Of all the documentaries devoted to J.R.R.
Tolkien's fantasy classic, Ringers: Lord of the Fans
is the first and
only one to respectfully honor the good-natured depth and breadth of Lord of
fandom. Like Peter Jackson with his phenomenal Lord of the Rings film
, director Carlene Cordova and cowriter Cliff Broadway (contributors
to theonering.net, the definitive LOTR
fan site) were the perfect team to
create this wildly entertaining tribute. The film's globetrotting ambition is
constantly impressive, but Ringers
remains keenly focused on its lively
exploration of Rings
fan devotion, presented here with a flawless
combination of informative objectivity and insider enthusiasm. From the
inspiration behind Tolkien's Middle-earth and the immediate success of The
upon its 1937 publication, to the hippie embrace of Rings
mythology in the late 1960s and the revival of fandom in the wake of Jackson's
(the accepted nickname of devotees) has it all:
Influential authors such as Clive Barker, Terry Pratchett, and Terry Brooks
offer their Rings
-related insights along with such Tolkien-inspired
musicians as Rush's Geddy Lee and Motorhead's Lenny Kilmister, and literally
hundreds of fans provide affectionate testimonials to the source of their
devotion. Peter Jackson and most of the LOTR
trilogy's primary cast are
also included in the constant flow of interviews.
Dedicated to Tolkien as a valentine by smart and dedicated fans, the film
generates its own infectious goodwill; it's so fun to watch that even non-fans
will concede (to borrow a phrase from another world of fandom) that resistance
is futile. (Oh, and speaking of Star Trek, the vintage clip of Leonard
Nimoy singing his novelty hit "Bilbo Baggins" is absolutely priceless.) Actor
Dominic Monaghan ("Merry" from Jackson's trilogy, before joining the ensemble
cast of Lost) perfectly delivers the film's eloquent narration, which
runs the LOTR gamut from intellectual appreciation to the hilarious
eccentricities of über-fan obsession. Unfailingly noble in spirit and
delightfully comprehensive, Ringers is a collector's gift that can
proudly stand alongside Tolkien's books and Jackson's timeless movie trilogy.
A Feature-Length Documentary That Explores
How 'The Lord Of Therings' Has Influenced Western Popular Culture Over The Past
50Years. 'Ringers' Covers Tolkien'S Influence On Pop Culture Fromthe Publication
Of The Book In The 50S, Through The 60S Hippiecounterculture, 70S Rock &
Roll & The Current Internet Craze.
"The Lord of the Rings" was first published in the mid-1950s, to relatively little notice. Nobody knew -- even the author -- how important this one story would become.
In the years since, however, J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful trilogy has gained a fandom that might just be the most eclectic in all of pop culture. And in "Ringers: Lord of the Fans," we get to see an affectionate love note to the fans who helped establish it as a modern classic, and turned the movies into megahits.
This documentary traces "Lord of the Ring's" influence over the years -- and boy, does it spread wide. In pop culture history we get: Led Zeppelin, the recent cover of "Where There's a Whip There's A Way" by World Without Sundays, who performed at a triumphant Oscar-geek party, and the aborted Beatles movie. Paul would have made a cute Frodo, but it was never to be.
And, of course, Tolkien's work spawned modern fantasy literature, here represented by Terry Pratchett and Terry Brooks, who speak of Tolkien's influence on literature. But media attention isn't all there is -- we get to see a town called Hobbiton, hear about elves and Woodstock, trivia, and a cute little reenactment with action figures.
And of course, there are the new movies. Dominic Monaghan ("Merry") narrates this with a mix of gravity and humour, and there are snippets of actors like Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Billy Boyd and Ian McKellen being interviewed. And, of course, fans: Fans at parties, at cons, in costume, in rock bands, adoring actors, talking about the books, the movies... fans and more fans.
It tells you something that filmmakers Carlene Cordova and Cliff Broadway have done work for TheOneRing.net for the past few years. Namely: They are Ringers.
And so you can expect a certain amount of affectionate wackiness here. There is not a single dull moment in all of "Ringers: Lord of the Fans," from the Terry-Gilliam-style cartoons to those miniskirted "hobbits" dancing around Leonard Nimoy. Its main flaw is that it is way too short -- I could have used a few more of those costumed fans making armour.
But will it be sneering and mean-spirited towards the fans? Thankfully, no.
"Ringers: Lord of the Fans" is nice. Really nice. Nice to the fans. It's good-hearted, humorous and very geeky; Broadway and Cordova get down there with the fans and treat them as equals. We do get to hear about the more fannish activities (spending six months making a costume), but the fans range from serious and analytical to a bit wacky. They don't look foolish, just geeky and passionate. Which, of course, is precisely what they are.
