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I attended the premiere of "Ringers" in Park City and have now seen the
film three times. Somehow, it got even more enjoyable with each
viewing. "Ringers" is a film that will obviously appeal to fans of the
books and movies but you do not have to be a Tolkien or "The Lord of
the Rings" devotee to enjoy it. The film is smart, interesting, and
entertaining and even those few poor souls who have never read the
books or seen the films might find Ringers to be a fascinating social
study. The filmmakers are obviously very knowledgeable and passionate
about Tolkien and this shows from the first frame till the last.
"Ringers" covers Tolkien's influence on pop culture from the original publication of the book in the 50's, through the 60's hippy counter-culture, 70's rock and roll music, and the current internet craze grounded in the website, theonering.net. It contains many satisfying interviews with movie and music celebrities and others known to be Tolkien enthusiasts. The movie celebs include those from the "The Lord of the Rings" films themselves. It has a good share of comments from luminaries in the field of literature as well, each without a hint of literary snobbery. I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of fun graphics and audio that were reminiscent of Monty Python. The somewhat contrived footage of groovy hippies getting way into Tolkien just adds to the wonderful campy feel of the segments. Being a hopeless music freak, I feel that the music is one of the highlights of the film. I often found myself focusing on it, sometimes distracting me from the visuals (but that's just me), which made my multiple viewings even more valuable. Even though there were plenty of Celtic-type tunes included in appropriate spots, the film is mostly driven by pounding rock music, including the miraculous offering of Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On". For those who do not know, several classic rock bands wrote music based on the books and this fact is discussed in the film in satisfying depth. I should also mention that there is some gorgeous footage of New Zealand, the movies' Middle-earth. The filmmakers traveled around the world in their quest to make this film representative of the fans, who come from every part of the planet.
Of course, as expected, there are plenty of fan interviews and anecdotal blurbs. They range from the serious and poignant to the fun and silly. Although the focus appears to be more on the hard-core costumed fans instead of the more mainstream ones, there is a good representation of both. A couple interviews with fans who might be described as being on the outer fringe of fandom caused major chuckles from the audience, but these fans are treated with genuine affection by the interviewer. They are never made to look foolish - only fun-loving and passionate. And passion is what this film is about. Passion for a book...a trio of movies...and the people who created them. Passion for a story that will, no doubt, live on forever because its themes are timeless.
I am one of the lucky ones to have seen the film at the Slamdance film
festival. I've seen it 2 times now and will be seeing in once more.
I'm not great at writing reviews, but I just wanted to let everyone know that this documentary is fantastic. It's great to see both fans and actors come together to celebrate Tolkiens work. Cliff and Carlene have put together a funny but uplifting film.
They've also chosen awesome music for the film. I can't wait till I can get a copy of World Without Sundays 'Where there's a whip there's a way'. It's awesome!
Carlene, Cliff, and the rest of the crew have done an excellent job. I hope the rest of the world gets to see it soon.
My friend and I were lucky enough to see Ringers (me twice and her
three times) up a Slamdance. It portrays LOTR fans in such a flattering
light and a funny one too. We're not just geeks! There are just too
many good things to be said. From the obsessed fans (how many times
have they seen LOTR, why they choose a costume to wear, how long have
they been in line, etc.) to the older generation and their love for the
books. They go into great detail telling about how the books came to be
so popular with younger generations and basically how it regenerates
itself. There is not one boring second in this film and even if you
aren't THIS OBSESSED you can enjoy it. If anything it will make you
want to go home and read the books (again for most of us) through and
through! Carlene and Cliff have a great deal of respect, love and
admiration for Tolkien and it definitely shows.
They were kind enough to do a Q and A session after the film and I just have to say that if there were 2 chosen people to make a film about LOTR and it's fans this is them. If any of them happen to see this I just want to say that I can't wait for the DVD and all the deleted interviews and so on to come out! I hope you get everything back that you put into this because you deserve it!!!
If you've enjoyed Lord of the Rings, you'll enjoy this look at the history of LOTR and the development of LOTR fandom. Yeah, there's a bit much focus on the folks in costume and the people who'd spend days in line to be "first" in the theater to see a movie. But there were good interviews with both random people and unexpected fans (like David Carradine and Cameron Crowe). The photography is very nicely done. There are also clever reenactments throughout. The documentary suffers a bit in the editing; some of the transitions are quite abrupt. There was also an odd contention that public appreciation of Lord of the Rings pretty much died after the infamous cartoons of the late '70s. Still, it's a fine documentary on one of the more enjoyable pop culture phenomenons of recent times.
