Western Animation: The Lord of the Rings

The Ralph Bakshi adaptation of The Lord of the Rings is a combination of the first book, and half of the second book. It was released in 1978 and meant to be three films, but was forced to be shortened to two, with the intention of finishing with the sequel. Due to Executive Meddling, the original title, The Lord of the Rings Part I, was tossed out, resulting in some disappointment from viewers who expected closure to the story. And while the film did well at the box office, grossing more than enough to break even (a rarity for non-Disney animated feature films of the time) the rest of the second book and the third book was never completed by Bakshi. Later, Rankin Bass produced a version of The Return of the King, and Peter Jackson did his own take on the story.note 

The film mixes bits of Rotoscoping and live action footage. There's also a little bit of traditional animation that doesn't use rotoscoping, but it's one of those blink and you'll miss it moments in the film.

If you pay attention, Peter Jackson borrowed some things from this movie for his series - particularly the famous shot of the hobbits hiding from the Ringwraiths in the roots of a tree and the shot where a Hobbit has his very large feet propped up on a table during Bilbo's birthday speech.

Viewers of the movie either Love It or Hate It.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Adaptational Comic Relief: The film turned Samwise into a goofy, incompetent oddball of a hobbit, but in the books, he is brave and loyal. He was meant to become more serious in the second film, which was never made.
  • Animated Adaptation
  • Art Shift
  • Aside Glance: After Frodo wakes up in Rivendell.
  • Battle Chant: Done by the Orcs from Isengard when they assault Helm's Deep.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: There's a line delivered by either Merri or Pippin saying "...and nothing for poor Grishnakh, gollum". The Finnish subtitles translated the Verbal Tic as "or Gollum either".
    • The German dub did that, too... the tic becomes "just think of Gollum".
  • Compressed Adaptation: It just about doesn't come more compressed. At times, it feels like Bakshi sliced up whole pages of dialogue and left in only the lines that most people remember. Almost nothing is given a full explanation, and what we do get is usually rushed and leaves out important details. For example, Gandalf asks Frodo if he sees any writing on the ring. When Frodo says he doesn't, Gandalf tosses the ring into Frodo's fire, then pulls it out a moment later, remarking that it is still quite cool. But he doesn't bother looking for the writing he was attempting to reveal. Later, after several lines stating outright that the ring is indestructible, Elrond declares that the ring must be taken to the fires of Mount Doom. What he doesn't tell us, unfortunately, is that this is the only fire capable of melting it. Without that line, non-readers have no idea why the Fellowship is undertaking this quest.
  • Continuity Lockout: It's a major problem with this film. To some viewers, this film is difficult to understand if you have not read the book. For example, it doesn't explain why Aragorn's broken sword is important.
  • Death by Adaptation: Unlike the books its implied with Bill the Pony. The last we see of Bill is a whole bunch of tentacles about ensnare him. Shortly afterwards, Poor Sam is lamenting "Poor old Bill. Poor old Bill."
    • Though, Bill didn't return til far later in the actual story, so it's just a case of What Happened to the Mouse?, since the story never reaches the part where Sam and Bill reunite.
  • Exact Words: The line mentioned above really came out as "...and nothing for poor Grishnakh, Gollum".
  • Gonk: Oh, Sam, what did they do to you?
    • To be fair, Sam was Played for Laughs during what was to be the first half of the film. One may notice as Frodo gets weaker, Sam gets more assertive and less silly.
  • Inconsistent Dub: Saruman vs. Auruman, enforced due to Executive Meddling-apparently the head honchos thought that the audience wouldn't understand the different between Sauron and Saruman, so they had the actors redub the line to pronounce it as Auruman.
  • Limited Wardrobe: It's not too much of an issue for most of the movie but it's particularly glaring when the Fellowship is trying to cross the Pass of Caradhras.
  • Left Hanging: Children of the late 1970's and early 1980's who saw this were left pondering things like "Who is treebeard, and is he good or bad?"
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Unlike in Jackson's adaptation, we never really see Sauron, only his shadow.
    • And his eye in Galadriel's mirror. "Do not touch the water!"
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Oddly enough averted, Gimli is human sized and Moria has some of the most hideous faces on its walls.
  • Off Model: Strange faces in order - Frodo, Gandalf, Frodo again, more Frodo, Sam, the woman in the war, Strider, Legolas, Bilbo, Sam, and Boromir.
  • Race Lift: Aragorn seems to be Native American.
  • Rotoscoping: Pretty well done for the most part, but there are still plenty of examples of bad rotoscoping. For example, during the opening exposition that is visually delivered in silouhette, it's painfully obvious that Gollum is a guy in a big rubber mask and gloves. However, the most jarring example has to be the Prancing Pony scene.
  • Scary Impractical Armor/ Malevolent Masked Men: After the Ringwraiths attack the Hobbits' bedroom in Bree, they remove their hoods, revealing frightening masks and black armor underneath their cloaks.
  • Sequel Hook: Due to Executive Meddling, this was supposed to have been titled The Lord of the Rings Part I, but this was deleted from the posters; however, the end still retained a voiceover stating that this film was the end of the first part. The home video editions redubbed a new voiceover without the hook.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Saruman vs. Aruman.
    • It's corrected to Saruman in the DVD subtitles.
  • Time Passes Montage: "Seventeen years passed sleepily in the Shire."
  • Those Two Guys: Merry and Pippin.
  • To Be Continued: Unfortunately, no.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Merry and Pippin, at one point in the movie just run into a camp of orcs.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The film ends immediately after Helm's Deep, which most agree would be the best spot to divide the story into two parts if you had no choice.