Documentaries about fans are always mishmashes, and never worth seeing through, but I found this one, made by some of the fans themselves, more than usually unenlightening. As a veteran of the original Tolkien craze, forty years ago, I'd hoped for more than the obvious--which doesn't always equate to the true. If there's anyone living who doesn't already know the nature of a fandom, any fandom, from having been or known a fan, he won't discover it here. Between irrelevancies, platitudes (to which the actors from the films are particularly prone), and acting out (by fans making the most--if not the best--of their one shot at fame), I could glean little of the special appeal of LOTR, the special emotional responses it evokes, and the range of the special creative forms those responses can take. In addition, the film is rather lazy: it slights some facts that could have been got across with little effort, e.g. what the exact legal loophole was (the wording of a copyright notice) that permitted the books' unauthorized publication in the U.S. (Speaking of which: I take strong exception to the film's dismissal of the covers on that edition as "irrelevant" and "psychedelic," which they were not. They were the work of Jack Gaughan, a very able sf illustrator of the period, and some fans, including me, found them more apt, and more attractive, than the covers on the rival set.)
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