If there is one book that lovers of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” would love to own, it’s this book: “Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen, Building the World of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.” This weighty (literally, maybe five pounds) book is filled with photographs, information, architectural drawings, and quotes about the entire process in creating the Tolkien world.
Every page is a work of art. The table of contents is a map of Middle-Earth and instead of a list of chapters, shows the locations and the pages on which information and photographs can be found. Even the end papers are works of art that depict the architectural drawings of the Hobbit houses and structural design elements.
But even with all that information, the photographs are what really steal the show. In the section on The Shire, and more particularly about Bag End, there are photos of many rooms with and without actors and also some close-up shots of beautifully carved details in wood paneling. Regarding the clutter in the home, John Howe says, “Each person who uses an object leaves some trace of his life in it. That accumulation of use makes it real. That’s what the clutter in Bag End is; it’s us. It’s you. It’s me. It’s what is in our homes. It’s the stuff we haven’t thrown out.”
Of course, the beauty of New Zealand features prominently in the book, from Hobbiton on the North Island to the Southern Alps. For those who have been to New Zealand and visited Hobbiton, it will be a wonderful reunion. For others — beware — it might just engender an intense craving to travel to New Zealand and visit the site of the filming in person.
This lovely book would be a great coffee table book, but it’s much more than that. It’s a volume that will be pored over, studied, admired, and shared for years to come.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Harper Design, the publisher, for review purposes.