National Geographic Beyond the Movie: The Return of the King
I got my copy of the National Geographic video today and, after rescuing it from the vcr that was trying to eat the tape, watched it.
Verdict on the whole thing: Much better than I'd thought. When I was first asked to be in the video, I questioned the premise of linking Lord of the Rings with people and events in history who weren't necessarily (or were even definitely not) inspirations for Tolkien. It seemed potentially silly.
But give the producer and National Geographic some credit. They managed to play up the universalism of Tolkien's ideas by showing the similarities to historical situations. They didn't try to make connections in the wrong direction (i.e., Tenzing and Hilary inspiring the Frodo/Sam relationship), but instead showed how the literature sheds light on the history.
So LotR is put to the service of some nice little history lessons, and it all comes together quite well. My wife, who had been very skeptical, ended up enjoying it.
Verdict on Me: They actually used a fair bit of the interview and they spread it through the whole piece, which is a nice compliment. I'm not embarrassed, which is a relief.