National Geographic-Beyond the Movie-The Lord of the Rings: FotR (2001)

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Released 7-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 52:47
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Phil Crowley
J.R.R. Tolkien
Wade Davis
Christopher Lee
Liv Tyler
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Michael Richard Plowman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I have mixed feelings about National Geographic's Beyond The Movie - The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring. After sitting in front of dozens of other featurettes for a fourteen hour period last weekend, it really feels somewhat redundant to me, and often repeats a lot of what has already been said. This is not helped by how superficial it feels a lot of the time, with the only thing that gets well below the surface of J.R.R. Tolkien's influences being the segment that delves into Finland's language and poetic traditions. Some segments, particularly the last chapter, hit one over the head so hard with a Greenpeace type of message that it is hard not to feel angry at the end.

    Christopher Lee shares some interesting insights into the characters, proving that any interview with him is worth watching, but the interview snippets with Liv Tyler could have been so much more. If only they had shared the fact that she had such problems with her Elvish lines that she had to learn them one at a time (which is why the camera cuts between shots every time she speaks in this language during The Fellowship Of The Ring). In one interview segment, Peter Jackson repeats his statement from other featurettes that Tolkien would be horrified by modern allegories being applied to his work. So what's the next thing that the makers of this documentary do? Exactly that, by portraying a rather beautiful rainforest in Africa as the lush fields of Hobbiton that are about to be overrun by logging mechanics.

    To be brutally honest, this featurette could have been cut down to a third of its running time and one wouldn't miss a thing, especially after the featurettes on the other two discs. The segments that could have stayed, mainly the story of the languages and English history, are the only things that are really worth your viewing time, but they cannot do much more than scratch the surface during the ten or so minutes that they appear for.

    If you're absolutely mad about the world of Tolkien, then this disc will probably find its way into your collection where it will be played every once in a while. Otherwise, one could be just as happy with the extended edition that this disc accompanies in the gift set, so it is really not something I can recommend to anyone other than the biggest fans.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with some footage from the film in an approximate 1.78:1 ratio, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness of this transfer is generally good, but there are some segments such as when Christopher Lee is speaking towards the end of the piece when things look rather blurry. An interlacing artefact was noticed during the first time we see the classic shot of the Fellowship rising over the hill, but this was a rare instance. The shadow detail is acceptable, and there is no low-level noise.

    The colours in this transfer are variable, with the colours in some outdoor interview shots, particularly with Liv Tyler, looking dull and stripped because of the excess light. Other segments are more acceptably rendered with no composite artefacts or smearing.

    MPEG artefacts were not found in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some moderate aliasing in such things as the Ring at 13:59, or in Balin's Tomb at 28:02, which served to remind me how well-controlled this artefact was during the film itself. Film artefacts were rife throughout the historical footage of such things as interviews with J.R.R. Tolkien or battles in World War I, but this is only to be expected, given the age of the source materials in these places.

    No subtitles are available on this DVD, which is a real shame.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kilobits per second.

    The narration and dialogue are clear and easy to understand at all times. No problems with audio sync were noted.

    Most of the documentary is accompanied by score music from Michael Richard Plowman, who does a reasonable job although it cannot really compare to the awesome score provided for the film itself.

    The surround channels were not encoded into this soundtrack - they were not really missed.

    The subwoofer was not encoded into this soundtrack, either.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    This is a static menu that basically serves as a chapter selection function, with only eight chapters being encoded into the feature's total running length. It is not 16x9 Enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this title is available from for $22.48, with the list price being $24.98, and that is in US funds, mind you. Amazon's product description mentions that the Region 1 DVD is closed-captioned, which may make it more compelling for viewers with hearing problems, but since the local version retails for $19.95 in Australian pesos, and the Region 1 version is in a Snapper case, you'd have to be really mad about this documentary to import it from Region 1.


    I was expecting much better from this DVD after the wealth of information imparted by two of the four discs in the Extended Edition of The Fellowship Of The Ring. Unfortunately, Beyond The Movie is a disappointment, and one for the most fanatical fans only.

    The video transfer is okay.

    The audio transfer is acceptable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersPanasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Not a 'new version'? - BruceM (read my bio)
Good -