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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« on: October 05, 2009, 04:44:25 PM »
Yo, this is a long paper I've been writing for quite some time in the midst of all the fan wank and fan dumb going on between Peter Jackson fans and Ralph Bakshi fans concerning who made the better Lord of the Rings films. This isn't creative per say, but I didn't see anywhere else to put this. Anyway, this is my attempt to shut the debate down by definitively proving who did it best. The paper is very, very long and I'm still not done going over the Jackson films.
So, I will be posting the paper in sections.

Oh, and please leave feedback.

So without any further adu...

Best Adapter of Tolkien's The Lord of the RIngs: Jackson, Rankin-Bass or Bakshi?

First, before one can decide who made the better Lord of the Rings movie(s), we must first discuss Tolkien, his values, his works, and all the above of the filmmakers in question. This section is going to go on for quite a few pages, but don’t worry, the focus of this paper will not be lost. It’s just that with Tolkien, in order to fully make sure everyone understands the material, there’s A LOT to go over. So take a break, go to the bathroom, or grab a snack before diving into this.

Tolkien’s Biography: J.R.R. was born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on January 3rd, 1892 in Bloemfontien, Orange Free State in South Africa to Arthur Reuel and Mabel Tolkien.

Tolkien only lived there for the first three years of his life. In that time, however, he was bitten by a bamboo spider and was stricken with illness. This incident would be echoed later in his works through the giant spiders of Mirkwood Forest and Shelob in the secret entrance to Mordor.

Later, he went to England with his mother and brother. His father stayed behind because of his work. This trip was intended only to be a family visit, but his father died of disease and that landed the remainder of the family with no income to return. So, they made a few new homes in England, first at Stirling Road, Birmingham, then at Sarehole, then in a Worcestershire village.
Growing up, Tolkien loved to explore the woods and the various villages and towns in the area where he lived. The sights would also be echoed in his works as the Shire, Hobbiton, Bree, and various other Middle Earth locations. Another example: his aunt’s farm was called Bag End. Yes, really.

Growing up, Tolkien developed a keen liking of botany, but became even more fond of studies involving language.

In 1900, the Tolkiens became a part of the Roman Catholic Church, despite the staunch protests of Protestant relatives, who then cut his mother Mabel Tolkien, off all financial support. She died four years later of complications due to diabetes while John and his brother were still only boys. The boys were adopted by Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan, who raised them up as good Catholics. Protestants vs. Catholics were a big issue back then, although that does not justify his heartless relatives' actions. "Peace on earth and good will to all men," was a message these people obviously overlooked when they did this.

Under his care, the Tolkien brothers attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham. It was here that Tolkien met three friends, Robert Gilson, Geoffrey Smith, and Christopher Wiseman. Together they formed a quasi-secret society known as “the T.C.B.S”, AKA “Tea Club and Barrovian Society”. The club was based around their mutual love of drinking tea in Barrow’s Stores, which were close to the school, and in the school library. They also shared a love of epic tales, folklore, and fairy tales.
After they graduated, the group stayed in touch and even had a reunion “council” in London on December 1914. This meeting resulted in Tolkien developing a strong dedication to writing poetry.

October, 1911, Tolkien attended Exeter College, Oxford, and studied English Language. He graduated in 1915.

To change topics to another matter briefly, Tolkien’s first and only romantic interest was Edith Mary Bratt, whom he met in 1908. He was 16. He began to become acquainted with her and they became fast friends and more. However, she was Protestant and his guardian forbade that he have anything to do with her until he was 21. Tolkien followed this condition with only one exception. Upon reaching the age of 21, he wrote Edith a letter proclaiming his love for her. She wrote a letter in response that she was engaged to someone else, because she thought that he had forgotten her. However, they met and rekindled their love for each other. Edith returned her engagement ring and announced she was marrying Tolkien, instead. They were formally engaged in 1913 and married in 1916. She converted to Catholicism.

Shortly, thereafter, though, Tolkien volunteered his services to the British military as a Second Lieutenant in the Lanchashire Fudiliers. He went to fight this with his old friends from the T.C.B.S. (four friends leave their home on a dangerous journey, also mirrored later in his works via Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin).
Tolkien was in the 13th Battalionn at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, for eleven months then transferred to the 11th Service Battalion with the British Expeditionary Force. They arrived in France on June 4th, 1916.
He served at the battle of the Somme, and following that the Assault on the Schwaben Redoubt. During this time, he came down with Trench Fever (very common in that time), which was carried by some lice which had gotten into the barracks.

Two of Tolkien’s friends and former T.C.B.S. members, Gilson and Smith, were killed in World War I. Note: Gilson's first name was Christopher, a name one of one Tolkien's sons would eventually be given.

This tragic news reached Tolkien when he was in one of the many hospitals he alternated from whilst still weak and emaciated. Eventually, it was decided he was physically unfit for service. Tolkien spent the rest of his recovery in a cottage in great Haywood, Staffordshire, England. It was here that he began to write “The Book of Lost Tales”, which was the prototype on which the rest of Middle Earth's mythos was built. This began with “The Fall of Gondolin”.

From 1917 to 1918, his illness would continue to reoccur, but he recovered enough to do home service at various camps. He was promoted to First Lieutenant. In this time, Edith birthed their first son, John Francis Reuel Tolkien (this family has an obsession with long names even to this day). It was also in this time that he became especially critical of the First World War and concluded that the whole thing was just stupid. This conclusion as well as his experiences in this war would also leave a marked effect on his works, later.

After leaving the British Military after the War, Tolkien found his first civilian job at Oxford English Dictionary. He mostly worked on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin that started with the letter W. Unsurprisingly, he quickly quit this mind-numbing job and went to work as Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds and landed the job of professor there in 1920.

While working, he and another professor, E.V. Gordon, produced “A Middle English Vocabulary”. He also did work by himself, such as a definitive edition of Sir Gewain and the Green knight. Both of these became academic works for many decades. He also translated works titled “Pearl” and “Sir Orfeo”.

In 1925, he returned to Oxford and became Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon (if nothing else, his resume was never lacking in impressive titles). He also held a fellowship at Pembroke College. Particular note should be made of Pembroke, because it was during his time there that he wrote “The Hobbit” AND the first two-thirds of “The Lord of the Rings”. The Hobbit was published and released in 1936. He finished The Lord of the Rings at Merton College, Oxford and published it through 1954 and 1955.

Tolkien retired in 1959 and lived happily with his wife until his death in September, 2nd, 1973 at age 81.

Rest in Peace, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973)

Thoughts: The first thing that one needs to know about Tolkien is that he was an old-fashioned kind of man in many senses of the world. He was a staunch Roman Catholic and just as much a staunch conservative in some respects. As such preferring conventions and traditions over innovations and changes were his way. To quote a remark he made in 1943, “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (this is commonly understood to abolition of control, not the Joker)-or to “unconstitutional” Monarchy.” It should be noted that Tolkien was an early example of a non-racist white, who had a large distaste for the mistreatment of any ethnic group, period.

All this being said, the Industrial Revolution was very much the bane of Tolkien’s existence, as while many good things came from it, but it was done with such little care for the woods and other natural resources that it is left with little wonder he was so horrified by it. Industry devoured the English countryside and spit it back as monotonous telephone poles and such. This was mirrored infamously in the Scourging of the Shire, which was the last official battle in The Lord of the Rings books.

It is because of blatant examples that reflected Tolkien’s attitudes towards the world such as the Scourging of the Shire, or the four friends leaving home together to face danger and death that many have tried to make potential allegorical or real life connections where there are actually none to be found. As a matter of fact, Tolkien hated allegory “in all of its manifestations ever sense I was old and weary enough to be aware of its presence”, as he put it. paraphrased, anyway. This was a mentality that Tolkien fought tooth and nail, which led to a forward in the second edition of the novel where he tells the readers what’s what. That being said, the forward did nothing to silence the debates thanks to Fan Dumb and Fan Wank (courtesy of TVTropes).

So, despite a few Author on Board (see the reference in moments through his otherwise brilliant works, Tolkien employed something called “Applicability”. Basically, he left the entire story of The Lord of the Rings without a specific message in mind and included universals that have a different meaning to everyone. The readers take from their own life experiences and fill in the meaning using that. It is because of this brilliant method of writing that The Lord of the Rings continues to have relevance today, because everyone will ALWAYS be able to take something from the books. Even people who aren't particular fond of Lord of the Rings have a grudging respect for the man.
He also did not view The Lord of the Rings or any of his other works as escapism. He actually viewed mythos as a thematic form of reality where real issues and tackled and overcome. He found that these themes were consistent and external, and he commented that Christianity followed the same pattern of Devine Truth.
In terms of politics, Tolkien could be referred to as a Conservative Democrat or Liberal Republic, as some of his views came from both kinds of mindsets. (Will go over in more detail later.)

His Works:
See Wikipedia’s article “Bibliography of J.R.R. Tolkien” for a complete list. Once you’re seen it, you’ll know why I didn’t want to type the whole thing up.

His most notable works are “The Hobbit”, “The Lord of the Rings”, and “The Silmarillion”. In order to fully understand what Jackson, Bakshi, and Rankin-Bass were tackling, we must analyze The Lord of the Rings deeply.
(Potentially expand on this section later.)

Themes and Values of The Lord of the Rings:
The Lord of the Rings was completed via a long paved and repaved path. Tolkien would reach a point in the writing, find a problem, and then start over on a typewriter without trying to salvage anything. The project, itself, was developed through Tolkien’s own personal exploration into his interests, which included philosophy, religion (i.e., Roman Catholicism), fairy tales, Norse and general Germanic mythology, and also some Celtic and Finnish mythos with a few original inventions of his own. There was also some verified influence from the poem Beowulf, written by an unknown author.

Although The Lord of the Rings is largely without a particular moral message, one cannot deny that Tolkien’s own beliefs made their way into his writings. It’s impossible for it to be any other way. A little piece of the author goes into each and every one of his or hers’ writing, however subconsciously. That being said, Catholic theology and moral philosophy played a big part in The Lord of the Rings. They were just not explicit. It is the themes of these things that show up in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien did not intend for this to be a religious or Catholic work, but he ended up acknowledging that he could not get away from the two and made his book so deliberately in the revision stage.

As stated before, some of the locations from Tolkien’s youth made their way into his stories. The Shire was largely based on the rural English countryside and Bad End got its name from the home of a relative. The darker parts of the book, which included images of battles were lifted right from his experiences in World War I. For example, the Dead Marshes were based on an experience of seeing flooded trenches with dead soldiers still in them. Sleep well on that thought.

There are also a large number of universal themes that go into The Lord of the Rings, such as Friendship, loyalty, love, self-sacrifice, selflessness, courage against over-whelming odds, finding the strength to move past your own limits, and hope. These are universal themes which anyone of any ethnic group, belief, or location can relate to.

Other Details: The Lord of the Rings is 1,000+ pages long, and that’s not counting the Appendix. Even for Peter Jackson’s three to three and a half hour long movies (three and a half to four hours for the Extended Editions), that’s a heck of a lot of material to squeeze in.

Because of the applicable nature of the books, each filmmaker to attempt a film adaptation is going on their own biases on what the book seems to tell them. Hence, one should remember that each adaptation is the filmmaker’s own vision.

End of Part One.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2009, 07:11:20 PM »
A Very interesting reading.  I found it interesting & Informative and look forward to the rest.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2009, 10:47:34 PM »
Thanks. This paper in a standard format on Windows Vista is about 60 pages thus far, so I hope this doesn't become too boring, we go: (and don't forget, feedback)

Part Two:[/i] The Men Who Have Tried Their Hand at The Lord of the Rings: Meet Peter Jackson, Ralph Bakshi, and Rankin-Bass. This paper will go through each of their bios up to the project before they made their adaptation of Tolkien’s most famous work.

Jackson: Jackson was born on October 31st, 1961 Pukerua Bay, New Zealand, to William and Joan Jackson. As a child, Jackson was not too different than Tolkien in some ways. Much like the man whose work he would someday adapt to film, Jackson loved to roam and explore the untainted New Zealand countryside, on some grand adventure or another. Jackson was also an avid film fan. He grew up admiring the works of Ray Harryhausen in particular. One of his favorite films was King Kong, no less. Another work he would someday adapt.
One day, young Jackson was given a Super-8 cine-camera by his father. Soon, Jackson was making his own short films with the help of his friends and was soon trying to recreate the Stop-Motion effects of King Kong, with Stop-Motion models that he, himself, made. It is unknown how successful he was.

Now, the first thing one should know about Jackson is that despite his recent immense success as a filmmaker is that he had no formal training in the field. His filmmaking skills are largely learned through his own trial and error. He also learned from any and all instruction manuals he could get his hands on that showed how to cut and edit a film, build sculptures, paint make-up prosthetics, construct models to take the place of full size buildings or monsters, and render sophisticated Special Effects.

Anyway, at age eighteen, Jackson went on a long train ride and his father gave him a big book, titled The Lord of the Rings, to keep him busy. Jackson was immediately hooked and thought that it would make for a great movie. He just never imagined he would be the man to make it, as he has admitted.
He worked as a part time filmmaker in his early career as he had a full time job in another field as a photo engraver. He treated filmmaking more as a hobby than a profession in these years.

His Career: In 1983, despite his lack of both funds and time, Jackson undertook an ambitious task. He decided to make his own full-length feature film AND maintain his current job.

He titled his Full-Length feature Roast of the Day, which was eventually renamed Bad Taste. The film was in production for four years due to being shot only over weekends and it was entirely funded by whatever Jackson could make from his other job. Jackson brought a film camera, but built the rest of the necessities of filmmaking, himself. His crew was comprised of his old friend, Ken Hammon. His cast was coworkers from his other workspace. They had originally signed on for laughs, but then ended on set for weekends years later. The film was what we call a Splatter Film, which is a comedy with excessive amounts of blood as well as some shades of the horror genre. In other words: very British.

Despite the above restrictions, the film made good progress weekend after weekend. However, more problems would eventually come about, as per the laws of chaos. Firstly, a common day job is frankly not up to funding a feature film. Secondly, a core member of the cast dropped out after his marriage. His deeply religious wife forbade him from shooting. These are problems that probably would have sunk any other filmmaker, but Jackson was in luck. A few members of the New Zealand film industry had (somehow) heard of the insane indie film project involving flying brains and exploding sheep. Jackson’s brazen and stubborn inability to quit despite all that went against him impressed them. So Jim Booth, an NZ Film Commission CEO funded the rest of the production.

The cast member’s staunchly religious bride also broke up with him and he returned to the set. Bad Taste was ready to soldier on. It was in this time that Jackson’s former interest and hobby and bloomed into a fulltime profession.
Sometime in May, 1987, Bad Taste was released at the Cannes Film Festival. It was met with success and appraisal from critics and horror film fans. The film was released in 12 different countries.

After some traveling to various screenings around the world, Jackson quickly returned home and began to work on various film scripts collaborating with people such as Stephen Sinclair and Fran Walsh (the latter of whom would become his partner and mother to his children). I won’t go into detail about the ones have never seen the light of day, but two of the scripts he worked on in this period were early drafts of Meet the Feebles and Brain Dead, which would be Jackson’s second and third full-length features. He was also optioned several Hollywood jobs that would have required him to leave New Zealand in this time, but he loved living in his homeland so much that he refused to leave. This set back his career from reaching the mainstream for a long time, but overall, the decision was well worth it.

Jackson’s next film was an ensemble musical splatter comedy which starred Muppet-esque puppets (the whole was an affectionate black comedy parody of Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show). The project exploded into production due to some unexpected enthusiasm from Japanese investors. It had a small budget and production went weeks past the assigned schedule. This was also the first film which he worked with Richard Taylor, the future head of Weta Workshop, and his go-to guy for Special Effects from that day forward, and Fran Walsh, the business and marital partner. The film was released 1989.

The third film to grace Jackson’s resume was another Splatter comedy, Brain Dead, released in 1992. This is film is about a man who accidentally turns his mother into a zombie and keeps her locked down in his basement, because he’s afraid of what the neighbors will think. All the while he retains a facade of normality. This whole premise was a reversal of the zombie plot, wherein most zombie film feature people trying to keep zombies out, this one features one man trying to keep them in. In terms of production values and actor performances, the film is considered a landmark for the genre and won Jackson much, much more success and praise than the previous two films. He was beginning to come into his own as a filmmaker.

After three consecutive blood splatter comedies, Jackson was done with the genre and decided to move on to other kinds of projects. His next film would be a film adaptation of a real life incident, the Parker-Hulme murder. This film was titled, Heavenly Creatures. This was the event of two mentally ill teenage girls who murdered the mother of one of them. The purpose of the murder was to prevent the two, who were close friends, from being separated, though that’s exactly what ended up happening as part of their punishment as decided by the case’s judge.
The film was a giant leap forward for Jackson’s career, as his style and tone changed dramatically during this project and the film garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and made the top ten lists of several tears lists such as Time, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The New Zealand Herald. Heavenly Creatures’ success put Jackson in the sights of Miramax Films. They even promoted the film in America with tenacity and signed its director on for a first look deal. This agreement would later lead to the creation of The Frighteneers and The Lord of the Rings. One last thing that made this film a landmark in Jackson’s career: through the necessity to create sophisticated Special Effects for the film, Weta Workshop was born.

This being said, many New Zealanders had been a little apprehensive about how Jackson would handle the material in Heavenly Creatures. He was only known as the “Bad Taste” guy at the time. Their worries were soon enough put when they realized that Jackson and company all treated the event with the seriousness that it warranted.

Before Jackson went onto his later Hollywood projects, though, he collaborated with a Wellington filmmaker, Costa Botes, to make Forgotten Silver. The film was a ëmockumentary’ or ëmock doc’, about an inventive and ambitious filmmaker named Colin McKenzie. In the film, he was the creator of’talkies’ and color film, and made an epic called Salome before being forgotten entirely by the world. Of course, this was all false. Not that anyone who saw the film at the time knew that. Jackson, Botes, and company gave no indication that the following was fiction and it aired on TV in a slot usually reserved for dramas. The piece was so well-made that many were actually shocked and even angered to discover that McKenzie was never real. This example has been used as a testimony to Jackson and Botes’ skill as filmmakers that such an improbable tale was successfully passed off as real and that they briefly got away with it.

Around this time, Jackson and Walsh’s children were born. Their names are Billy and Katie.

Following the broadcast of Forgotten Silver, filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, (the director of the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump) contacted Jackson about writing an episode for Tales of the Crypt. Jackson agreed to this but it eventually became a script for the feature film, The Frighteneers, which Zemeckis produced with Universal Pictures. Jackson and his company were put at the helm to make the film, but their terms were that they get to make the movie partially comedy, and that they get to film in New Zealand. Zemeckis talked the Universal CEOs into agreeing to the proposition and production was soon underway.

This project saw another change in the status quo at Jackson’s company. Weta Workship underwent substantial growth in order to create the CGI ghost effects required in the film. It was also the first film in which Jackson worked with a big name celebrity, Michael J. Fox.

Despite the steps that Wingnut Pictures (Jackson’s company) and Weta Workshop made to deliver the film, it had disappointing boxoffice results. A large number of factors went into this result, but overall, it is still an interesting and good film. It is just not a great one.

Following The Frighteneers, Jackson attempted to get a remake of King Kong, off of the ground, but the project was shelved by Universal, partly due to the results of The Frighteneers lackluster boxoffice take and partly due to Disney’s upcoming Mighty Joe Young. So, Jackson turned his attentions to adapting another favorite of his, The Lord of the Rings. But that will be covered in “The Game Attempts” section of this paper.

Thoughts: Very little is known about Jackson’s political views, as he keeps such things to himself, preferring to speak about his works or interests while on-camera. What is known about Jackson are mostly personal details pertaining to other areas of his life.

It’s known that he is a staunch perfectionist with a near inhuman eye for detail and thus high demands on his employees at Weta Workshop. He’s also known for doing multiple takes on all scenes while trying to find the right tone for the scene, as well as shooting scenes from many angles. The multiple angle coverage is so that the editors will have more options to work with during Post-Production.
He also possesses a macabre sense of humor and a general playfulness, which is noted with varying degrees of amusement or annoyance by everyone else on set.
It should also be noted that unlike some other film directors, Jackson has not moved out of New Zealand to film his movies, insisting on staying close to his beloved home and where he is most comfortable filming. Some might call this a bad call, as Hollywood is where the majority of the world’s biggest films are made. So that’s where most of the work is. This might be a problem if Jackson were the kind of filmmaker who waited around for other people to come to him for work. However, everything ever made that has Peter Jackson’s name on it has had him involved from day one. He and his coworkers develop their own film concepts, for the most part, and work on their own initiative.

As the result of Wingnut Pictures and Weta Workshop staying close to their roots, other New Zealand filmmakers and companies are often temporarily employed during film projects. There have also been whole production and support companies because of this. He also helped restored Wellington’s iconic Embassy Theatre, where he held the opening night of The Return of the King. He even has most of his assets on the Miramar Peninsula, where he does most of his shooting.
Many have asked him what his secret is, but it is no secret. Instead of making films that he thinks the audience wants to see, he makes films that he wants to see. His passion for filmmaking to this day is unrivaled.

Ralph Bakshi: He was born on October 29th, 1938, in Haifa, British Mandate of Palestine. The Mandate has sense then been reestablished as Israel. When he was one year old, his family relocated to New York City, New York State, in order to escape any involvement in World War II.

Bakshi grew up in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, and had an eclectic variety of interests. He enjoyed comic books, classic artwork, and the work of Picasso. Later, he took up boxing in High School, and later attended the School of Industrial Art. He graduated in 1957 with an award in cartooning.

His Career: Instead of continuing onto college, at the age of 18, Bakshi applied to the animation studio Terrytoons, where he became a cel painter, an inker, and eventually, an animator, but that wasn’t until years later. He proved to be something of a prodigy, as he was directing programs starring classic characters like Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Deputy Dawg, and Foofle by age 25. Most animator filmmakers are in their late 30s-somein their 40s before they make anything of note.

