I used to like looking at movie art books. I certainly enjoyed the Art of
Star Wars (which is so well-used that pages are falling out), and the others.
But I've grown away from them, apparently. I probably spent less than five
seconds looking at each photo, and though they were all pretty nice, they didn't
add anything to the movie for me. Maybe this is because of all the special
features in the three movies, which detailed all sorts of the skills, art and
When I looked at the special features of The Fellowship Of the Ring, I looked
at many of the still photos, but didn't really pay much attention to what I was
looking at. I thought a book was the better way to look at artwork. Maybe,
though, I just wasn't that interested.
The good thing about this book, which keeps it more interesting than it
otherwise would have been, is that nearly every photo has a very good prose
description, more than just a couple of lines. Many of them are from Alan Lee
and John Howe, who provided the inspiration for almost all of the visuals in the
The book is divided into five sections. My favorite by far, and the largest
section, was Locations. I've always been interested in scenery, and the drawings
and pre-composite photos shown here area absolutely beautiful. There is a good
sampling of every location in the first movie, from the Shire to Isengard, Moria
and Lothlorien, among various traveling landscapes, but the most beautiful have
to be those of Rivendell. The costumes in the second section were also wondrous,
but we saw a lot of these in the special features.
I've never been really
interesting in weapons, so I was happy this section was pretty small,
especially given the coverage in the movie special features. The
creatures were less interesting than I expected, possibly because most
of them were orcs. I was most interested in the non-human orc aspects,
from a time when they thought the orcs would be completely
computer-generated. There were some interesting concepts, which might
have been very difficult to realize, to make natural-looking over the
screen time these guys had. But given that the main artists knew that
orcs were derived from tortured elves, I wonder where the original idea
The proud pet creature of these designers was probably the Balrog, which was
very closely realized almost from the beginning. There were some interesting
sketches with many different lighting conditions. I wouldn't be surprised if
this kind of book, with the various designs and different aspects of artistry,
inspired many young artists.
Still, after the first section, I was anxious to get through to the end.
That's not to say the book was uninteresting, because it was. I don't see how it
could have been more, it just wasn't as much aligned with my interests these