Released to coincide with the premiere of ’The Lord of the Rings’ feature film, ’The Master of the Rings’ is touted as ’The Unauthorized Story Behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s ’The Lord of the Rings’’. The word ’unauthorized’ should always give one pause, but doubly so in the case of this rambling, incoherent documentary which only features one person who ever met the famed author, and that was only for one hour! What we get instead, is on-camera interviews with Tolkien devotees who deliver second-hand information is a very unorganized manner. These individuals gush about their loves for the books of Tolkien, but never reveal what so many have become obsessed with his writings. A member of a Tolkien society gives a tour of the homes in which the author occupied in Oxford. Of course, we only get to see the exteriors of these buildings, and the interviewee speculates as to what may have gone on inside. To pad the running time, we are treated to segments on Dagorhir, a group which recreates battles based on Tolkien’s writings; a musician (who looks like Ozzy!) who sings songs based on Tolkien’s writings; and an artist who paints pictures based on Tolkien’s writings. The only person person here is gives any concrete information is Tolkien biographer Humphrey Carpenter, but his decription makes the famed author sound as if he could have been diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder!
’The Master of the Rings’ is a botched effort at best. The film assumes that the viewer is a fan of Tolkien and does little to give any background on the books themselves. The film gives basically no details on Tolkien’s life. We don’t learn about his childhood, his family, his writing style, or even how he died. To make matters even worse, the camera is never still during the interviews, giving the impression that the cameraman either found the camera to heavy, or was drunk. Even the most fanatical Tolkien fan will find this DVD useless and I say that it should be dropped like a bad Hobbit.
’The Master of the Rings’ clambers onto DVD from Lion’s Gate Home Entertainment. The film is presented full frame and was shot on video. Due to this, the image is quite clear, showing only slight shimmering at times. The colors are nice, most notably the green grass of Oxford. The digital stereo sound renders all of the participants audible and intelligible. There are no extras on the disc.