At age 28, in the year 1966, Bakshi proposed a superhero cartoon parody titled The Mighty Heroes. It was to run on CBS, but there was a problem. All of Terrytoon’s proposals were rejected, and Bakshi was under-prepared. Believe it or not, though, the pitch was approved, and Bakshi was brought on as the director as production started. But the series was not a success, for unknown reasons.
In the late 1960s, the political climate of the United States changed and animation was sanitized and made more innocent than it was before. It was also made more cheaply, with the a few exceptions, such as Johnny Quest, by Hanna-Barabara. However, bakshi felt that he could no longer make the kind of cartoons that he enjoyed doing. He referred to the state of animation at the time as “…grown men sitting in cubicles drawing butterflies floating over a field of flowers, while the idea of American planes are dropping bombs in Vietnam and kids are marching in the streets, is ludicrous”. This was of course in reference to the fact that he thought animation should be tackling these issues. Agree with disagree with him, his frustration with the bowdlerization of American Animation is understandable.
Bakshi was made the head of the animation division of Paramount Pictures in 1967, filling the position when Shamus Culhane left. He made two shorts in his time at Paramount. They were The Opera Caper and Marvin Digs. Interestingly, Bakshi called the latter short a “flower child picture”, while a man named Michael Barrier called it “an offensively bad picture, the kind of movie that makes people who love animation get up and leave the theatre in disgust”. Ironically, the film was nowhere near as dirty as Bakshi intended.

At the end of 1967, Paramount closed its animation division and Bakshi found work at Grantray-Lawrence Animation, after being hired on by Steve Krantz. He worked on a Canadian science fiction series called Rocket Robin Hood. Bakshi hired two comic artists, Gray Morrow and Jim Steranko, to work on the series as layout and storyboard artists to make the series look more cinematic. It is said that Bakshi as pleased with the results and held the animators and designers to high expectations in terms of drawing quality.

The Grantray-Lawrence Animation company went bankrupt in the spring of 1968. This man is either a curse to the animation studios who hire him on, or he has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, he returned to New York, where he and his old employer from grantray-Lawrence founded a new animation studio, which they called Ralph’s Spot. They paid animators higher wages than other studios did and gave opportunities to women and minority animators. Ralph’s Spot completed the unfinished Rocket Robin Hood and began work on another series titled Spider-Man, which was an animated adaptation of the popular comic book series. Unforunately, Bakshi had a habit of reusing animation sequences to lower the cost of production. Bakshi and Krantz later produced a lot of commercials and a series of educational films titled Max the Mouse after the two series ended.

Come 1970, Bakshi decided to take a huge step in his career. A full length animated feature. Together he and his partner, Krantz began on Fritz the Cat, based on the popular underground comic book by Robert Crumb. Initially, Bakshi was reluctant to make the film, due to having spent years making animation with animal character, and wanted to focus on human characters. Of course, he got over this and he used whatever animation techniques were at his disposal, given his limited budget. He made heavy use of rotoscoping, where live-action footage is filmed, then draw over, frame by frame. Its very time consuming, but it’s also very cheap.

Fritz the Cat would go on to have the dubious honor of being the first animated film to receive an X-Rating. In the United States. Released to the public April 12th, 1972, it had its opening day in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. (?!). However, the film was an unexpected success, and it kick-started Bakshi’s animated film producing career.

The film received mixed responses. While older people tended to hate it, the youths of the time loved it. That being said, it caused a huge uproar. Those who liked it liked it. The others, well, Bakshi received a few death threats. Also, the creator of the original comic book, Robert Crumb, disowned the film.
The following year of 1973, Bakshi started production of Heavy Traffic, which was a film reflecting life in the inner-city. Bakshi’s animation methods stayed the same. The film was as successful as Fritz the Cat. This made Bakshi the first animation film director since Disney to make two successful animated films in a row.

He also produced a film titled, Coonskin, which was loosely based on the Uncle Remus story books. He produced this film with Albert S. Ruddy, who Bakshi’s partner, Krantz hated for some reason. He even locked Bakshi out of the studio once when he found out Ruddy would be on-board. Coonskin was never widely released on the grounds that many found it to be racist. In truth, though, the film was actually an attack on racial stereotyping, but it was advertised as an exploitation film and soon disappeared from the silver screen. Controversy seems to be both Bakshi’s bane and bread-and-butter.

After Coonskin, Bakshi produced and finished a rough version of a work titled Hey Good Lookin’. The film’s story is set in the 1950’s, in Brooklyn, New York City. The whole story is a commentary about life on the streets, which rehashed ideas previously explored in Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic, though some say that an interesting scene in which a gangster starts hallucinating while in the middle of a shoot-out on a roof almost makes up for old ideas reused. Production of the film began in 1974, and it was finished and set for released in 1982, due to various technical difficulties. The film was supposed to be one-part animation and one-part live-action, originally. Though putting together proved to be too difficult and the whole concept was eventually scrubbed because they didn’t have the budget.
During the remainder of the 70s, while Hey Good Lookin’ remained in its long production, there was a shift in Bakshi’s career. After the frustrations of Coonskin and during the ones of Hey Good Lookin’, Bakshi decided to try his hand at other genres. More specifically, he was about to try his hand at the fantasy genre. His first attempt to take his career in another direction was with the film War Wizards, which was later shortened to Wizards in its final version. This was an “after mankind has finally blown itself off of the face of the planet” story, which contained allegorical commentary about moral neutrality of technology, and the destructive powers of propaganda. He also had the film deal with the creation of Israel, the Holocaust, and the rise of fascism. In terms of becoming one of the men who would try his hand at The Lord of the Rings, by this point there is an obvious problem with his mentality. Tolkien hated all allegory and made The Lord of the Rings strictly applicable instead. By contrast, all of Bakshi’s works up this point had been commentaries and allegorical in nature, which puts him in the wrong mindset for Middle Earth right from the get go. There will be more on this later.

Moving on, after all the humans are gone (blown themselves up), all the fantasy creatures like dragons, fairies, wizards, and such reemerged from their hiding place now that they could exist freely without “those silly humans” messing things up, which is what forced them into hiding in the first place. The film was met with mixed reviews, but has built up a cult following.

Thoughts: This is a difficult one to describe, but I think a series of personal quotes that I found will speak for themselves.

Oh, there is one thing I will say. The guys who created the Simpsons used to work for them. They based The Comic Book Guy off of him. Take from that what you will.

:I think it's impossible to do J.R.R. Tolkien. It's impossible to get the brilliance of what he wrote about -- just the medium, the book, the novel gives you other areas of imagination [that] film can't allow. Film has to describe and show. With the brilliance of his words and his scenes, you imagine whatever you want. I'm sure various people imagine different things.”

“Sweetheart, I'm the biggest ripped-off cartoonist in the history of the world, and that's all I'm going to say.”

“John and a bunch of guys were working for me in my studio on storyboards before Mighty Mouse. Bobby's Girl was the project, Tri-Star bought the movie. John and a bunch of other artists designed it [the same guys who went to work on Mighty Mouse]. I was the producer/director. The studio would then have sequence directors, designers etc. as usual. The president of Tri-Star, Jeff Sagansky, got fired. The project was canceled by Tri-Star. In panic I sold Mighty Mouse and decided to make John a director to train him on a TV series. Roughly speaking, after that, John really wanted his own studio to produce and direct himself and never really felt comfortable working for anyone else. Even his giant friend Ralph.”
On directing The Rolling Stones music video of "The Harlem Shuffle": “I cast everyone and hired everyone - but my main concentration was taking care of the Stones. It was a lot of work choreographing . . . it was also a blizzard in New York the night we were shooting, and after I returned that night at 4 or 5 am they thought I had checked out without paying, so I spent the night in the lobby. The rest was a blur. Oh yes, there were about 350 groupies on the sound stage and various hangers around - and someone delivered three cases of Scotch or bourbon to Keith Richard's room. I do remember that. Never saw them again! Oh yeah, Keith Richards loved the zoot suit he wore. I had to buy the suits from the costume department because he took them back to England. I loved that. Mick Jagger had his purple suit tailored especially for him, so he owned that.”

“Louise Zingarelli walked into my studio from Chicago and said to me that the guys that she worked with on the newspapers in Chicago told her that she should work for me. She was an extraordinary illustrator and a real tough lady. I thought her best work was Hey Good Lookin' (1982) and American Pop (1981).”
On working with My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult on the Cool World (1992) "Sex on Wheelz": "They were very professional, very tired from all the years they were doing punk rock--and very, very funny. The band that consisted of women and men used the bathroom as a dressing and make-up room. Hysterical studio employees walked out shaking their heads. I shot 8mm home movies of that. It's in a box somewhere - I'll look for it. It was a one-day shoot - fast and furious.”
About Cool World (1992): “The original concept, way back when I sold the film, was that a live-action cartoonist would go to bed with a cartoon woman in the cartoon world. They had a child immediately that was a strange combination of live action and animation in one character. This son of the underground cartoonist hates himself for what he is and isn't and goes back to the real world to track his father down. The picture was originally an R-rated horror film. Slash and the rest of the characters in "Cool World" were just friends of Holli and looked nothing like their child.”

“When I had my own company on Heavy Traffic (1973) and Coonskin (1975), all metaphors were able to get to the screen clearly. In Cool World (1992), with the producer and Paramount watching me carefully to make sure I was in good taste, I instinctively poured stuff into the picture that I wanted to talk about. But when you force stuff, it's not really very clear. But, I have a great love for Max Fleischer, especially some of his black-and-white Betty Boops with their strange Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong black folk tale jazz hipness that part of "Cool World" was a homage in style to those films and that style of cartooning. The Grim Reaper is right out of a Max Fleischer cartoon or old Terrytoons, which is why I hired and love Milton Knight the artist. He understands totally the Uncle Remus fable-like qualities behind Fleischer and Terrytoons. Milton Knight is probably the purest artist of that style in the business. He has a hard time because studios think he is old-fashioned . . . but that's the point.”

“The art of cartooning is vulgarity. The only reason for cartooning to exist is to be on the edge. If you only take apart what they allow you to take apart, you're Disney. Cartooning is a low-class, for-the-public art, just like graffiti art and rap music. Vulgar but believable, that's the line I kept walking.”
(One thing I will add to this quote is that Bakshi is just dead wrong. Animation is just one of many mediums through which to express art. Its people like him that have led to the adult comedy end of Western Animation that now plagues [adult swim] on Cartoon Network's night time slot. He has much to answer for.)

“None of my pictures were anything I could ever take my mother to see. You know it's working if you're making movies you don't want to your mother to see.”

“You can't be a cartoonist, I don't care what kind of cartoonist you are, without having passed through this thing of loving fantasy.”

“I never learned to animate. And I'm not trying to be cute, either. The minute you think you learned it, you're through. I've seen a lot of young animators coming up sensations. They get so good, so fast, so young, they never got any better, it's extraordinary to see. They never worked hard, so they don't get better. If you're an artist, you learn, you keep learning, you keep working.”
“When you have a high budget, people are looking at you. Low budgets can be godsends for directors. Plus, with the number of people starving on this planet, it's just wrong to spend that kind of money on films. When you have no money, no one's looking at you, no one cares. No one cared when I was doing 'Fritz the Cat' (1972). Big budget films are filled with terror, filled with community consultations on all levels. But it's too much money for one man to handle and I'm not a great believer in collaboration. I believe in a directed film, and the vision of a director.”
On Richard William's The Thief and the Cobbler: “Over the years Richard would show me various magnificently animated sequences from the picture. Richard was very much like DeKooning, the painter, where he kept changing the finished product. It was fine when he was working for himself and I told him when he sold the film to WB that unless he met a delivery date there would be trouble. There was, and I never got to see the original cut, so I can't compare to what I saw in the theatre. I know when they took the film away from Richard and gave it to some hack animator to finish, it was like killing Richard's baby. It had a lot to do with him leaving the industry. When I had a fight on Heavy Traffic with the producer, half way through the film it was offered to Chuck Jones to finish. Chuck turned them down, saying it was Bakshi's film and only Bakshi's film. I didn't even know him at the time. Richard didn't have the same luck I had. But that's showbiz.”

Rankin-Bass: The Rankin-Bass company was started by entrepreneur filmmakers Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass. These two men are mostly known for their names and their works, as not much of their personal lives are known.
Arthur Rankin, Jr. was born July 19th, 1924 in New York City, New York. He is the son of actor Arthur Rankin, Sr.

In the early 60s Rankin, Jr. formed a partnership with a fellow filmmaker, Jules Bass, and they founded Videocraft International, later renamed Rankin-Bass. The two worked closely for several decades, co-director and producing many stop motion features and traditional hand drawn animation. They are perhaps, best known for their holiday specials such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snow Man, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Nutcracker, The Little Drummer Boy, and Pinocchio’s Christmas. They were also known for other TV specials like The Wind in the Willows, The Flight of Dragons, Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, and such.

They were also responsible for many animated TV series such as Silverhawks and The ThunderCats.

Jules Bass was born on September 16th, 1935, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He went to college at the New York University, and first worked at an advertising agency in the same city until the early 1960s, when he quit his job and co-founded Videocraft International with Arthur Rankin, Jr. He is known for the exact same works as Rankin, Jr., as they worked together on virtually all of their works, right up until their retirements.

Their Career: As stated, VideoCraft/Rankin-Bass was founded in the early 1960s by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass as an independent animated film company. One of the first projects the company ever worked on was a series based on the character, Pinocchio. It was created using “Animagic”, a stop motion animation technique that uses figurines. Following it was another series titled Tales of the Wizard of Oz, in 1961.

In 1964, NBC and a sponsor, General Electric, commissioned the company to produce to a Christmas Special based on the Johnny Marks song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was finished and broadcast Christmas 1964, and became one of the most popular and lasting TV specials ever.

After the unprecedented success of Rudolph, the company was hired on to create more specials. They were The Cricket on the Hearth, in 1967. They also created a Thanksgiving special, The Mouse on the Mayflower, in 1968. In 1969, VideoCraft had its first feature film on Halloween, Mad Monster Party (which featured Boris Karloff’s last performance before he passed away).

They would go on to many other works throughout their long careers, both in TV holiday specials and otherwise. (Will potentially expand, later, maybe… It’s a long resume to go over.)

Thoughts: Rankin-Bass has always made films for the family, providing clean entertainment that people of all ages can enjoy and yet has a dramatic side when it is needed. This is a trait that should have made them ideal for dealing with The Lord of the Rings. However, they were forced to make their attempt of Return of the King for TV and make it an hour and half, which cut their abilities to make their try at Tolkien’s masterpiece short.

End of Part Two.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2009, 10:51:24 PM »
Part Three Adaptation vs. Original Film

Before this paper can move onto evaluating each of the adaptations made of Tolkien’s work, this section will serve as a quick reminder of what an adaptation and an original work are.

An adaptation is a film based on an earlier work, usually literary. Of course, depending on how well know known the work being adapted is, the demand for faithfulness to the source will be greater. So in the case of The Lord of the Rings, which is a book cherished and loved the world over, most people will want to see the characters, places, and themes which they so love reproduced onto film faithfully.

However, it is impossible to adapt a work of literary fiction word for word, so it is mandatory that changes and omissions be made to the content. Scenes will be removed or condensed, or perhaps even conjoined with other scenes. This will also happen with characters.

There is also the matter of interpretation. For example, in a work like The Lord of the Rings which relies on the perceptions of its readers to fill in the blanks to make the story meaningful to them, specifically, how the filmmaker perceives the book and what it says to him will greatly impact how he films it. Some have argued that films must be viewed as films, and the same goes for books, that they should be judged on their own merits. Others argue that while it is impossible for film adaptation to be completely accurate, that the core themes and elements of the story must be sustained. In either case, what the audience wants from the adaptation of a beloved work is key, in which case a fair amount of fidelity should be exercised during production.

Now, as for an original work, it is a venture that the filmmakers, themselves, have come up with and they have free reign to do with it what they will as they have no commitment to remain faithful to any prior source.

End of part three.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 11:03:41 PM »
Part Four: The Game Attempts-Part One

In this section, each individual attempt to adapt Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings will be gone over in detail and compared to book to see how each and every one holds to the highest selling work of fiction of the 20th century.

Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings-Part One will be the first covered, because it was the first, released 1978. The work covers roughly the first two-thirds of the book, in which the all of the events of The Fellowship of the Ring and part of The Two Towers are covered. The film ends immediately at the end of the Siege of Helm’s Deep and before Frodo and Sam encounter Faramir or enter Shelob’s Lair.
Before the film can be covered, the history behind its conception and Pre-Production must be covered. In the late 1950s, the Tolkien family had financial problems and the rights to make a movie out of the book were sold to the Walt Disney Company for a large sum.

It was around this time that Bakshi became acquainted with the work during his time at Terrytoons and thought it would make for an excellent animated TV series. However, Walt Disney had a firm hand on the rights and still in the conception stage for his attempt at handling Tolkien’s work. The project never left this stage of production, though, and the Disney company eventually sold the rights to United Artists Entertainment LCC. This film was handed over to Stanley Kubrick and John Boorman to try to adapt…as a single film…starring The Beatles as Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. This thankfully did not get made, either.

It was in the Mid-1970s, after Bakshi had achieved box office success that he approached the studio for the rights to make the film. He got them and it ended up costing $3 million. Bakshi’s original proposition was to create a three-part animated adaptation, each film covering a volume. However, the deal was changed after one of the producers brought on board was fired and a new one was brought in and had Bakshi redo the deal to two films.

During Pre-Production, the film was given a budget of $8 million ( will say its currently $4 million, but it keep changing to be less and less. Take from that what you will.). Chris Conkling and book author Peter S. Beagle (author of The Last Unicorn) were brought on board to write the screenplay, several college students (including a young Tim Burton) were hired on as animators, and Leonard Rosenman was hired to compose the music. Soon, with a limited budget, and a greatly condensed story, production was underway. The following is the result of Bakshi and company’s attempt to adapt Tolkien’s most beloved book. This ended up being two hours and eighteen minutes long and it covers all of The Fellowship of the Rings and the majority of The Two Towers.

Note: Bakshi actually met with Tolkien’s sons and daughters to properly discuss how to make the film and promised them to stay as close to the films as possible. Keep this in mind at all times.

Originally, the entire film was supposed to be fully animated via rotoscoping. As explained before, rotoscoping is essentially Motion-Capture’s traditional animation distant ancestor. Live-action actors and sequences are filmed then drawn over frame by frame. However, because of the limited budget, Bakshi soon ran out of money to make the film fully animated and made due with shooting the film at High Contrast to give it a more animated look. This was met with little success. The first signs of production decay are actually evident during the first scene of the film.

That being said, the opening scene is a narration about the history of the One Ring of Power. According to the film, the Rings of Power were first forged by elves and divided amongst the other races of Middle Earth, then sometime afterwards the Dark Lord Sauron learned the secret of art of ring-making and made his own ring to conquer all the other rings. Within the first few minutes, it’s shown that evidently reading the book and speaking with Tolkien’s children is not enough to stay true to the book for Bakshi. This change has baffled several people who have seen the film. Would it have taken longer to explain that Sauron, using trickery, fooled the elves into creating the Rings so that he could use the Master Ring to rule all the other ones? What was this change’s purpose?

Moving on, the opening scene only gets worse. The scene is not animated. It is filmed behind a red window shade with live-action actors dressed in cheap costumes who perform like amateur stage actors with throughout the scenes of the Ring making and battles. Stage lights shine behind the action so shadows on a red screen are all the audience can make out.

As for that battle scene, it appears as if about a dozen or so men are having a random fight somewhere, rather than the epic battle of The Last Alliance of men and elves that joined forces against Sauron, which, according to the opening narration “feel beneath [Sauron’s] power”. Also in this rendering, instead of facing Sauron head on and breaking his father’s sword Narsil in the process of separating the Dark Lord from his Ring, Isildor is described as “a heroic shadow who slipped in” and cut the Ring from Sauron’s hand while he wasn’t looking. The action of this being done is even less impressive. The anonymous silhouette that was supposed to be Isildor weakly hits the other silhouette that was supposed to be Sauron with a sword that visibly wobbles while the latter clutches his hand as if his school teacher had just smacked his wrist with a ruler. “Sauron Harold Darkside, have you been trying to conquer the world again?!” “No, ma’am!” Narsil, by the way, looks like it survived this, intact. So, deviation number 3 in which three minutes.

Moving on, Sauron is so underplayed that he leaves no lasting impression. He’s not intimidating or mysterious at all as portrayed in the books or the Jackson films. He’s just some figure with a horned Viking helmet no more or less vague or mysterious than anyone else in this scene.

Moving on, the rest of the narration continues on and explains that because Isildor did not destroy the Ring, Sauron’s spirit endeared and he went into hiding to recover his strength (though why it works this way is left out). Isildor was eventually ambushed by orcs near a river and the Ring lays forgotten and hidden there for two and a half thousand years.

The rest of the narration is word for word true to what happened in the books, though Gollum looks like the Grinch for some reason.

End of Part 4.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2009, 11:01:34 AM »
a very interesting read so far WR. once it is completely finished then i will put up my two cents. I have seen all 3 of these films..
Winner of these:

Runner up for these:


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2009, 04:08:41 PM »
Thanks. I know I've been begging for feedback, and I have a reason. I tried posting this in parts on another chatroom. Thus far, the people there have been as silent as the dead on this and its kind of ackward, because it either means I'm doin a good job or I've totally botched it beyond redemption. Anyway, we now move onto...

Part Five: The Game Attempts-Part Two:

After the opening narration, the audience is greeted with the first actual animation in the movie as of yet in the entire film, and it is actual animation. For the next hour, the film actually follows the book reasonably well with a few noticeable discrepancies, which will be covered as they come along. For example, the filmmakers completely neglect to call Gandalf “Gandalf the Grey”, and have him in bright blue. It should also be noted that the animation while present is hideous. The extra hobbits look like deformed garden gnomes, Frodo has an odd resemblance to Alvin the chipmunk with big 70s hair on his head, and Bilbo looks like he suffers from Down Syndrome.

Cosmetics aside, the followings play out as they did in the books. Gandalf arrives in Hobbiton to celebrate the 111th Birthday of Bilbo, his old friend. Although it is greatly condensed, the filmmakers still managed to keep Bilbo’s infamous speech and even manage a humorous moment with Mr. Proudfoot which would later be reflected in Jackson’s take. However, as for the speech itself, instead of being played out endearingly and cleverly, it comes off drunken and almost incoherent. Bilbo tells the Hobbits at the party about how he “must” leave the Shire, though the audience is never told why, giving one reason to surmise that Bakshi and company just assumed everyone who would see the film had already read the books AND had recently reread them or had a really good memory of everything that happens in the 1,000+ page book.

