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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 (which was very rare for non-Disney animated feature films at 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 

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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.

On a more trivial note, this movie stands as the longest animated film in the history of western cinema, clocking in at 2 hours and 13 minutes. Granted, it's not the longest animated movie in the world— four other movies surpass it in length, all of which come from Japan (the current record-holder is the 70mm cut of 1983's Final Yamato, which comes in at two hours and 43 minutes)— but it's still an interesting distinction nonetheless.

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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, although he does start taking some more control in the last third of the film. The turning point comes at Galadriel's Mirror when he's pressed by Galadriel whether he would go home but abandon Frodo; his answer is a resigned, heavy "no". When snarking at Gollum or being Frodo's support when the latter is beginning to falter from the weight of the Ring, he's lost his "golly gee wow!" personality and is more serious, annoyed and brave.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the books, Sam was described as being a normal-looking, if heavyset, hobbit. Here, he's a downright gonk.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Unlike in the books, Gandalf wears blue, rather than gray.
    • In the books, Saruman originally dressed in white, later changing his wardrobe to one of many colors. Here, he wears red, which combined with his long white hair and beard, makes him look almost like a thinner, hippie version of Santa Claus.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Just like in the live-action films by Peter Jackson, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry don't make any appearance here.
    • Glorfindel does not appear; Legolas takes his role in transporting Frodo to Rivendell.
    • Arwen is never seen in this film at any point.
  • Art Shift: The film wildly jumps between traditional animation, rotoscoping, and live-action footage with filters placed over it.
  • Aside Glance: After Frodo wakes up in Rivendell.
  • Battle Chant: Done by the Orcs from Isengard when they assault Helm's Deep.
  • Battle of the Still Frames: Gandalf's battle against the Balrog.
  • Big Red Devil: Sauron vaguely resembles one, having horns and a beard.
  • "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".
  • Breaching the Wall: Saruman sends huge bolts of magic energy that destroy the wall of Helm's Deep.
  • Composite Character: Legolas takes Glorfindel's place as the rider that Aragorn and the Hobbits meet on the way to Rivendell, and he is portrayed as an Elf of Rivendell (like Glorfindel was in the book) instead of Mirkwood since he answers to Elrond and he is never mentioned to be a Wood-elf.
  • 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 to ensnare him. Shortly afterwards, Poor Sam is lamenting "Poor old Bill. Poor old Bill." Although Bill didn't return until far later in the actual story, so it's more a case of What Happened to the Mouse?, since the story never reaches the part where Sam and Bill reunite.
  • Defiant to the End: Boromir and Frodo.
    Frodo: By all the Shire, you shall have neither the Ring, nor me!
  • Determinator: Boromir is shot by three arrows. He pulls them out and keeps fighting. It takes another four to finally take him down.
  • Evil Cripple: An interesting idea not seen in the Peter Jackson films—both Saruman and the Ringwraiths walk with noticeable limps. Subverted for the latter; the Ringwraiths only pretend to be limping, since they later begin walking upright once they shed their hooded cloaks after the attack on the Prancing Pony.
  • Exact Words: The line mentioned above really came out as "...and nothing for poor Grishnakh, Gollum".
  • Gag Dub: The Walking Tacos Screwed Up Dub. (Which may still be available on Youtube.) Has several running gags, like Gandalf rolling his "R"s, Pippin sqwalking like a peacock, and the inability of the characters to remember if Saruman is called Aruman (eventually the character starts calling himself Saru-Aruman...) While devolving to random muttering silliness from time to time, the dubmakers (while voicing the characters) DO discuss the importance of the film, ultimately deciding that it is an honest, if flawed, attempt at making the story come to life.
  • Gilligan Cut: After Boromir voices his objections to going to Lothlorien and Aragorn chides him, the movie smash-cuts immediately to Galadriel and Celeborn welcoming them.
  • Gonk: Oh, Sam, what did they do to you? At least part of this case stems from Sam having Billy Barty for an Ink-Suit Actor.
    • The orcs are even uglier than they are in the Peter Jackson movies, with glowing red eyes and apelike faces.
  • Horns of Barbarism: Boromir wears a horned helmet and a Beard of Barbarism for reasons not entirely clear, as Gondor is generally portrayed as anything but barbaric. None of the Gondorians wear it, and had he appeared, it was likely to differentiate Faramir from Boromir.
  • I Can See You: The second Frodo puts on the Ring at Weathertop, the Nazgul immediately snap their attention to him, complete with Scare Chord.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Aragorn gives a potent Implied Death Threat that if he really wanted the Ring, he could just slaughter the hobbits and take it for himself.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Frodo says words to this effect after getting stabbed by a Ringwraith. He gets better.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: Gandalf is a more subdued example, being a very animated speaker, almost constantly moving his arms when speaking, and being extremely dramatic when explaining the One Ring to Frodo.
  • Left Hanging: Softened by the later Rankin/Bass adaptation of The Return of the King, but the remainder of The Two Towers was still untouched by either studio. 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?" and "Who is 'she'?"note 
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the four previous Bakshi films, content-wise.
  • 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: By virtue of combining the first book and the first half of the second book, the movie seems crammed with way too many characters, some of which disappear or are never mentioned again after a couple of scenes.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Boromir makes this motion while trying to convince Frodo to give him the ring. For Gandalf, it's a way of life.
  • Non-Answer: When Théoden asks Aragorn if there's any hope, Aragorn remains silent for a long while, then rides off.
  • 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.
  • 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: After the Ringwraiths attack the Hobbits' bedroom in Bree, they remove their hoods, revealing frightening masks and black armor underneath their cloaks.
  • Screaming Warrior: Boromir, literally. After getting shot by orcs, he leans on a tree, then lets rip a roar so intimidating, the orcs are startled back dramatically.
  • 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Type 4 (Near Identical Adaptation); while a lot of content from the books was forced to be removed, what content that did get in is very faithful to The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Unfortunately, that content is so haphazard and patchwork, viewers unfamiliar with the story would find it difficult if not impossible to follow. A less faithful adaptation might have produced a better, more coherent film.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Much like the books, this movie is more on the idealistic end of the scale, which is pretty different for Ralph Bakshi who usually makes more political, cynical films.
  • 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The film doesn't make it clear what happened to Bill the Pony, though it looks like the Watcher in the Water might have taken him. Similarly, Merry and Pippin disappear from the movie after they meet Treebeard in his one and only scene.

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