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The Lord of the Rings (Animated Version) (DVD)

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  • Saruman's name was changed to Aruman
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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      14.01.2013 14:48
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      If you prefer the books to PJ's versions, give this a go.

      Overview

      Eclipsed rather unfairly by the multi-million dollar CGI juggernaut of Peter Jackson's trilogy, Bakshi's animated work completed over 30 years ago still has much to commend it, including many aspects that are clearly superior to the later films.

      The good

      The voice work is superb. This is a hugely talented cast, backed up by a much more authentic treatment of the characterisations in question. PJ dumbed down a lot of characters in the films. Legolas became a petulant teenager. Frodo became useless, eager to give the ring to the enemy. Elrond became a judgemental, man-hating jerk. Galadriel became a new age hippy. Elves became gay.

      I'm glad to say that Tolkien's characters have been left largely unmolested. Frodo is a young, playful optimist with absolutely no clue of what is yet to come. Legolas is a wise, hundred-year old prince of Mirkwood. Elrond is patient, calm. Authoritative, firm.

      Galadriel's character is perhaps captured the best of all. She is someone with great power. Who has lived for thousands of years and seen both wonder and horror. Her temptation scene at the mirror is perhaps the best in the entire film and as the book. There's no silly, silly blast-off moment here. Just sadness and gentle self-mockery. Anette Crosbie is simply perfect as Galadriel.

      I also found PJs ringwraiths exceedingly silly creatures, forever squealing like pigs on helium. Here they are truly terrifying. The camera angles used for the first encounter with Khamul look exceedingly similar in the later film.

      Moving later into the film, Theoden's face is not covered with porridge to indicate for those slow on the uptake that this is a clunky possession scene. Here he's simply an old man manipulated by grief and worry for his people to such a point he believes the poison whispered in his ear. When roused back to his former self, he is a King. Not a mad dog frothing at the mouth.

      There's no fearful women and children at Helm's deep, the men of Rohan having sent them on while they fight a hopeless rear guard action. Just as the book has it. There's also no shield surfing.

      John Hurt's Aragorn can be quick to anger when pushed, but is caring and thoughtful. A good match for PJ's version and Mortensen's work. Christopher Squire as Gandalf is at least as good as McKellan who has a tendency to overact.

      The colour pallets and backgrounds used for the film are mostly wonderful, though they can't really compete with the huge budget, technology and vistas of New Zealand that would come later.

      The bad

      "Boromir the Viking" is an accusation much levelled at the Bakshi version, and it is deserved. One of the few examples where the script is completely wrong. Some good is clawed back by a strong scene showing his death defending Merry and Pippin. Something I am absolutely certain was not lost of a certain Mr Jackson.

      Sam in the Bakshi film is irritating. More village idiot than faithful companion. I'm not a huge fan of Sean Astin's Sam and his Dick Van Dykian travelling accent, but even he was better than this.

      Grima Wormtongue is also portrayed badly. Here, he appears to be some form of cloaked rodent. It's a pity to have Theoden's despair portrayed so well, yet have a vaudevillian pastiche in Grima.

      The soundtrack behind the film does the job, but is not particularly memorable. Howard Shore's later work remains far better. Some of the animation is clearly rushed towards the end of the film. There's none of the real love and care shown at Bag End.

      The Ugly

      Bakshi used a technique known as "Rotoscoping" which captures live movement and animates over it. This gave the film a realistic look to many scenes which, while excellent clearly jarred against the adjoining purely animated scenes.

      This is seen most clearly in the battle of Helm's deep when Gandalf and Theoden ride out. 1983's fire and ice matures the technique into something that would work much better.

      There's also some strange choice of backgrounds used with the rotoscoping such as when the ringwraiths pursue Frodo to the ford (which, as with the book is Arwen-free)

      In Summary

      If you enjoyed the books and have not seen this film, approach it for what it is. The first, brave attempt to film something viewed as unfilmable. An attempt that is more faithful to the work that inspired it. The film can now be picked up for under £4.

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        09.04.2003 00:28
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        Good to watch, though not compared with the films. Animation a bit dated.

        Having read the books, seen the films and listened to the audio tape, I felt I had to write a review on the animated version.

