Welcome. This will be a review for THE LORD OF THE RINGS and it´s here because the original masterwork from Tokien it´s one of my main inspiration sources for when i´m creating illustrations and so i had to talk about it on this blog too.
Actually, I´m not talking about the brilliant Peter Jackson movies or about the original novels even, but I want to present you the almost forgotten and fantastic BBC Radio Adaptation produced back in 1981 more than twenty five years ago wich still remains in my opinion one of the best audio books you can ever buy or listen to.
If not the best ever !
And it´s mine, it´s my precious !…ssss.
By the way, the cover you see above is the modern cover for this product. It was now re-released again because of the movie´s success and so that is the new look for the box cover. I don´t know how the interior package looks like.
The other photos you see on this article below are from my very own purchase and they represent the version which was available some years ago on amazon.uk, (you can stil find this version in amazon sellers if you want to). This version was presented in a box, which contained this really cool hardcover book with all the Cds in it, a small booklet with plenty of notes about the making of and also a map of middle earth.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
AN EPIC AUDIO BOOK FROM BBC !
Yes, it´s The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien but in a radio dramatized version with a huge cast and it´s hard to describe in words something that can only be truly experienced by sound. After its initial radio broadcast in England, it became available in cassettes for a while, until it was released in CD around 1999.
I first listened this incredible radio play, about eleven years ago, when i bought it in CD from Amazon.Uk attracted by some reviews but i was not expecting this at all for the quality of this radio production rivals the work of Peter Jackson but in audio form.
It got me hooked on audio books since then, and since then i´ve been searching for something that could top it but to this day nothing ever came close to it.
Ready to return to Middle Earth ?
If you´ve check out the dvd extras in Peter Jackson´s Lord of the Rings movie adaptations, you probably didn´t noticed a guy called Brian Sibley.He was there for more than one reason, and among them is because he´s the person behind the first ever great adaptation of Tolkien´s novel. Precisely the BBC Radio dramatization of The Lord of the Rings, which was also used by Peter Jackson to help planning the initial structure of the movies and so, if you´ve never heard about the radio version of this story, you can see there´s much more to it than it seems at first.
The radio version of The Lord of the Rings, is about 12 hours long (more or less the same as the new Peter Jackson movies altogether), and immediately got a place of honor on my bookshelve next to the printed traditional Lord of the Rings novels.
In fact, it still surprises me that although, the BBC Radio adaptation is popular among people who love audio books, it´s not very well known outside that circle of fans.
Although it´s not exactly part of the official Peter Jackson´s movie versions Lord of the Rings merchandise, for obvious reasons, it surely deserves to have a place in the heart and bookshelves of everybody who loved the movies or read the books and so i hope this text now, will contribute to spread the word around about this incredible alternative to the dvds or the books themselves.
If you like books on tape, or you´re curious about them and never listened to one, this is the first one you should get.
As good as the movies in all aspects and even if you don´t like Fantasy, but enjoy good acting, you´ll be amazed at the quality of this audio production.
AS GOOD AS THE MOVIES IF NOT EVEN BETTER !
Huge cast of perfect voices, great editing and to top everything there´s an incredible music for this Lord of the Rings soundtrack too, that you won´t forget and its as cinematic as the music from the movies.
At this point i still don´t know which of the two i like best yet.
Also the BBC radio adaptation differs from the movies because it´s more faithful to the books. There´s a few chapters left out of the movies and the ending is the original one written in the novel by Tolkien with the original structure and it´s different from the ending in the movies. So if you haven´t read the books and only saw Peter Jackson´s adaptation you´ll enjoy to discover how the real ending of the books was done. It´s all here in the BBC radio version.
The only thing left is once again the strange chapter about Tom Bombadil for those who know what I´m talking about. This radio version also left that one out for obvious reasons that all Tolkien book fans understand.
There´s so much to tell about this work, but at the same time i don´t want to spoil the joy of discovery, so let me see…I can start by speaking about the voice cast.
It´s brilliant ! You don´t need to know more.
Actually…I can tell you that if you love the Lord of the Rings movies, you´ll recognize many of the characters just by listening to them in this radio version. Although this audio production was created around 1981, you´ll be amazed at the similarity between some of the voice acting here and the actual voices of the actors that Peter Jackson cast for the modern movie versions.
You´ll feel right at home and sometimes if you close your eyes it almost feels like you´re listening to an alternative movie cut.
Middle-Earth Dejà-vu… 🙂
Gandalf´s voice (Michael Hordern), is almost the same as in the modern movie versions, the same goes for Frodo and Sam, and some other characters too, which demonstrates how influential this radio version was for the making of the movies more than twenty years later.
