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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Bakshi's LOTR

Cartoon Network aired Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings cartoon on Sunday, which I taped (videotaping is a ridiculously difficult procedure with the whole digital cable setup). I saw it many years ago, in college, most likely while I was in an altered state of consciousness, so I didn't remember it all that well. However, I have read quite a bit about this version of the story, which is often referred to as "universally reviled" by Tolkien fans, for one of a number of reasons. In particular, this page puts up a detailed and stinging review of the film (it is also part of the "Tolkien Sarcasm" site, which has a good deal of Tolkien-related humor, which, frankly, only the well-informed (read: geeky) will find humorous.

But after reading all the negative items about the film these past few years, I was prepared for a truly horrible movie-watching experience. Luckly, I am somewhat positively surprised. Yes, the film definitely has its faults, but overall, it tells the story fairly well, and thus far (I'm watching it piecemeal with Daughter), it is faithful to the text. Stylistically, I have a number of quibbles: the rotoscoping technique really doesn't work for me, the costumes of Aragorn and Boromir are ridiculous (didn't men wear pants in the Third Age?), Aragorn looks like a Neanderthal rather than a descendant of kings, Gandalf gesticulates wildly rather than being subtle, and the paintings of the backdrops gets far too impressionistic for my taste. But as I said, the telling of the story is actually not so bad.

My memory of watching the movie all those years ago was that it fell apart towards the end and looked as though they had ran out of money and had to finish it on the cheap. Of course the fact that it only tells the first half of the story is a major flaw.

In a week or two, Cartoon Network will be showing the Rankin-Bass version of The Return of the King, which I have very little memory of. But since they also did The Hobbit, I imagine it will be very similar in style. We shall see.


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