Posted by: Mad Ness Monster | 06/27/2009

Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings” (1978) review


I want to make something very clear to everyone. There are not all that many really good film adaptations of classic books.

Every so often, a classic book is lucky enough to come under the wings of a movie producer who, well, *gets* it. And he cares enough to make a film that reflects why we’ve all loved the story and characters for all these years. But for every “To Kill A Mockingbird”, which is in every way a masterpiece in it’s own right even when considered independently of it’s source material, there are about a dozen… erm… well… (glances in the general direction of “I, Robot”).
So, there are bad film adaptations of beloved classic books. And there are horrible adaptations of beloved classic books.
And then, there is Ralph Bakshi’s take on the Lord of the Rings.
I swear, Peter Jackson could have given us nine hours of Bill the Pony taking a long steaming pee and it would *still* have been better than this.

The Best Parts:
0 minutes in – The Prologue. If you can make it through this without laughing even once, wow. (I don’t know if this Prologue or the “Beginnings are complicated… Oh, wait, I forgot to tell you!” Prologue for the theatrical cut of “Dune” wins.)
2 minutes in – Oh, wait, yeah. This is supposed to be an *animated* movie.
3 minutes in – Make your own joke.
6 minutes in – Hobbiton just spazzed out a little!
8 minutes in – Please note that Gandalf didn’t make any mention of the heat-activated (or whatever) markings on the Ring after throwing it into the fire, thus rendering the scene rather pointless.
11 minutes in – Aw, how sweet. Frodo has made friends with Quasimodo!
12 minutes in – Who the hell is “Arrow-Man”?
14 minutes in – Woah… far out…
23 minutes in – “Sure are a lot of ugly people in your town. Ooh! Lookit THAT one!”
25 minutes in – Why is Johnny Darth Damon in a dress?
32 minutes in – Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
33 minutes in – Oh, yeah, NOW the Ring Wraiths can walk in a straight line.
36 minutes in – Andy Gibb lives!!!
37 minutes in – And Frodo’s hallucination begins! I need a drink.
42 minutes in – I am back up from the basement (we had no Girl Drinks) and Frodo is STILL tripping out!
46 minutes in – That was a might bit creepy.
48 minutes in – Quick, Lisa! Sing the Cincinnati Song!!! <:D
49 minutes in – Seems the Village People are missing their Viking.
53 minutes in – Please note: it is a very bad idea to introduce all the main characters to us when they are caught in a blinding blizzard.
58 minutes in – NOOOOOO!!!!!!! Dammit, he was the most likable character.
1 hour, 3 minutes in – That was a lot bit creepy.
1 hour, 6 minutes in – RELEASE THE CRAPPY BALROG!!! WTF?!?
This is perhaps the most notorious scene in the movie and it is even more hilarious/stupid than you’ve heard.
1 hour, 8 minutes in – Um… that was… sad…
1 hour, 10 minutes in – “I do believe we are maaaaa-gic! / Don’t let your aim ever stray!!!”
1 hour, 18 minutes in – Stop bringing my good screen-name into this! 😡
1 hour, 26 minutes in – Oh, I guess we’re jumping right on into Book Two.
1 hour, 33 minutes in – Lexington from “Gargoyles” has gone berserk!
1 hour, 37 minutes in – What the hell is going on here?
1 hour, 41 minutes in – Can this end like “Evil Dead”?
1 hour, 44 minutes in – There continues to be nothing wrong with that…
1 hour, 51 minutes in – Okay, my brain’s starting to crash. How about yours?
1 hour, 54 minutes in – Really and seriously, there is nothing wrong with that…
1 hour, 55 minutes in – EPIC BATTLE!!!
2 hour, 2 minutes in – Uh… hm…
2 hour, 10 minutes in – Wait, that’s it?!?

Classic Lines of Dialogue:
“Bilbo’s funny ring? That makes you invisible?” – Gandalf
“C-c-cold!!! S-s-so… c-c-cold! Like a… p-p-poisoned icicle!” – Frodo

Things I Learned from this Movie/Book/Whatever:
* – Rotoscoping = Very, very distracting.
* – Nazgul are heavy drinkers.
* – Elves are cross-eyed.
* – Dwarf mines look a little like Alien nests.
* – Fangorn could use some fertilizer.
* – Glorfindel can’t get no respect.
* – Neither can Tom Bombadil.

Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures?
Good Soundtrack? The score is based off this one memorably annoying song.
Hot Guys? No. It plays out like “Attack of the Ugly Stick: I Love the 70’s Edition!”
Pretty Scenery? No. See above.
Nifty Animation/Special Effects/Illustrations? I will be incredibly generous and say this: the animation is VERY 70’s…

Drinking Game Potential? Oh, heck yes. Drink when you see rotoscoping (if you don’t know what that is, believe me, as soon as they enter the Prancing Pony you’ll be able to tell). Drink twice when anybody bugs their eyes out and waves their arms around and makes faces like extras in a Harold Zoid movie. Chug when Sam acts… um… Special. (“Oh, hooray!!!”)

Head Movie Potential? Repeat: It is VERRRY 70’s…

Rating: Danny rating (2)
An easy half-a-Danny. And if you can explain why this is on AFI’s “100 Best Animated Films” list but the delightful “Cats Don’t Dance” isn’t, you’ll get -uh- cookies.

A Fantasy Film (um… yeah…) released in 1978 by Saul Zaentz Production Company. Written by Peter S. Beagle (Holy sheet, the Last Unicorn guy!?!?!) and Chris Conkling and directed by Ralph Bakshi. I checked; he hasn’t done anything much of note since “Cool World”, if you were wondering.
John Hurt (Again, holy sheet!?!?!), Anthony Daniels (you know who he is, don’t deny it), a lot of people I’ve never heard of, and Michael Scholes as the memorably annoying voice of Sam.
Related Links:
IMDB page
The Tolkien Sarcasm Page – “This seems to be the only motif which is carried out with consistency throughout the movie: If it’s magic, it’s bright and sparkly.”
The Bright Side of Bakshi – Fun little AMV that highlights the most unintentionally hilarious scenes.  Only thing missing is the Crappy Balrog.



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