Monday, 3 January 2011

J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Year: 1978
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Screenplay: Peter S. Beagle and Chris Conklin, based on the novels The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien
Starring: Christopher Guard, William Squire, Michael Scholes, John Hurt, Simon Chandler, Dominic Guard, Michael Graham Cox, Anthony Daniels, David Buck
Running Time: 133 minutes
Genre: Fantasy, adventure, action, epic

Summary: The Third Age of Middle-earth: Bilbo Baggins (Norman Bird), a hobbit from the Shire, has a magical ring that can make it's owner turn invisible, among other more sinister properties. However the powerful wizard, Gandalf (Squire) believes the ring is extremely dangerous and demands that Bilbo leave it to his nephew, Frodo (Guard). Seventeen years later, Gandalf returns and informs Frodo that the ring is, in fact, the legendary "One Ring", forged by the Dark Lord Sauron. If Sauron should ever get hold of the ring he will have complete power and gain total control over Middle-earth. The only solution is to destroy the ring, however the only way that it can be destroyed is in the fires of Mount Doom in the heart of Sauron's stronghold in Mordor, a long and dangerous journey. To make matters worse, Sauron knows who has the ring and will stop at nothing to reclaim it.

Opinions: This film is an interesting and ambitious attempt to adapt the epic fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien's three-volume The Lord of the Rings. The main problem with the film was that it was intended to be the first of a two part adaptation and only covers two of the three books. The second film, which would have concluded the story, was never made. However, the material that was adapted sticks fairly closely to the books.
The animation in the film is showing it's age now, and a lot of the designs seem to belong more to a seventies prog-rock album cover than Tolkien's book, although there is a certain kind of old-school charm and there are some interesting effects, particularly the extensive use of "rotoscoping" in which live action footage is filmed and then animated over, and the voice cast are well chosen and work well for the characters.
Due to the condensing of the narrative, and lack of conclusion, the film is probably better for those who have read the books beforehand, and certainly Tolkien fans and fantasy fans will find plenty to enjoy.
The film remains a moderately successful experiment which despite it's flaws is worth checking out.

The hobbits hide from a malevolent Ringwraith in Lord of the Rings

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