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Book Review

Book Cover

The Hobbit
The Battle of the Five Armies
Official Movie Guide


Author: Brian Sibley
Publisher: Harper Collins
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 754414 1
Publication Date: 20 November 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Official Movie Guide (2014. 167 pages. Soft cover) written by Brian Sibley, is a large format tie-in book for the last film in the series. Printed on thick gloss paper, the book consists of pictures and text detailing the making of the film.

The book is broken up into fifty-six portions, each of which takes a look at a specific aspect of the film, the common approach being a page or two of text with either a full page beauty shot, for the stars of the show, or text interspersed with pictures when looking at the more technical aspect of film making.

The book, partially due to the size of the project it is trying to cover, is not meant to be an exhaustive or overly detailed look at the film; rather it provides enough of a taste for you to relive your movie going experience.

The title of the book is a little bit of a misnomer, for whilst it does cover the making of the film, providing many shots of the green screen work or the preliminary artwork, the book studiously avoids using too many shots from the film itself, presumably so as to not spoil the enjoyment of the movie going audience. There is some logic in this as having seen the film and possibly read the original novel a picture book of nothing more than the film would seem a little redundant.

So if its brevity is one of its weaknesses, what of its strengths? On the pictorial front the book does contain numerous shots of the film being made, both from location work as well as the green screen process.

Although I didn’t bother to count them all, the overall impression is that the book contains mostly new material. This is rather nice as those who have seen the film can slot these ‘making of’ pictures into their memories of the finished product, hopefully gaining a greater understanding as to how technically complex this film was. To a lesser degree, shots of original art and model work are also included.

The second strength of the book is just how many people; both star and crew get to write about their own experiences. The book is full of the sort of personal reminiscences which make a good companion to the film. Through a multitude of perspectives many of the decisions which drove the film are explored and explained, which goes some way to debunking the idea that the trilogy was bloated by some form of unthinking design.

Overall, this is a nice tie-in book, with enough originality to stop you feeling that you have bought a book with all the usual stock pictures and interviews, it is a nice collection to leisurely dip in and out of.


Charles Packer

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