Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's revered Middle-earth saga captures the dark mood of the books extraordinarily well. The film covers the first half of the trilogy--THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and the earlier part of THE TWO TOWERS--as Frodo (voiced by Christopher Guard), the cousin of Bilbo Baggins from THE HOBBIT, is given the all-powerful ring sought by the evil Sauron of Mordor. So begins his adventure, as he must elude Mordor's black riders in an effort to prevent the ring from returning to its owner and thereby signaling the end of Middle-earth. Even with the mighty wizard Gandalf as his ally and faithful friends Merry, Sam, and Pippin by his side, Frodo is still up to his hobbit neck in peril.
Bakshi took a big risk when deciding to direct the beloved Tolkien tale, but the resulting work effectively brings Middle-earth to the screen. Bakshi combines painted live-action footage with various styles of animation to create a very unusual collage-style texture for this film. Viewers should be warned that the story ends rather abruptly, leaving room for a sequel that was, unfortunately, never filmed. Still, for fans of fantasy, this moody, atmospheric version of the novels captures the shadowy hues of Tolkien's work in a way that is unique and worth discovering.
- Format: Blu-Ray
- Run Time: 159
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 883929085088
- Genre: Animation
- Rating: PG (MPAA)
- Release Date: May 2016
Director Ralph Bakshi's plans to make a second film, concluding the story, fell through. Luckily Rankin and Bass, who made THE HOBBIT in 1977, also animated THE RETURN OF THE KING for television in 1980, thereby completing the story. Fans of the RING trilogy should try and capture all three films, as they cohere nicely in relating the entire saga. The cast of THE LORD OF THE RINGS not only voiced their characters, but most of the actors physically portrayed their roles in costume along with extras and stunt people. Bakshi then applied his rotoscoping technique to animate the live footage. The battle footage in THE LORD OF THE RINGS is drawn from scenes in the 1938 film ALEXANDER NEVSKY. Actors John Hurt and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO of the STAR WARS films) lend their voices to the characters of Aragorn and Legolas, respectively. One of the hundreds of animators hired to work on this film was future director Tim Burton (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BATMAN). A live action adaptation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy was directed by Peter Jackson for release as three separate films--THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING in 2001, THE TWO TOWERS in 2002, and THE RETURN OF THE KING in 2003.
"...Bakshi has perfected some outstanding pen-and-ink effects while translating faithfully a portion of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy..." - 11/08/1978 Variety
"...Bakshi attempts to go beyond the limits of movie animation as we know it....Visually compelling..." - 11/15/1978 New York Times, p.C21
3 stars out of 5 -- "Bakshi's film had no precedent to fall back on, which makes the handful of occasions where it really nails a design or image all the more of an achievement..." - 01/31/2013 Total Film