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A Closer Look: The Red Book of Westmarch

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films are filled with so many beautiful and tiny details and we thought it would be nice to look back on them. For this article we are going to be concentrating on The Red Book of Westmarch which, as we all know, is a very special part of Tolkien’s Legendarium. While we never got to see every page from the book, there are moments in the films where some of the text is shown.

The first time we saw the book was in The Fellowship of the Ring as Bilbo was already set at his desk to write, but we didn’t get to see the moments that led up to that until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We see the book buried under various other items and papers, even Sting! It was almost like seeing an old friend when Bilbo digs out the Red Book.

Red Book 2Red Book 3
Jumping back to FOTR, we watch as Bilbo dips his quill in ink to begin telling his story. Though we don’t get to see everything up close, there is a moment during the “Concerning Hobbits” scene where we can peek at the first page (seen below). Included in the screenshot are piles and piles of paper, bottles of ink and even a beautiful illustration on the top right. I wonder who drew it and who it is supposed to be of?

Red Book 1 Red Book 4
Later in FOTR we see Bilbo hard at work in Rivendell as he continues to write. During his and Frodo’s talk we can see some of the progress he made. You can actually read some of the text and see the illustrations he drew including one of Thorin’s harp. Anyone else still disappointed we never got a chance to see Thorin in the films jam out on a harp? But since it’s in the book, we can conclude that it is canon in the films!

The Red Book doesn’t make an appearance in the films again until The Return of the King when Frodo is back at Bag End. Just like Bilbo, we see Frodo hunched over the same desk writing but this time in a more weathered and roughed up version of the Red Book. It’s nice to see how Frodo’s handwriting is different from Bilbo’s and you can really see the difference in the closeup shots of the titles. You can also get glimpses of the other papers on the desk, it would be so wonderful to be able to see them all and read what is written.

The last time we see the book is also the last time we see its authors, Frodo and Bilbo. But like Frodo says, “There’s room for a little more.” We can rest easy knowing that the book gets passed onto Sam.

Red Book 18

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One Comment

  1. Hi, you can watch a Redbook Spanish version in my Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hobbitonprops/

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