In the books, Bilbo’s reasons for leaving the Shire were a combination of his adventurous side which first manifested itself in his journey with Gandalf and the dwarves taking hold again and the Ring having an effect on him to try to use him to get back to its master. For the most part, though, his adventurous side is the main cause and still gets the better of him when he leaves the Ring behind because of his growing boredom and weariness of the Shire via a “late”-life crisis (“I need a holiday, a long holiday…”, Bilbo Baggins) and he revisits the places of his younger days before settling down in Rivendell. All of this is completely left out in this film, leaving Bilbo without a real motive for doing any of the things he did at his 111th birthday. Namely, slipping on the Ring and disappearing right in front of his relatives leaving poor Gandalf to take the blame for “spiriting him away”, which is what the other hobbits assumed happened in the books. We also never hear of this.

The other thing of note in this scene is that instead of merely disappearing, the action of putting on the Ring causes Bilbo to go up an in explosion of bright sparkles. In the book, Gandalf was responsible for the flashy part, but here it appears that the old guardian spirit had no idea Bilbo would do this and is furious.

Bilbo reappears at Bag End to pick up his things, but before he can do so, Gandalf also appears and begins badgering him on how dangerous using the Ring can be, all the while wagging his finger at the hobbit as if he were his mother.

In response to this, Bilbo throws a fit, waving his arms around in the air as if he had gone into a seizure and claims that Gandalf just wants to get his hands on “his precious” and this is passed off as horrifying. Well, it is, but not for the reasons Bakshi intended.

Since the filmmakers omitted why Bilbo suddenly calling the Ring his “precious” is a bad thing its to any audience member who is unfamiliar with Tolkien's works to guess why. In the books, this was to show that he was becoming obsessed and exhibiting the same symptoms Gollum had. The Jackson films even took this a step further than the books by having Isildor do the same thing. “The Ring is ëprecious’ to me.” –The memoires of Isildor from the Jackson adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Nevertheless, Gandalf shakes his fist roaring for Bilbo to not repeat that phrase. Bilbo quickly changes his tone, leaves the Ring behind as Gandalf suggests, and the scene fades to Bilbo waddling away from the Shire in a fashion similar to a penguin with a contented smile on his face as he leads a donkey bearing his luggage along. Remember, although the filmmakers do not state this directly, but the Ring keeps its wearers from aging, so Bilbo in the same physical condition as he was when he faced Smaug.

Then the scene cuts to a wide shot of Hobbiton with the caption “seventeen years pass sleepily in the Shire”, and the scenes begins to fade between the four seasons of the year. Alright, simple enough, but then suddenly the powers that be decided to jump cut through nine more seasons for 1 ? seconds. Neurological seizures were probably abound in the theater back in 1978. So, a caption that read, “17 years later”, then simply fading to Frodo in Bag End just wouldn’t have sufficed, huh, Bakshi and company?

Frodo is sleeping in a chair when he awakened by someone knocking at the door. He lazily stretches and answers the door. Gandalf is, of course, there. Frodo does a little dance while he exclaims that he’s happy to see the wizard. Gandalf states the painfully obvious for those still suffering from the seasonal jump cuts earlier and barges in without invitation.

He begins telling Frodo about how the Ring of Invisibility that Bilbo passed down to him might by the One Ring of Power. He sits down by the fireplace as he did in the book, and asks Frodo for the Ring. Frodo reluctantly hands it over and Gandalf takes the Ring into the hands whereas in the books he refused to even touch it. Then Gandalf asks him if he can see anything on it. Of course, it looks like a plain old Ring. So Gandalf casually throws it into the fireplace. Frodo is horrified and tries to retrieve the Ring.

Gandalf tells him that he already desires the Ring too much, which Frodo denies. Gandalf then stands up and the lecture begins. Of course, his hands wave around, milking the giant cow, and his eyes bulge as he speaks. No, really. He also hilariously over-pronounces everything in ways that would make William Shatner jealous. Gandalf tells Frodo about Sauron, the Ring’s effect on its users, and tells the young Hobbit that the responsibility of the Ring has fallen on his shoulders.

Gandalf then reaches into the fire with his bare hands and pulls the Ring out. He hands it back to Frodo who notes that it isn’t even hot. Then Gandalf begins reciting the famous poem. He is clearly doing this from memory, because he does not read the inscription on the Ring as none shows and declares it is the One Ring. Based on what? Because it stays cool in fire? Wouldn’t all the Rings of Power do that? Yes, Bakshi and company introduced the plot point of throwing the Ring into the fire from the book and then failed to follow up on it. After being directly exposed to flame, the incantation on both the inside and outside of the Ring was supposed to become visible and the filmmakers completely skip and ignore this!

The scene gets worse as Gandalf madly gestures while reciting the poem as he practically chases poor Frodo around the room then his rant by spinning on one of his heels like a ballerina and as he says the words, “…and in the darkness bind them”, suddenly stops, facing forward, and dramatically wraps his arms around himself. He then tells Frodo that Sauron has returned, he is looking for the Ring, and if he ever finds it, he will return to full power and conquer the world.

Next, instead of having Frodo and Gandalf discuss their plans quietly while sitting by the hobbit’s fireplace like in the book and like two individuals trying to keep things under wraps would do, anyway, the Bakshi film moves the remainder of the scene outdoors so the two can loudly announce their secret plans to the entire neighborhood. Here, Gandalf informs Frodo that Sauron has learned the name ëBaggins’ via Gollum. Frodo of course makes his infamous claim about how Bilbo should have killed him, but the wizard makes his assertion about how “even the very wise cannot see all ends” and that Bilbo was moved by “pity and mercy” to spare Gollum. In this instance, the Bakshi Gandalf actually carried the line fairly well and one almost gets a sense of the real Gandalf here.

They decide that they must figure out what to do with the Ring, and Frodo immediately tries to give it to Gandalf who has a momentary spasm at the gesture, proclaiming that he can’t take the Ring.

Following this display, Gandalf casually wanders over to a rustling bush and pulls out…Sam. First of all, one of the unfortunate results of having Gandalf and Frodo go for a walk in the middle of the night (it wasn't even night to begin with in the book, it was the middle of the day while the two sat at Frodo's fireplace), is that when Gandalf discovers Samwise eavesdropping, it is not under a window where Sam had the excuse of gardening. In the Bakshi film, they instead find him hiding out in a lone bush where Gandalf and Frodo justhappened to be. Secondly, what was Sam doing even there? Or do I really want to know? Third, we are never told who Sam is. This is the first time the audience is introduced to him. That Sam is both Frodo’s gardener and an old friend are not established. Yeah, s single sentence that could have been delivered over the course of five seconds was just too difficult for Bakshi to fit in  <_<  . Anyone who hadn’t read the books or had not done so recently would not know or might not remember at all. Last, this is where the film takes a turn for the worse.

Tolkien’s Samwise Gamgee was a dynamic, honest, pure-hearted, strong-willed, courageous, and loyal character who is the embodiment of the best friend anyone, anywhere, could ever have. He overcomes his own shortcomings to support Frodo through hellfire and brimstone. He becomes an essential player in the grand scheme of things and the quest to destroy the Ring would have failed without him. By contrast, this Samwise Gamgee is a short, squat midget, even among hobbits, and he is an odious moron with a goofy sounding voice and a voice actor who either sleep talks his through lines or carries on inanely. He's also been designated to comic relief in a Eisner-style "artistic" decision. If I remember correctly, Bakshi once said that he wouldn't leave Disney to be like Disney. Yet here he is, making the exact same choice one of the most reviled figures (Eisner) in animation would have in the same situation.
Also at absolutely no point does Sam ever play an important role in this movie or do anything useful.

Anyway, upon being pulled out of the bush, Sam begins goose-stepping around babbling about he’s afraid that Gandalf will turn him into “something unnatural”. He isn’t already? Frodo and Gandalf look on with indulgent smiles, telling the viewer that this is somehow supposed to be endearing. It is not.

Then Sam utters the line that has sparked many a “Sam the Mind-Reader” joke in several reviews of this film: “Well, I heard a deal that I didn’t rightly understand, about an enemy and rings, and about elves, sir!” There is a discrepancy here. At no point in their conversation did Frodo or Gandalf mention elves. Either this was the result of poor editing in which the parts of the conversation concerning elves from the book were actually recorded and animated, then ended up on the cutting room floor, or someone made an equally huge mistake during the writing process. No matter what happened behind the scenes, this is a blatant display of ill-care for the project and many have stated how that they couldn’t believe Bakshi, the writers, the editors, the producers, and anyone else who saw the film during screenings let slip by them.

Sam exclaims that he’d “love to go see elves”, and unfortunately, Gandalf takes this cue to send him along with Frodo on his journey. Of all the times Bakshi picked to stick to the books, it was the time most audiences wished he hadn’t. Take note that the Bakshi Sam’s behavior exhibits a far more perverse reason for wanting to see the elves than many have been comfortable with as opposed to the Tolkien Sam’s innocent wonderment towards them.

At this point, Gandalf announces that he must go and consult the head of his order…Arumon. In the books, the Head of the Order of Wizards was named Sarumon. To explain this, test audiences were confused by the names Sauron and Sarumon. So, the producers made Bakshi change the White Wizard’s name via removing the ëS’, part of the time. Unfortunately, as many have pointed out Bakshi was not consistent with this change and the characters revert to calling him Sarumon the other half of the time.

Gandalf takes his leave after giving Frodo instructions to meet him at the Prancing Pony Inn in Bree. After the wizard leaves Samwise does a little chicken dance and struts way like a wind-up toy loudly raving about he’s going to go “see the elves” with a tone reminiscent of Lenny from Of Mice and Men.

End of Part Five.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2009, 05:18:18 PM »
Part Six: The Game Attempts-Part Three:

Next, cut to Gandalf’s journey to Isengard, or at least cut to Gandalf riding around on his horse in front of a poorly done Matte painting. Gandalf marches into (s)Aruman’s tower and begins attempting to order the head of the order of wizards around. As for (S)Aruman, as it has been noticed by most viewers, he has the appearance of an Evil Santa Claus dressed in red robes with huge 70s hair and a voice about as smooth and charismatic as Yosemite Sam’s. Yet he is still referred to “(S)Arumon the White” for whatever reason. Also, remember, in the books, Sarumon had an enchanting voice that could persuade many over to his side.

(S)Aruman, who will be called Santaman from this point hence, says nothing for most of this scene, but when he does, he manages to out ham Gandalf at every turn. Then, after revealing that he has changed alliances, he raises his arms in the air, opens his robe at Gandalf  :blink:  , and Gandalf and the audience are assaulted with an overblown light-show. This show of all manner of flashing lights and other weird things must have been inspired by a drug trip the filmmakers went on during production. Subtly, thy name is Bakshi.

The walls begin to fade, although the floor stays exactly the same, and suddenly the two are on the roof. Santaman leaves (to where?), leaving Gandalf just staying frozen in position for whatever reason and Gandalf roars the traitor’s name as full volume. Santaman laughs evilly and the camera pans out to reveal how huge the tower is in comparison to Gandalf. Also, there’s a giant disco ball encompassing the entire sky. It’s out of focus, but to anyone who has ever seen an old John Travolta movie, there’s no mistaking one when you see it.

Now, the scene is not clear about this, but Santaman put Gandalf up there to trap him and force him to switch sides as well. Also, in the books, Gandalf’s staff was taken from him to give him a handicap in escaping as a wizard’s power is channeled or at least enhanced through his staff. Gandalf’s staff remains firmly in his grasp throughout this scene.

Fade back to the hobbits, Frodo and Sam. They are already leaving the Shire for Bree under the deception of Frodo moving to a home in By Water, and have been joined by Merry and Pippin. The problem, though, is that we never learn which one is which for many scenes to come.

The viewer is taken through a montage of their travels, including one point where one of them has a guitar (?!) and the other three are merrily dancing to the music. By music, I mean tuneless “tra-la-la”.

There’s also some dialogue passed between them about how they need to use the name “Underhill” when referring to Frodo. However, before they can talk too much more, they hear something coming towards them on the road and they hide under some tree roots protruding out from the side of the steep hill that neighbors the road. This sequence is mirrored later in the Jackson version, which took a few cues from Bakshi’s rendering.

As for the approaching visitor, it is of course one of the Nazgul, referred to as the Black Riders at this point in the saga. Now, where to begin? First of all, the rider is not wearing black. The rider is wearing brownish-gray. Secondly, instead of the swift and merciless killing machines they were in the books, this thing moves like one would expect a zombie or retiree to. It also makes a terrible wailing sound. No. Not a terrifying wailing sound, just a terrible one. The wraith leaves without checking the area properly. Jackson’s version had a remedy for this. Merry distracts the wraith via throwing his pack and once it quickly rushes over to the noise the hobbits make a break for it. Here, it’s a wonder that version’s Sauron was ever able to make ëThe Last Alliance fall beneath his power’ at all.

Once the ëdanger’ is gone, Frodo and his cousins have an argument. Anyone who has read the books knows that Merry, Pippin, Samwise, and a fourth hobbit named Fatty were all part of a conspiracy to uncover the truth about Bilbo and his disappearing act when the old hobbit once put the ring on while Merry was watching unnoticed. Bakshi actually keeps this detail but it comes out right here in the woods for any random passerby to overhear, instead of in the privacy of Frodo’s ënew home’, like in the books. Actually, come to think of it, it’s no wonder Sauron was ever to threat to this Middle Earth. Everyone here is an idiot.

Frodo is angry at them for this, initially, before giving in after the two declare that they’ll stick with Frodo all the way (oh, joy!). Then they once again begin discussing their plans out in the open, just in case there were a few people who hadn't listened in yet.

The film skips over Farmer Maggot, the Old Forest, Old Man Willow, Tom Bombadil, and the Barrow Wights, so the hobbits are in Bree upon the very next scene. Although via their time at Farmer Maggot’s, the hobbits learn that the Black Riders are searching for them, most of these chapters have absolutely nothing to do with the primary plot.

Now, at the Prancing Pony, the next hint of just what a small budget Bakshi was working with is shown. There are a grand total of six animated characters in this scene, the four hobbits, Aragorn, and Butterbur the bartender. The rest…the rest are live-action actors with a visible effect put over them to try to make them look more like illustrations. This attempt, however, fails miserably. At least Aragorn still sits rather inconspicuously in the corner smoking his pipe like one would expect of a ranger. We also catch hint of some other characters from the books who whisper to each other as if they suspect who the hobbits really are. In the books, these three were Tom Ferny and his two cohorts who slipped off to contact the wraiths.

As per the books, Merry decides to go for a stroll in which he encounters the wraiths. Before he leaves he loudly reminds Frodo and the others to keep the secret. You know, just in case any of the other patrons of the Prancing Pony couldn’t hear them. My reaction? This:  :slap  .

I also only know this is Merry because I read the books. If the film is anything to go on here, it could be either Merry or Pippin.

Moving on, Frodo soon finds himself at the center of attention and is called to sing a song. Unlike in the book in which he was inspired to do so to halt Pippin when his tongue was getting a little too loose, here, Frodo just kind of does it. At least it’s the same song from the books, though. Also, if you ever get a chance to watch this film (and I wouldn't) closely observe the people who clap and cheer to Frodo’s song. One of them is a midget dressed like John Wayne sitting next to what looks like Ronnie Dio dressed as a pirate.

Meanwhile, back with Merry on his stroll, the Raingwraiths sneak up on him and burp blue mist in his face, causing him to lose consciousness and then they just wonder off. More amazingly, they don’t kill Merry or just stab him to turn him into a Wraith. In the books, they put Merry under the fear which paralyzes mortals in the Nazgul's presence right when they were probably about to search or interrogate him when they were caught by one of Butterbur’s employees, Bob. They quickly ran off to avoid their presence being exposed. It would seem Bakshi just stuck this in here for bragging rights that he kept all the scenes from the book. No never mind that these scenes all had to serve some purpose.

Back in the tavern, everyone is still dancing and cheering to Frodo’s table dance, when he suddenly trips, falls over, and disappears via slipping the Ring on. This little scene makes sense, because Frodo, like in the books, was playing with the Ring in his pocket (he is visibly doing this while dancing here) and it accidentally slipped onto his finger when he fell.

Howver, instead of slinking away to reappear while no one is looking, as per the books, Frodo stupidly reappears while everyone is still watching. I repeat:  :slap  . Butterbur orders the hobbits upstairs to their room, and they comply. Anyone who has read the books will know Aragorn accompanies them.
Also, the hobbits have heavy pounding footsteps while walking down the hallway. As opposed to, you know, the quick and quiet hobbits from the books.

Aragorn, thus far, has gotten the worse of the deal here. While some people attempt to advocate his appearance here by saying things “What would you expect from a guy who roughs in the wilderness all the time. He isn’t going to be a pretty boy like Mortensen.” Actually, he would be. Aragorn isn’t just your typical ranger roughing it in the wood. He was raised by the elves, has a little elvish blood in him, and is of the high human race of the Numenoreans. No, there is no excuse for Aragorn to still not look handsome and almost beautiful as Tolkien states he is. Of course, people who advocate Bakshi was backing up Bakshi, not Tolkien, the person they should be defending. In this film, though, Aragorn looks like the half-bit superhero Apache Chief, from the Superfriends, in a sleeveless tunic and a mini-skirt witha dark drown cape and yellow boots. He is voiced by John Hurt, whom you would know as the guy who got his chest-burst in the original Alien, Hellboy’s adoptive father, and as The Elephant Man.

Unfortunately, the one thing Bakshi chose to stick to from the books is that he runs around with the broken sword, but no other weapon. This worked in Tolkien’s original work, but here, it just looks ridiculous. Jackson’s version also took care of this by giving Aragorn as full sword. Another problem with Aragorn’s sword here is that Bakshi never explains its importance, nor is Gondor even given identity. I repeat, it didn't even look like Narsil even broke in the opening narration when it cut the Ring from Sauron's hand.

In the book, Aragorn’s sword Narsil belonged to Isildor, the King of Gondor, who was the man who cut the Ring from Sauron’s hand. The sword was broken in the encounter. It is the heirloom of Isildor’s bloodline and is passed down to his heir’s. Aragorn is the only living descentant of the line as of the present, though. Gondor is the kingdom of the Numenors who have since then fallen from grace and are in need of their king, but only after Sauron is defeated can Aragorn be their king because Sauron will raze Gondor to the ground before he’ll see their king returned to the throne. He’s kind of a jerk that way.

The first thing Aragorn does is start lecturing the hobbits on their mistakes. This is very, VERY justified as Bakshi was portrayed all the hobbits as having not even half the intelligence they did from the books. The problem is that he makes Aragorn come across as a prick while he does this. While he’s still lecturing them, Butterbur comes in Merry, who was sedated earlier, and Aragorn yells at him (Butterbur), too. Samwise doesn’t think they should trust Aragorn. You know, when the idiot starts making sense, the end must truly be near.

In response to this, Aragorn declares himself a friend to Gandalf. Take note that the letter Gandalf sent them in the books detailing who would come to meet them in Bree if he could not is left out altogether. So, long story short, Aragorn has absolutely no proof that he ever even met Gandalf and the hobbits are left with only his ëcharismatic’ personality to go on. However, the hobbits still decide to trust him. The Jackson film also had this problem, but they justified it by making the situation tense enough that the hobbits just didn’t have a choice in the matter.

Later, the wraiths enter Bree and somehow teleport into the hobbits’ room. The beds appear to be occupied, so they begin stabbing the lumps under the sheets. Of course, the beds turn out to be empty and the wraiths tear the room apart before throwing off their robes (?!) and revealing their true forms, which should actually be invisible to the naked eye. The whole reason for the robes was to give them corporal form so that they could journey across the land to search for the Ring. They could not act otherwise.

Cut to the room Aragorn moved the hobbits to the thwart the wraiths’ attack. They are safe and sound while the wraiths think that the hobbits have taken to the woods again, and leave town to find them. For once, Bakshi actually stuck to the books in a way that was both understandable and it doable without explanation.

The following day, Aragorn and the foursome leave Bree and make their way to Rivendell. Cue another montage of travel and one confusing scene in which they are visibly see the wraiths chasing them, but nothing comes of this. At the end of the traveling sequence, the scene fades to Aragorn telling the hobbits the moving love story of Beren and Luthien, a couple that mirrors Aragorn and Arwen. Or would, had Arwen the elf maiden actually been featured in this version at all. While he tells them the story, Frodo and Sam snuggle up and get a little too friendly with each other. This is potentially the source of all the “Frodo and Sam are gay” theories. They are all dead wrong, of course, as Sam ends up with about fifteen children that he has with Rosie Cotton (another love interest not featured in this movie) and Frodo is mostly asexual in the books.

Fortunately, the moment is interrupted before anything too unnatural can happen* when the group is attacked by the wraiths. The ringwraiths approach looking transparent and brown for some reason. Frodo is tempted to put the Ring and does so. Of course, the wraiths find him quickly because he did so and he is soon stabbed in the shoulder. On an interesting note, the one who stabbed him grabs him as he falls and sets him down on the ground gently. So much for the ruthless ringwraiths.

Aragorn pounces at the wraiths all the while waving two flaming sticks in the air, scaring them off. Another thing not explained by Bakshi: the ringwraiths fear fire and those who wield it.

Anyone who has read the books will know that the blade was enchanted with dark magics that will turn Frodo into a wraith before long and that he must be rushed to Rivendell for treatment. Fortunately, Bakshi is uncharacteristically clear about this.

Soon after this attack, the group is met on the road by another horseback visitor. Unlike in the books, it is not Glorfindel. Jackson’s version has the same deviation, but they, at least, made it work. Here, Bakshi just simply displaces another one of Tolkien’s characters for the sake of saving time and not having to introduce anymore new characters than necessary.

The rider is this rendering is Legolas, who is reduced from being the Prince of the Mirkwood elves to being Elrond’s servant. His clothes look suspiciously identical to Luke Skywalker’s wardrobe from the majority of the first Star Wars film. Legolas also has a flat face with a big nose that sticks out, and big Bambi eyes. He’s also voiced by Anthony Daniels, who played C3-P0 in all the Star Wars films. Needless to say, this is the worse Legolas EVER!

