A brilliant animation adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy adventure was directed first by Ralph Bakshi.
I watched this as a kid before the films came out and really enjoyed it and still do. I thought it had a darker tone than Jackson's films which gave it a more fantasy feel.
The introduction was really good with a commentary explaining the story and how it all begins.
I never realised that it didn't have everything in it from Tolkien's books which wasn't really a problem since the story flowed well and kept you interested unlike Jackson's films although really well made just dragged on too long and got boring easily.
The only thing I didn't really like with the 78 version was some of the retro-scoping used in it which looked a bit tacky at times. I think this was down to limited budget and why the film was never finished and ended at the Two Towers.
The character animation is a bit simple but the backgrounds were really well painted and detailed. The way the world looked was brilliant from the Shire to Helms deep and then onwards. Sunny in some parts but had a gloomy and middle earth look to it.
Jackson filmed in New Zealand which is a beautiful looking country but I wanted a more darker and gloomier look, not the sunshine that was seen allot. If they made more set design like they did with the film Legend I think it would have looked much better.
I liked the way they portrayed Gollum in this version. I found watching the film Gollum annoying at times with his Donald duck like voice which the animation version didn't sound like but instead like some sort of old creature which I found less annoying.
I really enjoyed the storytelling in this version nothing was over dramatised or got too emotional like Jackson's. Bakashi seemed to balance everything out quite well.
All the characters were really likable especially Gandalf who acted really well in it who was very theatrical and the voice actor for him was perfect. Including well known actor John Hurt as Aragorn.
The Orcs and ring wraiths were quite creepy especially the slow build up's and eerie music when Frodo goes to the dark side when putting on the ring.
The orcs in Jacksons films never really scared me it seemed like it was made for kids. There was always some sort humor to them. The Balrog was quite menacing and had quite a threatening look to him. It had a strange head like a lion or something.
The villain characters in the film were quite well done. Evil Saruman the wizard and especially King Theoden's right hand man Grima Wormtongue who's a right little weasel.
The battle scenes were pretty good. The Two towers which stood out the most with the soldiers finally retreating. I liked the way the soldiers looked and the build up which felt eerie and sinister.
When I saw the Two Towers film it just looked over the top and silly. Even though Jackson had all the CG for his film it still never won me over this film.
The music for the film was really good it really fitted the style and the story well.
Although its quite dated now I still feel it holds up well but the only disappointing thing about it was the fact it was never finished.
Although Frodo and Sam walk off into the distance and you wonder if there destroy the ring and reach mount doom the film still ended satisfying. Merry and Pippin both going off with tree beard and Gandalf coming just in time to save Aragorn and Legolas at Helm's deep.
It did feel like a completed film in a way but left you wanting more.
I did found out on wikipedia why the film was never completed. It had something to do with United Artists executives not letting him cut the film in half as part 1 then 2 because they thought people would not pay to see half a film.
Well we all know they were wrong because the film would have got allot more respect and most importantly been completed completed.
I would love to see Bakshi finish his version of the film. Its such a shame things didn't work out for him while making the film. Obviously I realise this might not ever happen but there's no harm in hoping.
If he could I'm sure John Hurt would return to voice Aragorn. I'm sure he could pull it off still but I'm not sure about the other voices.
There was also a poster on wikipedia which I found quite interesting and says underneath.
Later poster depicting a scene not featured in the film that may have been intended for the unproduced sequel.
You might think after reading through I really dislike Jackson's films which I don't, I just have a fair few issues with it. I still found it great seeing how the story finished in Return Of The King although it did drag on.
Over all Bakshi's film is great version of Tolkien's epic journey even if it does miss stuff out.
I think its very underrated and deserves more respect especially for the time and budget Bakshi had to work with. It would also be great if they released a special edition of the film with a making of and other voices. It would be interesting to see the problems Bakshi had at the time and maybe find out what his ideas of the sequel would have been like.
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