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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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
As an illustrator, one of the questions i get asked the most since i professionaly started on this path back in 1992, is:
– “Where do you come up with this crazy stuff ?!!!”
This was the top question thrown at me back in the days before Fantasy was fashionable and before it became so popular within the general mainstream audience; thanks to the new hit movies we all know and love.
Before Peter Jackson´s – The Lord of the Rings – presented the genre to the casual movie goer, it´s hard to believe but not many people read Fantasy books (not like today anyway), and so only the real genre fans knew about “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula Le Guin, “Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S.Lewis and of course, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien, that inspired so many artists like me myself to create our own worlds of fantasy.
But back then Fantasy was treated almost like the poor retarded cousin of science-fiction (or worse; some fairytale crap for little children) and so illustrators like me that created images within those imaginary universes always got that odd look from observers and the usual question was always inevitable:
– “Where do you come up with this crazy stuff ?!!!”
Followed by the inevitable: – “Isn´t that for little kids ? Do you still like fairytales ?!“(chukles).
Well, speaking for myself, i always got inspiration from the sea and the seascapes from around where i live, from fantasy books, earlier fantasy movies (The Neverending Story, Lady Hawke, Legend) and more recently in the last 10 years from audiobooks.
So now, i decided to share here on this blog, some of the best ones i know and that i´ve listened to over the years and that still inspire me today to create my art.
I always wanted to diversify this webspace talking about some of my best inspiration sources and so let´s start with one of the very best.
Let´s talk about THE HOBBIT.
Not the upcoming Peter Jackson movie, but about the almost forgotten and fantastic BBC Radio Adaptation produced back in the 60´s more than fourty years ago.
Nowadays almost everyone who has seen the Lord of the Rings movies knows about the early novel that later developed into that now famous trilogy. Many people have read the book, but maybe not so many people know that this early novel was also adapted by BBC Radio back in the 1960s.
To me, altough the BBC 1981 Radio adaptation of Lord of the Rings overall is the best audiobook ever made, nothing beats the first minutes of narration in this earlier radio adaptation for pure Tolkien atmosphere and i´ll be very surprised if the opening of the upcoming Peter Jackson movie adaptation can match the one in this audiobook.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
This is how the story starts off . If you´re a fan of the book and never listened to this 1968 BBC Radio adaptation you´re in for a treat.
There´s no way i can describe in words what two actors can do with only their acting skills backed up by the perfect music soundtrack to fit the original text.
Essentialy, instead of just having this initial and totaly iconic bit of narration read by a single person, this was transformed into a dialogue between Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins as they both start to tell this magic tale and in the process interrupt each other with snippets taken from the original text in a way that i wasn´t expecting at all but wich is simply a brilliant piece of audio narration that not only remains true to the original writen material but enhaces the whole initial setting of this amazing prelude to The Lord of the Rings.
After listening to the begining of this audiobook you´ll never be able to read the actual writen book without thinking of this narration and play it inside your mind as you read along. I guarantee you.
It´s that good.
Yet again, if you never listened to this and you´re a fan of the book, you really, really must get this one too along with the LOTR Brian Sibley adaptation. Yes you do. You don´t know it yet, but you really, really want to.;)
After reviewing in this website the BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, i simply had to do The Hobbit next as it was the most logical recomendation to present to those who are looking for audio books on mp3 or cd and even good audio books for children. After all this book was writen as a novel for kids to begin with.
The Hobbit radio play is as good as the Lord of the Rings BBC Radio adaptation…although diferent.
This 1968 BBC Radio earlier atempt to adapt a Tolkien novel, has a totaly diferent feel to the later 1981 LOTR adaptation.
Actualy if feels much simple. The cast is smaller, the soundtrack is much more like Celtic music without that big movie orchestration from the Sibley LOTR adaptation but this whole setting is just perfect to adapt the much less complicated novel that lead to The Lord of the Rings as The Hobbit is also a much simple book than what later followed.
It might sound less sofisticated, (the sound quality is also much inferior than what you can listen to for the LOTR later adaptation), but the 1968 BBC Radio adaptation for The Hobbit is in my view another masterpiece of audio dramatization and so i guess i must consider it as the second best audio book i ever listened.