        It sticks closely to the book and gives you a great feel of what the story is about. Though in some places you may wonder why they bothered with specific paragraphs from the book as they dont really help the story along at all.

        The cartoon goes from The Fellowship of the Ring to about half way into the Two Towers, so it does not give you the full story unfortunately.

        The story flows well and makes it easy to understand for fans and first timers alike. As it follows the book quite closely, it gives you a good idea of the amount of time the journey took and how the characters were as Tolkien penned them.

        The animation itself, of course could be better, it is definitely of its time which is unfortunate! There was a mix of actual animation and real people in shadow with a bit of colouring in done afterwards!

        Many people will note the biggest differences in Saruman, Sam Wise Gamgee and perhaps even Gandalf. Saruman is often referred to as "the Wizard Aruman" which is annoying for those of us that love the names and take pride in pronouncing them correctly, just as those people who mention "Gandolf" causes many peoples blood to boil!

        Those of you who have read the book or are used to the wondrous portrayal of Saruman by Christopher Lee, will be shocked to hear the shaky and unimposing voice of Fraser Kerr.

        The biggest uproar where this cartoon is concerned is that it has been rumoured that Tolkien himself was involved in the making. The number of mistakes/mispronunciations make me hope he wasnt!

        All in all, I think everyone should see it. Gollum is excellent and in some places he is better than in the film as he is truly portrayed as is meant in the books. If you are put off by this review, at least try and borrow it from a friend or rent it. Even if it doesnt become a fixture of your DVD/VHS collection, it is still good for a bit of a giggle.

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          12.05.2002 06:24

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          • "Saruman's name was changed to Aruman"

          Don't believe it's critics - Advantages: Very good, long awaited original animation, Some of the best scenes from the Peter Jackson version were clearly derived from this., I don't understand why rotascope is a problem for people; it's a well established and very effective amination technique - Disadvantages: Due to financial problems the second part was never made, I didn't like the was Sam was drawn., Saruman's name was changed to Aruman

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          27.01.2002 20:32
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          If you have already seen The Lord of The Rings-The Fellowship of The Ring at the cinemas then im afraid that you may be a bit disappointed with The Lord of The Rings animated version. None the less i can still recommend watching it (especially if you just cant wait for the next 2 years to find out what happens next.) I still enjoyed it and i didnt watch it until after i had seen the film. So heres a bit about the DVD version, and incase you havent seen the film theres a bit about the story-line just for you. The Lord of The Rings animated version on DVD will take you into Middle-Earth, an enchanted land inhabitated by Hobbits, Heroes and wizards.The Hobbits live in the Shire, thats were we meet young Frodo who is caught up in an amazing adventure when a very dangerous and powerful ring is given to him by his Uncle Bilbo. Gandalf the wizard tells him that there is an evil and very powerful sorcerer who wants to aquire the ring for himself, and that he knows that Frodo has it and that he lives in the Shire. Gandalf advises Frodo to leave the Shire, and so he does. With a few of his friends in tow Frodo sets out on a magical journey where he meets Elves, Dwarves and Warriors all trying to defend their magical and enchanted land from the evil sorcerer and his band of Dark Riders. Frodo must destroy the ring in the furnace in which it was made on Mount Doom but to get there he must enter an evil and dangerous land. Will he succeed? You will have to watch it to find out:) Special features on this DVD include interactive menus and individual scene access. The approximate running time of the film is 128 minutes, and parental guidance is advised as some scenes may not be suitable for children.

