Autumn is nearly upon us, mere days away in fact, and every year I feel the need to revisit the works of Tolkien. It’s possible that it is some feeling of solidarity with the Fellowship who began their long journey around this time of year. Who knows. What I do know is that when the Sun rides lower in the sky, I long for a return to Middle Earth in its many forms that I have come to know and love.
My first exposure to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien was the animated Hobbit special by Rankin:Bass. There was also a Summer puppet show that I attended in the park one day when I was 8. I was very excited since I recognised the characters, even though the story was a little different from that of the televised one. Later on I had the cassette and story book of the Hobbit (see the book here: hobbitaudio.pdf) and the RCA VCD / Video Compact Disc.
“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
One of the best things from the animated show was, and continues to be, the music of the Hobbit. Tolkien wrote some great songs, but the Hobbit ran with those and expanded upon them. Listen to the full musical soundtrack here, The Hobbit (1977) Soundtrack (OST)
I also had Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings on RCA VCD. It remains a favorite move of mine to this day. It’s a bit muddy and camp in more than a few places but it was created in earnest by artists who were fans of the material, and I appreciate that. Unfortunately the only merch that I ever was able to find, not that I looked too diligently, was a puzzle of Treebeard holding Merry and Pippen.
The animated televised Return of the King was meant to fill the gap that was left by the end of Bakshi’s production that was to never receive a sequel. Rankin Bass felt there was a market for the rest of the story. Apart from “Where there’s a Whip, there’s a Way” song, not much more is that memorable from that production. I watch it every now and then, but not as much as the Hobbit, which is very comforting to me.
Being a very visual person all of my life I didn’t read the books fully until 1999,. I found Tolkien to be very OCD about the tiniest details. That’s fine, and it has its place. Apart from some of the long-windedness, I came to adore those books. It was around this time became very excited about an RPG called Middle Earth Online, but it never came to pass. So I played other games, and pretend they were about Middle Earth.
I thoroughly enjoyed the extended edition Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and even the changes from the books, for the most part. We’ve watched them dozens of times, back-to-back. When the first film was in the theaters, I wasn’t into it because it lacked the development of the relationship between Gimli and Legolas. It wasn’t until the extended edition of the Fellowship of the Ring where I developed an affinity for this series of films.
Early in the 2000’s I received the unabridged audio books of the Hobbit and, LotR read by Rob Inglis. Mr. Inglis’ narrator, and his performances of the songs penned by Tolkien is so entertaining and envelopes you in the story. When I used to drive long distances these stories would be a staple of my listening, now I listen while at work.
I watched Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit twice each… not as impressed with that series. It’s OK for what it was, but it didn’t capture the essence what made the Hobbit special to me. Having said this the musical elements are wonderful, especially the Dwarves’ mournful song about their lost home.
Coming from MMORPGs like UO, DAoC, and SWG, I tried Lord of the Rings Online and I wasn’t that impressed with the game mechanics. I’ve revisited it from time to time to see if there have been any improvements, hoping really. Due to my perceived lack of time, I am not much of a gamer / grinder any more so I never stick around for long even if I enjoy any game. If I have spare time, and am not suffering from any blockage, I’d rather be drawing/digital arting these days.
Now here we are, awaiting Amazon’s foray into the world of Middle Earth. My satchel is packed… is your’s? I’ll scout ahead.