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The Lord of the Rings (1978 Animated Movie) [Blu-ray] by Director: Ralph Bakshi
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Home Video Canada Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B001PQZYR2
Date: 30 May 2010 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: IMDB.com / IMDB.com - LOTR (Animated) Trivia / Wikipedia - Rotoscoping / Wikipedia - Solarisation / Show Article /

I have fond memories of seeing Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film The Lord of the Rings with a group of fellow science fiction fans and eagerly accepted the opportunity to review the Remastered Deluxe Edition on Blu-ray.

From official release/information:

Product Description:
Controversial animator Ralph Bakshi's literal adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, is brought to the screen. An evil sorcerer from a previous era created a magical ring which enables its users to call upon its tremendous powers to rule the world, but it inevitably warps them to evil. It was believed lost, but during a resurgence of magical evil in the world, Bilbo, a simple, plain-spoken hobbit, recovers it from its hiding place. The forces of good give his nephew Frodo the choice to bear the awful burden of the ring to a place where it may be destroyed.

Running Time: 132 minutes

Amazon.com
Although it was ultimately overshadowed by Peter Jackson's live-action Lord of the Rings trilogy, Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic is not without charms of its own. A target of derision from intolerant fans, this ambitious production is nevertheless a respectably loyal attempt to animate the first half of Tolkien's trilogy, beginning with the hobbit Frodo's inheritance of "the One Ring" of power from Bilbo Baggins, and ending with the wizard Gandalf's triumph over the evil army of orcs. While the dialogue is literate and superbly voiced by a prestigious cast (including John Hurt as Aragorn), Leonard Rosenman's accomplished score effectively matches the ominous atmosphere that Bakshi's animation creates and sustains. Bakshi's lamentable decision to combine traditional cel animation with "rotoscoped" (i.e., meticulously traced) live-action footage is jarringly distracting and aesthetically disastrous, but when judged by its narrative content, this Lord of the Rings deserves more credit than it typically receives. -- Jeff Shannon

Review
Ralph Bakshi's attempt to bring The Lord of the Rings to the screen in an animated version deserves points for its ambitions, but it falls far, far short of achieving its goals. Chief among its sins is its decision to end the film in the very middle of the massive trilogy -- and to do so in such an abrupt manner as to make most viewers angry that the storyline has been left hanging in such a haphazard manner. Even abbreviated in this manner, there is far too much plot to try to squeeze into 131 minutes, with the result that the film is rushed and confusing, with non-Tolkien enthusiasts likely to be totally lost at several points. Worse, breezing through things so quickly never allows the film to develop enough character or charm, or allows the audience to really develop feelings for the individual characters. Finally, Bakshi has chosen to tell the tale using a mixture of animation styles, including entirely too much reliance on rotoscoping and "negative imagery." The styles end up being too frequently at war with each other, an idea that has a certain appeal conceptually since this is a film about a war; unfortunately, it is a much better idea in concept than as executed here. There are some worthy things, of course, such as the character design, some fine voice work and some lovely, muted backgrounds; but on the whole, this "Lord" is a disappointment. -- Craig Butler, All Movie Guide

Synopsis
Controversial animator Ralph Bakshi's literal adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, is brought to the screen in a reverent, stilted way, with Bakshi forsaking his sharp-edged animated looniness for a rotoscoped dullness. Although the film's title encompasses the entire Tolkien trilogy, this longish Bakshi feature, in fact, covers only the first book, "The Fellowship of the Ring", and the first half of the second, "The Two Towers". Given the complexity of the original story line, this unfortunately means that only those intimately familiar with the books will be able to understand what is happening in the movie. In brief, however, an evil sorcerer from a previous era created a magical ring which enables its users to call upon its tremendous powers to rule the world, but it inevitably warps them to evil. It was believed lost, but during a resurgence of magical evil in the world, Bilbo, a simple, plain-spoken hobbit, recovers it from its hiding place. The forces of good give his nephew Frodo the choice to bear the awful burden of the ring to a place where it may be destroyed. -- Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide

Two-Disc Set contains:
Blu-ray Disc
DVD
Sheet with instructions on how to download your Windows Media Digital Copy from www.wbdigitalcopy.com/LordOfTheRings-Animated , plus your individual authorization code.

Blu-ray Disc contains:
Promo for Blu-ray Disc and Warner Bros. BD-LIVE (1:44)

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (133:19)

Behind the Story
"Forging Through the Darkness: The Ralph Bakshi Vision for The Lord of the Rings" with Ralph Bakshi (Animation Director and Producer), Tom Tataranowicz (Animator uncredited according to IMDB.com), Edward L. Bakshi (Film Professor, New Mexico State University / Son of Ralph Bakshi), Chris McDonnell (Designer, Co-Author of "Unfiltered, The Complete Ralph Bakshi"), Victoria Bakshi-Yudis (Daughter of Ralph Bakshi). Chris Conkling (Co-Screenwriter, The Lord of the Rings), Mark Bakshi (Producer / Son of Ralph Bakshi), Scott Kleinman (Associate Professor of English, California State University Northridge), and Timothy Galfas (Cinematographer (and Director of Photography according to IMDB.com) on The Lord of the Rings). (30:25)

Trailers:
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Complete Season 1 Box Set on Blu-ray and DVD (2:12)

Online
Visit us at warnerbros.com for the latest on Warner Blu-ray Disc.

DVD contains:
Promo for The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition on Blu-ray (2:11)
Promo for Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1960s, Volume 2 and and Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1970s, Volume 2 on DVD plus The Secret Saturdays on DVD (3:44)

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (133:07)

Behind the Story
"Forging Through the Darkness: The Ralph Bakshi Vision for The Lord of the Rings" with Ralph Bakshi (Animation Director and Producer), Tom Tataranowicz (Animator uncredited according to IMDB.com), Edward L. Bakshi (Film Professor, New Mexico State University / Son of Ralph Bakshi), Chris McDonnell (Designer, Co-Author of "Unfiltered, The Complete Ralph Bakshi"), Victoria Bakshi-Yudis (Daughter of Ralph Bakshi). Chris Conkling (Co-Screenwriter, The Lord of the Rings), Mark Bakshi (Producer / Son of Ralph Bakshi), Scott Kleinman (Associate Professor of English, California State University Northridge), and Timothy Galfas (Cinematographer (and Director of Photography according to IMDB.com) on The Lord of the Rings). (30:23)

Trailers:
Lord of the Rings on Blu-ray (2:01)
"Mini Ninjas" Videogame (2:11)
Gremlins on DVD (2:05)
"Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest" Videogame (1:03)
"Harry Potter: Wizarding World" Interactive DVD Game (1:16)

(Source: Warner Home Video Canada)

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