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The failed experiment: Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings

Just for kicks, I picked up a DVD copy of the "original" 1978 film version of Lord of the Rings.   I watched it quite a bit as a kid because that's what was out there.  I thought it would be interesting to take another look at it in light of Peter Jackson's far more lavish productions.

On the surface, there's no contest.  Bakshi was operating on a shoestring budget and used three different animation styles to try to tell the story - which was creative but also jarring as they shifted from one perspective to another.

A bigger problem is that it's the fragment of the whole - it cuts out after the battle at Helm's Deep and the original release hinted that there would be a sequel, which of course never materialized.  An animated version of Return of the King was released by Rankin and Bass (the same folks who did The Hobbit) and I've yet to be able to sit through it.  The contrast of style and approach is just too jarring.

Does the earlier Lord of the Rings have any positives?  Absolutely.  For one thing, it is actually closer to the books in many ways.  Because he had more time and money, Peter Jackson decided to add things that undermined the story and wasted screen time that could have been better used.  I'm not a fan of his version.

Bakshi did a better job with less resources.  I think the soundtrack is evocative, and the voice acting is terrific.

Still, it's only half of the story, which is something of a metaphor of Tolkien's vision of Arda Marred.


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