(vt J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings) US Animated Movie (1978). Fantasy Films/United Artists. Pr Saul Zaentz (1921-2014). Dir Ralph Bakshi. Screenplay Peter S Beagle, Chris Conkling. Based on The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) by J R R Tolkien. Fotonovel J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings * (1979), anon. Voice actors Norman Bird (Bilbo), Simon Chandler (Merry), Annette Crosbie (Galadriel), Michael Graham-Cox (Boromir), Christopher Guard (Frodo), Dominic Guard (Pippin Took), John Hurt (Aragorn), Fraser Kerr (Saruman), Andre Morell (Elrond), Michael Scholes (Sam Ganji), William Squire (Gandalf), Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum). 133 mins. Colour.
The lesson of TLOTR is that a book as lengthy, complex and rich as Tolkien's cannot be compressed into a single movie, even one as long as this one. The moviemakers discovered this themselves before the end: TLOTR finishes mid-action, with almost everything still left unresolved. Even then, only those familiar with LOTR – which the movie follows with reasonable fidelity but much compression – would know what was going on. (The movie also suffers from that very fidelity: much that was original to Tolkien has since become cliché.) However, if we consider the movie not as an act of storytelling but as an artwork – as, perhaps, a set of moving, talking illustrations to Tolkien's tale – then it has much to commend it. Through its murkiness (later emulated by Disney in The Black Cauldron ), the ambience of a world in decay (> Thinning) is admirably conveyed, as on occasion is the notion of variant Realities in overlap. Bakshi succeeds admirably in communicating the pathos of Gollum, and many moments in the movie are genuinely scaring; the Ring's power to corrupt is skilfully imparted. Most noteworthy is the excellence of the voice acting. Bakshi has been widely decried as the wrong animator for the job; yet it is hard to think of anyone who might have made a better attempt at the impossible. [JG]