Ian Holm, wich in the movies now played Bilbo Baggins, in the audio-book, plays Frodo Baggins instead and it´s brilliant. It´s almost like you´re listening to Elijah Wood creating the same character nowadays. It´s really weird.
And wait until you get to ear Gollum !
Before the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy came out, i lent this audio book to my friends and after listening to it, they went around the streets screaming “Precioussssss ! My preciousssss !” long before the common person ever heard of the movies and so you can imagine the reactions.
EVERYBODY LOVES GOLLUM !
The actor that plays Gollum in this radio version, is the same one who created the interpretation for the character in the infamous Ralph Basky animated movie of the 70´s. The same one where Andy Serkis based its performance as talked about in the dvd movie extras.
There´s almost no difference between the voice acting in this audio book and the magnificent work that Andy Serkis did for the movies. It´s like a continuation of a brilliant performance shared by two actors, Peter Woodthorpe and Serkis.
If you loved Gollum in the movies, and don´t know this audio book, get ready for a surprise. You´ll love it !
HOBBITS, POEMS AND MIDDLE EARTH SONGS.
I don´t want to continue writting a giant text here as i had plenty to say about this fantastic Lord of the Rings audio book, so let me summarize the remaining brilliant features of this production.
If you loved Tolkien´s poems from the original books, and you missed them in the movies, you´ll absolutely adore what Brian Sibley has done with some of those bits. Many Hobbit and Middle Earth songs are put to music an sung during the story and contrary to what would be expected they don´t sound corny at all. In fact, the songs fit just right into the narrative and you´ll be completely fascinated by the power of sound to carry you into a fantasy world.
The music soundtrack is beautiful overall, and best of all, you can have it on a isolated CD that comes with the 13 Cd set.
A DIFFERENT VIEW
As an adaptation, well, it´s as good (or bad depending on the views) as the movie was. There are some bits missing from the novels, some events changed around, (exactely like in the movies), and like I said the Tom Bombadil episode is also absent, but nothing can detract this work from being an incredible masterpiece of voice acting and storytelling, that you must buy today.
The only thing that i don´t like at all, is the way the first episode begins with Gollum being captured by the Orcs. It sounds weird (the orcs sound too British and polite), and starting the story at the middle can be a bit confuse for those who don´t know the books. In my opinion it was a very bad choice to begin this magnificent work in this way.
But don´t worry, once we get to the Shire about five minutes into the episode, you´ll start to love it and you´ll be totally hooked ! Trust me.
A funny trivia about the project, was in the fact that Michael Horden who plays Gandalf, did it without even liking the book or understanding of what it was about as it was known at the time that he only did it basically for the money and as a job opportunity. If it was like that and his Gandalf is absolutely incredible, i wonder how it would come out if Horden actually liked Fantasy novels ? His performance in this audio book is just pure Tolkien and you can find much of Horden´s Gandalf in McKellen´s work later in the movies themselves.
Buy the right version. The BBC one.
I would recommend you buy the European Edition, (the golden one you see in all the photographs above , either my version or the new box),
It´s worth the price. Believe me and go for it.
In alternative, you can search for the American editions of the BBC version. There´s now TWO as i understand…the one with the more colorful package and a new one similar to the european but with an ugly design.
All editions carry a folded map of Middle Earth which looks the same as the one in the books.
Other safe european editions to buy are these ones where you can either buy the trilogy in separate CDs …
… or even buy a new excellent edition with both BBC the Lord of the Rings COMPLETE TRILOGY and the earlier BBC The Hobbit radio dramatization of which I´ve spoken in this blog in a separate review and it´s excellent too. This is my pick to buy for sure.
DO NOT BUY THE AMERICAN radio adaptation by mistake.
No matter what you get, make sure you´re buying the BBC RADIO Dramatization with Ian Holm starring as Frodo.
There´s 2 radio adaptations out there. The BBC and the American one.
Make sure you´re getting the BBC one first.
There´s another radio-play adapting the Lord of the Rings but don´t get that one, before you listen to the BBC one. Please !
The other is known as the National Public Radio Version and it´s the American one, much inferior to the English for many reasons which i´ll detail in my other review in the future.
Beware, then. Get the right radio-play, the (English) BBC Radio version, not the National Radio Play (American) one which is depicted on this photo right here.
I know that wooden box looks much cooler and atmospheric than the other packaging for the BBC versions but don´t be fooled by a pretty box.
Make sure you listen to the original English one first and then you can check out the US inferior version to compare. But only then. Not before. Trust me. 😉
You´ll love the original.