aunt's house?
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A somewhat interesting series of interviews with Tolkienologists. If you're REALLY into Tolkien this will be of interest to you. If you're just a fan of mythology or fantasy you may not be as entertained. Some historical photographs morph into the "current" scenes that may have inspired Tolkien in his creation of Middle Earth.
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Real students of Tolkien and LOTR will find this a must-see. Unfortunately, I am not such a person. There are some great nuggets, but I found the sound track distracting, and the emphasis on the origins and inspiration for the Shire went on... and on...
Thing is, Tolkien created such amazing places and cultures (and languages, which they touch on), that the focus on the Shire - which is the most recognizably English location in the books - seemed overlong, and other fascinating locations in the books went unmentioned.
Amazing books and remarkable author. I had hoped for more from this documentary.
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