The Lord Of The Rings: Original Animated Classic –
Remastered Deluxe Edition
(1978/Warner Bros. Blu-ray w/DVD)
B-/C Sound: B-/C Extras: C Film: B-
look back at classic animation with much admiration and a huge sense of nostalgia. The
Lord of the Rings: Original Animated Classic is one of those classics I
would love to like more than I do, but sadly I find it a tad drab. Whereas I do admire the art direction and
loyalty to the original novels, I find myself often distracted and bored while
watching the epic tale. Long before
Peter Jackson ventured into the lands of Elves and The Shire, director Ralph
Bakshi’s brought the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien to life with stunning animation. The Blu-ray being reviewed here is promoted
as being a Deluxe Remastered release, but in all honesty the film still appears
tattered and torn. This now classic 1978
rendition of The Lord of the Rings continues
to have its stunning aspects, but for viewers like myself who were looking for
an ultimate edition to have in their collection some aspects remain absent
had been known for his eccentric and darker style, which fit perfectly into the
world of The Lord of the Rings. The animated film was created using a variety
of techniques, which on paper seems like a great idea but in the end the
combination of rotoscope and classic animation make for an odd blend. The two entities separately are awe
inspiring, especially during the expansive battle sequences, but part of me
looks at the two styles as if they were pieces of two different puzzles. The animation not blending on top of drab,
dwelling story telling makes for a mixed bag of entertainment. Bakshi’s dark style is spot on, but little
else worked flawlessly.
have read the novels or viewed Jackson’s films
will note that this animated film used elements from both The Lord of the Rings as well as the beginning of Two Towers. This would not be a problem, except for the
fact that the intended Two Towers/Return
of the King sequel was never produced.
I still contest a studio should front the money for that either
theatrical or straight to home video release.
Not only would it make a ton of fans happy, but also I could see it
being majorly profitable. Also with the
innovations in computer animation, it would no longer be such an arduous task.
make the assumption that if you are reading this review that you are at least
somewhat versed on the basic plot of the expansive The Lord of the Rings universe; instead I will focus on this films
specifics. The voice cast for the film
includes Christopher Guard (Frodo), Michael Scholes (Sam), Simon Chandler
(Merry), Dominic Guard (Pippin), John Hurt (Aragorn), William Squire (Gandolf),
David Buck (Gimli) and even C3PO himself Anthony Daniels as Legolas. There are a plethora of other talented voices
throughout this huge, epic film but those are the main characters worth
mentioning. Some mock the voice cast, but
I find them actually quite suited for the roles. My only complaint would be that their speech
feels a bit bland and slow at times; I blame that more so on the director than
the cast though.
As I said
I will not dwell on the story of the film, but I can at least say it was
faithful…way, way too faithful; so faithful in fact I felt I was asleep in bed
with a book, rather than watching an animated feature. Bakshi had the best of intentions, but a
little action, adventure and flare never hurt anyone.
I am not
bashing the film, but at times it just runs a tad long and a tad dry. Could have been better, but far from bad.
a Remastered Deluxe Edition I was expecting a viewing as epic as the tale
itself, but instead I was delivered a disappointing audio/visual experience of
wavering quality. This Blu-ray
remastering I think is once again a victim of twisted words, as remastered can
mean a host of things in the digital age, or perhaps bad derived from bad
masters. The video is presented in a
1080p 1.85 X 1 that demonstrates a vivid color palette, but other than that has
a host of issues mainly centering on debris and grit. The masters must be in bad, bad shape if this
is the remastered version. There seems
to be a never ending barrage of dust, scratches and junk flying across the
field; this not even factoring in the images’ shaky quality due the animation
techniques utilized at the time of filming.
Outside of color and art direction the film is an absolute mess, due to
both original film issues and poor quality masters. The sound is adequate in its Dolby TrueHD 5.1
format and better than the picture, but not by much. The balance is nice with everything
adequately prioritized (especially during battles), but lacks a degree of power
and bass that perhaps a DTS track would have offered.
special features include a 30minute featurette on Bakshi entitled “Forging
through the Darkness.” I am not certain
if this is a new biographical featurette or not, but judging from the poor
Standard Definition quality I am guessing it is recycled. The interviews and candid look at his film
history is refreshing. I wish there were
more extras, but sadly there is only the one.
A digital copy/ DVD are also included in this set. They (if it is possible) look even worse than
the Blu-ray, with copious amounts of grain, debris and unbalanced colors.
like to say hold off for a better version of this film, but sadly I don’t think
fans will get one. The fact of the
matter is that the masters are in poor shape and the original film itself was
full of flaws. If you love the film,
then leave it at that, because quality will seemingly suffer here regardless.
older interview with Bakshi tied into the DVD release of Wizards, try this
- Michael P. Dougherty II