30 May 2006 | barnabyrudge
Animated version of The Lord Of The Rings - quite good, but suffers because too many unfairly compare it to the new Peter Jackson version.
More than twenty years before Peter Jackson's visionary adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings, there was this 1978 animated effort from director Ralph Bakshi. An ambitious and reasonably faithful version of the story, this has sadly been rather over-shadowed by the Jackson trilogy. Indeed, many reviewers here on the IMDb (mainly those who saw the newer version first) seem to be fiercely unkind to this version.... but if one applies a little common sense, and takes into consideration the time when it was made and the technical possibilities that existed at that time, then they will realise that this is a pretty good film. Indeed, it was shortly after seeing this animated movie back in the early '80s that I sought out Tolkien's book and immediately became a lifelong fan of these richly detailed Middle Earth adventures. So, in some respects, I owe this film a degree of acknowledgement as the film which shaped my literary tastes forever.
Sauron, the Dark Lord of Middle Earth, forges an all-powerful ring that gives him incredible power. Following a great battle during which Sauron is defeated, the ring falls into possession of a king named Isildur
. but instead of destroying it he foolishly chooses to keep it. For centuries the ring passes from hand to hand, eventually coming into the possession of a hobbit named Frodo Baggins who lives in a peace-loving community known as The Shire. Frodo learns from a wizard named Gandalf that his ring is in fact The One Ring, the very same that was forged by Sauron all those centuries ago, and that its master is once again searching for it in order to restore his dark power over the entire land. Frodo embarks on a perilous journey to protect the ring with three other hobbit companions, but every step of the way they are hunted by Sauron's ring-wraiths, the Black Riders. There follow many adventures, during which a company of nine adventurers is formed to guide the ring to the only place where it can be "unmade" Mount Doom, in the land of Mordor. The film concludes with Frodo and his best friend Sam on the borders of Mordor, closing ever nearer to their horrifying destination. Meanwhile Gandalf and the other members of the company fight off a huge army of orcs at the legendary fortress of Helm's Deep.
This version covers just over half of the original book. A second instalment was planned to bring the story to an end, but was sadly never completed. While the ending feels abrupt, it does at least end at a sensible point in the story. One has to feel a little frustration and regret that no sequel exists in which we might follow these animated heroes to their eventual goal. The animation is passable, with a nice variety of locales and characters presented in interesting detail. The music by Leonard Rosenman is suitably stirring and fits in appropriately with the epic narrative. The voice-overs are decent, too, especially John Hurt as Aragorn and Peter Woodthorpe as Gollum. On the other hand, Michael Scholes - who provides the voice for Sam - is rather campy and goofy, which is not well suited to the character. The Lord Of The Rings is a commendable attempt to visualise the staggering book on which it is based.