By Rory L. Aronsky | March 7, 2005

Taking a little off the top from Terry Gilliam in its visual style during the opening minutes, gamely re-enacting the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s in various clips and packing a lot of fandom in 96 minutes, “Ringers: Lord of the Fans” is an epic in its own right, wherein it not only merely observes the fans of the Lord of the Rings books and movies, but also takes to getting involved with them, hearing their thoughts first-hand. This isn’t only about the people who’ve experienced these books and films, such as author Terry Pratchett and David “Bill” Carradine, but also the dedicated scores of people around the world, bigger than Mordor, who have made “Lord of the Rings” a close part of their life.

“Ringers” delves into the rich history of “Lord of the Rings” throughout many decades, first and foremost through its literary form and how in some ways, it shaped the ‘60s and ‘70s, to the point where many Gandalfs were spotted at Woodstock. Also well-covered are the various attempts to stuff “Lord of the Rings” into a celluloid bag and bring it to audiences. The sexiest prospect of them all was the Beatles’ attempt to bring “Lord of the Rings” to the screen, helmed by David Lean or Stanley Kubrick, both of whom refused. Here also are the influences of “Lord of the Rings” on literature, inspiring a surge of fantasy titles, and in music, where many bands incorporated details of the trilogy into their songs.

The participants of this documentary are varied, from our own Chris Gore to the gravelly-voiced Clive Barker and Lemmy Kilmester of Motorhead, whom causes an amusing moment in the documentary by way of director Carlene Cordova who senses the frustration of not being able to understand Kilmester’s words and inserts subtitles at the exact right moment. And the fans are a terrific bunch, running the wide gamut from people who have read the books and movies and liked them to those such as the ones in the “Two Towers” line party in Silverlake, California, to Jon, who speaks of relating to Pippin, before Andy Serkis excitedly bounds in, in full Gollum mode impressively. Serkis still doesn’t mind the attention and I’m sure that even years on down the line, even after having played King Kong, he’ll still be around for the fans, doing that voice with much enthusiasm. There are many great voice performances in motion picture history and while it was also a body performance besides voice, Serkis stands with the finest voice performances ever, including Brad Bird as Edna Mode in “The Incredibles” and such talented voice actors as Jim Cummings and Tress MacNeille.

“Ringers” inspires the need to revisit the books just as much as the movies. It is a documentary that will always be a salient part of Lord of the Rings history and honestly, it deserves its own 2+ DVD set. There’s so much footage here that either may garner a second documentary or would simply be satisfactory for viewers to explore the footage on their own. This needs to be out there on a wider basis. See it, absorb it, love it. We all have our passions and “Ringers” portrays these people’s passions with a loving touch.

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