The Real Middle Earth (documentary)

From Tolkien Gateway

The Real Middle Earth is a 2003 documentary about the locations and landscapes of Tolkien's works, and the potential sources behind them. The documentary is narrated by Ian Holm, who played Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings films.


The documentary explores the locations and events in Tolkien's life that influenced his works, and his languages. Looking at Tolkien's upbringing in Warwickshire and Birmingham, the documentary looks into the West Midlands region of England - the former kingdom of Mercia - and how locations inspired his vision of the Shire. The documentary also looks into Tolkien's time at Oxford, his experience in the First World War, and his visits to Stonyhurst College.

Original press release

The Real Middle-Earth is a brand new documentary that uncovers the real places that inspired The Lord of the Rings.

Sir Ian Holm (Fellowship of the Ring, Alien, The Borrowers) narrates a fascinating exploration into a world that, although imaginary, seems so solid we pore over its maps and contemplate journeys made from one place to another.

Is this because the foundations of fantastic Middle-Earth were laid on the bedrock of factual places?

Was there a shire to inspire the Shire? What shaped the darker and more troubled lands beyond its borders? How did European languages fuse in Tolkien's mind to create a vocabulary that evokes extraordinary places and heroic adventure?

The quest for The Real Middle-Earth takes us to England's west midlands, to Warwick and Oxford, to an ancient Lancashire school, to Saxon burial sites and many other places, including the real Dead Marshes, otherwise known as the Great War battlefields of the Somme.

The Real Middle-Earth is 58 minutes long. There are also 50 minutes of extras on the DVD, including a profile of the official The Lord of the Rings mapmaker and a look behind the scenes at the prosthetics teams behind some of the LOTR movies' special effects.


External links