TTT: The Film Books
In the anticipation of the forthcoming release of the regular and extended versions of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I thought I would be a good time to look more closely at the crop of film books that came out related to this middle entry in Peter Jackson's three movies of The Lord of the Rings.
There are five books, and let's look first at the two for children. The more general book here is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Photo Guide (ISBN 0618257365 $8.95). This is pretty much the same kind of book as was done for the first movie—a photo guide with lots of pictures, and a small amount of text stringing them all together. It's a fine production for what it is.
Next comes The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Creatures (ISBN 0618258116 $8.95). This is mostly a book of photographs, though there are quotes throughout the book from the likes of Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and many of the actors and actresses. The creatures include just about every one you can think of, with photographs from the films and some drawing board sketches, but it was nice to see an entry for Tom Bombadil which quotes Peter Jackson as saying, "We did contemplate having the Hobbits walk through the forest, see a feathered cap come darting through the trees, hear the sound of Tom singing
but we didn't have time to do it." And there is a curious entry for the Moth that Gandalf uses as a messenger from captivity at the top of Orthanc. We are told correctly that "the moth does not feature in Tolkien's books" but are then given the strangely irrelevant detail that in Bilbo's poem "Errantry" there are references to imaginary insects known as Dumbledors. Still, this book is an interesting overview of the creatures in the Peter Jackson movies.
Now to the adult books. The first is Jude Fisher's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Visual Companion (ISBN 0618258027 $18.95), which is a direct follow-up to her visual companion for the first movie. It's kind of a more adult version, in a much larger format with better pictures, of the photo guide. This one sports a two-page introduction by Viggo Mortensen (with some quotations in italics from, strangely, Schopenhauer and Chief Seattle—it's not entirely clear whether Viggo put these in or the publisher, but Schopenhauer and Tolkien seem an odd pairing to find!), covering in softer words a number of the concerns about war that Mortensen frequently expressed to the media during the promotion for The Two Towers: "There can be no quick fix, no easy or permanent answer to the troubles of today or tomorrow. A sword is a sword, nothing more. Hope, compassion and wisdom born of experience are, for Middle-earth as for our world, the mightiest weapons at hand."
Brian Sibley also weighs in with another behind the scenes book. His first was The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide, while the new one is called The Lord of the Rings: The Making of a Movie Trilogy (ISBN 0618258000 $29.95 hardcover; ISBN 0618260226 $17.95 paperback). The first book was a kind of introductory one, while the new book, which is significantly larger, is more of what you expect from a behind the scenes book—lots of pictures taken during the production and filming, and lots of stories and anecdotes. There is also a one-page foreword by Sir Ian McKellen.
And last comes Gary Russell's The Lord of the Rings: The Art of The Two Towers (ISBN 0618331301 $35.00), which is of course the follow-up to The Lord of the Rings: The Art of The Fellowship of the Rings. This is more of a study of the visualization of the movie from the pre-production art to the finished product. In that sense it's lavish, and quite interesting, especially if you're fascinated by the costumes and sets. My favorite revelation comes in the Helm's Deep section, where Arwen is drawn in a warrior helmet. This was for the unused sequence in the film that would have brought Arwen to Helm's Deep, though I'm glad in the end that this wasn't done. I also liked the final section on Gollum, which traces the physical evolution of the character and is capped off with an Afterword by Andy Serkis. There is a lot of artwork by Alan Lee and John Howe, but there is also a great deal of particularly nice art by some of the Weta Workshop folks like Daniel Falconer and Warren Mahy.
Wrapping it up, the essential book this time is Brian Sibley's The Lord of the Rings: The Making of a Movie Trilogy, with Gary Russell's The Lord of the Rings: The Art of The Two Towers running a close second. The other three are nice for what they are, but don't miss out on these two big ones.