Samwise is very enthusiastic about finally being able to see an elf up close. He grins widely, showing the audience the worse teeth since Steve Bescemi. Then giggles like a girl while hopping around excitedly like a child. The horrors never cease, do they, Bakshi?

After some talk about the wound inflicted on Frodo from the Morgol blade the group arrives at a riverbank. Here, they are attacked by the wraiths once again, and the background becomes live-action clouds colored purple, for some reason. Frodo is bid to go ahead on horseback and the infamous chase scene from the books begins. Not before Aragorn gets tripped up by the wraiths after he proclaims that he will try to slow them down, though. This is not the last moment of complete incompetence on this Aragorn’s part, I am afraid.

Frodo finally arrives at the border of Rivendell after a long and confusing chase scene in which his horse seems to die and be resurrected.  Yes, really. The wraiths bid him to go to back to Mordor with them, but Frodo pathetically resists, pulling out his sword and waving it around in the air like an old man might wave a cane at children playing on his lawn.

The wraiths, all nine of them now gathered at the riverbank, start to head towards Frodo when they’re overtaken by Elrond’s tidal wave that takes the form of horses. Frodo passes out.

End of Part Six.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2009, 03:17:59 PM »
Part Seven: The Game Attempts-Part Four:

Cut to Frodo waking up in a bed in Rivendell. Gandalf is sitting by his bedside, as per the books and other adaptations, but here, it comes off as really creepy. It’s almost as if Gandalf were looming over Frodo as he has a nightmare. Finally, Frodo shoots straight up in bed, yelling, “No! Never!”

Much to the audience’s chagrin, instead of light-heartedly chiding Frodo on how thoroughly he botched his venture before moving onto other topics of discussion as in the original work, Gandalf begins lecturing him again. Oh, and what Bakshi-Gandalf lecture would be complete if he weren’t pacing back and forth around the room with his arms flapping like a bird trying to take off into the sky? He’s kind of like a child on espresso here. Frodo watches this with a pained expression. Evidently, he’s channeling the audience.

After being as condescending as possible once more, Gandalf tells Frodo about his encounter with Evil Santaman, then leans over and tells Frodo to rest. I won’t comment on this because it sticks with what’s written in the text this time, although in the flashback the Lord of the Eagles looks like a sparrow. Then, Frodo turns away from Gandalf and looks directly at the audience with tortured eyes, as if begging us to rescue him.

Fade to a short and pointless scene in which Frodo and Bilbo reunite. The scene is mostly based directly on what Tolkien wrote, but it takes Frodo’s temptation to hit his uncle to the extreme by actually having Frodo pull back his fist in preparation to do just that (!?). Also, Bilbo’s newly reemerged temptation of the Ring is portrayed so horribly that one cannot take it seriously. Unlike the moment in which Ian Holm’s Bilbo from Jackson’s trilogy turns downright feral for an instant, which scared millions in the audience everywhere, the effect is just not there.

Fade to the Council of Elrond and the dinner that was held the night before combined into one scene. Not necessarily a bad choice of deviation, but it is done so abruptly that any audience members out of loop will feel something is missing. Now, Tolkien knew how important it was to make sure his readers were up to date with the current events of Middle Earth, so the first part of the council was just putting together the pieces of the world view puzzle to properly establish what Sauron was up to. Of course, no film could ever deliver this, and it has thus been shortened in all other versions.

As stated, the main purpose of the council is to track Sauron’s recent movements via testimonies given by all invited to the council who came from all over Middle-Eart to figure him out, discuss what to do with the Ring, and then chose the people who will carry out the course of action they decide upon. Tolkien took thirty-two pages in what was essentially a whole chapter out of his work to do this. Jackson’s version is roughly six-ten minutes long, forgoes on the information sharing and focuses more on deciding what to do with the Ring and getting the group together. Bakshi’s is…three and a half minutes and forgoes on just about everything aside from picking the Fellowship members. There is no discussion. Elrond, the Half-Elf Lord of Rivendell calls all the shots without question with the exception of Boromir’s. Take notice that the Council is the only scene in which Boromir’s infatuation with the Ring will be prevalent for the longest time. This flaw for which the character is so famous does not reemerge until much, much later, whereas in the book, this was an on-going thing with Boromir.

Elrond tells the council what they will do with the Ring and he picks who will do it. He did chose the Fellowship members in the books, but it doesn’t change that the Ring’s fate was first discussed by the entire council, instead of one holding absolute control. Isn't that the kind of mentality what they were battling against?

It is understandable why such a long scene would be shortened and refined into a shorter scene, but The Council of Elrond is a mile stone and a crossroads which lays down the foundations of the rest of the plot for approximately 800 or so more pages. Any filmmaker would have to properly pace himself to do this right. Bakshi…does not. He rushes the scene and practically thrusts the Fellowship right into the mountain range where they were stopped by a storm at breakneck speed without even stopping to properly explain why they need to go Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. By rushing this scene, Bakshi created a disjointed mess that he failed to pick up.

By the way, the Ring can only be destroyed in the pits of doom from which it was made because that pit is the only one that boils hotly enough to destroy it. The pit is located in Mount Doom, which as at the exact geographical center of Sauron’s territory. Just in case there's anyone in the world reading this who doesn't know.

The scene in which Bilbo gives Frodo the mithril vest and String plays out, but is very short and ineffective, though textually true to the book.

The scene in which Elrond picks who will be the Fellowship is skipped over and done in narration which is spoken over the nine trying to make their way past the mountain range.

Now, about Elrond, Gimli, and Boromir: Elrond bears a striking resemblance to old timey actor John Carradine, father of the late David Carradine (Bill from “Kill Bill”), Keith Carradine (Lizzie Maguire’s dad and former "Young Rider". I weep for the state of his career.), and a few others, all of whom have film careers. One look at him and its likely no one will ever complain about Hugo Weaving getting miscast ever again.

As for Boromir, well… He’s a Viking in this adaptation. Not only that, but he appears to be wearing the very same helmet Sauron was in the opening narration. As people who have read the books will know, Boromir is from the line of the Stewarts of Gondor and also of the line of Numenoreans. They mind the kingdom while the kings are away. So Gondor’s Stewarts have been ruling for a very long time (for over 3,000 years, actually). Boromir is the elder son of the current Stewart, Denethur. Of course, this connection to Aragorn, Isildor’s Heir to Gondor’s throne, is never established. Another thing the audience will notice is that he is also without pants, and he's nobility! Hate to see the state of the common man's attire in Gondor...

Now, last and certainly least, Gimli, who has not even been introduced formally in the film as of yet. Although he is called a dwarf, he is actually a merely a normal sized human who is a little on the short side, wears plain clothing as opposed to the original’s battle armor, and his beard hangs unkempt from his face. Nope, not braided and well-taken care of the way the pride of joy of a dwarf’s appearance would be in Tolkien’s books.

Back to the film, after the failed attempted to cross over the mountains, the Fellowship stops to discuss what they should do next. Gandalf and Aragorn are viciously arguing about which direction that they should take. Aragorn wants to go to the Gap of Rohan and Gandalf wants to go to Moria.

Throughout the fight, they do not treat each other very friendly, although Aragorn and Gandalf had a great respect for each other in the book. Also the disagreements between the two were kept at mere respectful suggestions on each other’s part. Here in Bakshi’s film, the whole Fellowship just acts abrasively towards each other.

In the end, Frodo ends up having to decide, although he votes knowing nothing about either way, unlike in the books when the pros and cons of each direction were calmly laid out by all parties involved. For those haven’t read the books or are without recent memory, here they are: The Gap of Rohan was thought to be safer road, overall, by Aragorn, because it doesn’t take venturing parties through goblin and Balrog infested caves. What’s a Balrog? They are ancient demons of smoke and flame that are essentially of equal power and rank as Sauron, the main villain of the story. That’s all.

However, the Gap of Rohan would take them dangerously close to Isengard, where Evil Santaman lives. This is where the Mines of Moria come in. They are far from Saruman’s sights, but they take venturing parties through goblin and Balrog infested caves. It’s very much a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. This is also why they were trying to pass over the mountains which housed the Mines of Moria so they wouldn't have to take either of those roads. However, they were stopped by the blizzard which was actually powered by the malevalent spirit of the mountain, itself. Of course, none of this information is coherently explained at all by this film.

Anyway, Frodo votes on Moria and the course is set. Yes, Frodo is flying blind, entirely dependent of Gandalf’s wisdom, and he doesn’t bother to ask what they’re in for like in the books.
By the way, they didn't actually know that it was a Balrgo, specifically, in Moria, but they know something dark slept in the depths of Moria before entering. Aragorn was able to confirm this as he'd actually been there once before, and hence why he didn't want to go back. The orcs helped with that decision, but he still saw something else other than them down there on his first visit that gave him the creeps.

Cut to the entrance to Moria. The group is sitting around the entrance, and Gandalf is starting in front of the sealed door trying to open it. Here Legolas and Gimli momentarily bicker about the door’s purpose and actually manage to give the audience a little background on it. Only one problem, Legolas complains about how silly the door is, although it was made by elves. Yes, Bakshi did not even bother to keep up the research concerning the current scene. Oh well, at least the audience is actually clued in on the basics this scene around.

Frodo comments on how the lake frightens him. Actually, in the books, it was just a feeling of unease, which was shared by the rest of the fellowship. Boromir stupidly throws a rock at the lake in the original version of the scene, which is likely the cause of a later effect. Here, no one throws anything at the water.
Meanwhile on Gandalf’s end he is busily repeating the same word over and over again, trying to open the door. Boromir, channeling the audience, thinks that the wizard is useless. Cue Gandalf figuring out that the word is ëmellon’, the elvish word for ëfriend’. The doors open and the group starts to enter. Oh Bakshi, you card!

The film does not mention this (man, that is starting to become a real reoccurring problem here), but above the door is a riddle written in elvish, “Speak 'Friend', and enter.” This throws anybody trying to come through this entrance after it’s been sealed off if they don’t know the password, or just don’t know elvish to even read the riddle. Also, the riddle is engraved with a special material that only reflects moonlight, so you must arrive in the darkness and on a clear night. Lastly, the riddle is obviously a play on words for those who have been reading this, read the books, or seen the Jackson films.

Anyone who have seen the Jackson films and/or read the books, know what’s coming. The Cthulhu or Kraken-esque Watcher in the water grabs Frodo by the foot and lifts him into the air. Frodo screams for Gandalf’s help, and everyone who isn’t a wizard rushes to help Frodo via graphically (too graphically for the mere PG rating this film got) slicing off the creature’s tentacles.

Take notice that Aragorn’s sword is no longer broken. The film does not explain this, but in the books when it was decided that Aragorn would accompany as a member of the fellowship, that his heirloom sword would be reforged so he would have it when he went to the capital city of Gondor, Minas Tirath, to reclaim his throne. Yes, once again, any real detail of Aragorn’s backstory, which is not at all important to the main plot, is left out entirely.

Anyway, the group rescues Frodo from the thing’s clutches and they run into the Mine entrance. The Watcher then closes the doors behind them. It also did this in the books, but Tolkien’s description actually succeeded in making that action sound menacing and malicious. When it’s shown, it just looks like the Watcher is a grumpy doorman who was going through Frodo's pockets for some I.D. Not only that, but somehow the tentacles reach in as if from around the corner on both sides like there were two watchers doing this. Yes, logic be damned!

The Jackson films also had an answer for door-closing problem: the Watcher instead tries to bring down the whole cave on top of the offending intruders by tearing the hell out of the roof above the Fellowship’s heads as they ran into the mines, thus trapping them inside behind a pile of rubble.

Back to the film, the Fellowship is now inside of Moria, the crowning achieve of dwarven architecture, the pentacle of their skill, and the remains of the ultimate dwarven kingdom’s palace. So, how did Bakshi deliver this? Simple, Moria in this film doesn’t look like a palace at all. Instead, it looks like the lair of Dracula or something, because they are frightening stone gargoyles and hideous faces carved into the walls. This place was supposed to showcase the dwarf’s abilities are builders and it was supposed to be beautiful. The film also neglects to the mention that one Bilbo’s companions and a father figure to Gimli, Balin, had entered the mines with a band of dwarves many years before to try to reclaim them. However, the outside world had lost contact with them after a certain point. This is of particular note, considering that Balin is one of the more favored characters from The Hobbit. This also really strange considering this is one time they could have made some passing mention of this character without much information behind him, since the animated adaptation of The Hobbit was released in 1977, just the year before.

Gandalf, as in the books, is using his staff of a light to show them the way. Cue yet another montage of them traveling. Eventually, they stop to sleep for what they guess is the night.

Frodo awakens to find two glowing eyes watching him in the dark. It is, of course, Gollum. This begs the question: how did he find them? Well, in the books, he was already in the mountains on his mad quest to recover the Ring and overheard the struggle. He lucked out, big time.

In the next scene the fellowship comes to the guardroom, where they decide to spent the night (again). The only thing of note in this scene is that Pippin drops a rock down a well in the middle of the room, and Gandalf gives him a stern talking to about this. The dialogue is identical to the book’s but Gandalf just comes off as insane as he waves his arms around in the air like he swatting flies. He stops when they hear a quiet tapping coming from the bottom of the well. The film never explains this, but that’s a Moria orc alerting its companions that they have “visitors”.

After some more scenes of the Fellowship journeying through Moria, they finally come to the Tomb of Balin, although the Tomb is left out altogether. Instead, they only find the Journal of Balin, which chronicled the dwarfs’ venture to retake the mountain. Of course, they were eventually overtaken by the orcs and were all slaughtered. In the books, there is a renewed urgency to exit the caves that comes of this, but here, it carries on the same monotonous pace that the film has been stuck in ever since the group entered Moria.

Then suddenly, what should happen but a huge horde of terrifying orcs come charging into the room where the Fellowship is! Actually, there only about six or seven of them to the Fellowship’s nine. They are also live-action actors in really bad costumes. Basically, they wear the same kind of helmet that Boromir does, dress in raggedy clothes, and have poorly inserted red eyes and green, glowing teeth (?!).

For reasons that further make the scene beyond suspension of belief, the group acts as if they are mortal danger, despite not even being outnumbered. In the books they were actually were attacked by a huge horde of terrifying and quick footed orcs. The fight carries out with the fellowship actually having trouble dealing with the orcs. It only gets worse from there on to the end of the scene. In a sequence which Bakshi must was taken directly from a football movie, a lone and slow-moving orc runs at Frodo, overpowers Aragorn and Boromir, and then throws a spear at Frodo. However, Frodo’s wearing the already established mithril vest, and survives, as per the book. However, in the book, the orc was actually an orc captain who swiftly dodged Aragorn and Boromir’s first attacks before specifically throwing the spear at Frodo before being dispatched.

The group dispatches the orc and makes a break for it. Suddenly, they are pursued by ten orcs now, although it’s obvious that it’s the same three-five actors which imposed into the scene two or three times over. In the books, they were pursued by a sizable mob which would overpower and utterly destroy them if they tried to fight them. Also, the audience is not let in on where the Fellowship is specifically escaping to, other than the exit. In the books, it’s quite plainly explained that they are running to a narrow bridge which is just before the exit on the other side.

Also take note of one orc that looks exactly like cousin It from The Adams Family in some upcoming close-ups and a wide shot of the orcs.

Suddenly, there’s a loud roaring sound. At first, savvy audience members will wonder if the Fellowship is being attacked by a troll now, because the orcs and trolls are the only creatures native to Moria which have the ability to vocalize. However, this is unfortunately not the case. The loud creature they are hearing is the Balrog, the before mentioned fire demon of equal power to Sauron. The thing that was also a part of the reason the dwarves were wiped out. It had been sleeping under the mountain for a very long time, when the dwarves’ mining woke it up. Sounds very intimidating, doesn’t it?One would think that even Bakshi couldn’t botch such a sure thing. …Then it appears.

In the books, the Balrog is described as a great cloud of smoke and fire with the form of a man which could not be clearly seen in the middle of it, other than its fiery eyes. This left a lot left to the imagination and the creature was all the more frightening to the reader that way. That, and it carried a flaming sword and a flaming whip in its hands. It also did not make any sound. It also moved with frightening speed which inspired the Fellowship to run for all their worth away from it.

The menace of the Balrog is its mystery. It goes something like this. Let’s say, that there is a frightening urban tale about a man named Bob in your neighborhood known for his evil deeds, but no one knows what he looks like and no one wants to go visit him. But they say he lives in an abandoned house where nasty things tend to happen Unfortunately, in order to achieve your goal, you have to pass through his property. The menace of the Balrog is a lot like that, only magnified several times over. It is that fear of the unknown that gets to the reader and it’s a stroke of genius on Tolkien’s part that he utilized it the way he did.

In Bakshi’s film, however…well, it has big red and black wings like a Monarche Butterfly, the head of a papier-m‚chÈ lion, feet that look like black fluffy bedtime slippers, it growls and carries on like an orc in heat, and moves extremely slowly. Also, the Balrog in Tolkien’s original book could not fly. Here, it can, which makes an event which is about to come to pass very confusing. Also, the orcs disappear into thin air somewhere between the frames when the Balrog somehow scared them off.

The Fellowship runs the rest of the way to the bridge with the Balrog trailing about a mile behind them. The books, they couldn’t seem to get across the bridge quickly enough, as Gandalf has to stop and turn to face the Balrog just to stop it from following them right across. Here, Gandalf has to stop and wait for the blasted thing to catch up to them! The other heroes try to get Gandalf to come with them, or at least help him, despite the lack of haste or intensity in this situation. Gandalf bids them to go on with him, because they cannot aid him against this foe. In the books, Gandalf taking the stand against the evil demonic monster was a heart-warming, suspenseful, frightening, and gripping moment all at once. It worked because the Balrog had been hyped up enough and well-enough that the reader actually feared for Gandalf the Wizard’s life. Here, thanks to the poor rendering of the Balrog, the poor acting of Gandalf’s voice actor, and the bad pacing of the scene all around, the emotions that should have swept over the viewer had the experience been anything like the book are just not there.

Back to the film, the Fellowship clears out, having been moved by Gandalf’s words (somehow), leaving the wizard to have his infamous stand-off with the Balrog. He utters his famous “You shall not pass” line, which sounded great coming from Ian McKellan, but not so much from this guy. Then he and the Balrog actually duke it out on the narrow bridge for a bit and Gandalf’s sword is actually destroyed, which did not happen in the books and the sword still reemerges later in the film. This was probably done to demonstrate how powerful the Balrog was, but it doesn’t really work, considering that Gandalf can apparently just repair the damn sword! Finally, Gandalf uses his magic to break the bridge and send the Balrog plummeting down into the pit below. As the Balrog falls down a space big enough for it spread its wings and fly, it instead snares Gandalf by his feet and pulls him down with it. The Fellowship rush to the edge of the pit, but Gandalf orders them to retreat.

In the books, there was no swordplay between Gandalf and the Balrog. Gandalf knew he could not fight the Balrog under such conditions, and instead lured it out onto the bridge before breaking it, sending the wingless and flightless creature down into the depths below. Yes, Gandalf’s brilliant strategy is downplayed to a last minute act of desperation in Bakshi’s film. The Balrog did snare Gandalf by the leg with its whip in the book, though.
The Jackson films also gave their Balrog wings, but they made up for it before having the fall space be narrow enough that the thing really couldn't get them spread before picking up too much momentum to use them.

About Gandalf’s death: in the original work, this was a sudden death of a character who was already beloved by readers everywhere because of his presence in The Hobbit early in Fellowship. Usually, character deaths up to the time of The Lord of the Rings’s release were treated the same as Shakespeare’s character deaths, which were usually accompanied by long goodbyes and the soon-to-be diseased making his final peace with the world. Here, the loss of Gandalf was sudden and ruthless. He was there, and then he was gone. Just like that. Kind of like what could happen to fellow soldier on the battlefield. This moment of brilliant piece of storytelling was done via Tolkien channeling his old emotions from losing friends on the battlefield. The end there does not come with flowery goodbyes, but at the violent, terrible and sudden end of a person you had forged a bond with.

In the Bakshi film, the audience can only look on with apathy, as no bond between viewer and Gandalf was forged. An unfortunate thing to happen, but it was mostly Bakshi’s fault, as the film was just too short. In fact, the film had gone on for precisely one hour and five minutes by this point. In this time, none of Gandalf’s personality was allowed to shine through while he was delivering the bulk of the important dialogue. Three books. Three films, Bakshi.

End of Part Seven.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2009, 03:36:44 PM »
Part Eight: The Game Attempts-Part Five:

Aragorn now takes up the charge of leadership and orders the group out of the mines. From there, they head to Lothlorien. The journey there starts of fine, but then the group begins complaining and arguing again. Eventually, the decide to get moving again, and then the scene cuts right to Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel skipping over the whole sequence when the Fellowship was captured by Haldir (that elf who gets the drop of them in the Jackson films right when Gimli is bragging about how finely tuned his senses are, for those unfamiliar with the original book), then led along blind-folded to the home of the Lothlorien elves. In Bakshi’s film, it’s like they just walked right in without need for invitation. Immediately when the characters open their mouths, there’s yet another problem. Bakshi and company screwed up the pronunciation of Celeborn’s name. It is Kell-e-born. Here, its pronounced “Sell-a-born”. There is no excuse for this! The pronunciation of his name is the very first note of Appendix E! Yes, how to pronounce every name and the information of each and every character is right there in the manual found at the end of Return of the King, the manual that Bakshi should have been using making this film.

Moving on, Galadriel already knows of Gandalf’s demise at the Balrog’s hands and mourns his death. Savvy audience members, however, mourn for the loss of his character development. Also in this scene, the audience is assaulted by more drug-trip inspired graphics, as Lothlorien’s architecture is decorated with fairy-lighting and is made up of oil-paintings that look like they were done by school children.

Following this scene, after the Fellowship has been invited to stay a while, the elves begin to sing their Lamentation of Gandalf, which actually sounds like a light-hearted song sung by smurfs. Evidently, Gandalf’s passing did not warrant a truly sad tune in the Bakshiverse. This song plays over the Fellowship members enjoying themselves in Lothlorien.  :unsure:  For example, Aragorn and Boromir practice their sword-fighting, Legolas showing Gimli how to fire an arrow (“Heh, heh, sucker! When I master this art, you better start runnin’ ya pancy elf!”).