Finally! A high-spirited and really fun movie about us!
My friends and I have waited so long for such a fun and totally respectful film to tell the whole story of how Tolkien has touched the world! And RINGERS delivers on every count. You've got everything here that Tolkien purists would want and plenty of what the newer generation movie-fans want (i.e., very thoughtful hobbity actors Elijah, Sean, Dom, and Billy waxing poetic about the phenomenon they themselves took part in -- and Viggo is singularly intelligent here too). This is a movie about the POWER OF BOOKS to change the landscape of world culture, especially the power of Tolkien's achievement. But there's so much rock music too -- so yeah I'll go ahead and say it: "RINGERS Rocks!"
Many revealing bits of this RINGERS movie surprised me. Who knew that John Lennon was so driven to play Gollum that he and the Beatles were calling up Stanley Kubrick asking him to direct??? And who knew that there was once a Gandalf dial-up modem? Or that so many children with reading/literacy problems have picked up a book like Lord Of The Rings trying to get closer to understanding the world of Middle-earth? Thank God for Hobbits and Harry Potter -- at least kids are reading again! There are some sly, witty animated bits as an homage to Terry Gilliam where Tolkien's worst critics are given a wacky send-up in their East Coast Ivory Tower ("A Place of Great Snobbery") **grin** and the funniest thing I think is the razor sharp Mariachi "Sing Along" that makes fun of bad LOTR merchandising! What an inspired goofy idea --- my family and many close friends watched RINGERS over here Thanksgiving weekend and had to pause the DVD several times with gales of laughter at the sing-along! I watched this docu and kept thinking: "so that's how long we've been fans!" Ah, nostalgia for the American counterculture! :)
I understand why Dominic Monaghan wanted to narrate this film, and work with these filmmakers here. His dad loved LOTR more than anything, and had his children reading it early on..... and so Dom now shows his gratitude to the generation before him. He honors his father greatly. And RUSH lead singer Geddy Lee loves this project so much he gave the filmmakers one of RUSH's greatest songs "The Spirit of Radio" for free, just to support RINGERS. This film has generated so much good faith among all Tolkien fans, and deserves their support (dare I say they will love it). And any movie that can have both extremes of the spectrum of "fandom" --- between an erudite, cigar chewing Clive Barker speaking with a twinkle in his eyes about the "mythological weight" that modern audiences are starving for, right on down to the awe struck honeymooners who enjoy a remarkable pilgrimage to discover the "real Middle-earth" down in New Zealand --- well, this kind of comprehensive reach makes RINGERS very cool.
You get a wide perspective of world fandom from RINGERS -- and it's so playful, with these cheesy college dorm rooms that keep changing each decade (low rent, tongue-in-cheek funny!) -- it's like a big TIME CAPSULE of pop culture over the years. This is not a serious-minded exploration of Fans' psychological obsession. Thank God RINGERS does not exploit the fan-base in any way (that's treason you know ---- to profile your interviewees as basket cases, and then cash in by making them look like laughable freaks as Trekkies once did). For fifty years' worth of Ringer fans, this documentary is a godsend that does nothing but celebrate the best aspects of Tolkien's masterwork.
I thoroughly believe the words from the Amazon.com Editorial critic Jeff Shannon who said: "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."
Well said! GO RINGERS!
I throughly enjoyed watching the movie. I liked to hear what other people who are major fans loved about the movie. I also liked listening to the actors who were in the movie and getting their perspective. I appreciate all the time and effort that went into the interviews and the history behind Lord of the Rings and Professor Tolkien. Hearing the history of the books and the way the books have impacted culture was very interesting. Getting past the Monty Pythonesque cartoons at the beginning was amusing but it didn't detract from the overall presentation of the film Thank you to all those who took time and invested in making Ringers. I am a minor Ringer. I don't go to the premiers or dress up for the conventions, but I love the stories and the films. I think this one was up to the Lord of the Rings standard set by Peter Jackson and his crew for the Lord of the Rings films.
