The Hildebrandt Brothers: The Tolkien Years, Expanded Edition, Watson-Guptill, 2002 oversized trade paper, with fold-out poster
this is the 50th in my review series of “forgotten” books
It seems to be Lord of the Rings week, what with my New Arrivals post including a DVD of Howard Shore’s The Making of the Lord of the Rings Symphony, and George Kelly’s post on The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films by Doug Adams. So here’s the hat trick, a book of the art of the Hildebrandt Brothers from their much-loved Tolkien calendars.
The brothers did the art for four Tolkien calendars: 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978. I bought them all, and wish now I’d saved them. There were some sketches done for a 1979 calendar, but the brothers had by that time written and illustrated their fantasy novel Urshurak and moved in the direction of other illustration and writing. Sadly there was no sequel to Urshurak, a book I enjoyed quite a bit and one deserving of a FFB post of it’s own. If I’d had it at hand I would have done so here.
Meanwhile back to this book. It’s all about the artwork here, and whether you like or dislike these interpretations of the Tolkien books, the artwork itself is accomplished and the scenes depicted quite accurate to the text. It’s not what we saw in the Peter Jackson films, but for me it works and it was great seeing it again, re-reading this for FFB.
I do have a gripe about this one, however. The text is by Gregory Hildebrandt Jr. one of the artists son, and at the beginning of the time these paintings were being made he was just five years old. At first it’s kind of cute reading how he was fascinated with the make-believe world his father and uncle were painting, and how people came to the house and dressed up like characters and so on. That gets old very, very quickly, and you will soon find yourself, as I did, skipping this infantile chatter and just enjoying the artwork and reading the comments from the artists which are scattered about. Oh how I wish the entire text had been by the artists, instead of someone remembering back to his boyhood and gathering those impressions.
Still, it’s an interesting look at the calendar art, and brings back a time long before there was much realistic hope of a full length film of the books. No, I don’t count the animated, semi-musical version, which was barely better than nothing. If you remember the calendars, this is something you may want to seek out. NOTE: the image here is for the original edition, not the expanded, updated one I review. This is the only one I’ve seen, so what was expanded and updated I don’t know.
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Series organizer Patti Abbott is away from her desk, so this week George Kelley is hosting Friday Forgotten Books. See other FFB reviews at Abbott’s blog Pattinase, and a list of this week’s participating blogs at George Kelley’s blog.