The audience is also presented a scene of Samwise picking a bunch of flowers. He starts picking off the rose peddles of one of them in a “She loves me, she loves me not” fashion. More disturbingly, since Rosy Cotton was been excluded entirely, that Samwise is a horrible abomination in this film, and the tender moment between Frodo and Sam earlier, one can only assume he’s doing this over Frodo’s feelings. Then he suddenly throws the flowers he picked up into the air for absolutely no reason. I could only shake my head at this.

Then bringing up the rear in this horrible montage is an utterly absurd shot of Boromir sharpening his sword on a rock. They’re called whetstones, but one can assume they haven’t heard of those in Gondor yet. By contrast, behind the scenes of Jackson’s trilogy, Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) actually requested a whetstone and various other tools to make Aragorn’s appearance of a nature-hardened ranger more convincing.

Fading away from the nauseatingly bad smurf music and absurd lapses in sword caretaking research, the film shifts to the famous Mirror of Galadriel scene, in which Frodo and Sam see “things that were, things that are, and some things that have not yet come to pass”. Only, one problem (and I am fully aware of how often I have said that), Bakshi apparently thought that the elves were hippies, because the mirror looks like it’s full of dye, like the elves were going to make tie-dye T-Shirts later. This is followed by another discrepancy. What is shown in the mirror is supposed to be as clear as day as distinctly described in the books, but the mirror’s surface stays exactly the same throughout the scene, and the hobbits describe what they see, instead of it just being shown to the viewer, like the books and Jackson’s later adaptation did.

Then Frodo looks into the mirror once again, and sees a kaleidoscope effect in it. He reaches for it, but Galadriel yells at him not to and then states that the effect is the Eye of Sauron (What?!!). So, Bakshi could afford to create a kaleidoscope effect, but not to draw a cat’s eye and then paste it into the scene? Or alternatively, he could have just snapped a picture of an actual cat’s eye, and then inserted that, and it would still look better if only for actually being an eye of any sort.

She then announces that Sauron is looking for Frodo and that the Ringwraiths had to return to Mordor after being washed away by Elrond’s defensive spell, but will return. In the books, Frodo already knew all of this as this piece of dialogue was presented much, much earlier. So they couldn’t just have Gandalf mention this when he was by Frodo’s bedside, which would be much more akin to the books. Instead they wait about a hour after the wraiths are gone to bring it up? Oh, the fact that anyone defends this film makes my head hurt.

Back to the film, Galalriel then holds up her hand and shows Frodo and Sam Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, and just like every other show of magic in this film, it is an overdone effect. The Ring actually begins shooting streams of rainbow colors that brings the Care Bear’s “Care Bear stare” to one’s mind. In the books, the Ring glows once. Then she continues to tell Frodo the obvious, that Sauron will use the Ring to destroy Lothlorien (yeah, I think Frodo caught the gist of that when he was first told that Sauron would “destroy and reform all of Middle Earth to suit his purposes”). So, Frodo offers her the Ring  :blink:  . Yeah, he did this in the book, too, but it was for more well-explained reasons.

Then Galadriel, instead of laughing pleasantly as per the books, laughs patronizingly, telling about how terrible she, a figure of power, would be with the Ring’s power. She does so while spinning around like a performer in Swan Lake, before announcing that she passed the test. What test? Bakshi doesn’t say, but the test was whether or not she could resist the Ring’s effects.

Fade to a short scene of the Fellowship out on three boats before the film quickly cuts to them on the river bank, arguing (again), and this time about whether they will go Gondor or straight to Mordor. Nothing of too much note happens here, other than that the filmmakers skipped a ton.

In the books, Galadriel gave the Fellowship each a gift before leaving. Some of them were vital to the plot, later on. Jackson’s trilogy also largely skipped over this, but Frodo at least still received the Veil of Galadriel, which will be used later. Also, Jackson’s trilogy reinserted most of the gifts in the Extended Editions. Then there’s the fact that the boat ride was actually quit lengthy and took them within Gondor’s boundaries after the group passed between Argonath (those two huge statues).

The group asks Frodo what he wants to do, and he answers that he wants an hour to think it over. For a second time, Bakshi sticks with the books in a clear way that actually works, because the audience has been let in on just enough to know that the Fellowship is, in fact, at a crossroads here.
Samwise also gets a rare moment of actually sounding like Samwise when he proclaims that he’s going wherever Frodo is. Don’t let that fool you, the film is actually about to get worse.

So, Frodo goes to think it over, and just about everyone knows what’s coming. Boromir shows up, although by this time the audience will probably have forgotten that he even had an infatuation with the Ring to begin with, as any build up or development to this moment has been nonexistent, whereas people reading the original books or viewing Jackson’s trilogy could practically see the time bomb that is Boromir slowly ticking down to this moment. He suggests to Frodo that they take the Ring to Minas Tirith, so that he could use it to defend his people. He begins ranting about the great things he could do with it.

Frodo reminds him that the Ring will corrupt him and tells him that Gandalf and Elrond have refused to even touch the thing. Boromir scoffs this off and demands the Ring, and then essentially attacks Frodo to get it when the hobbit refuses again.

Frodo slips on the Ring and makes his escape. Boromir yells more curses, but then trips. This brings him out of his frenzy and he begs Frodo to come back.

This scene almost worked, but as stated, any build up or development towards this was forsaken and the whole thing just seems abrupt and out-of-place to viewers not familiar with Tolkien’s story. Another problem was the pacing. It doesn’t even build anything up while here, either. Not the climax of Boromir’s madness and Frodo’s escape, or even on the action taking place. The scene just kind of is. That is a really bad thing, because like the Council of Elrond, this is the scene that sets off a chain of events that dictates the rest of the story and takes it in a whole new direction that the reader honestly didn’t completely see coming. This was supposed to be a very powerful moment, but instead of triumphant, like when the Fellowship got together, it was intended to invoke an entirely different set of emotions. Emotions like apprehension, fear, intensity, and perhaps a little despair in the knowledge that the side of good has just taken a hit. The reader was sucked right in by this in the book and couldn’t wait to see what happens next to remedy this situation. What they don’t know is things are actually about to get much, much worse. None of this is conveyed in this film.

After Frodo disappears and does not come back, Boromir returns to the others and tells them what happened, though he leaves the part out where he tried outright to take the Ring from Frodo. Merry and Pippin run off, looking for Frodo, immediately. Aragorn orders Legolas and Gimli to start searching, too, and then he grabs Boromir, pulls the other man to his feet and demands he helps too, before running off with Samwise following him.

Samwise, however, is unable to keep up and bemoans that he’ll never find Frodo in time just using his legs. He declares that he’ll have to use his head, instead.   :rolleyes: Up to this point, Samwise had been portrayed as an complete idiot, so audience suspension of belief that he could think of such a thing is just not there. Had Bakshi just portrayed Samwise as he was in the books, this would not have been a problem. So Samwise runs back to the shore and he finds a boat heading into the water without anyone inside of it. Then Samwise goes the unimaginable. He jumps into the water and swims to the boat. Anyone familiar with Tolkien’s works or seen Jackson's trilogy will know [B[Sam can’t swim[/B] and is actually terrified to get into boats. This was supposed to show that he was even willing to get himself drowned to go after Frodo. Frodo and Sam have their well-known exchange about whether Frodo is going on alone, Sam wins the argument, and the two take off for Mordor, together. In this film, that sounds almost suggestive. Also, we see Gollum following them on the river before the scene ends.

Back with Merry and Pippin. Oh dear, Merry and Pippin. You would actually have to see the film to believe this one. The duo is currently tearing through the woods supposedly looking for Frodo loudly calling his name. Then, this is where one reviewer justified calling them the ëIdiot Cousins’ in this version. They run right into a camp of orcs in a clearing, who were in plain view, by the way. Yes, Merry and Pippin were searching for Frodo, running madly through the flora and without looking ahead of them. Had this been like in the original book where the orcs sought them out and attacked them, this would have worked. Also, these are not supposed to be orcs. These are Uruk-Hai, half-goblin-half-human hybrids that Sarumon bred up through magic so that they could cover great distance quickly and could in sun light, whereas the typical orc would be sensitive to its rays. Yet, here are the exact same bad orc costumes that were in Moria.

This is where the film also starts to fall apart. There is no animation in this scene at all. The entire cast featured in this shot are live-action actors with outlines, and they are red tinted.

The orcs are about to kill the two, despite that in the books, Saruman wanted the hobbits alive so that he could extract any information he can from them, or perhaps take the Ring from them. Of course, none of this is known, because the audience is never let in on the fact that this particular lot of minions work for this film’s Santaman.

Boromir shows up and easily outdoes the orcs with a grace that was not present in Moria for some reason, then heads off with the two in tow. Before they can get far they run right up to a group of orcs armed with arrows whom, of course, shoot Boromir. Yes, although the audience just now saw the orcs, the trio here must have seen them from a quite a distance away as they had been running right at them for some time.

Boromir pulls the arrows out and charges the orcs, only to get shot again. Merry and Pippin are taken away by the orcs, and Boromir finally realizes he needs help and pulls out the Horn of Gondor, which has not been featured at all yet. In the books, he makes the group aware of its presence before they even set out from Rivendell. Here in this film, although the thing has been hanging from his belt the entire film, nothing has ever drawn the viewer’s attention to it. And when he blows it…apparently there were no stock horn-blowing sounds left over the huge amounts of medieval epics from the old days of cinema for Bakshi to use, because…he used the sound of either a kazoo or a party favor for the horn.

Oddly, the orcs allow him to blow into it a few more times before shooting him again and then taking off. Soon enough, Aragorn finds the dying Boromir who confesses that he tried to take the Ring from Frodo. He then begs Aragorn to save Minas Tirith, and tells him that Merry and Pippin were taken prisoner before dying.

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli put Boromir’s remains in a boat and send him down the river, where he eventually drifts back towards Minas Tirith. From here they decide to follow the orcs and become the Three Hunters. From here the books enters the territory of the second volume of Tolkien’s work, The Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers, having just wrapped up the parts that cover The Fellowship of the Ring. Oh, and the film is an hour and a half over. The film is two hours and fifteen minutes long. Forty-five minutes left. Sadly, Bakshi decided to try to tell most The Two Towers in the remaining time, which means that crucial middle chapter of the book will be bare bones.

End of Part Five.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2009, 04:10:42 PM »
Very Very good so far.. :) keep it up..
Winner of these:

Runner up for these:


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2009, 05:10:12 PM »
Part Nine: The Game Attempts-Part Six:

Picking where we left off with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli chasing after the Uruk-Kai, watch the sequences in which the three are literally jogging after the orcs. Aragorn actually trips over his own sword while still fully animated. Yes, the live-action actor who was rotoscoped over later did this, then an animator saw fit to copy this action frame by frame, and Bakshi, then actually put it in the finished film. The film only gets worse and more headache-inducing from here.

For example, back with Merry and Pippin: the audience finally finds out that the orcs are heading to Isengard, and for some reason are arguing unintelligibly with each other before they take off again. Then the scene cuts the trio finding orcs’ footprints and following them. Back with the orcs, they are being attacked by the Riders of Rohan, though the viewer does not know that yet, or that they have even reached the Gap of Rohan. Or even what the Gap of Rohan even is which I touched on before about Aragorn’s lack of description for it. It is a kingdom of opens plains and horseback warriors that neighbors Sarumon’s lair Isengard, by the way.

Then shortly later this is how the battle between the orcs and the Riders of Rohan proceeds. The two sides stand in two long lines facing one another. This goes on for about a five minutes before one rider suddenly kills an orc with an arrow while the remainder of the orcs continue to just stand there and even seem to be cheering the rider. This leaves one to guess that the orc he killed was the group Gomer (“Well, golly!”), or something of the sort. Then something even more strange happens, about three orcs try to kill the rider in return, but an orc captain stops them (?!). This goes on for quite a while before Bakshi decided he didn’t know what else to do with the scene shifts over to the three hunters again briefly.

Suddenly, Merry and Pippin are escaping during an indefinite pause in the battle despite not being given an obvious opportunity to do so while the orcs and Rohirrim continue their ultimate game of a staring contest. The orcs manage to kill one rider who got too close and this drives the rest of the riders into frenzy and they slaughter the orcs.

This is what actually happened in the books. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursued the orcs, running at full speed to do so for several days and without tripping before entering the Gap of Rohan. The Isengard Uruk-Hai were taking Merry and Pippin to Isengard because they thought that they had an elvish weapon, which Sarumon wanted to get his hands on. They meet with some Moria orcs who wanted to make the hobbits pay for what happened in the Mines, but the leader of Uruk-Hai forbade it and the group continued onto Isengard. This was the reason fo rthe argument earlier.
Then orcs and Uruk-Hai were swiftly ambushed by the Riders of Rohan in the dead of night. Merry and Pippin took this opportunity to escape after being dragged away from the group after “bribing” one of the Moria orcs with a promise that he will get the Ring. Then the orc was dispatched by a rider in the chaos and the two escaped into a nearby forest, which is called Fangorn Forest and it lies within the territories of both Rohan and Isengard.

Back to the film, now Merry and Pippin are wandering through Fangorn, without a clue where they are. They comment on how beautiful the forest is, and Treebeard agrees with them. Who’s Treebeard? Oh, just the next character introduced in the saga who literally sneaks right up on the two hobbits and into the scene. He picks them up in his arms. Now, for those unfamiliar with Tolkien’s mythos altogether, Treebeard is an Ent, which is a living, walking, talking tree, and a shepherd of the forest. Literally, he is a shepherd of the forest. They tend to the other trees that have been brought to life, but retain their entirely tree forms. The hobbits have a discussion with their new friend and he carries them right out the movie. Merry, Pippin, and newly introduced Treebeard are not seen again in the film. Also take notice, that Treebeard was actually a tree in the original work. In this film, he looks like a giant, brown carrot with broccoli-like green top. He looks nothing like a tree. It’s difficult to imagine that Bakshi somehow botched this unintentionally.

In Volume Two of the saga, The Two Towers, Treebeard actually played a fairly big role in story, because by speaking to Merry and Pippin, he learns all that Sauron and Sarumon have been up to up to date and is then driven to rally all the remaining Ents to storm Isengard, where they defeat Sarumon while the Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli aid the Rohirrim are defeating the forces that the former white wizard sent out to wipe out Rohan. Essentially, the Ents end up flooding Isengard by breaking a dam that Sarumon had constructed and that floods the entire area, further trapping the wizard inside, and the Ents stand guard over the tower for a long time, preventing his escape. Also, not explained in the film, Sarumon had been using trees from Fangorn to fuel the fires of the machines that produced the orc-man-hybrids Urak-Hai.

Meanwhile, back with Frodo and Sam, they are currently climbing down the rope that Samwise attained from Lothlorien in the books, but was left out altogether here. Frodo even takes a moment to explain away the rope as a hand wave. Even more strange, is that two are seen using the rope later, but are not seen retrieving it or it even retrieving itself as it did in the book.

The two journey on for a while longer before Samwise realizes that someone is following them. Frodo confirms that it is Gollum and the two decide to ambush him, or, would have, if Sam didn’t rush off ahead of Frodo and try to tackle Gollum himself. In the books, Samwise was intelligent enough to stick with the plan.

Here the audience finally gets their first good look at Gollum, and he still looks like the Grinch. Samwise tackles him to the ground and the two wrestle with each other until Frodo puts Sting to Gollum’s throat, threatening to cut his grinchy throat if he doesn’t stop. Gollum complies just long for Frodo to put Sting away before making a run for it. Samwise tackles the retreating Grinch again and they wrestle in ways that are more than a little disturbing before Frodo helps Sam just tie him up with the rope that they used to descend the steep cliff earlier, but did not retrieve yet is somehow still with them. Gollum then goes into convulsions about how the rope burns him, although unlike as it was in the books, it is not established how elven made rope could burn a creature so exposed to darkness. Frodo agrees to let him go if he will guide them into Mordor. Gollum agrees, they release him, and then the three take off with Gollum leading the way. More or less true to what happened in the original, but again, without nearly enough information to understand everything that just happened.

Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are shown following the trek of Merry and Pippin, when suddenly…they see a man with a bedsheet draped over his head. He looks kind of like a member of the KKK who forgot to wash his hood. Unfortunate Implications abound! The three think its Evil Santamon and attack him when he leaps onto a rock in front of them after disappearing for an instant, and he causes their weapons to catch fire and they promptly drop them. In the books, the figure just dodged their attacked and causes Aragorn’s sword to heat up just enough that he dropped it, instead of rendering the weapons useless via destroying them. Yet somehow, the weapons come out of this alright. See, he does have the ability to repair weapons at will!

Then, with dramatic flair, the figure pulls his cloak off and…it gets wrapped around his head before he finally manages to tear the thing off. What was intended to be a dramatic and powerful moment now looks like something that would appear in a Mel Brooks film in which drama in built up then deliberated killed with physical comedy. Why was this not corrected during the animation stage, and why did Bakshi keep this in the finished film, just like when Aragorn tripped over his own sword? Did he only have enough film for one take per scene left?

After a happy reunion between the former Fellowship members, Gandalf explains what happened to him and the flashback is down via showing a painting of Gandalf battling the Balrog. Neither Gandalf nor the Balrog look anything like they do in this film. Bakshi just took any image of the scene he could get his hands on. Sadly, the painting shown is a vast improvement over anything seen in this film as of yet.

Then, without any explanation, Gandalf orders the group to Edoras, the Capital City of Rohan. Gandalf tells them that the old king of Rohan, Theoden, is now entirely dependent on his advisor, Grima Wormtongue. In the book, and I am fully aware of just how many times I have said that by now, this was foreshadowed as far back as the Council of Elrond when Gandalf tells how he had trouble getting aid from the Rohirrim and ended up having to take what they thought was a untrainable horse, but was revealed to Shadowfax, Lord of All Horses. Rohan’s allegiance was even put into question during that scene.

Cue a short scene of Evil Santaman giving his Uruk-Hai army a morale boosting speech and gives them their orders. Grima Wormtongue is visibly by this side, which was never the case in the books. Evidently, Bakshi didn’t think that the audience could figure out that Grima was secretly working with Evil Santamon on their own. Then again, given his likely souring experience with the people who made him change Sarumon to Arumon, this may actually be somewhat justified.

Back with Gandalf and company, they are all riding horses that came out of nowhere. In the books, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli had a near confrontation with Theoden’s nephew, Eomer, while he was out on patrol. In an act of faith in face of growing danger and suspicion, he gave the two horses has who lost their riders and bid them look for their friends. He was also the man in charge of ambushing the Uruk-Hai that were taking Merry and Pippin to Isengard, so he was also able to tell Aragorn the way to the sight of the battle, which is how the trio even ended up back on the trail of the hobbits so quickly. Not that this film lets the audience in on any of this like the books did. Also, after fulfilling these tasks, Eomer is arrested and imprisoned. In this version, Eomer is simply banished, but continues to aid Rohan in a fashion similar to Robin Hood by ambushing any orcs armies that pass through. This is established in some dialogue Gandalf gives out. Also in the books, Eomer is quickly released from his bondage and joins Theoden from the point when Grima Wormtongue is expelled from Rohan on.

Anyway, the whole point of freeing Theoden from Grima’s grip in the books is that the fight against Sauron needed more allies to join Gondor and the other kingdoms that oppose him aside from it being the right thing to do, and now that Gandalf was figured out what is happening in Rohan, he will remedy the situation. Well, the book’s explanation, anyway. Here, it just looks like Gandalf is simply trying to save Rohan from Evil Santamon without any mention of the game of chess Gandalf is playing with Sauron. As explained in the Appendix at the end of The Return of the King, Gandalf even went as far as mobilizing Bilbo and the dwarves 67 years earlier to retake the Lonely Mountain so there would be a powerful Strongehold in that region when Sauron began his invasion once again. Yes, the events of The Hobbit were all a part of Gandalf’s gambit. Of course, he only exacts these gambits if it helps the individuals aside from the grander scheme as well. The people of Lake Town, which was near to the Lonely Mountain, were freed of the fear of Smaug the dragon, Bilbo and the dwarves grew as individuals, and everyone ended up better for it, so Gandalf’s moves are not only just to get the job done at any cost. Not that any of this comes through in Bakshi’s vision.

Anyway, the group now enters Edoras and barge into Theoden’s throne room where Theoden is. No Captain Hama at the front entrance or anything that would make sense like that. No, no. Gandalf frees Theoden of Grima’s grip and the little Jawa is chased away. Yes, Grima looks like one of the Jawas from the original Star Wars. Too bad he couldn’t also be dealt with by Stormtroopers.

Also of note, Eowyn, Theoden’s niece and younger sister of Eomer, is not given any lines despite her prominent presence in the books as the one who kept the women and children safe from the invading Uruk-Hai whenthe 10 thousand Sarumon sent out were unleashed. She also defeats the leader of the Nazgul after saving her uncle from becoming a Fell Beast’s dinner. Oh well, at least the latter was restored in Rankin-Bass’s The Return of the King.

Theoden immediately agrees with Gandalf and the Riders head out right away to Helm’s Deep, a fortress where they will be able to fend off the invading Uruk-Hai. Gandalf takes his leave to go find Eomer, leaving the three hunters and Theoden to their own devices. In the books, Gandalf was riding off to find the lords in other areas of Rohan to get them to render aid because Eomor was already with them. The Jackson films also had this unfortunate deviation, but more on that at a later time.

Meanwhile, back with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum the Grinch, this trio are currently heading through what is supposed to pass for the swamps of the dead, which was a secret path that only Gollum knew. As expected a Ringwraith with an upgraded steed, which flies, circles overhead, having momentarily sensed the Ring before continuing on its way to its current task. Of course, it just looks like the wraith did a shoddy job of searching the area here, as there is no explanation that the wraith as on an errand, as Tolkien helpfully explained in the books. The three hide until the wraith disappears and quickly continue on their way.

Later, as the two hobbits sleep, Gollum tosses and turns as the two sides of his personality fight over what they should do with the hobbits. Eventually, the two warring sides decide to call a compromise, and instead of outright killing them or not killing, Gollum will lead the two hobbits to “her”. “She” is never shown or detailed in this version, but as most will know, the “her” in question is Shelob, the Great Spider.

