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The Lord of the Rings - The Art of The Two Towers


Review by Dean Allen

COMING only three months after the film's debut in cinemas, comes this beautifully presented and lavishly collated book of concept paintings, pre-production drawings, abandoned images and gloriously detailed maquettes of creatures and sets from the second instalment of what promises to be the greatest cinema trilogy since Star Wars (the original).

Those of you familiar with the first volume from the Fellowship of the Ring will already know what to expect.

Though familiarity doesn't breed contempt, as Gary Russell states in his foreword: "Fantastic just could not do justice to what I saw. During the months between my visits, the bar of Peter Jackson's expectations had been raised considerably - and the quality of new artwork had improved to meet the challenge of making The Two Towers even more of a visual feast than The Fellowship of the Ring." And he's not overstating!

The introduction shows just how involved everyone was in the project, ranging from those who had worked for six years, to those whose involvement is over, the passion for the project still remains.

Proving that Middle-Earth is actually the star of the three films, the book is divided into sections by locations. So we get detailed looks at Zirak-Zigil and a new slime-version of the Balrog, Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes, Rohan, the Black Gates, and the scene of the climactic battle, Helm's Deep.

Each section is filled with the most glorious watercolour paintings done to provide mood and colour schemes to pencil sketches and digital artwork that provide the most delicious eye candy available. Some of these images are begging to be reproduced, enlarged and then framed.

Of course, the one major character that gets his own section is the marvel that is Gollum. Not so much concentrating on the technical aspects of how he was created, this simply traces the design evolution of the character, from an emaciated zombie-look, a truly nightmarish version that would scare kids to death, to the final look, that we discover was actually changed from the one glimpsed in the fellowship, after Andy Serkis came aboard.

Jackson and the animators were so surprised by the power of Andy Serkis' performance that they made Gollum more closely resemble the actor.

The price may well detract some buyers, but fans of the series so far will not be disappointed. And with a tantalising glimpse of a Mordor design, the series will be concluded in The Return of the King. There's no doubt that it'll be another essential purchase when it is released.

(Gary Russell, HarperCollins, £25)

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