It's one of the great literary tragedies of our age that Lord of the Rings, not its sprightlier prequel, served as the blueprint for modern fantasy. Returning to The Hobbit is like visiting a lost world, one which 20th century fantasy left behind. It’s almost surprising in how much fun it is compared to the exhausting trudges that followed. So with the third and final Hobbit film now upon us, it’s worth asking: why was it Lord of the Rings, not this sprightlier prequel, which served as the blueprint for modern high fantasy?
As the trailer for Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Hobbit premieres online, it's worth remembering that this isn't the first take on the journey of one Bilbo Baggins. There was the 1977 animated version as well. Here's some screencaps and a trailer. Of course, if that's not enough for you, you could just watch it on Youtube (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). And before it was a film, it was something called... a book? Here's pictures of the cover of this 'book' thing from all over the world.
Director Guillermo Del Toro has announced that he will no longer be directing The Hobbit, and has made a follow up statement today. Speculation is rife as to what he might work on next, having given up that massive commitment. Some are speculating, based on this AICN interview promoting the movie Splice, that going forwards with his adaptation of HP Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness may be on his mind again.
Sure, Peter Jackson's might be the most famous, and you've probably all heard of Ralph Bakshi's animated version and the Rankin-Bass one, but did you know that there have been other cinematic adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien's works? Take a look at this 1960s musical adaptation of The Hobbit, for instance, or a 1940s Warner Bros. version of the complete trilogy. (Movie downloads require Quicktime.)