The Fellowship of the Ring embark on a journey to destroy the One Ring and end Sauron's reign over Middle-earth.The Fellowship of the Ring embark on a journey to destroy the One Ring and end Sauron's reign over Middle-earth.The Fellowship of the Ring embark on a journey to destroy the One Ring and end Sauron's reign over Middle-earth.
Bakshi always had a flair for adult-oriented animation, and finally with this he found a subject befitting of his style. Lord of the Rings is some overall dark, intriguing material in comparison with The Hobbit and really was deserving of something imaginative and stylistic as only Bakshi's team could deliver. Most everything comes together quite well here with the bizarre rotoscoped animation, the characterizations, the voice performances, and Leonard Rosenman's supercharged score (one of his career best, up there and quite similar to his work on THE CAR and RACE WITH THE DEVIL). It's rather unfortunate that funding ran out and the project had to be hurriedly wrapped, quite a similar heartbreaking story as to what happened with his previous year's WIZARDS.
The film is clearly unfinished in many regards. The most heinous act it commits is to end right in the middle of a major action scene with absolutely no resolution to speak of! Even ignoring its abbreviation of the books, one has to admit that narratively this film is a complete disaster. I can't imagine the marketing for this movie honestly claiming it to only be the first half of the book trilogy brought to screen. Needless to say I'd be surprised if angry audiences didn't get up and boo at the screen en masse back in 1978 witnessing perhaps the biggest cheat or, dare I say even, "rip off" in cinematic history.
Similarly this film has a very rough feel to it in terms of animation and pacing and is entirely inconsistent. Things begin fairly polished and kid-friendly but get darker, drearier, more violent (with some surprisingly graphic gore), and sloppier as the film goes on. By the end we get the vast majority of the film not even properly animated and more or less just treated film material with undercranked smoke and clouds filling in the for the background plates. It's quite similar to the bizarre psychedelic cost saving measures Bakshi made when he took over the second season of the animated 60's "Spiderman" cartoons. This whole Joseph Conradian experience of a descent into hell is pretty overwhelming, oppressive, and possibly even emotionally scarring for young viewers, but it's something I've strangely come to love about this film over time.
Yes, dare I say it, I just love this movie. You can't deny that it has its share of magical moments like Frodo's escape from the Wraiths, Gandalf opening the doors to Moria, and the showdown with the Balrog. Much like David Lynch's DUNE it created a vivid, creative, and whole-hearted realization of a world out of the severe butchery its source material. There's a small, artistic, and very personal loving feel given to this movie which I found lacking in Jackson's trilogy. Bakshi and his overworked team of animators may not have created the best film ever, but they did a lot with the little they had. I just wish they'd been able to see it through.
- Jun 14, 2010