Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski
Ringers: Lord of the Fans is the newly released DVD feature-length documentary tracing the history of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the impact it has had on Western Culture. Narrated
by Dominic Monaghan (the hobbit Merry from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film epic), Ringers also solicits comments from authors, scholars and
readers around the globe.
the reach of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary epic, The Lord of the Rings has been
worldwide and influential, culminating with Peter Jackson’s recent blockbluster three-part cinematic adaptation.
ringer applies to a devoted Lord of the
Rings fan. The film features dozens of interviews with such core fans from all
walks of life, most of whom offer candid testimonials directly to the camera in a confession-booth style setting. Influential authors such as Clive Barker, Terry Pratchett and Terry Brooks, and musicians Geddy Lee of Rush and Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, also note the effect the saga
has had on their own work. There are also interviews with most of the cast of the
Jackson Rings films including
Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and Jackson himself.
the successful publication of The Hobbit in the late 1930’s, Tolkien followed
up with The Lord of the Rings in the mid-1950’s. But his new literary effort got off to a lukewarm start. Although it
was embraced warmly in a select literary circle, it also was blasted by some literary critics and generated controversy. Its more public road to fame began with the books being embraced by the counter-culture
hippie movement of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, and the enthusiasm never abated thereafter. Several Rankin-Bass television animated settings of Tolkien’s Middle Earth characters along with Ralph
Bakshi’s partly completed animated film adaptation of the books furthered the epic’s fame with variable success
prior to the global phenomenon of Peter Jackson’s mammoth film undertaking.
distinguishes this documentary is its lively pace, stylized animated artwork and quirky production values which weave a comprehensive
historical tapestry. Learning has rarely been this much fun and the film’s makers
deserve kudos. There’s even a clip of Star
Trek’s Leonard Nimoy singing his novelty song “Bilbo Baggins”. But
Ringers never condescends in examining the trilogy’s fandom. Unlike Trekkie-bashing. It is a celebration of enthusiasm and an explanation
of what Tolkien’s epic has done for its legions of fans. Extras on this DVD
include an engaging film commentary, deleted scenes and interviews and a making-of featurette.
The Lord of the Rings offers something of value in each of its incarnations, but perhaps
the best summation is given by Peter Jackson who states: “The masterpieces are not the movies, the masterpiece is the