Fantasy : The Lord of the Rings (1978, Bakshi)

The Lord of the Rings (1978, Bakshi)

The Lord of the Rings (1978)
Directed by Ralph Bakshi
blu ray
Back in the 70's famed R rated animator Ralph Bakshi acquired the rights to one of his favourite books in his first attempt to adapt someone else's work. Bakshi's original title for the film was 'The Lord of the Rings Part One' and it was to follow the Fellowship of the Ring embark on a journey to destroy the One Ring and end Sauron's reign over Middle Earth as taken place in the first book of the trilogy and most of the second (The Two Towers). The studio however wanted to just put it out as 'The Lord of the Rings' which is somewhat misleading as it suggests the full story would be included. The intention was Bakshi would film Part Two comprising of Book 3 (The Return of the King) and some sections of book 2. However despite being somewhat of a critical success and quite a large box office success, Bakshi decided not to proceed as the task of putting together the ambitious first film had been very heavy on his shoulders and between that and differences with the financial backers along with desires to move ahead with films based on his own ideas we never received an official sequel. Rankin Bass however produced a somewhat unofficial and also cheap and nasty animated sequel simply titled 'The Return of the King'.
Now with time gone past one of it's main criticisms seems to be that it is an unfinished work but on the positive side, what we do have is one of the most interesting and ballsy animated productions of all time. Many parts of the film including epic battle sequences were filmed live action and then animated over to varying degrees using a method called rotoscoping. Some people do not like the juxtaposition of styles but I think it is simply magical looking. The composition of shots is brilliant as Bakshi has a real eye for it both in straight animation and when he directed the live action pieces early in production. The film has a great score which was nominated for a Golden Globe even though Bakshi was not a fan of it and had wanted to use music from Led Zeppelin who were big fans of the book. The voice work is top notch and they make clear characters with real emotion and I am glad that Mick Jagger's pitch to play the lead hobbit Frodo ended up fruitless.
All in all considering the epic scope of the productions material and style on a limited budget of 4 million dollars (going on to make $30 million at the box office alone), production hassles and interference as well as having to truncate the story down somewhat to meet these constraints, we end up with one of the finest fantasy films ever made. It stays close to the book but knew how to edit out parts that were not needed to take the story in the direction it needed, although admittedly it seems they were forced to rush the story on a little faster than would have been optimum. The direction, tone, casting, acting, visuals, score and even storytelling are all far superior to that of Peter Jackson's trilogy not to mention that this animated version is a lot bloodier. In the end it's obvious shortcomings of budget, screen time constraints and never getting the final part are outweighed by what we do have, a magical one of a kind animated epic!

Re: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1978, Ralph Bakshi)

I'm not a fan of it. I rate it 5 or 6/10.

Volker Flenske: (While torturing David) I don't know why you're doing this to yourself!

Re: The Lord of the Rings (1978, Bakshi)

That was an okay film.

"Eat lead, slackers!"-Mr. Strickland (Back To The Future II)

Re: The Lord of the Rings (1978, Bakshi)

Good cartoon. Very underrated and its got a fantastic score as well. The background scenery is just incredible. However, the sudden ending & low production quality in the latter part of the movie are... bad. 8/10

Re: The Lord of the Rings (1978, Bakshi)

The direction, tone, casting, acting, visuals, score and even storytelling are all far superior to that of Peter Jackson's trilogy

No, no, no, no, no, no, and no. Not bad though.

Re: The Lord of the Rings (1978, Bakshi)

It was a pretty good attempt at adapting the book, 7/10.