Lord Of The Rings 78

Ralph Bakshi's underrated version
By dg
May 15, 2009

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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12 years, 6 months ago
I think saying 99% of the people think Peter Jackson's Ring Cycle is perfect is a little high. I liked the movies, but i have to agree with the author here, Jackson's slavish dedication to the printed page sometimes got in the way of pacing.
    12 years, 6 months ago
    I remember watching this as a kid. I also remember the cartoon the lion the witch and the wardrobe back then as well.
      12 years, 6 months ago
      I've Seen All The Parts On Youtube And They Were Only 14 Parts.
        12 years, 6 months ago
        Before Peter Jackson, This was a very well made Movie. I love Ralph Baski's Art style. Im gonna watch this right now. hehe
          12 years, 6 months ago
          While the old '78 Lord of The Rings has some charm, it looks incredibly dated today. I have no idea how someone can say anything bad about Peter Jackson's Lord of The Rings trilogy. While nothing is perfect, you'd be hard pressed to find a single person, science fiction fan or otherwise, who doesn't think those films aren't incredible and nearly flawless. I have to say, your writing needs some major MAJOR work. You've misspelled and misused words throughout the whole thing and many of your sentences don't even end or start. You connect two sentences together where there should be a period and then a capital letter starting a new sentence. It's very confusing to read when you have no idea when to start or stop. I know this site is just for people sharing thoughts, but my God it's mind blowing how many mistakes there are. I can't even begin to site them all there are so many. I like hearing other people's opinions, but wow, it blows my mind when someone can come up with so many excuses for fault with movies that 99% of the public likes and that have won multiple Academy Awards.
            12 years, 6 months ago
            I always had a hard time sitting through this and The Hobbit as a kid, but the roto-scoping always stuck out in my mind. The movements were so lifelike that it both frightened and intrigued me. I love all the Tavern scenes especially. Nice work, dg.
              12 years, 6 months ago
              I tried watching this when I was a kid, didn't like it. Tried watching it again a few years back. Still didn't like it.
                12 years, 6 months ago
                I haven't seen these movies all the way through, but I've watched parts and I can honestly say the animation isn't too great. And as for the whole dark and gloomy aspect of the films, I think Jackson captured the gloominess perfectly. Also, I find it funny that in the Bakshi films Aragorn looks exactly like the villian from No Country for Old Men XD.
                  12 years, 6 months ago
                  Your Article ROCKZ!!!!
                    12 years, 6 months ago
                    To be fair id say his adaption of LoTR was a small step in the right direction. The art & visual style was a step in the right direction but in away some of it really wasnt executed very well.

                    Rotoscopings a tricy tenchique (considering you have to film an actual person, then have an animator color it in and such. Part of the problem was the fact that there were characters that dont look like they were finished. Mainly the Orcs for one thing didnt look like they were colored in, and the Balrog also didnt look finished either, and most of the soulders at helms deep didnt look finished either. I guess he just didnt know how to convey large scale battles with rotoscoping quite yet.

                    Also I beleave he should have tried doing a 3 movie adaption instead of tryin to fit the first 2 books into a part 1, and even if the film failed atleast it would feel more chronalogical. Plus he'd probably would be able to work on the elements and story of the fellowship alittle bit better that way.

                    Well if anyone has seen one of his greatest works (Fire and Ice) you could tell that by that time he had preaty much mastered rotoscoping. Cause not only was it all executed beautifully by then but it also felt more complete (like his LoTR adaption should have been) People dont hate Ralph bakshi for LoTR, he was still a great animator for his time and he did turn out quite afew great works in his lifetime.

                    He was an underdog animator of his time. He tried some things differently and some did not go so well. But he was somone who wasnt affraid to take chance's if ya try giving some of his other works a chane, then you can see that he really was one of a kind.
                      12 years, 6 months ago
                      Rankin/Bass was the shit! When "The Hobbit" came on Disney or some random channel I was so excited to see the dark ominous characters and hear the quirky songs.
                        12 years, 6 months ago
                        Jackson stayed true to Tolkiens LOTR, the "green and sunshine" you so complain about is the essence of the story, the beautiful landscapes of the Rohirim and Gondor represent the spirit of the people, beautiful, strong and vibrant, the opposite of what Isengard and Mount Doom represent the darkness that will spread to the world. Contrast is a major importance to films distinguishing good and bad, and Jackson executed this superbly. The cartoon i enjoyed, but it flopped around too much and didnt touch on a lot of things, it just showed the most important scenes that were needed, like the story of the ring, Frodos quest, etc. Jackson did the same thing, you cant touch on every little detail, other wise you would have more movies then Star Wars. I give you thumbs down because of your lack of knowledge of Tolkiens Realm.
                          12 years, 6 months ago
                          Obviously, you hold a nostalgic place in your heart for this movie...because I think it's pretty terrible. I'd tried to watch it many times in the years before the Peter Jackson movies came out. It was so bad, I almost didn't go see those movies, thinking they might be just as terrible.

                          And the orcs in the movie were pretty scary. As someone who plays Dungeons & Dragons and has seen players scoff at "weakling orcs" over the years, it was nice to see orcs portrayed in a way that actually made them seem dangerous and a force to be reckoned with.

                          You're allowed your opinion, though...so I won't give you a thumbs down. That said, I won't give you a thumbs up either.
                            12 years, 6 months ago
                            I watched this movie once and it bored me to tears, but then again the new 3 didn't really do it for me either.
                              12 years, 6 months ago
                              Why do people say this movie was "underrated"? This movie is utterly terrible! It wasn't very true to Lord of the Rings at all! And they didn't stop because it was "too long", it was originally intended to be two seperate movies, Lord of the Rings Part 1 and Lord of the Rings Part 2. But they weren't allowed to put "part 1" in the title for what ever reason and since it sucked so bad, they never got around to part 2.

                              Anyways doing LotR in two parts is kind of...disgraceful. They had to cut out so many things just to squeeze Fellowship of the Ring and the first half of Two Towers together. The story was put into tree seperate parts, and any film adaptation should be as well.
                                12 years, 6 months ago
                                Are you kidding me? This movie was terrible. Half of the movie was rotoscoping and the other half of the animation looked like crap.
                                  12 years, 6 months ago
                                  Rankin/Bass was far superior to Ralph Bashki.

                                  Lizard Gollum made a welcome return in Return of the King. Lizard Gollum is far better than that stupid alien Gollum.
                                    12 years, 6 months ago
                                    The process you described as tacky is "rotoscoping", not "retroscoping." Bakshi used the process alternately for stylistic reasons and for budget reasons; both probably came into play when he made this film. It's been a really long time since I've seen it, but this article reminded me to take another look.
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