A DVD review: The Legacy of the Lord of the Rings by Daniel Timmons

Wondering what great gift to buy a Tolkien fan, whether that be yourself or a friend? I recommend Daniel Timmons' documentary The Legacy of The Lord of the Rings. With inspiring paintings by Ted Nasmith and music that blended with the words seamlessly by Wes Prince, The Legacy of The Lord of the Rings is a well thought-out script with input and thoughts from scholars and writers on J.R.R. Tolkien's magnificent 'fairy-tale epic'. This interesting line-up includes:

*George Clark from Queen's University, department of English with a focus on "comparative studies in the early Middle Ages, especially Old English and Old Norse", and Dan Timmons co-editor on J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-earth.
*Tom Shippey, St. Louis University, department of Humanities, Tolkien scholar and author, specialist in "medieval literature, especially the earliest literature of Anglo-Saxon England, and modern fantasy and science fiction".
*Verlyn Flieger, the University of Maryland, department of English, Tolkien scholar and author, "specialist in myth studies and comparative mythology with a focus on modern fantasy novels".
*Ted Nasmith, well-known Tolkien artist based in Ontario
*Joseph Pearce, Ave Maria University (Florida), "author of numerous acclaimed biographies of major Catholic literary "figures.
*Peter Beagle, fantasy author, based in California
*David Hartwell, Senior Editor for Tor books, New York
*Patrick Curry, Canadian-born writer and scholar
*Bill Welden, Tolkien linguist, used as a consultant in the films
*Robert J. Sawyer, science fiction author, based in Ontario
*Michael Coren, Canadian broadcaster and columnist based in Toronto
*Philippa Boyens, screenplay writer for all three The Lord of the Rings movies.
*Daniel Timmons, writer, director, producer of The Legacy of The Lord of the Rings

The documentary is divided into four sections:
Part 1, Sub-Creation
Tolkien felt strongly that we, as humans, are made in the image of God, the Creator, who has given us a deep desire to create. Since we are not God, though, we are incapable of creating, only 'subcreating'. We need to wisely use these creative juices to produce beautiful works such as art, music, literature. In that light, Tolkien wrote his epic tale, his 'mythology for England'. Joseph Pearce speaks directly and clearly to this subject of sub-creation.

George Clark gives a brief background of some of the names Tolkien used. Tom Shippey expresses his interest in Tolkien's fascination with language, and analyzing the impact of this on his creative work. (For an in-depth coverage of this subject, read Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth, 1982). And we learn that Verlyn Flieger's focus in regards to Tolkien has been the study of ancient mythology in its relation to the Professor's works.

Part 2, The Masterpiece
What makes The Lord of the Rings a masterpiece? What gives it its universal appeal? A few ideas are presented:
*the special qualities of Frodo, and the fact that he is more like an 'anti-romance hero', rather than a typical 'hero', for he doesn't care for wealth and limelight. He would prefer not to take the Ring, but understands in his innermost being that it is his responsibility. While most heroes seek a treasure on their quest, Frodo ventures to throw one away, to destroy it forever.
*Gandalf's uniqueness: he is the Servant of the Secret Fire, which belongs only to the One, Tolkien's monotheistic being, Eru. Only Eru has the ability to bring forth sentient life. Therefore, it is suggested that Gandalf is, in fact, figured as an angel of the Most High.
*the timeless theme of the ongoing battle between darkness and light
*Gollum: representation of the great pull of good and evil in every human life
*the degrees of corruption displayed in different characters' lives
*war: the devastation and loss
*the environment: our desire to keep it natural and simple, maintaining and treasuring its glorious beauty. Special mention goes to the Ents and Elves in this regard.
*the poignant beauty of Tolkien's tale: the sorrow, the joy, the deep beauty, the 'eucatastrophe' (unexpected happy ending)

Patrick Curry talks about three aspects which Tolkien combined to bring this masterpiece to fruition: his love of the natural world + his profound scholarship + his ability to tell a story = a magnificent epic tale.

Part 3, The Response
To put it plainly, the response to The Lord of the Rings has been phenomenal. It has inspired in people to enrich the world further by pouring out their creative endeavours in music, drama, dance, art, and writing. The love of this book is limited not to a particular group/race/vocation/faith. People all over the world have fallen in love with Tolkien's writing. David Harwell at Tor Books discussed fantasy before and after publication of The Lord of the Rings, in which there was a highly noticeable difference in fantasy publication in general.

Part 4, The Legacy
The themes of The Lord of the Rings are far-reaching and for every human on this planet. Fifty years after its publication, the world is convinced that it is not 'just a fad'! Ted Nasmith, in his thoughtful way, talks about the need for us to be accountable for our own behaviour, evident throughout Tolkien's tale, and another example of the timeless themes in this book whose popularity shows no sign of abating.

A few key comments come close to the end of the documentary:
Tom Shippey: "[The Lord of the Rings] is capable of continuous political interpretation in completely unexpected circumstances."
Narrator Jo Hutchings: "And so The Lord of the Rings stands like a beacon or permeates like wholesome air in the drabness and gloom of modern life."
And Verlyn Flieger resounds Samwise's famous question: " 'Don't the great tales never end?' They never end as tales but the people in them come and go."

And this is the legacy Daniel Timmons left for us. Dan, sadly, passed away in December, 2005, after a lengthy battle with ALS. Wellinghall Smial is supporting an effort by a group of Tolkien fans who have set up a live journal page on which you can post comments to encourage his dear wife, Sunny, and their young son. On this page is also the opportunity for donations. See http://timmonslegacy.livejournal.com/ .
The following is the contact information from where you can purchase The Legacy of The Lord of the Rings.

Carla Bruce
Director of Acquisitions and Sales
TV, Canada
Filmoption International
3401 St-Antoine
Montréal (Québec) H3Z 1X1
Tel. : 514-931-6180 ext. 257
Fax : 514-939-2034


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