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Lord of the Rings Movie Books Reviews 

A quick review of the costume detail in the books

By Cat Devereaux

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is poised to make box office history.  A wonderful new set of book has just been released that gives us a peak into the grandeur of the movie.   No one book has every thing, but each has their own market nitche and their own special slant on the photos that will help with our costume research.

Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy

Written by Brian Siblly, Forward by Sir Ian McKellen

To date, this is my favorite of all the LOTR books both from the costuming point of view and general interest.  Sir Ian sets the tone in the forward, this book is about discovery.  It not only shows and tells details, Brian takes you with him to experience the magic, and at times, insanity, that went into the making of LOTR.

Brian opens with some golden moments at Cannes then jumps right into the wonders of Weta Workshop.  There are 10 great chapters including everything from costumes to locations to makeup to hair... basically every major department is represented in words and pictures.  Text is a bit under 50% of the book, but this is don’t-miss-a-word tantalizing story and details.

Each chapter features a casual interview with the department head and a walk though the area.  The pages are edges with a picture or graphic in luscious resolution.  Costuming has the rose underdress fabric, “waging war” has one of Legolas’s knives, and the miniature section has a close up strip of the tower of Barad-dur.  Special detailed sections have additional graphic banners which I’m sure we will see embroidered in the costumes or painted in the banners. The best of these sections is a two page spread for Eowyn featuring 3 different costumes and two costumes sketches.  We get our first real look at the green dress and then detail of the brown (?)/blue (?) velvet.  Miranda explains how the clothing helped transform her into “a medieval princess”.

The book has quite a number of familiar character pictures, but we get them in perfect resolution and color corrected.  Props and location detail abound. The behind-the-scene shots give us details we cannot get from the posted shots.  Most notable shots for the ladies “frocks” includes a new shot of Arwen’s Blood Red, two shots of her Farewell dress including a die-for detail pic and her Traveling Cloak.  Eowyn's white wool dress includes detail shots and a sketch. Orcs are represented well with a selection of unique pictures, sometimes clowning for the camera. Other nice bits include the Rohan throne room banners and some nice detail for Merry.  Hobbits watching fireworks give us a lot of detail on the common folk.

My one wish, a few labels on the pictures.  Their identities can be discovered most times by going back and reading though the text, but occasional items cannot be identified with just this one picture.  Do not let that stop you.  This will be your best buy of the set.

192 Pages, hard or soft cover, 9 x 12, $17.05 (p) / $29.95 (h)

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Visual Companion

Written by Jude Fisher, Forward by Viggo Mortensen

As with the first book in the series, this is a lush picture book where Pictures count for much more than the text. It is easily over three quarter’s pictures.  The extra treasure this time is the background the text is on.  There is not a single white page in the whole book.  Text is written across texture graphics and symbols in many cases. 

After Viggo’s forward muses on the connections of people in both the Fellowship and our current world, we move into a book introducing us to the new leading characters, the many lands they inhabit and the top action points in The Two Towers.  Each “point” is handled with a two- page spread, large colorful picture on one side, additional pictures on the 2nd with a bit of text.  This just introduces the subject and fills in those who haven’t read (or at least memorized) Tolkien’s books. 

Also included is a double foldout of the Helm’s Deep fortress Surrounded by 10,000 massively generated orcs.  Inside is the step-by- step summary of the battle.  (Massive spoiler if you don’t know how the battle goes.)

 The battles in TTT are a major focal point, so this book will be an armorors’s best friend.  Besides pictures of Orcs and Rohan horsemen galore there are good armor pictures of King Theoden and a great collection on Eomer.  There are great full-length pictures of the fighting men and the fellowship.  There are even pictures of the Easterlings marching and the Rohan royal guard.

Neither the (non battle) Elves nor the women’s costumes are heavily featured.  There is a lovely high-resolution picture of Arwen in her “Rivendell Farewell” brocade outfit.  Adjusted for the Rivendell light, here the dress appears chocolate and silver instead of the brighter purple we have seen before. However, there is wonderful detail.  Eowyn’s pictures show more atmosphere so we just get “tastes” of her white wool gown and her brown jumper.

Rounding out the book are a few shots of the wizards including a good one of Gandalf the White’s grey “wrap”… but no pictures that reveal new bits. 

In summary, the book is gorgeous to look at and makes a great addition to you library of LOTR books, it is a wonderful book if you’re reproducing the armor or guys costumes, especially any of the folks of Rohan.    However, it fails if you are seeking details on the softer costumes.  Then again… the focus of The Two Towers is the mighty battle of Helm’s Deep.

68 pages, hard cover, 9 x 12, list $18.95

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Photo Guide

Edited by Aisling Fitzpatrick, text by David Brawn

The little photo guide is a wonderful little book, technically aimed for the kiddies but a nice resource for anyone.  It summarizes and simplifies the script while presenting over 100 pictures in glorious color.

It is a must have for anyone doing Gandalf or Easterlings.  There are numerous shots for each.  The sequence with Theoden removing  Wormtoungue shows off the “Bespelled” outfit well enough to recreate the outfit.  We get the one movie shot Arwen’s Hope dress though the room is very dark.  Also, we see the first confirmation shot that Aragorn’s boots to flip up over his knees for riding.

These photos have not been Photoshoped to the same level as the big books, so some are darker than we would like.

For the price, it’s a great buy.  Warning this is the most spoiler heavy of all the books.

48 pages plus sticker page, paperback, 9 1/2 by 7 1/2, $8.95 list

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Creatures

Text by David Brawn, design by James Stevens

Creatures remind me of other books that have already been written for LOTR.  It quickly cruises though the races with emphasis on the more “monstrous” of them.  Summary text is minimal which means it’s chock full of dozens of photos – more bit players than the main folk.  You also get a large fold out poster of Gandalf confronting the Balrog.

It is a must have for studying Orcs and differencing between them.  If you’re studying Gandalf the White or the Easterlings, there are more nice detail pics.

I would say this is one for the kiddies, unless you’re researching someone specific.

48 pages plus poster, paperback, 9 1/2 by 7 1/2, $8.95 list

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This page was last updated 04/22/08