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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best dramatic adaptation..., 21 Dec 2004
I remember as a kid, for six months, the finest part of Sunday was the half-hour before lunch when I would listen to the radio dramatisation of the Lord of the Rings. I was twelve at the time, and had already read the book once with my dad, and then again by myself. Now, twenty-three years later, it is still excellent.
The series has been re-edited for CD into three parts which (largely) correspond to the original books, and a prologue and an epilogue have been added to each "volume". These are recorded by Ian Holm (Bilbo in the films, Frodo in this series). The final volume also has the addition of a disc of music from the series. On the whole, so far as I can remember, nothing has been taken away in the editing (apart from cast listings every 30 minutes, which would have been repetitive).
In my opinion, the adaptation here is far superior to the Peter Jackson films. Despite the series being not much longer than the special edition DVDs, the pacing seems much better. I found the way in which Pippin and Merry joined the journey in the films to be, frankly, silly. The radio series retains their conspiracy with Sam (as in the book), Michael Hordern's Gandalf is much less hysterical than Ian McKellen's, and Marian Diamond as Galadriel has power and dignity rather than simply spookiness.The cast includes other well-known names, including John le Mesurier (Bilbo) and Bill Nighy (Sam), and consistently fine performances.
There is still a fair amount that has had to be left out - in particular, there is no Tom Bombadil - but overall, it is much more faithful to Tolkien's vision - which is not a bad thing. If you enjoy radio plays or audio books, and do not actually have an allergy to fantasy literature, then you will love this. The series deserves to be heard by a wider audience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 17 Aug 2005
D. Bennett - See all my reviews
Along with the BBC dramatisation of the Hobbit from 1968, with Paul Daneman as Bilbo Baggins and Heron Carvic as Gandalf, this is my favourite Tolkien adaptation. Ian Holm is excellent as Frodo. Gandalf has been portrayed quite differently on the different radio dramatisations and the Peter Jackson films. Michael Horden sounds like a warm-hearted Grandfather figure; Carvic sounds more obviously 'magical' with a high, quivering quality to his voice. Both are rather different from Ian McKellen's portrayal in the film -- but I love all of them. John le Mesurier is magnificent as Bilbo.
The sound is very good, even if some of the effects are quite dated. 'The Hobbit' is equally worthwhile, although the sound is not so good and the effects are less polished; the actors are nevertheless magnificent.
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOTR BBC Radio version, 27 Dec 2006
JDX (Yorkshire England) - See all my reviews
I've just read two previous reviews (both of which I liked) and thought I'd like to add some thoughts of my own.

On reflection I feel that the Jackson version greatly exaggerate the fighting and tend to fail to deal with the more introspective elements of this story. The Radio version manages both of these aspects of dramatising the books so much better. I have enjoyed this R4 version more and more with the passage of time. I don't regard Tolkein as great literature. LOTRs is a good read when one wants a break from the world of everyday: a great comfort. Tolkein's text is consistently of a very high standard: he writes beautiful English and the Radio version respects this (sadly Jackson's film doesn't). When Faramir interviews Frodo for example the quality of the spoken work is exquisite. Gimli has a certain dignity in the books and in the audio tapes: not so in the film. I agree with the other reviewer who clearly feels that Pippin and Merry are short-changed by Jackson's version.

Having said this, and I could say much more, I think the Jackson version has many merits but the radio four version is so much more satisfying. I agree with the other reviewers in their admiration for the various actors performances. I too regret the omission of Tom Bombadil. Treebeard is wonderful though and Sarumen's closing scene is deeply stirring as is the whole aspect of the return to the Shire. Tolkein fails to generate great literature because his characterisation is so weak. He was not strong on psychological insights but the quality of his prose makes up for this. I reread the book every eight or ten years and I have heard the Radio version many times as I originally recorded it on reel to reel and have owned the CD version for some years now.

Some of the R4 version may be a little twee for contemporary tastes but perhaps the escaping into another world, another landscape, another crisis quite unlike our own is still much to be enjoyed. I still do, as do my children and my children's children.
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4.0 out of 5 stars reminder of hot Swede..., 4 Feb 2014
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This is a really fun listen for the car. When I'm listening to it it makes me think of Viggo Mortenson!
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The Lord of the Rings Vol. 3: The Return of the King (BBC Radio Collection): Return of the King Vol 3
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