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130 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To clarify some of the divergent reviews here..., 24 Mar. 2008
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Complete and Unabridged Gift Set) (46 CDs) (Audio CD)
I had the privilege of working in the same building as Rob Inglis (at the same job, as it happens), the actor chosen to record these verbatim recordings, for a brief period some years ago. We weren't friends as such, just acquaintances. At the time I was unaware of his Tolkienian pedigree, but I was well aware of his mellifluous voice and amiably charismatic persona: it was a quality that made that particular place of work a lot more palatable for me, and no doubt many others.

Now, on to the LOTR adaptation in question, by way of a tangential question: would you expect a painting to work on your senses in exactly the same way as a piece of music? Whilst there might be similarities, parallels, and so on, essentially the answer is no, because the two mediums are fundamentally different. Some reviewers here seem to miss that kind of distinction. This version of LOTR is the equivalent of a fireside reading of yesteryear (in itself a wonderful thing, and part of a distinguished cultural heritage that predates the instant pleasures of TV and the iPod by many millennia), not a full cast dramatisation complete with sound effects. And taken on those terms, Inglis does a fantastic job. To expect one person to create a world as deeply multifaceted as can be recreated by a large team of actors, producers, engineers and so on at the BBC is clearly a bit dumb. Sure, I prefer the music in the BBC version, but they had a composer to work specifically on it, plus various singers (inc Oz Clarke, of wine-tasting fame) to flesh it out. On the other side of the equation, they had to cut out large tracts of the text to make the series a manageable size. What the Inglis version lacks in production values and vocal technique it more than makes up for in being a complete reading.

There are also people submitting reviews of this item who are in plain factual error. The reviewers that suggest Inglis wasn't familiar with his material are clearly unaware that Inglis was selected for the daunting task of verbatim readings of both The Hobbit & LOTR precisely because of his familiarity with the material. He'd already been doing Tolkien material on stage as a solo act, something that almost beggars belief, both in conception and execution. And to any serious Tolkien reader (at least amongst those I know), the mention of Ms Rowling's world in the same breath as Tolkien's is a bit like trying to compare the works of Picasso with a child's first drawing, i.e. something ignorant people all too frequently do. Whether or not you like either world is beside the point. Tolkien's was born out of a donnish/professorial obsession with language and ancient myth and culture that gives his world a far more cohesive depth than the meandering fancies of 'muggles' and 'quidditch'. The first three Star Wars films were great fun, and at the time represented the tip of an iceberg in a seismic shift in cultural reference points, but, as the three 'prequels' made very clear, this was a world with about as much depth as a puddle when compared to the oceanic depths of Tolkien's personal mythos.

As a Tolkien lover I have room in my life for pretty much all of the Tolkien adaptations I've so far encountered, with the books themselves and the BBC dramatisations coming out a clear first and second. But I'm incredibly happy that somebody went to the trouble of recording verbatim readings, and think Rob Inglis does a sterling job (to those sniping at the enunciation, it's worth considering that Inglis is of Antipodean extraction). So, if you know and love your Tolkien, you'll most likely be able to derive a great deal of pleasure from these recordings, as it would seem most other reviewers have also.
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