Back with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Who are already at Helm’s Deep. The trio observes a pack of dogs that Bakshi tries to pass off as wargs, the giant wolves the orcs ride. Then the sky turns blood red, bringing imagery of the apocalypse from the book of Revelation to mind, and the orcs march over a hill in a big group, though nowhere near the promised ten thousand.

The Battle of Helm’s Deep breaks out and from here on out, aside from a few animated characters mixed in the middle every now and then, the film is entirely live-action, but filmed through various odds colors and other odd effects. Bakshi also lifts the battle footage of a film titled Aleksandr Nevskiy for this scene. Arrows are fired, people of both sides die, ladders are lifted, then knocked down, swords are swung. The scene plays out like any other battle scene only more incoherent. I won’t comment on how the battle actually might have looked in its original film, because Bakshi probably had to cut and paste it all straight to hell to make it work, but it does look terrible here. In fact, the only thing of interest is that the orcs begin using a battering ram on a wall when the gate is right next to them. Then, the unimaginable happens, from where he’s standing in Isengard, Evil Santamon fires blue rays of energy with blue or orange scribbly lines dancing around inside of them at Helm’s Deep. This blows the wall. In the books, the orcs just used gunpowder, which Sarumon invented for this battle.

The Rohirrim and the trio retreat into the caves and are soon cornered there by the orcs, but Theoden announces that he will not be “caught like some badger in a hole”, and decides to make a last stand. Aragorn agrees to go along with this, although it will likely result in their deaths. In the books, again, this was a powerful moment of the side of good facing overwhelming darkness because they refuse to give into it, but here…here, the audience can only react with apathy once more.

The film fades back to Frodo and Sam, Sam is concerning himself with the food supply, and asks how they’ll keep it up after reaching Mount Doom. The way figures he it, they have just enough to get there. To this, Frodo replies that they shouldn’t worry about it, and just concentrate on getting there. Then Frodo bemoans how heavy the Ring is weighing on his spirit, with his eyes downcast as if actually feeling heavy. A moment of ackward silence follows before Samwise actually gets up and walks away, whistling to himself!

Anyway, Gollum reappears in all his grinchy glory, and bids the hobbits to follow him to the secret stairs, although this passage he speaks of has yet to be identified. Perhaps it’s time for Samwise to use his mind-reading abilities again. The three of them get a move on again, and that was the last scene of Frodo, Sam, or the Grinch…er, Gollum, in this film. As stated, Bakshi tried to tell all of Two Towers, but didn't quite get it done. Oh well, this was only supposed to encompass one part of the story, anyway, but now would be a good time to mention that the posters of this film only ever head The Lord of the Rings, which had most who came to see this thinking that the entire story would be told in this film. The audiences were in for a jarring disappointment within a few minutes from this point.

Also, although Bakshi might have been intending to do this in Part Two, in the books Frodo, Sam, and Gollum encounter a party of Gondor soldiers and rangers from the same order as Aragorn around this time. They are led by Faramir, the younger brother of Boromir, who aids them on their journey, instead of doing as his father, Denethur wished, which would require him bringing back the Ring to Gondor. After this encounter once they have entered the secret passgae into Mordor, Gollum springs his trap on the hobbits in Shelob’s Lair, where Frodo is poisoned and sent into a coma, then captured by orcs. Samwise took the Ring and all of Frodo’s other important belongings, thinking his master to be dead and that he would have to carry on the quest, alone. However, upon discovering that Shelob’s only knocks her victims out by listening to the orcs talk, he decides to instead sneak into the fortress where they take himand save his master. The book leaves off on that cliffhanger.

Meanwhile, back at this film's Helm’s Deep: Theoden and company make their last stand by riding out and meeting the invading Uruk-Hai who have taken the fortress. Although who exactly is winning at this point is still, somehow, unclear. Thankfully, a bunch of orcs materialize around the heroes to clarify the situation and their slowly tighten the circle. For some reason or another, the music is playing heroically, contradicting the hopelessness of the situation at hand for Aragorn and co. Also, Theoden smiles at an approaching orc (?!).

Just then, Gandalf, followed by Eomer and his men arrive riding down the hill and single-handedly save the day. Then, despite the PG rating, Gandalf begins hacking Uruk-Hai, who bleed quite graphically as Gandalf cuts them all down.

The advance on the Uruk-Hai continues until they retreat, and that moment of before mentioned jarring disappointment comes about. The narrator from the beginning of the film says this as it shows Gandalf riding side by side with Theoden, Aragorn, and the rest:

“The forces of Darkness were driven forever from the face of Middle Earth by the valiant friends of Frodo! As their gallant battle ended, so too ends the first great tale of... The Lord of the Rings!”

The End.  :blink:  Yes, really. The film ends right there. The Ents do not defeat Evil Santamon, they do not imprison him in his own power, Gandalf, Aragorn and co do not go to the tower to confront Sarumon and end up leaving with his Palintir (a crystal-like device no introduced in this adaptation), and with Merry and Pippin now rescued and in tow. That. Is. It.

Also, the line, “The Forces of Darkness were driver forever from the face of Middle Earth…” is just inaccurate so entirely Burns! It freezes ussss!!!! I would love to see how the siege of Gondor by said Forces of Darkness was going to be justified in Part Two if they were forever driven from its face. Or heck, how does one victory in a far off kingdom suddenly make Sauron and his HQ for the Forces of Darkness, Mordor, cease to exist.

End of Part Nine.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2009, 05:15:31 PM »
Part Ten: Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings Conclusion:

How does Ralph Bakshi’s rendering of The Lord of the Rings hold up and how well did it adapt the epic work to the big screen? It doesn’t hold up well by today’s standards, and it doubtful that even held up during 1978, in which much better animated films had been released. It also does not do a very good job of adapting Tolkien’s books to the big screen, at all.

When the film was first released, it came with much advertising and publicity in which a lot of interesting facts about the film was publicized for audiences to see to try to get them excited about it. As stated, one fact that was not made public knowledge was that this was supposed to be Part One of Two. It was simple titled, The Lord of the Rings. While some advocate for Bakshi in that he argued with the studio over this, he still had some cards in play in-film to tip the audience off, like slipping the “Part One” into the titled when it firsts appears in the credits. That would still not have fixed the situation entirely, but it would still have been something.

The first part of the film was reasonable enough, it was mostly animated, with only a few hinted of the low budget sneaking through, and it followed the book...basically, anyway. However, all the charm and personality of all the characters is sacrificed, most of their backstories are entirely left out, as are important plot details, or if their stories aren't changed completely (Legolas being reduced from the being the frikkin prince of frikkin Mirkwood to being frikkin Elrond's frikkin servant), making the film overall very confusing.

Then about an hour and half in the budget finally must have started to run dry and on top of that, the filmmakers just gave up on trying to adequately tell the story, and then the whole disjointed mess ends with an abrupt and nonsensical closinging narration and the closing credits roll. The music is monotonous and rarely matches the relevant scene, and the backgrounds, instead of using the highly sophisticated techniques of the multi-laired camera, they are simply Matte paintings with surreal colors inserted.

In any case, Bakshi was not allowed to finish this work and it was given over to Rankin-Bass to complete as a TV movie, simply titled The Return of the King.

End of Part Ten.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2009, 05:24:30 PM »
Part Eleven: The Game Attempts-Part Eight:

Rankin-Bass’ The Return of the King: In 1980, The Return of the King was intended to be the third and final part of the animated Tolkien saga that Rankin-Bass began with their release of The Hobbit. It aired on ABC, and as such, was the standard ABC hour-and-a-half in terms of running time. Given that the Bakshi version left out Faramir, Sarumon’s final humiliation at Gandalf’s hands, attaining of Sarumon’s Palintir, Gandalf and Pippin’s trek to Gondor, and the lair of Shelob, this meant that Rankin-Bass had much to do with this limited time slot. So, how did they actually go about this? Let’s dive right in.

The film actually begins at the beginning of the third book, so Rankin-Bass did not address any of the missing scenes from the second half of both the Two Towers books. The duo most famous for their Christmas Specials must have taken the notion that they were only adapting The Return of the King very literally.

This leaves a few problems, but the adaptation only becomes more problematic from there in what I would have to guess was Executive Meddling. You see, the film actually begins at Bilbo’s 129th Birthday after an opening narration by Gandalf in which they seem to be trying to get him to speak cryptically, but fail. Example: "Hear you know, a story about dragons and emperors. Of armies and fields of horrendous carnage. Listen as we speak, for the tale you about to unfold is about the fall of a lord of darknnes, and the return of a king of light. A tale that ends at a beginning, and a begins at an end. An epic, in which all the evil the world could muster is carried one's shoulders. But what warrior or lord could bear such a burden, you may ask? Why, no lord at all..." That's as close as I can remember without writing the whole thing as Gandalf drones on relentlessly, and I don't have subtitles to help me, because I only have this on VHS. Ah man, the Bakshi version's narration had a quiet dignity next to this!

Although Gandalf did say one thing I rather liked. “This is a tale of the fall of a Lord of Darkness and the Return of a King of light.” When he says this, it shows the Eye of Sauron, which fades out and Aragorn fades in. Yeah, not exactly subte, but I still think the moment's effective. By the way, Rankin-Pass also use a kaleidoscope effect for the Eye, though they do it a bit better than Bakshi did.

At Bilbo’s made up 129th Birthday: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Bilbo, Gandalf, and Elrond attend. This party was never in the books, and oddly, only six people attend at Elrond’s dinner table. To make matters worse, in a moment that Jackson may have unfortunately been inspired by, Bilbo is portrayed a senile old retiree who can’t even keep his eyes open. He also does not seem to remember how dangerous and evil the Ring was. Also, Merry and Pippin act as if they were still those young hobbits that set out with Frodo from the Shire impatiently waiting for Bilbo to cut the cake and making a fuss over it, instead of the battle-hardened veterans that most audiences would know them to be by the end. Even worse, Bilbo then openly argues with Frodo about the nature of the Ring, advocating for it as it helped him defeat Smaug. So, Gandalf takes this opportunity to introduce someone called The Minstrel of Gondor, who sings the backstory to the audience, referring to it as “The Tale of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and Ring of Doom” while inserting false information that Bilbo found “that shiny Ring” two ages past, instead of just 68 years ago, sadly put over footage from The Hobbit, reminding viewers are better done adaptations. Take note, the Minstrel looks stupid. He looks like a cross between Shaggy from Scooby-Doo and a rooster with a huge vulture-beak of a nose that’d make Jim Henson’s Gonzo the Great jealous.

By the way, Frodo tells Bilbo that if he didn’t keep the Ring on his mantlepiece as a trophy that the Ring’s growing power and evil would have eventually overtaken him. So, what’s the problem? Simple: Bilbo didn’t keep the Ring as a trophy like that. He couldn’t stand to be parted with it that long because of paranoia brought on by the Ring that someone might steal it from him. And it did almost take him over in the end, as witnessed even in the previous film, Ralph Bakhi’s The Lord of the Rings, so there is no excuse why Rankin-Bass made this mistake.

Why did the powers that be on the film decide to portray Bilbo as knowing absolutely nothing about that quest when he was one of the first people to know and even sat in on the council (in the books)! Why are they doing this to poor Bilbo? Hasn’t he suffered enough without being turned into a stereotypical old coot?!

The film then spends the next ten or so minutes recapping what happened from Bilbo’s finding of the Ring up the end of Two Towers. The film also tells the audience that Frodo left the Shire with only Samwise and that the two had many adventures with just the two of them. If by “many adventures”, the narrator means a confrontation with Gollum, a trek through some swamps, a run in with an ally, and then a battle with a giant spider, then sure, “many adventures”, rather than a relatively tame journey as compared to the adventures of Aragorn and company which involved tracking armies of Uruk-Hai and fort sieges.

It also tells the audience that Aragorn, minus Legolas and Gimli who will never be seen or heard of in this film, has been off having unrelated adventures with a small band of men, though it at least makes sure to tell the audience what Gondor is and that he is the heir to the throne, but cannot claim the before Sauron is defeated and the war ends. Although why is again left out. Why is that fact that Sauron will destroy it if Aragorn tries to take the throne while the lord dark is still lives just too hard to explain? There, I just did. Why can't any filmmakers outside of Peter Jackson be bothered to state this? Its not like that pidbit of info even needs more than one line of dialogue to explain it. Observe:

Frodo: "Gandalf, why does Aragorn not claim the throne of Gondor if he is the heir?"
Gandalf: "Because Sauron will crush Gondor if Aragorn tries while he still lives."

Reason solidified. It'd take no more than six seconds to get this said, tops. Did Bakshi and Rankin-Bass think they'd have to go into extravagant detail about this?

Also of note, when the narration comes around to when Frodo is captured by the orcs, he is seen waving his sword around in the air at nothing, then it cuts to a shot of Sam holding himself back from aiding his master. Yes, Frodo appears to have gone insane before being captured, instead of battling Shelob. What happened in the book (at the end of Two Towers, actually) was that Frodo and Sam followed Gollum into a secret path that led into Mordor where he set them up to be attacked by the great spider, herself. Here, Frodo was stung by her and seemingly died. Samwise, thinking his master to be dead, took the Ring and hid himself before the orcs showed up and took they Frodo away. Only then did Samwise manage to overhear that Frodo’s actually just been rendered temporarily comatose. From there, Sam vowed to rescue Frodo, return to the Ring to its rightful bearer, and continue the quest.

The third and final volume, The Return of the King, picks right Sam and Frodo’s story right where it left off with Sam trying to find a way into Mordor and the fortress Cirith Ungol, where Frodo was taken.

Over the course of the narration, the story gets tossed back and forth between Gandalf talking and the Minstrel singing without any rhymn or reason for the switches. Its like Rankin-Bass couldn’t decide on a style and tried to work both in, instead of just picking one and sticking with it. This is more than a little annoying. Also, calling the song “Frodo of the Nine-Fingers…”, plus Bilbo’s fuss over it at the party just kind of ruins the story. Seriously, Bilbo says: “You not only lost my Ring, but you lost the finger on which it roamed?” That gives the ending away! Were they concerned that kiddies would get too scared if the story wasn’t told in flashback to remind them that Frodo and Sam make it out okay? Also in the narration, Gandalf overdoses on the use of the word “Malignency” when referring to the Ring. Evil, malice, darkness, and trickery are just few other choice terms they could have used to add a little more variety.

Back to the film, the highly inaccurate prologue ends and the story finally begins with Samwise actually pounding on the front gate of Cirith Ungol, while yelling at the top of his lungs. In the books, he did try to force the door open, but he had the wits to stay quiet and try to sneak in unnoticed. Here, Gandalf also overdoes describing Samwise’s determination to rescue Frodo with such terms as “he burned with a magnificent madness” along with several other fancy ways of saying “Samwise was really determined to rescue Frodo” to get the point across. Its called subtly, Rankin-Bass. Try it sometime.

While he tries to force the gate open, he comes across Frodo’s Lothlorien cloak, his sword, Sting, and…the Ring, somehow. How and why did the orcs allow these things to drop is the bafflement of many an audience member. In the books, Samwise took Sting along with the Ring and the veil before the orcs found Frodo and before they left they rounded up everything they could find at the site in order to conduct a proper investigation of this prisoner. But here, the viewer is expected to believe that the orcs allowed the enemy’s weapon, attire, and THE RING to drop! I have no words for this. This single-handedly tops any insanity the Bakshi version came up with.

Anyway, Samewise pockets all the stuff and continues to shout at the top of his lungs for a bit, before commencing in excessively talking to himself. He begins to explore the area surrounding Cirith Ungol, and eventually finds a crack that leads him in. As he travels through the opening, the audience may notice that webs line the walls, though nothing ever comes of them. This is what is called a Continuity Nod. The filmmakers hint at Shelob’s presence, but she is never to appear.

Back to the film, Samwise soon finds himself inside of Mordor, as per the books, via the passage. Here, he observes two orcs fighting each other through a window and decides that it would be the perfect distraction. However, the Rings somehow holds him back. Samwise, for whatever reason, agrees with the object of absolute evil without seeing any obvious ploy being played here. He reconsiders sneaking into Cirith Ungol, and instead decides to try to destroy the Ring, himself and then runs off leaving Frodo behind in the tower as a song about the evil of the Ring plays over this. Also, the Ring is played as a strictly outside force that must be resisted by pure will. In the books, the Ring boths inside and out. It plays on its victems weaknesses AND it’s a malevalent outside force that must be resisted. This guarantees that no one can be trusted with the Ring, hence why Gandalf and Elrond even refused to touch even once. Rankin-Bass only decided to play one side of it, because it guess the full explanation would have just been too complex. Although that’s better than Bakshi did, who barely explains the Ring at all.

Samwise comes to a ledge that overlooks Mount Doom, and maliciously cocks an eyebrow at it. Then, the unthinkable happens, Sam is overtaken by the Ring and announces loudly to the world that he “could claim [the] Ring, and [he] would be Samwise, the Strong”. Then, more music about the evil of the Ring plays over this as Samwise has a fantasy about using the Ring to lead an army that showers him in worshipful praises as they lay siege to Mordor and transforming it into a “garden of [his] delight”. In the fantasy, Sam even goes as far as transforming the orcs into animals (?!). Then he rants “All could be mine, if I claim thee Ring!” Then he prepares to put the thing on his finger when he suddenly comes to his sense, then…

Ladies and gentlemen, this film actually had the nerve to give Samwise a big and over-dramatic “No” at this moment. He even throws his arms into the air that he does in a moment reminiscent of Bakshi’s version, or William Shatner, or BRIAN BLESSED!

Then the audience hears some internal dialogue from Sam wondering what brought him back to his sense. He decides on “plain hobbit sense” before heading back towards Cirith Ungol. As he continues walking, another song starts to play while Sam has yet another vision, though a pleasant sounding one this time as opposed to the dramatic chanting of “The power is a power never known” and “beware the power of the Ring”. This time the vision of Sam sitting in a rocking chair as Rosie and his children play around. The song intones such themes “the things I can’t do without are the things that life are all about”.

Even if the scene proceeding this was over doing something that was only a minimal moment in the books in which Sam was just briefly tempted by the Ring but overcame it without much struggle, I actually liked this part. Sam thinking of home, the showing of his heart’s true desires, and the picturing of a peaceful and loving future with his love Rosie is SO much more in tune with Sam’s character than anything else seen in the animated adaptations up to this point. Anyway, the moment is unfortunately interrupted by Sam reaffirming the obvious (“Only Frodo can bear the Ring to Mount Doom.”) before heading off to save his master.

Then the film suddenly turns its attention over to another one of the many subplots of the story, the Siege of Gondor. Now, it is not so much that it decided to move away from the story concerning Frodo and Sam at this point, but the way it does it is so abrupt and disjointed that it’s actually confusing. This kind of sudden shift in from one part in the tale to the next is continual throughout the entire film, I am sorry to say, but I will try to keep with the original format in which this film was told and keep it coherent where the film falls flat.

Anyway, Gandalf takes over narrating again as the camera pans and fades away from Cirith Ungol over to Minas Tirith where he tells the audience that there’s a siege going on at Gondor. No, really. He just states the obvious that Sauron is laying siege to it while the narration is helped by some convenient shots of charging orcs without going into any of the real details about it.The elephants that Saruon’s armies use look more like mammoths in this version, by the way.

Yeah, that Sauron thought that the Ring was in Gondor, that he wanted to destroy it before Aragorn could claim either and both, and that it was the nearest strong outpost and obstacle for him to overcome are all left out. Gandalf instead makes do with saying "[Gondor] is the last stronghold of good". Get used to these over-exaggerations from him in this version, people.

Also, Gandalf describes what the city looks like and does quite an accurate job of doing it. The Matte Painting they used for Minas Tirith, by the way, is gorgeous. Unlike Bakshi, Rankin-Bass took the description of the city from the book and had someone paint an intricate illustration of it using that guideline and I mean it, it is truly a sight to behold. He also identifies Cirith Ungol, guardian of Mordor’s front gate and Barad-dur, home of the Sauron.

Moving on, after some shots of the battle, which shows some black-armored skeletons riding black pegasi which are what passes for Nazgul and Fell Beasts in this movie (I never thought I would miss the Bakshi-Nazgul). The scene switches over to Denethur, the Stewart of Gondor, who is holding his head in a pained manner in the throne room. The audience gets their first good look at the man, and it is not a pretty sight…or even a sight befitting the proud, iron-fisted, and shrewd Denethur from the books. He is a decrepit old man with three teeth, total, and a bald head with long hair coming from wherever he’s still got it, walks hunched over on a cane and has a nose that would also make Jim Henson’s Gonzo jealous. He also starts ranting and raving like a lunatic as Gandalf helpfully explains that he is “caught in the fires of his own madness”. Then he orders his own execution and speaks while excessively using the words “thee” and “thou”, which only sound cool or ominous when well-used, by the way. Here, they are not and they just sound stupid. Now, the casual viewer may be wondering why Denethur is going mad, as that little detail is left out entirely. One: he’s the father of Boromir, the warrior from Gondor who was a member of the Fellowship. You know: the guy who ended up an Uruk-Hai bolt pin cushion. Two: his other son, Faramir, by this point, was dying from a suicide mission Denethus sent him on earier and the old Stewart already thought him dead and was despairing completely by this point. No sons, no one Ring to use as a weapon, which is why he sent Boromir to Rivendell in the first place. Nothing. He gives into his own madness. Unfortunately, none of these little plot points make it into this film because I suppose Rankin and Bass thought them to be unimportant.

Anyway, Pippin is here. As readers of the original book will know, he had been brought by Gandalf to Minas Tirith by this point after the incident concerning his temporary obsession with Sarumon’s Palantir shortly it was retrieved from him and had sworn allegiance to Denethur upon their arrival. From here, he spends a lot of time with Denethur in the throne room and soon finds his decision to serve the Stewart to have been as hastily acted as his theft of the seeing orb. Hence his presence is in this scene. He declares that the Stewart can’t kill himself. A nearby guard, however, who is the third and only other person in an oddly vacant throne room, says that Denethur’s word is law and thus can do whatever he wants. So, Pippin states that he’ll go get Gandalf and runs off to find the wizard.

