Andy Serkis’ Reading of “The Lord of the Rings”

Well, in my listening to Serkis’ reading of LotR, Frodo has been stabbed and we’re mere paragraphs away from meeting Tom, Bert, and William again. This is far enough to allow me to pass some judgement on the overall performance, I think.

Short version: I like it very much. I can confidently recommend it.

Longer version: Serkis has excellent voice characterisation, and there is a warmth there which is both charming and suitable for the book.

To illustrate this point by contrast — In my opinion, Martin Shaw has no warmth when he reads “The Silmarillion”; Sir Christopher Lee has some in “The Children of Húrin”, but far less than, say, Rob Inglis. But this is okay as Shaw’s and Lee’s voices suit those books.

Whereas Shaw delivers like he’s reading Shakespeare mixed with historical facts, and Lee delivers as though reading from the pulpit to an assembled congregation, Rob Inglis delivers like … well, a narrator. Warm, but with a practiced and professional delivery.

Serkis is something different. His delivery is more casual. His reading comes across like a family friend sat in an armchair in your living room, reading you the tale as you sit nearby sipping your favourite warm drink.

I do like it very much. And although I can’t say I like it MORE than Inglis’ version (which I have listened to more times than I can recall), it is actually not far off in terms of enjoyment.

I fear the only real critique I’ll end up having is a very personal one: I like to keep my “film” and “book” universes separate in my mind. And once Serkis’ iconic Gollum comes out in Book IV, that will be very hard to maintain (as indeed it was when I listened to his reading of “The Hobbit”). But this is subjective. Your mileage may vary.

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