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ART OF THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

By Gary Russell (2002, Harper Collins)

A collection of hundreds of images and drawings from the movie, featuring inspiring views of locations, costumes and creatures.

 

 

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Read April 3rd to 11th, 2011  
   

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 manufacturing involved.

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 movies.

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 came from.

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 days.

 
   

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