'Ringers' is a documentary by & for fans that examines the impact that J.R.R. Tolkien and 'The Lord of the Rings' has had on popular culture. It's narrated by Dominic Monaghan ('Merry'), and takes the audience through the last 50 years, from the initial publication of the books, up through the release of the films. My favorite moments are when the filmmakers talk to ordinary, everyday fans about how Tolkien has changed their lives, but it's also cool to hear from people like David Carradine, Terry Pratchett, Cameron Crowe, and Geddy Lee of Rush. And rather than mock the fans, as 'Trekkies' did, the film celebrates them. Highly recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I feel very fortunate to have seen the award winning "Ringers: Lord of
the Fans" at the USA Film Festival this past Thursday. I was impressed
with the amazing job they have done in making a movie that is equally
appealing to die-hard fans of any generation and those only casually
acquainted with Tolkien's works. The movie introduces us to the early
history of Tolkien and his novels in a clever Monty Pythonesque manner.
Ringer's wry, tongue-in-cheek humor had the audience erupting in fits
of laughter only moments into the movie which continued all the way
through to the final credits. It becomes apparent early on that the
film, while very earnest about it's subject, does not take itself too
seriously. The film handled the subject matter very reverently, never
poking fun of the fans (or fanatics as some might think of them) but
instead provided a window of opportunity for them to share their love
of these timeless stories with the rest of the world. It's obvious that
the film makes are, themselves, Ringers.
The movie spans nearly a half-century of fandom, from the flower-empowered sixties, the groovy seventies, the radical eighties, the age of the internet in the late nineties and finally the phenomenal rebirth of interest in the LoTR world that Peter Jackson and his multi-talented crew can be credited with. It examines more than just the fans and their costumes, but the entire pop-culture that Middle Earth has inspired in several generations across the globe. Musicians such as Rush front-man Geddy Lee and Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmeister discussed how the philosophy of Middle Earth inspired musicians of the past decades (as demonstrated, in part, by one very psychedelic Leonard Nemoy and the oddest "hobbits" you've ever seen.). It was also nice to hear popular modern fantasy authors Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett respectfully acknowledge Tolkien's considerable influence as the father of modern fantasy.
The interviews with fans, both in and out of costume are the true highlight of the movie, though. From the Klingon-fan spouting praises of Sauron to the 'average Joe,' each person has a reason for loving the concept of Middle Earth. Perhaps one of my favorite segments occurred during the credits, when one young man's enthusiasm for all things "Lord of the Rings" will leave you rolling on the floor with laughter. I hope that they issue a release date soon, because I know this is one movie that I will see again and again. Perhaps the only negative thing one could say about Ringers is that it was much too short. Let's hope their affiliation with PJ has instilled a healthy respect for the DVD loaded with extras, because I, for one, want more Ringers!!!!
This is a documentary about JRR Tolkien, his Lord of the Rings and the
fans who love it.
Its an informative little film that tells you a great deal about its subjects, but for me, a fan but not a FAN, its way too much material for a 100 minute movie. Its not bad, not by a long shot, but the only ones I think who are going to be hanging on to the bitter end of this film are the ones who are its subject, the fans. Its just over kill in a big way. Of course those who want a Cliff Notes version of the world of Tolkien and how its affected the world, and the fans, since its publication will find the perfected starting point. The rest of us will be ready to turn it off after twenty minutes.
As someone who has read Lord of the Rings once a year over the past 35
years, saw each of the films at the theater an average of 55 times (3
of them marathon viewings), attended many of the conventions, and has
been a devoted fan of Tolkien's work since 1971
I have to say this
documentary captures the passion, dedication and FUN of being a Ringer.
This is a thorough examination of Tolkien's journey in writing Lord of
the Rings and the influence it's had on generations of fans of all
There are scholars who have dedicated years to the study Tolkien's world. There are people young and old who enjoy getting lost in the fantasy story that launched the genre with style and intelligence. And there are people who just have fun as they escape into the realm of dwarfs, elves, hobbits, wizards, and a collection of villains. This documentary looks at all of that! This is, hopefully, the first of more documentaries by this team of devoted Tolkien followers who have done an amazing job introducing us to the spectrum of fans. I discovered Lord of the Rings as a hippie living out of an old green van traveling the country, and I find their approach to MY generation to be great fun as I revisit that age.
As with any work, there will be those who relate to the films, books, or documentaries and there will be those who miss the point. As an avid fan of Tolkien both in films and in books I embrace this documentary as one of the best historical and most entertaining examinations EVER of Middle-earth and those who love it. Well done!
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