And probably you will too. 🙂
This radio play is a good and captivating adaptation that follows the book very well, with a couple of exceptions that in my view are not even worth mentioning as they don´t ruin the original work at all and the acting is absolutely fantastic. Gandalf sounds diferent than what was later done for the LOTR adaptation but nevertheless it´s the perfect interpretation for this character as it appears in The Hobbit.
And Bilbo Baggins audio depiction is not only perfect and brilliant but absolutely captivating as you can really believe that if it had existed somewhere it would surely sound like that.
The whole dramatization has a very British feel to it and that couldn´t complement the book better as the rural atmosphere from this work totaly carries you into an earlier Middle-Earth to simplier times long before the events of The Lord of the Rings.
Technicaly, nowadays this BBC Radio adaptation might sound a bit disapointing to those who will go into it expecting modern state of the art sound effects and atmosphere, but remember this was done more than 40 years ago and at the time it must have been a radio event i´m sure.
Nevertheless, do not worry, as there is nothing here that will prevent you from enjoying this amazing prelude to The Lord of the Rings as much you probably liked the 1981 adaptation.
It´s a must buy if you love Fantasy, so don´t try to resist.
Even if you download it in mp3, i believe you´ll want to own the original edition after you listen to it. One of many available with different covers.
And by the way…speaking of mp3…The weird music in this radio play adaptation of The Hobbit fits the tale perfectly altough it doesn´t carry the same modern cinematic punch that was present in LOTR BBC soundtrack made more than ten years later but has tons of atmosphere nevertheless and fits perfectly with this magic tale.
The actors shine through, the characters are alive and if you´re a Tolkien fan you can´t miss this audio book, particulary if you never listened to it before.
It sure deserves a place in any good audio book club.
You can download it on the net for free, (but not in free audio books legal websites) but don´t waste your time, just buy the thing because if you love the book after listening to this version you´l want to own the audio book.
Besides it looks cool on the bookshelves next to the actual writen book as it´s got a nice package. Go buy, listen to it and enjoy pure Tolkien magic.
Then get The Lord of the Rings BBC Radio adaptation too. Because after this one, you know you have to anyway. 😉
But wait…What´s a Hobbit ?!
To those out there who never eard of The Hobbit as a book, well…have you seen The Lord of the Rings movies ? Want to know in detail how Bilbo Baggins found the One Ring and met Gollum ? It´s all in this book.
And in the audio book as this is another of the best books on tape you can get and it´s been re-released in 5 cds along with some goodies such as a Tolkien interview and aditional music.
If you´re searching to buy good online audio books and you love fantasy, you cannot go wrong buying this one, either in the UK edition or American ones as there are now a couple of diferent editions with a variety of covers available on CD.
Just make sure you´re getting the BBC Radio dramatization and not the book read by a narrator to get this version. Either for The Hobbit or for The Lord of the Rings. Above are some of the Uk and American releases.
Somebody, posted the entire radio play on Youtube, so what are you waiting ?!!
The sound is not as good as in the CDs (or very good at all) but you won´t care after five minutes of listening to this brilliant radio adaptation. Trust me, you´ll love it !
Here´s the complete links for all youtube episodes:
THE HOBBIT or There and back again, by Bilbo Baggins aka as Tolkien.
In case you want to listen to the full play in MP3 before you decide to buy it on CD, you can download the full episodes in mp3 here.
After some time away from this blog, from now on i´ll be posting plenty of new sketches around here. I´ve made a couple hundred sketches in the last few months and as my main illustration website tends to be a bit boring to update, as i can´t keep up with the amount of new pics i do each day, i decided to bring all that update stuff into this blog and so keep visiting this space to check my stuff as i go along too.
I´m starting with this new sketch of a little flying fairy which belongs to a new project i´m creating sketches for and so as i´m having fun creating these, i´ll be posting some more like it in the next few days too.
Depois de algum tempo afastado deste blog, a partir de agora, poderão contar com vários esboços semanais pois tenho produzido centenas de desenhos no último ano e o meu site oficial não tem sido suficiente para colocar lá tudo o que produzo pois é bem mais fácil fazer actualizações num blog.
Sendo assim, contem com muitas imagens novas próximamente por aqui e começo desde já por um esboço fresquinho.
Nos próximos tempos irão encontrar bastantes imagens semelhantes a esta por aqui, pois estou a produzir esboços para um projecto de ilustração e irei colocando o que for fazendo por aqui em jeito de arquivo diário.