Lord of the Rings Exhibition: Review

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Posted by gaspode (30th Oct 2003, 20:49)

The first thing which strikes you about the Lord of the Rings exhibition is the ticket price. The cheapest possible tickets (concessions on a weekday) are £6.95, with a booking fee added onto that if you try to get them further in advance than the same day. In retrospect, going during half term was a bad idea, but it was too late to reschedule once I found out. I'm told you don't have to queue up in the rain at 10am just to get tickets for 2:30pm normally...

Anyway, onto the exhibition. Once you get to the 1st floor of the museum, it's hard to miss the large replica Argonath statues which flank the doorway. A short wait in the queue whilst everybody was let in at their appointed timeslots, and we were passing between Isildur and Anarion, and into the world of the Lord of the Rings. The exhibition hall itself is quite large, with plenty to occupy visitors, in the form of a series of themed audiovisual exhibits, combined with a selection of props from the movies.

In the centre of the exhibit is an enclosed room in which you can view the One Ring itself (or one of the many replicas created for the films at any rate), encased in cylinder of what appears to be transparent plastic, whilst associated evil noises and fiery lighting add atmosphere. This was a little bit of an anticlimax all told, but it's only one part of the exhibition.

Other props from the movies include some of the actual costumes worn by the main characters, and their weapons and equipment. There's a wide array of armour and weaponry from the various cultures of middle earth too, most of which is quite impressive. Whether you like elvish jewellery, orc swords or Gondorian armour, there's something you'll like there. More impressive exhibits include a life-size cave troll a replica of Boromir's funeral boat, complete with Boromir and his gear (though lacking his horn), and Sauron's armour towering above the crowds.

The audiovisual exhibits share a lot with the DVD extras (though some will probably be from the as-yet unreleased extended Two Towers DVD), and are divided into small sections, which you can select using buttons beside the screens. There's a lot of interesting information contained within, especially for those who haven't got access to the DVDs. You have to wander around and pick and choose the least busy ones, as the crowds tend to wander fairly randomly. You'll get to see everything eventually, just not necessarily in the order you want.

A more interactive experience can be had at the scaling exhibit. This uses real-time camera trickery like that used in the films to create a photograph of people sitting next to each other on a bench, with one side scaled up and the other scaled down. The effect is fairly convincing, especially since it's done on the spot. You can buy your souvenir photograph for £3.

The hall itself is decorated with banners of the various peoples of Middle Earth, and various pictures by John Howe and Alan Lee (the two better known illustrators of Middle Earth).

Overall, I'd say this exhibit is worth the student ticket price on a weekday. I'm not sure if it's worth the weekend or non-concession rates. However, if you're a big fan of Peter Jackson's interpretation of Tolkien, I'm sure it'll be worth your while whenever you go.

The Lord of the Rings Exhibition is at the Science Museum until the 11th of January 2004. Tickets cost £6.95 for concessions or £9.95 for adults during the week, or £8.95 for concessions and £11.95 for adults at the weekend. Advance booking is recommended.

About item:

Related items:

- Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Rings: Extended Edition
- Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers: Extended Edition (widescreen)
- The Lord Of The Rings

About author:

Related authors:

- Video
- Tolkien, J R R

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read biography for - dormouse

 dormouse ( 30th Oct 2003, 21:34, Rank: Jedi )  reply


What I liked best about it was the amount of detail on all the exhibits. This was in stark contrast to the Star Trek exhibition at the museum several years ago, where the starfleet uniforms and phasers and tricorders really aren't that impressive close up (the shop toy versions are often better). Whereas with this exhibition everything stands close examination and the details which you can't see on screen are really rather cool :) you can certainly spend 1.5 - 2 hours wandering round (and we did).

Things i particularly liked:

  • the carving/engraving/etching on all the various weapons and armour. Sauron's armor is particularly impressive close up!
  • the banners. they rock. i want a banner :)
  • the orc wearing a battered, rusty version of the breastplate that the gondorian nearby is wearing
  • the random elven telescope
  • the dancing ring text in the ring room. (shiny!)
  • the 3d scanning of the troll
  • the laser-cut very expensive paperweights in the shop ;)
  • oo and the bit of 'chain mail', which is surprisingly weighty.

read biography for - karne

 karne ( 31st Oct 2003, 10:47, Rank: GSV )  reply

Seeing as I lost two hours wandering round, I'd say it was well worth the visit! Mmmm shiny swords and armour..
/me goes into ferret-shock..

read biography for - Sulkyblue

 Sulkyblue ( 8th Nov 2003, 11:40, Rank: Nazgul )  reply

Definately a lot of cool stuff, that was fascinating to see up close. However I have to say that unless you're a real movie fan the ticket price probably isn't worth it (10 quid for a grown up on a weekday). If you are a movie fan then the text and most of the videos really don't offer much new that you haven't already seen in making of books or dvd extras. But for me, just being able to look at the stuff was interesting (although i really did want to prod stuff).

The armour and costumes were all pretty spectacular. It was interesting to see that the most complicated costumes on display actually appeared to be for extras - eg the harad armour, while the lead characters costumes were often very simple - eg Galadriel's costume.

The 'miniature' Hobbiton mill was spectacular, especially when told it took 3 months to build and was on screen for 2 seconds! Real shame that Orthanc tower wasn't there. It would have been nice to see some of the other bigatures as well (balance out the costumes with some more architecture). The replica's they'd made especially for the exhibition were great - the cave troll almost seemed hidden round the back but was truly spectacular.

I think my favourite things however was the art work on the walls. It often suffered from bad placement and lighting but I was fascinated at the conceptual art work done by the various artists. Maybe I'm just easily pleased by seeing the real originals of pictures that have been on my desktop for months. I would certainly pay to see an exhibition made up solely of the artwork.

Final note - most important part of any trip - the shop. I thought this was really quite disappointing. There's so much cool lord of the rings stuff available, why on earth wasn't more of it in the shop? I think they've missed a real opportunity not having things like posters and prints of the artwork and replica jewelery. Both things I would probably have spent a careless amount of money on having been overawed by everything. Instead I came away with just a few postcards and clipframe picture plans.

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