Ringers: Lord of the Fans (2005)
Featurette-The Ring Comes Full Circle
Featurette-Rock & Ringers
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (65:48)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Carlene Cordova|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
World Without Sundays
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Ringers - Lord Of The Fans is a low budget independent documentary that is an affectionate tribute to the fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and more specifically the massively successful tome The Lord Of The Rings. It traces the history of all that is Tolkien fandom which had its genesis virtually from the moment the original book was published back in 1954 and continues right through to the worldwide impact of the hugely successful LOTR film trilogy of the last few years. Directed by Carlene Cordova and produced by Cliff Broadway (who had a lot to do with the www.TheOneRing.net fansite), this film contains lots of interviews with Tolkien experts and fans and lots of juicy facts and figures about the world of Tolkien. Did you know for instance that Bilbo Baggins was very nearly called Bingo?
The film starts with some detailed discussion about the book's original publication and how it was quickly adopted by the science fiction fans of the day. From there, despite a hammering from some of the more highbrow critics (a great scene depicts this), the book became universally adored by many people including writers W.H. Auden and C.S. Lewis and was even the subject of a pirate set of novels. The book gained a new fan base in the late 1960s when the counterculture hippie movement accepted it as a sort of gospel tome. Those hobbits did smoke something didn't they?
Fantasy novels boomed in the early 1980s and the film shows how almost all new books released at the time paid some sort of homage to the work of Tolkien. Most interesting for me here were the interviews with Terry Brooks of the Sword Of Shannara series and Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series.
Several movie versions were made of the work since it was published, including one in the 1960s starring The Beatles! There is of course also discussion of the flawed Ralph Bakshi semi-animated effort in 1978, though no footage is shown of that. In recent times Peter Jackson's multi-award winning trilogy has opened up the world of Middle Earth to a whole new set of fans who could never be bothered to read the 1000-page novel and discussion of the films features heavily.
This documentary has been made in an interesting and somewhat funky style. There are thankfully no old-fashioned dry and dusty documentary conventions used here with the highlight being some goofy Terry Gilliam Monty Python-style cut-out animations used to illustrate key points and provide background history. There are also plenty of interviews with people who matter in the world of Tolkien mania, including official film guide creator Brian Sibley, director Peter Jackson, screenwriter Phillipa Boyens and many of the cast of the films such as Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Billy Boyd, Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan (who also narrates the entire film). There is also lots of input from plenty of real Ringers as they spill their hearts out on what being a Middle Earth fan means to them.
The good thing about this documentary is that it was obviously made by fans for the fans. There is no sneering or poking fun at any of the people who are so obviously obsessed with Middle Earth and nobody comes across as a raving lunatic eccentric (except maybe the guy who stayed home for six months making his own chainmail costume!).
This is a good-hearted tribute to the people who make the books (and now the films) what they are today - massive icons of popular culture.
With this documentary being a new production, the video quality is pretty good, though at times it is obvious it was shot on slightly lower quality hand-held video cameras.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, this transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is a bit of a mixed bag at times in terms of clarity, but this is all down to the source material. While the animations and other segments filmed in a controlled environment look stunning, some of the on-location segments, such as The Two Towers line party or the shots from the video booth at the ComCon convention look decidedly dark and muddy. There is also no low level noise.
The colour palette on offer is rich and vibrant most of the time with the scenes depicting the 1960s and 70s looking quite garish. There are some solid blacks and some nice saturated hues of other colours. There are no problems with the colour rendition.
There are no compression style artefacts present. Other artefacts are also absent. All up this is a blemish free transfer.
There are about 400 subtitles available (well 26 to be precise - which is still a lot). I sampled the conventional English and found them accurate enough.
The sole disc is a dual layered RSDL formatted effort with the layer change at 65:48.
There are four audio tracks on this disc. For the main film audio we have English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 tracks encoded at 192 Kb/s. Rounding out the selection is an English Dolby Digital commentary track also encoded at 192 Kb/s.
Since the programme content is comprised almost entirely of narration and interviews there is little need for a more dynamic soundtrack.
Dialogue is clear at all times with no problems evident. There are no apparent audio sync problems.
There is a little music played throughout. It all suits what's happening on screen at the time.
There is no surround or subwoofer channel use.
|Surround Channel Use|
An 18:59 making of featurette that is thankfully mostly devoid of the usual self-congratulatory rubbish. This instead offers a bit of an insight into the actual creation of the film, how it came into being, and some of the devices used by the makers to get their message across. Worth a look.
A 7:13 look at how popular music has been influenced over the years by The Lord Of The Rings. This is really just an extension of the chapter in the film that deals with this theme. There are a few interview grabs that are repeated from both the making of featurette and the main film.
Running for 5:04, this is four deleted scenes, featuring mostly additional interview grabs (with Andy Serkis, Billy Boyd and Elijah Wood). There's also a quick discussion with a guy getting what looks like a rather painful LOTR tattoo on his arm.
This featurette contains a few of the more memorable confessions from fanatical rings followers recorded at the Comic Convention. Fans were placed in a small booth and allowed to spill their hearts out as to what The Lord Of The Rings meant to them. A little rambling but also slightly amusing. I liked Gandalf's younger brother the best. Runs for 10:03.
24 full colour behind-the-scenes photos from the making of the documentary.
They have gathered almost everyone who had something to do with the film for this commentary and on the whole it works quite well though a couple of the speakers do drop into the habit of merely stating that this or that scene is their favourite. There are a few stories and behind-the-scenes anecdotes that add to the overall viewing experience and show just what an ultra-low budget film this was.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
From the information available it would appear that both the Region 1 and UK Region 2 versions of this disc are identical to the Region 4.
Ringers - Lord Of The Fans is an interesting and affectionate look at what it means to be a follower of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and the world of Middle Earth. It is comprehensive, professional and made with no hint of taking the Mickey out of the sometimes eccentric fans. This is the classic example of a film made for fans by fans and it comes recommended to anyone who loves The Lord Of The Rings and all that is Middle Earth, even if you don't go to the extreme of dressing up as Gandalf's younger brother or making your own chainmail.
The video and audio are as good as can be expected from a film shot on video with stereo sound.
The extras are numerous.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|