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            10.01.2002 02:08
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            I write this review having recently seen the new release of the Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson yet I have been watching this cartoon version for a number of years. I watched it again last night having seen the 'real' version twice. Whilst I have always been a great fan of the cartoon it must be admitted that the cartoon can in no way compare - cinematically. But, it must be realised that this cartoon is a child of its time, released in 1978 many of its flaws are a result of the period. Peter Jackson's version has benefitted from 23 years of special effects, in which films such as Star wars and Jurassic park have moved the realms of effects into a completely new universe. A cartoon will obviously pale in comparison to seeing an orc that you could quite believe would stagger out of a Dudley secondary school in mid afternoon. But for its time, this film was brilliant. A mixture of live footage and cartton combine with a truly moving orchestral soundtrack to create an excellent film. The attempt itself was a heroic act by Bakshi (the director) and co, a cartoon was the only way of approaching the imagery of Tolkien's world in those days. I doubt that anyone reading this will not know the plot but in case they don't a brief summary is that the Dark Lord Sauron has created a Ring that can be used as the most powerful weapon in the world (Tolkien wrote the book in the 50s and it is believed that the RIng is a metaphor for the nuclear bomb) and the plot covers the heroic journey of a 4 foot hobbit and his friends into the heart of Sauron's land, resisting temptation and orcs, to destroy the ring. There is more but that's contained in a book called the Lord of the Rings, I suggest you read it. At least twice. That and the rather annoying fact that the character's lapse into American accents (Ah Fawgot exclaims Frodo at one point.) Apart from this the characters are visually quite good, except for a view funny fac
            es pulled by Legolas and a ridiculous side parting for Aragorn. The animated version sticks slightly more to the book than Jackson's version, Merry and Pippin are represented as devout friends rather than just happenchance companions. Oh, and Arwen doesn't suddenly become more heroic just to appeal to the girls (sexist but that's not the way Tolkien wrote it. 'You want him? Come and Get him.' ?? No, I'm sorry, it was Elrond who made the river rise.) All in all I think that this is a very enjoyable film, it deserved to do better but c'est la vie. It is more faithful and less compromising than others but it is dated. The orcs are the main disappointment, looking like men wrapped up in dark sheets with fangs tippexed in later. Disappointing but CGI had not even begun to figure in those dark days. I have thoroughly enjoyed this film for years, in fact it managed to cut off the episode of Tom Bombadil, which I felt was tedious in the book. I would thoroughly recommend this film to anyone. It explains the story well, making it ideal for children and would perhaps be less frightening for the kids than believable orcs! Approach it with respect for the vintage!!

