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The Lord of the Rings (1978) Poster

Trivia

Tim Burton worked as an animator on this film. He was not credited, but worked as an "inbetween" artist. It was his first job on a film.
Filmed with live actors in black-and-white and rotoscoped, each animation cel drawn over a film frame of an actor. This was the first entirely rotoscoped animated feature.
Director Ralph Bakshi had originally planned to use music by Led Zeppelin in the film, but was unable to get the rights. Led Zeppelin were known as being fans of the books, with several of their songs - "Misty Mountain Hop," "Over The Hills And Far Away," "The Battle Of Evermore," "Ramble On" - referencing imagery and characters from Tolkien's books.
Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum) and Michael Graham Cox (Boromir) played their roles again in the BBC radio dramatization in 1981. The role of Frodo was played by Ian Holm, who went on to appear as Bilbo in Peter Jackson's films.
Director John Boorman originally envisioned making the entire trilogy as a single 100 minute film. Ralph Bakshi heard that he was going to do this, and, as a fan of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and J.R.R. Tolkien, was horrified. When Boorman's plans to bring Tolkien's novels to the screen fell apart, Bakshi approached J.R.R. Tolkien's daughter to do the novels as a trilogy of animated films. Tolkien's daughter loved Bakshi's fantasy Wizards (1977), so she gave him the rights to The Lord of the Rings. Bakshi filmed "The Fellowship of the Rings" and "The Two Towers" (which were collapsed into a single two-and-a-half hour film), and had planned to film "The Return of the King", but the trilogy was never completed.
Peter Jackson first encountered The Lord of the Rings via Bakshi's film, and some shots in his live-action trilogy appear to have been influenced by it.
  • One such shot features Frodo and the other hobbits hiding from a Black Rider under a big tree root, while the Black Rider stalks above them. In his version of the sequence, Jackson uses a similar shot - although he films it from a different angle (in the book, Frodo hid separately from the other hobbits).


  • A second sequence features the camera slowly revolving around Strider and the hobbits, who stand in a circle as the Black Riders approach them on Weathertop. In his staging, Jackson also uses a similar shot - although his camera is much faster, and Strider is not among the hobbits.


  • A third similarity is the depiction of Gollum losing the ring in the prologue: both films show very similar events but the book had no such prologue and indeed it runs directly counter to Tolkien's scheme for the storyline. Another similarly staged scene is Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn's discovery of Gandalf the White.


At one point in the film's development, studio executives thought that the names "Saruman" and "Sauron" were too similar, and would confuse the audience, and decided that Saruman should be renamed "Aruman". This decision was eventually reversed, but some references to "Aruman" remain in the finished film.
At two hours and twelve minutes, this is the longest feature-length animated film made up to that time. Only Disney's Fantasia (1940) (in its uncut, original roadshow release) was nearly as long.
On the DVD commentary of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," Peter Jackson acknowledges one shot, a low angle of a hobbit at Bilbo's birthday party shouting "Proudfeet!", as an intentional homage to Bakshi's film. By far the biggest "lift" however is the scene of the Nazgûl appearing in the room at Bree and slashing the beds to ribbons thinking the shapes under the sheets to be the hobbits. This is almost identical to Bakshi's version which is significant as the scene is not depicted as described in the book: in the book, the attack is carried out by the Nazgûl. Some of Sam's interjections are also sourced from Bakshi rather than Tolkien.
Used battle footage from Alexander Nevsky (1938) for some rotoscoped animation scenes.
During the battle of Helm's Deep, a song with non-English lyrics is heard on the soundtrack. The words Isengard, Mordor and Sauron can be clearly discerned. The song is not in any of Tolkien's invented languages, instead composer Leonard Rosenman had his choir sing nonsense lyrics to get the desired effect. According to the liner notes of the CD soundtrack, part of the lyrics also include the composer's name backwards.
Christopher Guard (Frodo Baggins) and Dominic Guard (Peregrin Took) are brothers in real life.
Many Tolkien fans were disappointed that this film only covered the first two books, and by how some major characters and events were cut from the film. When Saul Zaentz told Ralph Bakshi that he will not allow the film to have a sequel, Rankin and Bass made an animated adaptation of Return of the King. After that was released, many of those disappointed fans changed their minds, stating that Bakshi's film was a more mature and detailed adaptation of Tolkien's stories.
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Many of the actors portraying the physical parts of the characters in this movie provided the voices. Other characters, such as the hobbits were portrayed by animators and by Billy Barty in the live-action footage, and then voiced by other actors. The actors who play physical parts but not voices are credited as "Character Actors."
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Rotoscoped action scenes were filmed in Spain.
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Author JRR Tolkien was friends with author CS Forester, and two of the Hobbit families in the Shire mentioned by Bilbo, the Bracegirdles and the Hornblowers, are a tribute to Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels.
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According to director John Boorman, Saul Zaentz considered the task of producing this film as the worst experience of his career.
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Comics artist Paul Smith (X-Men, Leave it to Chance) began his career as a cartoonist as an animator on Lord of the Rings.
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Trey Wilson, who played Nathan Arizona in Raising Arizona (1987), did the live action stand ins for Aragorn whenever they would blend in the animation scenes with live action sequences through out the movie.
Cel animation was produced and shot for this film, but was cut out at the last minute. Only a few brief segments of the film were drawn from scratch, with much of the film rotoscoped, and some sequences combining non-rotoscoped live-action footage with animation.
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Andre Morell, who plays Elrond, died thirteen days after the release of the film. The film was released on November 15, 1978 and Morell died on November 28, 1978.
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Credited as a rotoscoped character actor, Angelo Rossitto is easily recognizable as the dwarf in the tavern during the Prancing Pony scene early in the film.
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André Morell and Philip Stone previously appeared together in Barry Lyndon (1975). That film was narrated by Sir Michael Hordern, who went on to voice Gandalf in the BBC Radio production of The Lord of the Rings.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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