Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings; animated fantasy, USA, 1978; D: Ralph Bakshi, S: Christopher Guard, William Squire, Michael Scholes, John Hurt

In Middle-earth, the evil lord Sauron forged a magical ring to rule over men, dwarfs and elves, but he lost. The ring was found by Smeagol and then again changed his owner when it was found by hobbit Bilbo, who brought it to Shire. Wizard Gandalf persuades him to give the ring to Frodo. 17 years later, Gandalf, Frodo and three other hobbits start a long journey to Mordor, because only there can the ring be destroyed. On their way, they team up with Aragorn and Legolas. While Frodo and Sam separate and meet Smeagol, Gandalf helps a king to protect Helm's Deep from Sauron's army.

It's interesting how things change with time and movies that were once deemed "dead" would some time later get "revived" after a change of perception - after a mixed premiere in 1978, Ralph Bakshi's animated fantasy "The Lord of the Rings" was placed in the 'bunker' from the studios, until Jackson's eponymous live action trilogy allowed people with an open mind to view it in a different, more positive light, since this first movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's (one and a half) novels proved very helpful in visualizing the literary storyline, since Jackson's Gandalf, the hobbits, Black riders and the Gollum have practically identical designs as Bakshi's early adaptation. It was about time for the audience to give cult director Bakshi a break since he bravely tackled a very complex and epic matter with such a modest budget, proving to be adequately opulent and imaginative at times - the majority of the critics lamented only because part II was never filmed (the story stops abruptly somewhere during the "Two Towers"), but that was not his fault since he wanted to make it, but the producers were not willing to finance a sequel and missed out a golden opportunity - it is tempting to be so exclusive, but would "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings" have been a bad movie had Jackson never directed two follow-up films? Bakshi is still a step back and lacks awe because the narrative is so rushed while trying to stuff so many events in only two hours, as opposed to Jackson who had more money and time at his disposal and was thus able to elaborate this world, giving the audience a real "taste" of its mentality and culture, whereas the Black riders and Orcs were presented so surreal (in rotoscopic fashion) that it is almost disturbing. Still, overall, this is an interesting stand alone film that stimulates the imagination despite omissions.



Christopher Sobieniak said...

It's certainly not a bad film, but it is rather interesting what he tried to do there with the time and money he had.

Mario500 said...

Why did you not mention the first name of the person who directed the live-action "The Lord of the Rings" movies? "Jackson" is a very common name and many readers unfamiliar with the director would want to know the first name of the person (it's Peter, by the way).

Articles like yours are among the reasons why I prefer to use both first names and last names every time I refer to a person by name in an article I write on the World Wide Web. It helps me remember the names of persons unfamiliar to me and it helps distinguishes the persons referenced from others who share the same last names.