The Lord of the Rings (1978)

Article 3061 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-24-2009
Posting Date: 12-31-2009
Directed by Ralph Bakshi
Featuring the voices of Christopher Guard, William Squire, Michael Scholes
Country: USA
What it is: Animated version of epic fantasy

When it is revealed by Gandalf that the magic ring possessed by Frodo the hobbit is actually the one ring created by the evil lord Sauron, the hobbit must embark on a quest that will ultimately bring about the destruction of evil and the rescue of Middle-Earth.

At the time this movie was made, I would have guessed that animation would have been the only effective way to bring Tolkien’s epic story to the screen. Even at that, Ralph Bakshi would not have been my ideal choice for the project (though he was probably the best choice at the time), and I suspect that it would have worked much better as a TV mini-series than a motion picture. Still, it would have been a risky venture whatever choice was made. This version gets roughly half-way through the second volume of the trilogy, and even this was squashing too much of a story into too short a time; those who are familiar with the story will have no trouble following, but if you don’t know the story, it will end up feeling like a confusing mess, a situation only made worse by the fact that no sequel was made (though an unrelated animated version of THE RETURN OF THE KING made by Rankin/Bass would eventually manifest itself). Bakshi keeps some of his more excessive stylistic touches in check; he obvious truly loves the story. The movie is almost entirely rotoscoped, which is impressive on one level, but disappointing on another. In condensing the story, the characters are often given short shrift. Some scenes are rushed, and others go on too long. In the end, I find it more useful as a refresher of the first half of the story more than anything else.

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