Talk about an animated film that both children and adults enjoyed alike and I will show you the original “Lord of the Rings.” It was made in 1978, and in its time, it was a marvel of animation. Ralph Bakshi was the director and he had heard a rumor of the studios trying to create a 100 minute feature of the LOTR trilogy in it’s entirety. He went straight to J. R. R. Tokien’s daughter and convinced her to give him the rights to complete the animated feature with the proper time allocated that a story of that scope deserves.
I know that this is generally not the kind of stuff you expect to read on my blog, but I do not want there to be any confusion with this version that I am going to talk about and the Peter Jackson Epic Trilogy that was done in 2001, 2002, and 2003 (Talk about the scope it deserved).
This was the film that got me reading.
I remember watching it with my mother. She knew the answers to everything and this surprised me as I had been watching it with her for her first time too and I wanted to know how she had all of the answers. She went into her room and pulled some books from her shelf and showed me the paperback copies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy that she owned. I found that she was such a fan, she read them approximately once a year. They were her favorite literature and when she saw that the Lord of the Rings was now available on VHS, she wanted to share that story she loved so much, with us.
The amazing things I remember were the scenes in which the director “painted” over actual actors performing live action and dialogue. He saved a lot of these scenes for the Nazgul and the Orcs that were kidnapping Merry and Pippin. It was both captivating and horrifying at the same time. Cartoons were supposed to be obvious make believe. That is why they are drawings. There was a strange feel to the action of this film when they had the “painted live action” sequences. Adding the feel of live action elements to an animated feature like this increased the suspense and we had a hard time looking away.
I remember being upset that we did not see the story through to the end. This feature raps up at the end of Helm’s deep. We miss out on Shelob, the Ents, the Battle at Pelennor Fields, the Gate of Mordor, and the plunge of the ring into Mount Doom. Everyone talks about Frodo taking the ring to Mount Doom, but he never ends up there in this film. We briefly see Treebeard and the film ends shortly after that occurrence.
The film was made in 1978, we watched it in 1986. My mom was convinced that there would have been a sequel by then if Hollywood was going to finish the story.
She was right.
Even though the film’s story was unfinished, it still influenced me to find the ending on a different medium. I started reading books and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was the one that started me off on that new adventure. I was done completing the entire trilogy by the time I was in junior high and was satisfied that I had watched the ending in my mind. I felt a greater sense of accomplishment doing it that way and decided to make a habit of that too.
Once Stephen King was discovered, I took a break from movies for a while…not a long while, but a while none the less.
The final shot of Gandalf riding down some Orcs at Helm’s Deep will be in my mind forever as I had never seen something that brutal before, and in a “cartoon” no less. That’s probably why my parents were okay with me watching it.
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