Rankin & Bass style. It's that time of year again when the Rankin/Bass logo will be adorning our televisions after just about every special except Charlie Brown's. RB was also responsible for introducing me to Tolkien via its 1977 animated television film The Hobbit. I still have fond memories of that, and try to watch it at least once each year (preferably in November, as that was the month of its release). Of course other animated attempts to reproduce Tolkien's epic masterpiece were attempted, notoriously Ralph Bakshi's 1978 Lord of the Rings, and Rankin and Bass's own attempt at a sequel in 1980's Return of the King.
I know, I know. After Jackson went all computerized, many immediately decided that those animated attempts were only good for blowing beer out of noses while laughing at how gawd awful they were. And yet, call me a heretic, I've never found Jackson's films to be much better. Sure, there are parts that are wonderful, breathtaking, brilliant. But there are also some pretty bad places as well, especially when Jackson got an itch to chuck Tolkien's story only to try to show us how much better Jackson would have done. Well, it didn't work, and many parts of the films are the worse for it. The same goes for the animated films.
It seems as though, to me at least, Tolkien's work was so broad and deep that nothing short of a sweeping mini-series with a box office budget could do the trick. So each attempt will have hits, and will have misses. This little review, from a blog I stumbled across appropriately called Black Gate, actually does an excellent job unpacking the most maligned of the pre-Jackson films, the R&B Return of the King animated special. By the time you're done, you have to admit there are things that stand out there that even Jackson failed to grasp. And the same goes for Bakshi's vision, too. IMHO.
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