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              16.10.2001 05:53
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              There are adventure stories and there are adventure stories, and then there is The Lord of the Rings. LOTR is the beginning, the end, the top and the bottom of mythical adventure stories and surpasses all others completely and utterly. There is little debate or conjecture about the place of Tolkien's mythical adventure epic in the all time greats ranking, although there are a few unkind souls who simply dismiss it as a children's story about dwarves and elves. Mrs D would be amongst them, accusing me of fanciful nonsense if I told her of exactly how good I thought this stupendous book really was, but ask anyone who has read it and there is very little doubt about the response that you would get. The book is one of those which allows the imagination to run riot and paints a glorious panorama in front of the reader as he becomes captivated by one of the world's truly great story tellers. A rare challenge indeed then confronts the makers of a new film version of this wonderful book, but from everything I see, hear and read, they might actually be able to pull off a wonderful trick, even though it could never match Tolkien's timeless bestseller. After all, cast your mind back to the previous attempt to bring flesh (or at least animation) to the bones of Tolkien's masterpiece and a very roundly panned version, which was originally intended to be the first of a trilogy, matching the three lush volumes of the book. The second and third parts were never made and based on this single episode, it's a good job, for the animated version of LOTR was a massive disappointment with very little to commend it. Not that it ever had much chance of succeeding, however, because the book had thirty or forty years head start on Ralph Bakshi's film version, and the mind's eye had ample time to fix a view of the characters and the story, and no simple two dimensional storyboard could ever hope to seriously match
              the splendour of that vision. Two dimensional is actually the phrase that comes most readily to mind about the work, because Bakshi has rendered Tolkien's awesome world of villainy, evil and rich legend a pat, sub-Disneyesque fart of a film, which barely scratches the surface of the original. Of course, the very wide ranging and lengthy nature of Tolkien's greatest work made it virtually impossible to condense the feeling, characters and the story into the confines of the 90-120 minute cinematic medium. In truth, the opening chapters in The Shire, Frodo's coming of age party and the start of the quest would have been enough on their own, and it was asking a great deal for the whole of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume, to be shoehorned in like this without a barren feeling of disappointment following. Clearly, the new film will face the same sort of challenge and only time will tell whether they pull it off or not.... Okay, I guess I've said enough about the book and the new film by now and need to focus on the matter at hand, the animated version of LOTR... It was very much Bakshi's baby, as he indicated: "It's probably one of the greatest fantasies ever written. The language is perfect, the characterisations are perfect, the mood is perfect. There isn't a page of The Rings that you wouldn't want to re-read a hundred times. Then I heard United Artists was making this film, and John Boorman was writing the screenplay in live-action. I heard that Boorman was taking the three books and collapsing them into one screenplay, and I thought that was madness, certainly a lack of character on Boorman's part. Why would you want to tamper with anything Tolkien did? So I approached United Artists and told them the film should be made in animation, and it should be made in three parts, because there's no way you can take the three books and condense them into one film. It's
              a physical impossibility." Bakshi rescued the project from going seriously awry. Boorman had changed many of the characters, added new ones and even (horror of horrors) added in some ads for trainers! Bakshi insisted on remaining strictly true to the original, and even though it wasn't a triumph, at least it didn't plumb the depths that it very nearly could have done. However, the omens hadn't exactly been too promising for the film, as Bakshi's own background wasn't brimming over with credibility. He had always dreamed of being an animator, and his early background was in Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle and Deputy Dawg! But he quickly graduated from drawing the cartoons to directing them and he made the risque feature length Fritz the Cat in 1971. He continued to make progress and was eventually the brains behind the LOTR project, directing the film which was released in 1978. He has made little of any real note since, although he has continued to work regularly in animation. He would have made the two other parts of the trilogy which had been planned, but changes behind the scenes at the studios led to the second and third episodes being shelved. It was a disappointment for anoraks, but probably a good job in retrospect because the one episode which did come out didn't move any mountains, even though Bakshi was positive about it and was enthusiastic about carrying on with the whole shooting match. Bakshi's attempt does have its good points, the Black Riders being one of them, and he was always going to be struggling against the odds, so it's important not to be too hard on him. He genuinely tries to live up to his material and makes as good an attempt as anyone could have been expected to in the circumstances. Tolkien purists found it a great disappointment and it is likely that those who didn't know the story would have been at a loss to know what was happening or what h
              appened at the very abrupt ending of the film. The fight scenes and the action are very strange and Bakshi's quite revolutionary animation technique where apparently real life action is translated into cartoon style may be interesting, but it doesn't really work very well and the Orcs just look pitiful, rather than horrifying. The characters' faces are frankly too cartoony and lack any real feeling or empathy, much like the entire piece. There is just no real magic about any of it and a great opportunity was missed by Bakshi. Here's just hoping that the new version will go a little better.

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                04.09.2001 06:40
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                I think people have judged this film unfairly. How on earth do people expect the entire book to be condensed into 2 hours without leaving stuff out? And I very much doubt that the coming trilogy will be entirely accurate either so comparing it with that is unreasonable. I think this is a very good attempt at capturing the true magic and mystery of Tolkien's books. John Hurt is fantastic as Aragorn - his voice is beautiful and captivating! The Black Riders are truly chilling at the start and instil a suitable amount of fear. Gandalf is powerful and in control and the battle scenes work well with rotoscoping and make it suitably adult. There are improvements to be made however - it utterly bewilders me why the film makers decided to stop halfway through and some bits of the film tend towards being funny when I am sure they are not supposed to be (These include Aragorn falling over whenever an enemy approaches and some of Sam/Bilbo's ridiculous faces) The problem with this film is that I do not think the script writers knew which type of people they were aiming this film at -Adults/children (As a child I did not much like the cartoon but now I appreciate it much more.) and also between those who knew Tolkien's books/ Those who didn't. It is such a large work that I think it is necessary to decide which- I believe this tried to aim for those who did not know the book, which was a mistake for it is only dedicated fans who are watching it. On the whole I would advise any fan who is prepared to be open-minded to watch it - you are in for a treat. If you are just going to nit-pick about the plot - Forget It!