On a side note, if the audience just happens to be watching the film while reading this, the voice of Pippin sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? Well, it’s Casey Kasem, radio personality and the original voice of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo and Robin on Superfriends. Let the randomness continue!

From there we move onto Gandalf who narrates that he is in council with Gondor’s generals in the tower-like battement, although such council is never shown. Gandalf is instead first seen in this segment staring out a window overlooking the battle below, watching and waiting, for…their salvation. Then he talks about how the situation is grim (no kidding there, Gandy! Also going to point out that Sauron is evil while you’re at it?) and he is losing hope. Gandalf may have waned a little in the books, but the sheer level of despair presented here and throughout the remainder of he film is not shared in the source material.

Who is this “salvation” he’s waiting for, though? The destruction of the Ring, Aragorn and his band of merry men, Superman, Dirty Harry…? None of the above as it turns out, although the latter two would have been awesome. It is Theoden who he’s waiting for to save their hides, fore “only he can win the day”. Uh-huh. Gandalf is in for one very big disappoint if he’s hinging everything on the horse lords and their really old king. Also, in this version it shows Merry having been dispatched from Gondor in order to call on the aid of Theoden. Nope, Merry wasn’t left behind IN Rohan with the riders like he was in the books. He was evidently taken along with Gandalf and thus never got a chance to bond with Eowyn and the others. I’d love to know how Gandalf carried two hobbits on just one horse. Maybe he just dragged Merry along by a rope. Anyway, Theoden draws his weapon and decides to ride to the aid of Gondor and he, Merry and the Riders take off, full speed. Also, Theoden looks like battle-hardened Santa Claus in this version.

I should also mention that it was a series of beacons from Gondor to Rohan that was used to signal the Riders to come hither. Apparently, that just would have been too cool for this film.

Back to the subplot involving Pippin and Denethur the Senile. Pippin runs up to Gandalf and whispers to Gandalf was has just happened with the Stewart. “What?!” Gandalf melodramatically exclaims. Then Pippin reaffirms what he just told Gandalf with the statement, “He’s gone loony, I tell you!”

Rant time. “Loony”?! “Loony”!! Jinkies, zoinks, and holy bad writing, Batman! Why, by Thor’s Hammer, did they use that word in an adaptation of a work by Tolkien? Couldn’t they have made due with “He’s gone mad, I tell you!” or “He has taken leave of his good senses, I tell you!” “Madness has taken Denethur, Gandalf!” “Denethur’s mind has become aflame with insanity, Gandalf!” Anything! Anything but what they actually had Pippin say right here! This is anarchy, especially considering how many other adequate or maybe even eloquent ways this could have been stated very simply rather than the insipid wording they picked. I blame the 70s, the 80s, and the studio executives representative of said decades for this one, folks. Rankin-Bass already proved they can and are willing to use Tolkien’s dialogue or something close to it via their wonderful rendering of The Hobbit. So there’s no excuse or even a reason why they botched this up so royally here. End of rant.

Gandalf rushes over to the palace where he confronts Denethur and tells him that he cannot have himself executed. Then Denethur begins a muddled tirade about how doomed they are. Then Denethur pulls out his own palandir which shows the Black Sailed ships arriving by river to back up the dark armies with more reinforcements. Then flames suddenly are super-imposed over Denethur before the scene fades back to the tower Gandalf was in. Gandalf was since returned to his moping spot at the window and Pippin is now with him.

Here, savvy audience members are greeted with more inaccuracies. Gandalf was given completely into despair and again makes the absurd claim that only Theoden can win the way.  Then Pippin has to ask what a palantir is. No, really. The one hobbit to have an up close encounter with one asks this. Then Pippin asks if the palantirs are ever wrong or lie. Gandalf answers “Never.” Actually they do in the books if the one using a seeing stones is influencing what images can be seen by someone else using one of the other orbs. Think of it like a biased news network, only with magic. It’s established that Sauron had been doing this and was partially what caused Denethur’s madness and Sarumon’s corruption. Tolkien states this very clearly in the books. Pippin asks about Aragorn’s return, to which Gandalf glumly answers: “If Aragorn returns.” Enough said.

From here, the film again switches over to tell a different part of the story: Samwise at Cirith Ungol.

End of Part Eleven.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2009, 07:53:03 PM »
Ok I think I have pretty good idea of where you will rank the 3 films.. ironicallt Tom Bombidal isn't in any of the films..
Winner of these:

Runner up for these:


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2009, 05:44:02 AM »
Part Eleven: The Game Attempts-Part Nine:

Samwise has made it back to the fortress in order to rescue Frodo.

Ah, so over-blowing Sam’s momentary infatuation with the Ring did have a purpose to serve Rankin and Bass. It allowed them to invent a place to break away from Frodo and Sam’s subplot in order to go over the Gandalf and Pippin’s end of things.

Aside from that, what follows for the next scene is actually fairly true to the book, believe it or not. Firstly, Sam is frightened of the large three headed vulture-esque statutes that stand of either side of the gate, but he sucks up his courage and decides to just pass through quickly. So he walks up the gate of Cirith Ungol and discovers that it only appears to be open and actually it has an invisible wall bars his way. Gandalf narrates that some devilry was on the statues to allow them to do this. So while Sam puzzles on how to overcome this obstacle something begins to burn in his pocket. It is the Veil of Galadriel, not featured in Bakshi’s work, and not explained in this one, so anyone who is not familiar (or not recently so) with Tolkien’s writings will have no idea what is it or what it does. All they will know is that the Veil is making annoying and cheesy B-Grrade movie futuristic technology noises. Well, the Veil repels evil. It repelled and blinded Shelob, weakening her, and it breaks the enchantment of the Gate of Cirith Ungol.

Well, once the invisible gate is dispelled, Samwise passes on through after making a glib remark and calling the statues “old boys”. Then, the Watchers sound an alarm by shrieking like a monstrous creature and a goblin rings a bell somewhere. Sam panics and gets a move on but only finds a bunch of dead orcs rather than the army of live ones he was expecting to come bearing down on him. He wonders what happened and then finally concludes that they killed each other. He mutters a ëgood riddance’ to them as he passes the corpses and heads inside. There are no painful deviantions throughout this sequence. This soon ends, however.

As of Sam entering the Cirith Ungol, we’re thirty minutes into the hour and a half film at this point, by the way.

Sam has entered the tower and notes that it climbs “backwards like”, although none of the architecture seen looks even remotely confusing. He has no idea where to go like in the books so he just decides to start climbing stairs. The scene fades away to Sam sweating and exhausted from so much climbing and trying to convince himself that he’s near the top and just needs to keep going. Alright, this was kind of funny and not in an inappropriate way.

Sam suddenly hears footsteps and correctly concludes that “oh, they’re not all dead!” The Bakshi Sam would probably have been wondering who the oncoming person was, but let’s not go too far back in that direction. Anyway, its, of course, an orc, who stops when he spots Sam and then loudly declares: “Burn ëem! Boil ëem! Smash ëem! Split ëem in two! Skin ëem alive! Cut to ëem to bits!” He does this before he even pulls out his sword to attack and thus gives the hobbit ample time to prepare himself for the oncoming attack.

So Sam, of course, successfully parries his sword with one hand and grabs hold of the Ring in order to prevent the orc from getting it. Then…then things get really weird. Sam grabs the Ring and suddenly begins glowing green and looking angry and about a hundred times scarier than before. HULK SMASH! This freaks the orc out who drops his sword while gasping “No… No!” in horror before running off.

Sam lets go of the Ring and wonders why the orc reacted that way, then gives chase babbling about how he’s a great elf warrior and how he’s loose in Cirith Ungol. The orc, meanwhile, is still running away full speed still with his hands covering his head shouting “No! No!” The spectacle is even more hilarious than I’m letting on.

Finally, Sam orders the orc to stop and the thing obeys and pleads for mercy. Sam answers that “[he’ll] have to think about it.” Then he starts grilling the orc for answers when…things take a turn for the stupid. The orc captains made their men fight over Frodo’s stuff, which they think he hid, which actually just dropped off him when they hailed him into Cirith Ungol while he was very unconscious. Lost yet? Well, this is the insanity that came out of the orc’s mouth when Sam asked what had happened there. No, really. This takes us back the fact that these morons let Frodo's stuff fall to the ground without noticing at the beginning of the film. Now to make the whole thing more batshit the orcs somehow got into their heads that he hid his stuff while he was still unconscious. Why couldn’t they have just tortured all of the answers out of Frodo first? That was their goal, anyway. Get the prisoner to talk. Then they could have decided on who got the spoils. Seriously! What. The. Hell?!

In the books, this situation happened under very different circumstances and it wasn’t Frodo’s Lothlorien cloak that was the prize to be won. It was the mithril vest that Bilbo passed onto him. Alright, the orc captain Gorbag and an Uruk-Hai captain were going through Frodo’s stuff when the hybrid decided he wanted Frodo’s belongings for himself, to sell or auction off. But Gorbag was loyal to Sauron and insisted that all the stuff goes to the Great Eye. So the orcs THEN did battle over this conflict of loyalties. That being said, Sam did chase a couple of orcs, but he did not catch either of them.

Back to Sam interrogating the orc: The orc finally turns around realizes that Sam is the same kind of small creature the prisoner is and attacks. Sam slashes his sword at him and yelling for him to get back then grabs the Ring again and takes on the scary look again. The orc freaks once more and runs right off the edge of a platform to his death. The new, improved Evil Lackeysô, now self-defeating.

Fade to a repeat of a tired Sam climbing the insanely tall power when he reaches a ladder leading up to one final door. He hears some low moaning coming from there and recognizes the voice as Frodo’s. He climbs the ladder and enters the room, which is revealed to be torture chamber. An orc is whipping Frodo, no less. Sam intervenes and the orc attacks him but trips and falls through the trapdoor to his death. Man, the Storm Troopers from Star Wars had more dignified deaths than this! Yes, I am aware that this is how this orc died in the book as well, but like the Watcher closing the doors behind the Fellowship at Moria and Aragorn running around with a broken sword through the countryside it doesn’t work for film too well.

Anyway, Sam has now rescued Frodo. The film is now 35 minutes out of an hour and a half over. Between this and the subplot with Gandalf and Gondor, Frodo has less than 55 minutes left to develop as a character. Sam tries to bring his master to consciousness although once he does the audience will wish he hadn’t

Basically, Frodo gushes how happy he is to see Sam and that the torture at the orc’s hands is over. Then he begins recalling his experience. Alright, fair enough, but then he begins babbling about setting sail on the White Ships when he should just be concentrating on the quest. While Frodo imagines parting from Middle Earth standing next to Gandalf and Elrond another song plays over it about how one should “leave tomorrow ëtil it comes.”

Anyway, he thinks the quest has failed but it turns out that Sam has the Ring and the Veil. Here things remain more or less true to the books, but what comes next is not.

Sam pulls out the Veil and asks about it, but Frodo answers that he is only at liberty to say “It is the Veil of Galadriel”. He makes the claim that there’s some secret of the Veil and that its power will die if he tells it, which is bullshit. This explanation is lazy and completely fabricated so that Rankin-Bass can avoid the subject altogether. Not that they’d have too for the sake of screen time if Bakshi had just kept the damn thing in his rendering. Seeing what a mess they had to try to salvage in just an hour and a half yet?

Sam suggests he hang onto the Ring a while longer because he thinks Frodo is too weak to handle it. Frodo, at first, agrees, but then the Ring makes him go crazy and he orders Sam to give to him. Then, Rankin-Bass felt the need to reassert their idea that they need to over blow all of the Ring’s effects on people by having Frodo hallucinate that Sam is an orc before beginning a tirade that “[he] has the power now!” Oh, and he’s also glowing green when he goes this. HULK SMASH!

Sam successfully manages to talk Frodo out of his paranoia and the Ring-Bearer promptly apologizes and then the two get a move on. On a final note, the Ring makes an annoying humming sound all throughout the scene. This was likely to show it was at works, but really it just makes one wonder how anyone can be entranced by it if they have to put with the most wretched sounds ever recorded for film. Seems to me like that’d be more incentive to get rid of it.

Later, in the courtyard of the fortress, Sam and Frodo dress in orc garb to disguise themselves and then try to pass through the Invisible Gate. Of course, its erected again. Sam tries to use the Veil, but it doesn’t work. Frodo explains that the Watchers were expecting it this time and that their will is strong. So he also grabs the Veil Sam is holding to help him. Alright, this was an interesting idea, but…to anyone who has ever seen an episode of Superfriends, it’s hard not to picture the Wonder Twins joining their Rings in the exact same manner Frodo and Sam are holding the Veil. The friend I was watching this with and I both knew to shout “Wonder Twin Power: Activate!”

This somehow causes the Watchers to cave in and the hobbits have to rush past as the Gate collapses. Hmm. I wonder how Sauron is going to use this fortress as his front lines when Aragorn and company arrive at this very gate later if Frodo and Sam already trashed the place. Not to mention a huge front stone gate completely caving in going to make one hell of a racket which will attract all kinds of trouble, so, so much for stealth.

Sure enough, a Nazgul comes to investigate and lands on a platform atop the tower. Yeah, this was int he books, but the Nazgul only arrived because the alarm from earlier rang out, not because of something powerful enough to cause the front gates of Cirith Ungol to cave in.

Sam wants to hurry the heck out of there, but Frodo is tired. Sam actually has to remind Frodo way they need to get as far away from the nasty Black Rider as possible. Frodo finally gets moving and they are on their way again.

Cue a traveling montage, but the scenes remain just long before fading to something else that we get to hear Frodo and Sam get turns whining. I am not making this up. First in one scene, Frodo is moaning about what a wretched place Mordor is and Sam has to console him. Then in the next fade in, Sam’s the one whining, and so on and so forth for about five or six fade-ins and outs. I understand that the filmmakers did this to show what a horrible place Mordor, in fact, is, but the whole thing just degrades to The Trail of Moaners and Bitchers.

Anyway, Sam finally can’t go on anymore and wants to rest, then Frodo, oh dear, Frodo. He announces that a Black Rider has been directly overhead of them for quite some time now and he just didn’t want to say anything. That you just heard was my head banging against a desk. WHAT?! A frikkin Black Rider, Ring Wraith, a Nazgul was overhead of them and Frodo didn’t tell Sam this little tidbit until the gardener was about to collapse from exhaustion?! I’m amazed that Sam, in a moment of fury, didn’t just wring Frodo’s little neck for this. So they run like hell to get away from the thing. At this point, since Sam was so tried that his eyes were closing by themselves, he must be running on pure adrenaline which means once they lose the thing he’s going to have a complete system crash because Frodo didn’t warn him earlier which means he couldn't make preparations to pace himself for this moment. Do I even need to say this never happened in the books?

Following this moment of, I have nothing that can describe what just happened. Frodo and Sam in the next scene appear to be just fine while walking in a gorge AWAY FROM MOUNT DOOM. Fade to another scene of them reaching the Vale, which is the final stretch of open land between them and Mount Doom once they got past the fortresses and canyons and such. They bemoan having to cross all the open country crawling with enemies, even though if they already knew about the Vale, then they already knew what was awaiting them. Argh! All this whining is driving me insane!

Then, another song begins to play about Mount Doom. Yes, a song about Mount Doom.

The Crack of Doom!
Chambers of Fire!
The Fire of Doom!”

I am very sorry to tell you readers that the lyrics seen above are mostly what the song is comprised of while being chanted in deep, dramatic voices. There were a few other lines of lyrics, but I couldn’t make them out. Again, I only have this on VHS, so no subtitles to help me.

Then in the next scene, Frodo and Sam are traveling in Mordor, under moonlight, while they complain about how it makes crossing the Vale at night as bad as it is by day. Yeah, moonlight in Mordor, the Land of Shadows and Darkness. Suuuuuure. I guess having the scene in which Sam sees one shining star in the endless blackness that was the hellish black sky above them and regaining some of his hope for their success from that light in the darkness just would have been too subtle and elegant, huh, Rankin-Bass. Yep, a black canvas with one white dot would have been all that was needed.

Anyway, the two pass out on a nearby rock. The following morning a troop of orcs passes them by just on the other side of the rock. This also happened in the original, but here the orcs are, unfortunately, singing.

Actually, they voices aren’t too bad. They have nice deep manly voices for singing a whining song about how they don’t want to go to war and would rather stay home in peace. Uh-huh. Apparently, they forgot they were murderous abominations that blighted the land wherever they went with bloodthirsty glee.

A small snippet from the song:

“Where there’s a whip,
There’s a way!
Left, right, left, right!
A Clap on the back says,
We’re gonna march,
All day, all day,
Where there’s a whip,
There’s a way!
We don’t want to go to war today,
But the lord of the lash says
Nay, nay, nay!
We’re gonna march,
All day, all day, all day!
We are slaves of the Dark Lord’s war!”

Truly moving, boys. So much that it almost makes me forget that you hate the rest of all creation and have a deeply rooted love of cruel torture in store for anyone unfortunate enough to cross your path, however physical or psychological. For instance, what you’ve done to Frodo earlier in this film. Oh, and chopping off the heads of the dead Gondor soldiers and then using them for catapult ammo, or their help in murdering thousands of innocence in the Gap of Rohan. Yeah, I feel SO sorry for any of you. Ugh, this is too surreal. This is just anarchy Also, why did it have to a song that bores down to whining?! Haven’t Frodo and Sam filled that quota yet? It couldn’t at least have been a song about what they love to do? Seriously, if the orcs were this flamboyant and sissy, then I’m glad their vile kind is gone!

Come to think of it, forget the army, you singing orcs (did I really just type that last part?). Form a singing troupe. I can guarantee an entry into just about any of New York City or England’s major Concert Halls. I think Carnegie Hall is accepting applications right now. Just make sure to look your…er, best.

Back to the film, Frodo and Sam are discovered by an orc captain with a whip and are forced along for the ride until they reach a fork in the road which some human dark army forces also want to use. The human captain brags that men get to go first then pushes the orc captain down. This guy obviously has a death wish. Surprisingly, the orc captain just takes this (?!) and allows the human army to go pass by. Sam sees this as a golden opportunity and goads the orc captain into attacking the human forces, which results in the orcs doing a weird foot stomping dance then attacking the humans. Frodo and Sam make their escape. As one can imagine, in the books the orc captain just did this all on his own accord when the human captain tried to bully him and Frodo and Sam made their escape that way. Either way works, but the way it plays out here is hilarious. This was one of the better moments in the film. Seriously, Roddy McDowell as Samwise Gamgee delivering such lines as “You're going to take that from one of those filthy man creatures, and you call yourself an orc! Smash them, burn them, cut them to bits! Skin them alive!” is golden!

Of course, as per the rules of animated Tolkien adaptations, the best moments of the rendering also has to be followed by another moment of complete inanity. Frodo randomly walks off a cliff. I am not kidding. He’s walking along, and walks right off of an edge that neither him nor Sam see coming and is knocked out by the landing. Sam climbs down the cliff face, cradles Frodo, and then prays to God or as he puts it “to whatever force of good be out there, help us!”

Rankin-Bass take this cue to switche back over the Gandalf’s end of things.

End of Part Nine.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2009, 06:06:23 AM »
Part Twelve: The Game Attempts-Part Ten:[/i]

Rankin-Bass take this cue to switch back over the Gandalf’s end of things. Gandalf narrates again, and take a guess what he’s going. Whining, of course! Oh, of course! He proclaims that all good seems to left Middle Earth and that the growing darkness is about overtake them permanently. You know what? Screw you, movie! It’s bad enough that Frodo and Sam have been deduced to being bellyachers on the filmmakers’ whims, but now they’ve got Gandalf going into full carp mode! Now they’ve got me doing carping on about all the complaining! It’s contagious!

Anyway, this is the scene in which Grond (that gargantuan battering ram with a wolf’s head) breaks down the front gate of Gondor. Although that Grond is the last resort that’s reserved for when ordinary battering rams just won’t cut it is omitted. Also, Grond looks more like a generic monster than a wolf here.

Gandalf proclaims that he will meet the front gate and thus part from this life in the coming onslaught forever. Yes, instead of valiantly helping Prince Imrahil (a character omitted from Jackson's trilogy as well, but he was the one who actually lead Gondor's troops when Denethur's sanity went by-by) lead the armies of Gondor to give Aragorn and the Riders enough time to get there, Gandalf’s just throwing up his arms and saying “I give up.” Well, if he’s going to, then Pippin decides that there’s no reason for him to stick around, either and offers to up a sided hobbit to the wizard fillet.

So they go to the front gates, it breaks, and the lord of the Nazgul rides through first. Gandalf orders him to retreat and that he cannot enter Gondor. The Witch King throws off his hood, revealing a crown free-floating above a flame where a person’s head would normally go. Hey, so far the Lich King looks right. The film might be taking a turn for the better. I can’t wait for the coming exchange between the White Wizard and the Lich King. Then the wraith talks… Unfortunately, the voice the powers that be chose the voice of Jackle-Man from Thundercats to be his voice over. For those unfamiliar with that show, it’s within the same irritating vocal range as the original Starscream from Transformers. And if you don’t know that sounds like then let’s just say it falls somewhere between a roaster and a pig being castrated.

Gandalf and the Lich King’s conversation is the same as it was in the book, but nowhere near as good because of the lame high-pitched voice of the lord of the Nazgul. Anyway, Theoden’s troops finally arrive and the head Ringwraith pulls his hood back up and retreats from Gondor’s front gate to deal with this new menace to Sauron’s plans.

Then the film in a rather jolting manner switches back to Frodo and Sam as the Ring Bearer regains consciousness with renewed vigor. This is treated like Sam’s prayer actually worked and that Sauron was somehow weakened. Yeah, sure, right. For one, this never happened in the books. Secondly, Sauron’s power is not impacted by reinforcements for a battle being fought a decently good distance away from his home, or some hobbit waking up. Because, you know, Sauron's a frikkin demigod.

Sam gives Frodo some water and Frodo proceeds to guzzle a ton of it before spilling the last of it. Man, they turned Frodo into an inconsiderate douchebag. And of course, Frodo says “[he] can feel Sauron is weakening” and that they have to get moving because “[Frodo] has more of a chance now”. Sam insists “tomorrow” and that Frodo get more rest before lying down, himself.

