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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Fantasy > Counterculture > Literature > Art > The Lord Of The Rings: Original Animated Classic – Remastered Deluxe Edition (1978/Warner Bros. Blu-ray w/DVD)

The Lord Of The Rings: Original Animated Classic – Remastered Deluxe Edition (1978/Warner Bros. Blu-ray w/DVD)


Picture: B-/C     Sound: B-/C     Extras: C     Film: B-



I often 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 here.


Bakshi 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.


Those who 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.


I will 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.


For being 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.


The 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.


I would 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.


For our older interview with Bakshi tied into the DVD release of Wizards, try this link:





-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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