In this animated tale, a tiny village is destroyed by a surging glacier, which serves as the deadly domain for the evil Ice Lord, Nekron. The only survivor is a young warrior, Larn, who ... See full summary »
A young Hobbit named Frodo (Guard) is thrown on an amazing adventure, when he is appointed the job of destroying the one ring which was created by the dark lord Sauron. He is assigned with warriors including Gandalf (Squire), Aragorn (Hurt) and Boromir (Cox). It's not going to be an easy journey for the Fellowship of the Ring, on the ultimate quest to rid Middle-Earth of all evil. Written by
This film, in my opinion, is, despite it's flaws (which I maintain are *few*), an utter masterpiece and a great and glorious piece of art.
What Mr. Bakshi has done here is to create an utterly beautiful film and has shown his immense talent and versatility as a director of animated films. He does not receive 1/100th of the credit he deserves for literally saving the art of animation for an adult audience. If it were not for Mr. Bakshi, I don't believe animation would have survived the Disney onslaught. What is more, with The Lord of the Rings, he has not only created a beautiful animated film, but he has created an entirely new art form - unfortunately one that never quite made it off the ground.
Most people will complain about the use of rotoscoping in the film (the use of live action images which are used as background images and often animated over using various techniques from what appears to be small amounts of tinting to full blown animation). But I feel that the people who complain about it simply cannot accept an art form which is out of the norm. No, this is not Disney animation. No it's not live action. No, it's not "cheating" - what it is is a new, fascinating, and absolutely wonderful art form. Something so fresh, and so new that it feels completely at home in such a fantastic tale as "The Lord of the Rings". Bakshi's pioneering use of this technique brings the subtleties of Middle Earth to life is a very dark and mysterious way, in particular, the darker of Tolkien's creatures, particularly the Nazgul, are realized in a way that traditional animation or live action have not been able to accomplish.
Peter S. Beagle's screenplay (based very little, as I understand it, on an early draft by Chris Conkling) is a very loyal adaptation of Tolkien's works. Where possible he uses dialogue directly out of the novel and it feels at home in the world which Bakshi has created. There are many cuts that were made to fit the first book and 3/4 into a single 2 hour 15 minute film, but there are very few changes to the storyline. There are a few holes which it would have been nice to have filled: The reforging of Narsil, the gifts of Galadriel, the Huorns at the battle of the Hornburg, but, again, with the time limitations he had (already the longest animated feature in history), these are certainly understandable (though it makes one wonder how they could have been explained in a sequel).
Also there is the delightful (one of my favorites) score by Leonard Rosenman (who also scored Barry Lyndon and Star Trek IV (the score for which is clearly based on his LotR work)). It is bombastic and audacious and, dare I say, perfect. It stands on it's own as an orchestral triumph, but when coupled with the images of the film, it enters a whole new world of symphonic perfection. So far from the typical Hollywoodland fare that it turns many people off.
The voice actors are wonderful. Of particular note is John Hurt as Aragorn who just oozes the essence of Strider.
The character design is also wonderfully unique, though not often to everyone's taste. But remember that it is the duty of the director of an adaptation to show you what he/she imagines, not what you might have imagined, and so Aragorn is realized with a distinctive Native American feel and Boromir appears in Viking inspired garb. This is perhaps not what you imagined, but I can only applaud Mr. Bakshi for showing us what he "saw". It also might be noted that he spent a significant amount of time with Priscilla Tolkien in developing the character outfits for the film.
One farther word - the Flight to the Ford sequence, in my opinion, is one of the most subtlety beautiful sequences ever to be caught on celluloid. Bakshi is not afraid to slow down the pace for a moment, and his mastery is clearly shown by the incredible tension is able to build. Bakshi's artistic ability and Tolkien's incredible work fuse in this sequence to a glorious peak which has yet to be equaled.
The recent DVD release (2001) by Warner Brothers, is sorely lacking. While we can offer our eternal thanks that the film is finally available in widescreen format, the package is woefully short of extras. How glorious it would have been to have had a director's commentary, been able to see the 20 minutes of extra footage that were removed for the theatrical release. Another delightful addition could have been the assembled the live action footage which was later animated over. Also present in the DVD release is the utterly horrible voiceover at the end of the film which is a departure from the simple voiceover which occurred in the very final frames of the film. This version is plastered and poorly rendered right over the musical climax of the score.
Of course, the greatest tragedy of all is that the sequel was never made. We will never be able to see Bakshi's interpretation of Gondor, of Shelob, of Faramir, of the Cracks of Doom, of Eowyn's battle with the Witch King or Gandalf's confrontation with him. We will never be graced with Bakshi's image of Denethor or the Palatir or the Paths of the Dead. It is a shame beyond all shames that we will, in the end, have to accept Peter Jackson's glitz and glitter Hollywood, action film version of these later events in Tolkien's masterpiece, but, I suppose even that is better than having no cinematic version at all.
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