So, Frodo lies back down and falls asleep. Then another song plays, because we hadn’t had one of those for five minutes now, which plays to a dream Frodo has. In this dream, Mordor is a grassy paradise in which Frodo and Sam casually walk into the Mount Doom, where Frodo flips the Ring over his shoulder, and into the pit. Then the duo happily skips through the grassy fields (of Mordor) where they meet a happy orc which waves to them as he passes by. I feel like I’m watching a version of The Lord of the Rings Norman Rockwell would have made. Later, they meet Gandalf and they tell him the good news about the Ring. Then Gandalf and Sam morph into orcs and eat Frodo.

Frodo bolts upright, awaking from the nightmare sees Sam peacefully napping next to him and then lies back down and falls asleep. Then the film cuts back to the Siege of Gondor. The humans are winning, Gandalf is showering their rescuers in praises, and all is well.

Back with Frodo and Sam (well, that little trip back to Gondor was pointless and short, wasn’t it?) are now scaling Mount Doom! “The Crack of Doom” reprises and Gandalf asks such philosophical questions “Who turns the day into the ever dark night” and things like that. To which, he answers ëSauron’. I’m not making this up. Also, Kaleidoscope-Sauron shows up as Gandalf talks about how Sauron has an acute paranoia of spies slipping into his lair. This is completely inaccurate, because Sauron was actually quite the smug snake in the book.

Then, it shows the eye moving like a spotlight over the land of Mordor and it comes pretty close to spotting Frodo and Sam. Why both the Rankin-Bass AND Jackson versions went with this weird idea has baffled many. Of course, Sam is convinced that the Eye spotted them and that all hope is up. Frodo reassures that him it’s not over yet. So Samwise starts pumping his hands in the air yelling things like “Give me the strength to try once more” in ways that I’m almost certain had to be rotoscoped over Shatner.

So later, the two near the door into the volcano. Yes, Sauron had a door constructed into the mountain in the book. On top of being evil, it seems he was also just weird in some ways.

As anyone who has seen the Jackson films or read the books will know, this is the part when Gollum shows up for the first time since he left the hobbits for dead in the Lair of Shelob. Not that this film explained that at all. Anyway, one would think he’d be very intimidating, since the Gollum from the Rankin-Bass The Hobbit pulled his antagonistic rule off quite effectively. However, they made some alterations to his design for this film and…he looks like someone just took the ugly stick to Kermit the Frog. He also rasps the words “wicket master”. So, Frodo has a knack for setting up Crochet games? Yes, I know he’s actually saying “wicked master”, but it sounds like “wicket master”, for crying out loud!

So, one moment of garbled insanity must be followed by another, as Gollum lifts a boulder bigger than himself over his head and tosses it at the hobbits, who somehow manage to survive a direct hit from the thing with getting a single part of the bodies crushed and with no broken bones! Wow, I guess hobbits hides are really are made out of mithril! Not only that, but Gollum must be the Mr. T of Middle Earth, fools! “We’s pity the fool! Yesss, precioussss!”

Gollum, giggling like a girl, climbs down from the ledge he threw the boulder from, and rushes Frodo. He jumps on the hobbit’s shoulders and tries to take from the Ring from him. Sam tries to aim a stab at Gollum, but hesitates because he might hit Frodo.

Frodo finally manages to knock Gollum off and grabs the Ring. Take a wild guess. Frodo starts glowing green and turns psycho on Gollum’s ass, right? Close. He glows red instead of green this time. Is he gonna go Shag Fu on him? Nope. Frodo threatens Gollum with being tossed into the pit of fire, himself, if he ever touches him again. Whoa, Frodo, tone it down a bit!

Inevitably, Frodo lets go of the Ring returns to normal. Gollum turns on him to attack again. Sam takes the initiative and bids Frodo to run on ahead while he holds Gollum off. From here, Sam and Gollum’s exchange from the book in which Sam spares him plays out exactly as it was. And guess what, it’s actually a very effective and powerful scene. This is a glimpse of what this film could have been had Rankin-Bass been allowed to just make Return of the King right and didn’t have to try to salvage Bakshi’s mess while dealing with studio executives all the while. I mean it, I love this scene.

Gollum is played spot on. The way he begs is perfect. His lines are near word for word from the book, and it works. “Let us live, yesss. Let it live, just a little longer. Lost! We are lost! And when preciousss diesss, all of usss, diesss, into the dust! Into the…dussst!” To which Sam responds: “How could I kill such a pitiful creature, enslaved to the Ring for years. Oh, be with you! I couldn’t trust you as far as I could kick you! Be off, I say, or I will hurt you with nasty, cruel steel, yes!”

With that, Gollum scurries away as fast as his scrawny legs will carry him. Sam goes to find Frodo again. Nothing fancy happens here, just nice and subtle without Rankin-Bass or their scriptwriter Romeo Miller over-doing any of the character traits. Why couldn’t the rest of their film have been more like this one scene? Sam soon finds the door into the Mount Doom and enters. The screen fades to black with dramatic music playing it. I guess this was where a commercial break came in.

Anyway, the film decides to cut back to Gondor promptly. Why were none of these transitions ever smooth? On the field on battle, Merry is seen fighting a orc which is clearly a better swordsman than him. The orc takes an arrow to back and its revealed that Pippin is the ones who shot it. The two reunite and praise each other. Okay, this is not how Merry and Pippin reunited in the books. It was after the battle and Merry had fallen under the Black Breath, which is a curse put on any mortal who slays a Ringwraith.

The scene cuts over to Theoden, and…Jason’s theme from Friday the 13th starts playing. Not really, but what is playing sounds very close. Gandalf helpfully explains that the darkness suddenly grew heavier and that things were about to take a turn for the worse. No kidding. Seeing as this is a scene with Theoden at the Pelennor Fields, it’s to anyone’s guess what’s about to happen.

Anyway, the Lord of the Nazgul kills Theoden. Well... No, he doesn’t actually. Snowmane, Theoden’s horse just panics and bucks him off before running away. Theoden hits the ground hard enough that it kills him. That’s it. No Fell Beast swoops down and pins him under his horse to trap then eat him. Nothing. Something just scares his horse, he falls off, and dies. That. Is. It. For whatever reason, this is blamed on Sauron, directly. How they think he had anything to do with it is beyond me.

Oh, yeah, and Merry refers to Theoden as his lord even though he was dispatched from Gondor and thus did not actually serve Theoden. Yeah, I don’t get it, either.

Then, the film turns away from the battlefield again and back to Frodo and Sam. I was getting dizzy while watching this.

Continuing from when we last saw Sam, who was entering Mount Doom, he’s now found Frodo. The Ring Bearer is standing at the edge of the Crack of Doom and Sam bids him to throw the Ring in. Then Frodo, of course, saws that he will and claims the Ring, laughing maniacally all the way. No, really. Then Sam falls onto his knees, throws his arms up in the air, and begs Frodo not to be conqured by the Ring at FULL VOLUME. Stop it, both of you! We don’t need two large hams in one scene! Subtly, thy name is Rankin-Bass.

Then, the single most piece of madness this film could muster comes up. Its implied that Frodo being taken over by the Ring and Theoden’s demise are connected, as they happened simultaneously in this version. ?!?! ?!?!?!?!?! ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! WHAT?! First of all: No! Just no. Theoden’s death and Frodo finally giving completely into the Ring happened ten days apart from each other in the books! They were not connected events! Rankin-Bass were so hellbent on playing up the “Hand of Fate” angle that they felt the need to make Theoden’s passing Frodo’s fault. Oh, yeah, apart from the psychological damage that the Ring put on poor Frodo’s mind and spirit, let’s dump the guilt of killing Theoden on the pile! Are we also going to blame something else on Frodo? Shall we also blame him for happened to Lake Town when Smaug rampaged while we're at it?!

Cutting back the Siege of Gondor, I think the dizziness has turned into whiplash at this point. The Lord of the Nazgul shows up now to feed his steed with Theoden’s corpse, which is inexplicably been left where it fell even though more than a few able bodied people saw him crash land. Even the Jackson Theoden’s corpse vanished as quickly as they could get him off screen, implying someone took him away from the field of battle. Here, it just looks like his mortal coil has been abandoned by everyone. Well, so much for the mighty King of Rohan who as respected and loved by all of his citizens.

Anyway, the Witch King’s steed lands and Eowyn appears out of nowhere. She has not been featured AT ALL in this film as of yet. No foreshadowing. No prior screentime. Nothing. Yet here she is. She also uses the long-winded dialogue from the original book, in this case unfortunately. Don’t look at me that way! The dialogue worked for the book, but here it just seems like she’s talking on and on while the cruel and evil Witch King just lets her without trying to kill her. Using the word for word diaogue in the Gollum-Sam scene worked, but here its a much more tense situation.

Seriously, let’s compare Jackson’s version and this one.
Tolkien and Rankin-Bass Eowyn:

“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace."
"But no living man am I. You look upon a woman. Eowyn, am I."
"You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone [if you be not deathless]; for living or dark Undead, I will SMITE you if you touch him."

Jackson’s version:

“I will kill you if you touch him!”
“I am no man.”

Yeah, the dialogue Tolkien used sounds prettier, but when actually looking at it on a screen, you just don’t buy that the honor-less Witch King would just patiently let her babble on like this. The Jackson films had a remedy for this. Simply have her state the facts quickly and in their simplest terms as one would do if they stopped to say anything to anyone on the field of battle. Yeah, yeah, Shakespeare did this all the time, but Tolkien was all about deconstructing him. For example, as a young boy, J.R.R. felt cheated that the forest wasn’t actually coming to get Macbeth and he also felt that Shakespeare was taking the easy way out by having Macduff simply be a C-Section baby.

Anyway, Eowyn kills the Fell beast, and Merry helps her kill the Witch King. He dies then deflates like a balloon. I am not kidding. Eowyn then announces that she was avenged her uncle, although in order to do that in this version she’d have to turn Snowmane into glue.

The scene fades to Theoden’s body being carried off of the field as Gandalf narrates that they all wondered if a similar fate awaited Aragorn upon his return. Yeah, Rankin-Bass in one half and thirty minutes found the time to show that Theoden’s body was carried off of the field, but Jackson with three and a half hours couldn’t. Seriously, this was all he needed to do. Just one quick shot of Theoden being taken off of the field, then a fade to something else. More on why he has no excuse later.

Anyway, Gandalf inserts that the forces of Mordor’s spirits were broken with the death of the Lord of the Nazgul and they made show their defeat. It helpfully shows some orcs going the way of Lemmings and all committing suicide off of a cliff into the waters below.

Then the tide of battle turns again, as the Black sailed ships arrive and the orcs’ vigor is revived. Gandalf announced their doom as at hand…but what it this? The banner of the King of Gondor is born high and it turns out to be Aragorn, who Gandalf notes, “He who will be our king!” Hold it right there! ëOur’ king, Gandalf? He’s of a station above you, ages old guardian spirit of Middle Earth? I’m supposed to believe that Gandalf is going to pledge fealty and obedience to him. Yeah, right.

Now with Aragorn’s help, Gandalf and the rest of the forces of good are able to drive off the attacking army of orcs and trolls and finally end the battle. Afterwards, it shows Aragorn, the generals of Gondor, and Gandalf in council in a tent outside of Minas Tirith. In the books, it was held here because Aragorn could not enter the city yet. That is not explained, though implied since it distinctly says Sauron must be defeated first in this film. Eomer is also supposedly here, but if he is, he has no lines.

The first thing you might notice about Aragorn int his scene is that he’s an arrogant and dim-witted prick. Yet somehow still a step up from Bakshi’s rendering… In this version, he thinks he’s all that, speaks to Gandalf with contempt, and actually believes he can defeat Sauron by marching up to his lair’s front gate and picking a fight.

Where do I even begin? First of all, the whole idea of marching to Sauron’s lair to do battle was a distraction so get Sauron to empty his land of orcs so that Frodo and Sam could make their way through it more easily and buy them some more time. Aragorn even used the Palantir they got from Saruman to trick Sauron into thinking that he had the Ring. Secondly, as I stated before the Bakshi section, Gandalf and Aragorn are old friends and have nothing but respect for each other. Thirdly, Aragorn is supposed to be a humble, gentle soul who would treat others with respect, even if they were of lower station than him even if he simply disagreed with them. Rankin-Bass’s depiction of the uncrowned king is just so against everything that Aragorn is that it’s just offensive! How could they do this to him?! Oh well, at least he looks like Aragorn, which is one thing I can say for this guy that I can’t say for the Bakshi one.

Fade to them marching to the Black Gate. Another song kicks in, because we hadn’t had one of those for three minutes, plays over them arriving at the gate. Gandalf narrates that the song is supposedly to match his spirit. The lyrics go something like, “You are standing underneath, the towers of the teeth and beyond…”; “Win the battle, lose the war, A choice of evils lies before your feet. Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!” To this Aragorn whips out his sword and roars in a manner similar to Kevin Spacey’s famous “WRONG!” from Superman Returns, “Silence!” The orcs actually comply. Well, thank you, Aragorn! I take back everything I just said about you! Thank you so much for stopping the ghastly music!

Then Aragorn starts shouting more commands. “Let the lord of the Black Land come forth and repent of this evil! Come forth!” The line delivery is filled with so much ham and cheese, it's almost unbearably humorous.

The Black Gate opens and a very unimpressive Mouth of Sauron emerges. I mean it. This guy actually reminds of the High Priest played by from the 60s Alfred Pennyworht in The Mole People, which was a bad Sci-Fi film starring John Agar. So, that’s what happened to him. After the cave dwelling civilization collapsed after the mole people rebelled, he found a new position serving as Sauron’s emissary. Think of him as kind of an evil Alfred the Butler. He and Aragorn have their famous exchange, though its greatly trimmed down and proven to be mostly pointless. The Mouth of Sauron goes back into Mordor and the battle is implied to about to begin, though unlike in the books it doesn’t even get under way as you will soon see.

From here, the film cuts back to Frodo and Sam’s end of things. Sam crawls up to the Crack of Doom and mourns Frodo giving into the Ring. This should not even be happening, because if Frodo put the Ring on this far ahead of the Battle at the Gate, then Sauron would have sensed the Ring in his lair and have sent the Nazgul to retrieve the Ring long before this moment, thus making Aragorn and Gandalf’s efforts at the gate even more utterly useless than this version is trying to pass them off as being. Ugh, this film hurts.

Then Sam hears Gollum cry and sees the vile thing fighting with nothing! Sam even has to ponder for this a minute before he realizes its Frodo. Congrats, Sam, you win a free trip to Hawaii! Going to make a wild guess that Gollum’s come for the Ring next? Back to the fight, Gollum bites Frodo’s finger off and he at last in reunited with his “precious”.

Sam runs over to Frodo and be mourns the missing finger. Take note that the stump where Frodo’s Ring finger used to be is strangely not bleeding. Frodo tries to buck up and say that a missing finger is better than the madness brought on by the Ring. Then the two take notice of Gollum doing a wild dance shortly before he trips and falls into the Crack of Doom, Ring with him. Frodo happily announces that Gollum has completed their quest for them. More or less true to what happened in the books and the scene is all the more effective for it. Of course, this is the point in which the destruction of the Ring causes the volcano to go off and Frodo and Sam have to flee the coming lava.

Back with Aragorn, Gandalf, and company: Aragorn actually wonders out loud what’s happening. Gandalf replies rather patronizingly: “Need you ask? The Ring Bearer was fulfilled his guest.” Does this Aragorn know anything about anything in this version? On top of that, the unthinkable happens. The great eagles come and airlift EVERYONE away from the collapsing land of Mordor, leaving Shadowfax to die. That never happened in the books. Also, Frodo and Sam bid each other to die well as they try to outrun the lava flow before being rescued by the eagles. The latter was the only eagle rescue in the book.

The film then cuts quite a bit more and shoots straight ahead to Aragorn’s crowning, ignoring Arwen’s existence (again), Frodo and Sam’s reunion with Gandalf, whom they had thought to be dead, and eight remaining Fellowship members catching up with each other. Now, can anyone guess what kind of musical score plays over this scene? Is it: A) A song. B) A song. Or, C) A song. If you guessed ëA Song’, then you are unfortunately correct. Note the lyrics: “He will rule with a healing hand!” Where did these people get that idea from? Eowyn and Merry didn’t need healing because the Black Breath would have been too scary for the kddies and Faramir doesn’t exist in this version. So goodbye House of Healing, the random soldiers just had to make do with their own immune systems.

Oh, wait, I guess I was wrong. Faramir does exist in this one. He’s on a horse next to Eowyn, who suddenly has a broken arm that’s in a sling. Never mind. The film also depicts Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Gandalf up on a parapet, watching from above, instead of riding along with Aragorn. They’re smiling as they watch, instead of feeling cheated out of the honor of riding with the first king this country has known for three thousand years! The camera zooms in close to Frodo’s hand, the one missing a finger and the film fades back to the present at Bilbo’s birthday party as the Minstrel finishes his song. Oh yes, I had almost forgotten this insipid banality.

Gandalf announces, “And now we all know, and knowing is half the battle!” G.I. Joe!!!! Just kidding, but he does say the first line of that. Instead of the second part, he finishes with, “Weel, almost all of us.” He points to Bilbo who has fallen again. The group laughs merrily at this, telling the audience that this is somehow endearing. It’s not. This awakens Bilbo who insists that he’s just resting his eyes. Oh, no! That’s what he said before! Is the film going to start over?! Are we caught in a time loop like in Ground Hog’s Day?! Nooo!!! You can’t do this to be me, movie! I have my rights! I have my rights!!!!!!!! It was Miller! The script writer! He did this to me! AAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!!!![/b]

Thankfully, no, the film is not starting over. Frodo instead tells Bilbo that they return to Hobbiton (?) where he will be able to sleep all he wants. What? Bilbo staged an elaborate Birthday Party in order to completely disappear in front of the entire Shire to get away from there! Why would he ever want to go back? Did Rankin-Bass and Miller not read the book at all? Why even put in this in and why doesn’t Frodo know that Bilbo will be departing from Middle Earth to the West? Anyway, Bilbo announces he’s leaving with Gandalf and Elrond. Frodo actually has to ask why. Gandalf answers, “We’re old”. Eh? Frodo asks if he can go along, instead, you know, having that be a part of the plan from the beginning. Gandalf answers without having to, you know, discuss this with Elrond and/or Galadriel.

Thus Frodo hands the Red Book, which recounts Bilbo’s adventure with the dwarves and Frodo’s journey with the Ring, to Sam, saying the keeping up the Book of the Hobbits is now up to him. Sam says he will, but then wonders if this new world of men will have a place for hobbits.

Here…here things once more take yet another turn for the weird and out of left field. Gandalf answers that he thinks hobbits will have a place in the future world of man and then he comes up with a really dumb evolutionary theory that hobbits will be the same as men one day. He even says that Sam, who younger than Frodo, is larger than the Ring Bearer and that Merry and Pippin, even younger, are larger still. He intones that each successful generation will get closer to man in size.  :bang  I did not mention this earlier, but if you get a chance to catch the beginning again, take a good at the shot in which it shows all four hobbits sitting at the table for Bilbo’s birthday. Merry and Pippin ARE NOT LARGER here. Gandalf continues, “And if you cherish book of the hobbits, your stories will be told centuries from now, and people will look back and wonder," From here, he looks warmly directly into the camera, "ëDo I have any hobbit in me?’” Oh, what a bloody brilliant Hallmark moment there, Gandalf. Way to take all the wonderment out of the hobbits' fate! Argh! This little speech is SO stupid on so many levels that it just hurts, deeply! Deep hurting! Deep hurting! Rankin-Bass made this up that they wouldn’t have to touch on the fact that hobbits didn’t even want to be a part of man’s world in the first place and would rather remain unnoticed, as Tolkien implied they actually ended up doing. As Tolkien tells it, hobbits are still around, we just don’t know about them. What was so hard about that?

Moving on, now that we’re in the home stretch, the scene fades to Frodo’s departing to the Undying Lands in the West. Sam is seen sobbing and is the last to leave. I have to say, this last wordless scene actually worked, assuming you’re not still recovering from the crap spouted off in the previous scene. Then it ends. The end.

Conclusion: How does Rankin-Bass’s adaptation of The Return of the King hold up and how well did it adapt Tolkien’s vision to the screen? It doesn’t and it didn’t, respectively. As much as it hurts to say this but they did a worse job than Bakshi if it’s looked at objectively. The animation may have been a huge step up from what horrible art style and cheap techniques Bakshi used and their Samwise may have been a stronger character, but overall this thing is just a travesty. It shouldn’t even have been made to begin with.

When Bakshi was kicked off of the project after the disastrous box office results of The Lord of the Rings-Part One, it left behind a partially finished and compromised vision of Tolkien’s grand and detailed world. Essentially, it was a mess that couldn’t be picked up in an hour and a half as proven by Rankin-Bass's attempt. Some may note that I’m being a lot more lenient on Rankin-Bass than Bakshi, but that’s because Bakshi had more say in what ultimately happened to his version than they did and he's the one who gave in without a fight over the having it be a trilogy. Not only that, but they had to pick up the pieces left by him while trying to tell the finale of the saga.

A few parts of the film are really, really good. These are the few parts when Rankin-Bass were allowed to just tell the story as it was, but each time the film got even close to Tolkien, the good scenes were always preceded and succeeded by utter drivel that the filmmakers made up in place of the actual story. Most of the characters are erased from the story, most of the important plot details are omitted, yet certain things happen pertaining to the cut material leaving events that just happen without any logic to them, and the story structure was just a jumbled mess, cutting from Frodo and Sam to Gondor seemingly at random and then back in the most jarring ways imaginable!

In any case, this was the end of the animated Tolkien saga, as of 1980, and the world would not see another try at the professor’s text until 1996, when Peter Jackson took up the charge.

End of part twelve.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2009, 10:35:26 PM »
a very interesting take WR.. so I have it as Return of thr kIng is worse than Bashiki..
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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2009, 10:23:29 PM »
Update: I haven't forgotten about this project or gotten lazy, but work's been keeping my busier than usual, so I've had to drop any projects not related to my survival. I will be picking this again soon, though.


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WeirdRaptor's Lord of the Rings Adapt. Face-Off:
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2009, 12:12:19 AM »
Understood Wr. pick it up whenever you can..
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