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                  02.06.2001 23:45
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                  ######update######## Good news it seems Lord of the rings animation is going to be released over here. At least thats what someone is claiming on ebay. Its due for release November he says. If you're reading this then you're already a lord of the rings fan and know about this perhaps, so skip to the bottom paragraph of how and where to buy this cheap. I won't go in to depth about the story, needless to say what you have here is a cross between film and animation at times, about an awesome adventure in Middle Earth. In a small hobbit town aptly called hobbiton lives Mr Frodo Baggins who inherits a ring from his mysterious Uncle Bilbo. On obtaining the ring Gandalf a wizard, something of a legend in Hobbiton, visits Frodo and a breath taking adventure ensues where Frodo desperately tries to reach Mount Doom to destroy the one ring which the evil Sauron wants to have so he can have total power in Middle Earth. Frodo has some hair raising adventures on his journey, avoiding being stabbed in Bree by the Nazgul, who are hunting the ring for Sauron. His trusty friends Sam, Merry, Pippin accompany him and help ease the burden that has been put on Frodos young shoulders. There is another story going on between the orcs and the kingdoms of men. Even if Frodo destroys the ring, it is possible that middle earth will be destroyed by orcs led by Saruman the Wise who has become evil. Frodo makes many friends upon the way and gets separated at one point where he continues his quest whilst the others rally forces to face the orcs. A story of heroism, friendship, good versus evil and sacrifice. Great story but this was never completed properly which is a travesty really because so much had been done in detail until the last part of the trilogy. Then the tale ends with what are obvious cuts from previous animation to explain what happened. This is only a slight disappointment in truth despite my inital horror, and this animation remains a firm f
                  avourite of mine. It convinced me to read the books. Obviously as with most book adaptions you get bits missed out but what you have here is nicely done. The hobbits are really charming characters as you'd imagine in the books. Whenever I read lord of the rings I always imagine Frodo as he appeared in this. There is one downside to this and that is with the up and coming film adaption I wasn't too impressed at first with the look of the characters. They don't look much like the ones in the cartoon. I've now got used to them and I am eagerly awaiting the release. I am confident the film version will be brilliant as it is in three epic parts released over 2 years so that's plenty of scope to cover what isn't here. I still would urge fans of Middle earth to buy this because it is excellent in my opinion and captures the enchantment that is lord of the rings. Some of the most memorable scenes for me are when Sam meets Galadriel an elf! When Boromir dies a heroes death and redeems himself somewhat. Now here is some very useful information. As you can guess you can buy this at auctions ebay/yahoo maybe even amazon. But you will pay quite a lot for it. They sell between £16-£50 Note the original 1978 Thorn Emi versions of this have sold for £300. Do not fear Dave is here, I've paid £16 (that includes shipping!)thats $45 AUD for TWO videos of this animation by Warner Brothers. They have been released in Austrailia. Their videos are also pal. Why we dont have a release over here I will never know. If you have credit cards visit this site and you dont need to worry about the currency...delivery can take a while! Heres the site www.hmv.com.au (no im not trying to drum up business for Austrlia and im not Austrailian) check the exchange rates first though because they do change! Note the date of this review. Good day sport. Rated PG 128 minutes long. Described as Rembrandt painting in motion!

