Review by Dean Allen
WHEN The Fellowship of the Ring was released worldwide into cinemas in December 2001 it was not only the attention paid to story that astounded audiences, but the way in which Peter Jackson and his team had created Middle-Earth.
And just as Rome wasn't built in a day, so Middle-Earth took five long years
to become complete with many artists - including famed Tolkien artists, John
Howe and Alan Lee - working on the project.
The Art of is an authoritative and insightful book on the many developments taken on that long journey and is full of beautiful images, designs, and paintings that highlight perfectly the disparaging diversity of Middle-Earth.
From the idyllic confines of Hobbiton and the majestic Rivendell to the dark, gloomy and frightening Bree and Moria the atmospheric drawings and paintings are perfect companions to the final frames.
And there is substantial thought behind many of the concepts with the idea that the story is actually a journey back in time - the Shire and Bag End is the late 1800s, Aragon and Borimor are from the time of King Arthur, the Orcs are from the Medieval period, Mordor is caveman and culminating right back to beginning of creation with Mount Doom. A concept that can clearly be seen throughout the designs.
Divided into obvious areas - locations, costumes, armour, and creatures - it is the attention to detail and the stunning vista paintings that catch the eye. A large view of Isengard after it has been ripped apart, the fiery bridge of Mount Doom and the opening prologue battle at Mordor each deserve to be framed and hung in a gallery.
With abandoned concepts littering the finished designs - original Orc designs,
when they were all going to be computer-generated, show them as more animalistic
in look, while the original sketches of Balrog show him as a humanoid-like
figure - the 500-plus images presented here only offer a tantalising glimpse
at the work which has gone into the film's creation.
Slightly lacking in substantial text and more expensive than a making of book, the Art of is nonetheless essential reading.
(Gary Russell - HarperCollins - £25)
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