Ringers, be at peace -- the affectionate "Ringers: Lord of the Fans" is not making fun of you. Instead, it's a quirky, offbeat valentine not only to the fans, but to "Lord of the Rings" itself.
I have always had a thing about fanzines, you know the magazine written by fans for fans which sometimes grows into something more like Relix, for instance. To the uninitiated it is a way into another world so that you no longer feel like an outsider. I really liked the movie tie-dyed for that reason alone although in my case it was an exploration into a US phenomenom which had not crossed the Atlantic except when American Deadheads did!
Having been one of those people, although i will not say which, who read the Lord of the Rings in the 1960's/'70's, I could relate to much of this celebration. There is much within which is a joy to watch including the segments of actor interviews although to some extent I mourn the absence of others in the cast, and there is much amusement too.
i would have preferred not to have to see the re-enactment of 60's and 70's grooviness but it is a harmless distraction. The camerawork is sometimes cliched but at other times somewhat amateurishly fresh but despite those things there is an honesty and sincerity which shines throughout.
This is a labour of love which brings some insight into the mysterious world of the Ringers, their revitalisation through the movies, gives some marvellous views of some of the settings in New Zealand and some quirky though absolutely adorable antics of the Ringers, shall we say, on tour.
This is one of those movies you can watch in all honesty to yourself. It has no pretensions other than to let us into their world. A world of characters as individual as the ones they are interested in. Whether young or old there is a lot for you in this movie. I wish I knew where my old , well worn paperback omnibus (British) edition is now and whose possession it might be in.
On a personal note, it was the Fellowship of the Ring and the first Harry Potter movie which galvanised my youngest son into reading, something which he has continued to do voluntarily to this day. This movie has shown him a different side to the novel and made him aware of the broader enthusiasm in the world for the books so much so that after watching it he began a web search on Rings issues.
This is a great piece of fun for all the family. It made me laugh it made me cry with a twinkle in my eye and for that alone I heartily, without reservation commend it to the readers.
This movie pretends to be a thoughtful cinematic essay about the history of Tolkein's LotR novels, their movie versions, and the cult of fandom that has grown up around them. Interviews with Tolkein scholars, fantasy writers, and the movie cast and creative team join to serve this message. But as you watch, the real nature of this film starts to peek through: This film is about you.
Maybe you didn't camp for a week in front of the opening of the next installment of the trilogy, but you did discuss it with friends and family for weeks in advance. Maybe you don't dress like an Uruk-hai, but you sing "The Road Goes Ever On and On" in the shower. You wish you could have been part of this grand epic, and you love spending time with others who wish the same thing. This movie affirms that you are not weird, you are just a Ringer.
The film is far from perfect. There are some animations and dorm room re-creations that are just silly. The brief biography of Tolkein and how he wrote his novels is probably old hat if you're enough of a fan to rent this DVD. And if the producers couldn't get the rights to the musical bits from the animated LotR properties, they should have just let them be, because we sure could have done without the chord-crunching cover versions from electric rock bands.
The real life is in the interviews with the Ringers. They are wonderful people, most of whom you'd be happy to split a beer with, and many are the kind you'd be happy to invite into your house for dinner. The Ringers range from a gentle woman who struggled alongside Dr. King and explains why she feels Tolkein was a unifying factor in the Civil Rights Movement, to smart but nerdy people who attend the opening screenings dressed as their favorite characters, to a few zealous fans who seem to need their Haldol stepped up.
One trait many who don't participate in the fan community may find interesting is how many fans double up on their affections. Some interviewees have microphones shoved in their faces while dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi or Captain Jack Sparrow. Thankfully no one is dressed as a Transformer, but you do see t-shirts and lapel pins with trademarked insignia on them. The fan community is remarkably open, fluid, and accepting; if you flinch back because you don't want to get dolled up as Mr. Spock, you're only denying yourself.
Some people have apparently gotten their knickers in a twist because Viggo Mortensen expresses his left-wing anti-war opinions in an interview segment. But hey, these politics are less than two minutes in a ninety minute movie, and if that sort of thing offends you, that's why God gave you a fast-forward button. If you can't handle being challenged, click past it.
All right, let's be honest, this movie is a puff piece. It's as insubstantial as cotton candy, and twice as sweet. But come on, Chuck, if you wanted something meaningful and ponderous, you'd read the books again. If what you really want is to see how the fan community and your fellow Ringers work together to create a movement larger than themselves, this is a pretty fun DVD. It also is a mirror, because deep down, let's be frank, you want to dress up as Frodo as much as the people on screen do. So why deny yourself?