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                    06.05.2001 20:24
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                    This is the cartoon adaptation of the classic Lord Of The Rings novel by J. R. R. Tolkein. Unfortunately, as the book came in trilogy format, so too was the cartoon meant to. However, after making the first movie, the producers ran out of money and the other two were never completed, which means that as a result you get a story here which has no ending. ~The Plot~ “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” The plot behind The Lord Of The Rings is well known to all, but I'll outline it for those who do not know. Basically(very basically), a hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins has come in to possession of a magical ring. The ring is so powerful that it will imbue the wearer with so much power as to be able to take over the world. However, it also has the power to corrupt its wearer and thus fearing he is already under its spell he gives the ring to Frodo Baggins, another hobbit, who must travel deep into the heart of Mordor(the evil place) and throw the ring to its destruction. This quest is hampered by the evil Sauron and the other forces of evil who want the ring for themselves. There follows an epic journey packed with strange characters and fascinating events...which is sadly cut short by the producer running out of money half-way through the second movie. ~Analysis~ Its a shame because the Lord Of The Rings is easily one of the finest novels ever written and it would have been good to have had a visual adaptation which could stand up to scrutiny. Unfortunately as well as being incomplete, this version is also incredibly light-weight. The story does follow the original plot of the movie but misses out large chunks. For example, the meeting with Tom Bombardil is completely overlooked here, and whilst Tolkien himself stated that he thought perhaps it was wrong to include in his novel, it is equally wrong to miss out such a
                    sizeable portion. The Lord Of The Rings is an incredibly deep novel, packed with sub-plots and deep character development - perhaps something foolish to even think about tackling in a movie? The animation is ok, with the director apparently drawing over live characters in some parts to get the movements just right, but I feel that they failed to get the characterisation even close to how they should have been. Simpering hobbits, dark riders which imbue absolutely no sense of malice and all manner of other middle-earth dwelling creatures, one after the other, being portrayed poorly. We are held at arms length by the camera, emotionally detached from the characters by the lack of close-ups and the characters are never allowed to devlop which is a travesty. The voice over cast of actors simply are not up to the task at hand either, which is undoubtably one of the most difficult ever, as to meet the expectations of generations was never going to be an easy task. It will be interesting to see how the live action version fares when it is finally released later this year, but I do not hold out oo much hope. Yes, it will undoubtably be a fine movie - but it just will not stand up to criticsim, that much is beyond doubt. This movie does neither and as such should only be viewed by those who have a genuine interest in the movie for its novelty value. Its a little hard to come by at the moment, but it'll probably receive a re-release alongside the upcoming live action version to cash in on its undoubted success. ~Verdict~ As a general kids movie, this is ok, but as an adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings it stinks. Younger viewers who have no concept of the novel will probably love it, but for the rest of us, its better to wait for the release of the new movies...and hope and pray they are going to be good.

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                      24.09.2000 05:30
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                      Please re-release me! This animated film by Ralph Bakshi came out in 1978 and chronicles the first one and a half books of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, although it does miss out quite a bit of the story in places (Tom Bombadil, the Wights etc). It starts in The Shire with Frodo getting the ring from Bilbo and follows him on his travels to Rivendell and his split from the party after the Mines of Moria and ends after the battle at Helms deep. The animation is very good and in some scenes live actors were used and have been drawn over. The music is both stirring and haunting and a listen to the soundtrack on CD is recommended. Hopefully with the Lord of the Rings trilogy currently being filmed this will get a much-deserved re-release on DVD (hopefully re-mastered). It has only ever been released on video once (and that was for rental in the early eighties) and it is quite hard to come by now, and fetches good money for a video (recently a copy went for over £70 on ebay). If it ever pops up on TV in the future (Sky and C4 have shown it but not for a few years) make sure to see it, you won’t be disappointed.

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                      Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings is a bold, colourful, ambitious failure. Severely truncated, this two-hour version tackles only about half the story, climaxing with the battle of Helm's Deep and leaving poor Frodo and Sam still stuck on the borders of Mordor with Gollum. Allegedly, the director ran out of money and was unable to complete the project. As far as the film does go, however, it is a generally successful attempt at rendering Tolkien's landscapes of the imagination. Bakshi's animation uses a blend of conventional drawing and rotoscoped (traced) animated movements from live-action footage. The latter is at least in part a money-saving device, but it does succeed in lending some depth and a sense of otherworldly menace to the Black Riders and hordes of Orcs: Frodo's encounter at the ford of Rivendell, for example, is one of the movie's best scenes thanks to this mixture of animation techniques. Backdrops are detailed and well-conceived, and all the main characters are strongly drawn. Among a good cast, John Hurt (Aragorn) and C3PO himself, Anthony Daniels (Legolas), provide sterling voice characterisation, while Peter Woodthorpe gives what is surely the definitive Gollum (he revived his portrayal a couple of years later for BBC Radio's exhaustive 13-hour dramatisation). The film's other outstanding virtue is avant-garde composer Leonard Rosenman's magnificent score in which chaotic musical fragments gradually coalesce to produce the triumphant march theme that closes the picture. None of which makes up for the incompleteness of the movie, nor the severe abridging of the story actually filmed. Add to that some oddities--such as intermittently referring to Saruman as "Aruman"--and the final verdict must be that this is a brave yet ultimately unsatisfying work, noteworthy as the first attempt at transferring Tolkien to the big screen but one whose virtues are overshadowed by incompleteness. --Mark Walker