Lord of the Rings Movie Books Reviews
A quick review of the costume detail in the FOTR books
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings is making box office news over the world. It lushly creates the world of Middle-earth. There are going to be many calls for the costumes given this is just the first third of the saga. Presented here is a review of the book resources out there for re-creating the costumes.
Sadly, while there are a number of books, none are going to be the definitive source book for the movie. In fact while the pictures in these books are magnificently beautiful, it’s going to take a fair amount of work and multiple resources. Also, be careful of the colors that you see in just one photo. Sometime an individual photo has been color adjusted, so research and compare.
The Lord of the Rings: The Official Movie Guide
The movie guide is a lush coffee table sized book that is a shade under 50% photos. Each actor receives a page write-up about their career and a bit about their take on their character. Opposite the text is a gorgeous close-up of the character they portray. These photos will give you the best detailing you are going to find anywhere of the top edges of the costumes.
The other half of the book has quick chapters on the makeup and prosthetics, the armor, the costumes, the languages, the sets, the special camera work and some nice interviews with the director and his vision. Pictures in these sections include a wonderful two page spread of the Rivendale model and the Ring wraiths as full gallop. There are a number of behind the scenes shots and details of some of the thousands of makeup prosthetics used. While these are great, the additional costume shots are few. There are a couple small shots of the Shire’s marketplace. This book is good for shots of the wizard robes and the male elves.
There is a just bit of text from the costume designer talking about color and fabrics as well as notes from the armors. However these comments cover only a few pages and there is no real detail.
119 pages, soft or hard cover, 8 ½ x 11, list $14.95/$19.95
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion
The Visual Companion runs about three fourths pictures. The text present summary of the culture and background of the movie’s story. The center has a double foldout with a map of Middle-earth with small photos of each of the locations. It is broken into sections by race: the hobbits and the Shire, men and Bree, elves and Lothlorien, Dwarves and Moria, Istari (wizards), the dark powers of orcs and the Nazgul (ring wraiths). Each of the main characters gets a two page spread again, except this time more pictures than text. There is at least one action shot includes in each section that may give you a different view of the costume. Most, but not all the photos are different than The Official Movie Guide. This book best captures the “feel” of the worlds of the movie.
Again the wizards’ costumes are shown to the best advantage, though there are better shots of the fellowship hobbits’ outfits. There are numbers detailed shots of the orcs. This includes the best shot of the dwarf and elf armor. There is a full length shot of Arwen in the dark lavender dress that shows the elf sleeve fairly well. This is the only shot I have seen of Boromir’s alternate costume.
71 pages, hard cover, 8 ½ x 11, list $19.95
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Photo Guide
This book is the children’s version of the story. It includes direct quotes from the film script and numerous images not seen in the other books. Text is minimal but just enough to quickly summarize the story. Quite a few of the photos are taken directly from the film so they’re not as glowing or color corrected, but they will give you glimpse of costume details that you will not see in other books.
There are more shots of the hobbits and the only one at the birthday party in the official books. While small, it has the best shot of the women’s outfits. Discouragingly, there are no good photos of the female hobbit bodice fronts. However, this book should fill in the details on the male hobbit outfits. This has a couple close-up photos of Arwen’s riding outfit.
48 pages, over 70 photos, trade paperback size, list $9.95. Look in the children’s section if this book is not with the rest.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Insider’s Guild
The text in this book feels like it was edited out of the Visual Companion and dumbed down. While that may be a bit harsh, it adds only a little more to the behind-the-scene details in the other book and the same basic stats that have appear in numerous interviews of the technical folks. The advantage may be that the numbers are assembled all in one place even if this information is not really earth shattering. It certainly does not feel like it is presenting the “inside” information.
The book is printed in newsprint so the black and white photos are very graining and dark. Also, we have seen almost all these photos before… and bigger than 1 inch by 2. That said, the 16 color pages of photos do have some new shots. The elf women’s dresses appear in a few small photos… and when you are starving for information, something is better than nothing. Also, these have the only shots of the ring-wraiths not at a gallop and you can see costume details there that are not available in any other shot. Here, too, there is a shot of two of the ghostly kings as seen when the ring is on.
96 pages, mostly black and white with 16 page color spread in the center, Paperback, list $6.95
There are two other hard covered books from the early ‘90’s that have been re-issued to go with the LOTRs hoopla. Neither will help on the costume quest. Tolkien’s Ring is illustrations by Alan Lee of the landscapes of Middle-earth. Tolkien’s World is painting of Middle-earth as done by numerous artices over the decades.
Coming in June is bigger book about The Art of the Fellowship of the Ring. Maybe we will get more information there. Then again, there are two more movies… and the books that will inevitably come with them. So, do not give up hope for more text to go with the magnificent pictures.
This page was last updated 04/22/08