Rankin-Bass, 1977, The Hobbit, November 27, 1977
November 14, 2019 9:52 PM   Subscribe

DailyMotion has the full 78 minutes of the original Rankin-Bass animated production of The Hobbit available. Part 1, Part 2. Tor.com wrote a long article about it about a year ago, too, if one is interested..
posted by hippybear (57 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 


(Er...technically from The Return of the King, 1980.)
posted by darkstar at 10:08 PM on November 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


There's an entire other post that could be made about Bakshi's LOTR and it's incompletion and R-B's completion of the project. I won't be making that post, but it's a fascinating story.
posted by hippybear at 10:15 PM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


the greeeeeeeeeeeatest adventure is what lies ahead
posted by praemunire at 10:34 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


I've loved this since my parents taped it off cable many, many years ago. Watched it over and over. Thanks for sharing this!
posted by friendlyjuan at 11:56 PM on November 14, 2019


This came out when I was in first grade. Boy was I excited - but nearly had a nervous breakdown when I realized we had tickets to see the Rangers in the playoffs that night. Holy moly. Don't know if I ever ended up seeing it - but I loved the Rankin-Bass illustrated version...
posted by thirdring at 1:41 AM on November 15, 2019


Ralph Bakshi's unfinished 1978 animated film The Lord of the Rings remains the adaptation that comes closest to capturing the true spirit of the original Tolkien.
posted by fairmettle at 2:07 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Time to smoke some pipe-weed!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:21 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Not sure I'm all for the glow of nostalgia around the Bakshi project. The memory I have of it involves seeing it at the cinema not long after its first release in Australia, and walking out super disappointed; it just felt half-baked to me, and far more concerned with projecting its own idiosyncratic style than with faithfulness to the story.
posted by flabdablet at 2:52 AM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


If the Hobbit / LOTR are going to be done again on screen, I think the only/best way they could work / offer something visually, in the wake of the Alan Lee style, is animated, and in particular animated in a non-realistic way like the creation-myth part of Watership Down, or some very heavily (?Slavic?) folkloric style, emphasising the distance and the otherness and the contributing mythologies (avoiding/subverting the dodgy bits of course). Do it "weird feeling" enough and you could even get all the Bombadil back in there without kickback.
posted by runincircles at 3:59 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


My memory is similar to flabdablet's.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:06 AM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Not sure I'm all for the glow of nostalgia around the Bakshi project. The memory I have of it involves seeing it at the cinema not long after its first release in Australia, and walking out super disappointed; it just felt half-baked to me, and far more concerned with projecting its own idiosyncratic style than with faithfulness to the story.

Frankly, that pretty much sums-up most of Bakshi's projects.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:09 AM on November 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


I owned the record, in the 70's; it had one of those folding album covers with an art booklet in it that was pretty neat. As a budding artist and AD&D groupie, I tried like hell to copy the drawings of Smaug--which really were pretty cool, leaving aside the fact that he's got wing-arms AND regular arms, which seems like too many arms.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:33 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


I was a 14 year old art/animation nerd who'd never heard of Tolkien and remember being really impressed. I got the big LOTR paperback for Xmas and spent most of the holidays curled up with it in an orange beanbag chair.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:38 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


My gradeschool had a 16mm print of The Hobbit, and they'd trot it out and show it whenever we had a free period or party or the last day of school.

I got to know it really well, but always found the art style really jarring. After all, it was the 80s, maaan! What's with these wrinkly earthy lumpy figures all over? Where's the pizazz, the rainbows, the colour? I want my MTV!

But I was still captivated by it and read the book one summer at camp. And there was the girl in my class who was into ponies and dragons and we'd talk about this new Star Trek show they were going to make and would it be any good. And we sang the songs from this film and wove pine needles into mats for spiders to sit on.

And there was something familiar there about being lone travellers in a drab world of moss and wrinkled stones, each of us going our separate ways with something special in our pockets. Not to fight, but to let the great armies struggle over our heads while we slipped out of sight to dream alone of better things.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:51 AM on November 15, 2019 [23 favorites]


I was a little 5 year old kid and my older brother and sister kept telling me it was about to start, but I didn't know what it was supposed to be and [impossible-to-recreate baroque logic] thought it was an American Bandstand special and skipped out, and walked in about 15 minutes before the end and felt deep regret.
posted by Capybara at 5:28 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


If the Hobbit / LOTR are going to be done again on screen, I think the only/best way they could work / offer something visually, in the wake of the Alan Lee style, is animated

Just expand the definitive adaptation to feature length.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:42 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Ralph Bakshi's unfinished 1978 animated film The Lord of the Rings remains the adaptation that comes closest to capturing the true spirit of the original Tolkien.

Except for the Balrog looking like a guy in a rubber suit and Aragorn not having any pants.
posted by Billiken at 5:52 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


This was my first introduction to The Hobbit and it remains the definitive edition in my mind.
posted by curious nu at 5:54 AM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


I watched this so, so many times. I only realized a handful of years ago that i had never actually read LOTR, only that I knew the plot from watching these movies. I still sing the songs, much to the confusion of my kids and the annoyance of my wife. Who else will teach them, through song, to Beware the Power of the Ring?
posted by Naib at 6:02 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


This was my introduction to The Hobbit, and to Tolkein, when I was a kid. So while now, as an adult Tolkein reader, I get why fans dislike it so much. But for a newbie, it really captured so much of what made the plot compelling. I don't know if I ever would have read the books if I hadn't seen that film.
posted by Mchelly at 6:09 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


> "... Aragorn not having any pants."

Can that really be said not to capture the true spirit of Tolkien? There is very little textual evidence that Aragorn wore pants. The best we have is this letter Tolkien wrote in 1958:

"... males, especially in northern parts such as the Shire, would wear breeches, whether hidden by a cloak or long mantle, or merely accompanied by a tunic."
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 211

It is true that Aragorn spent a good deal of time in the north, but he was from further south by birth and heritage. And if Tolkien emphasizes that breeches particularly *were* worn in the north, can we not infer that they were generally *not* worn in the south?

Like it or not, pantsless Aragorn is, at the very least, a valid interpretation.
posted by kyrademon at 6:12 AM on November 15, 2019 [38 favorites]


Down, Down to Goblin Town is pretty badass.
posted by ian1977 at 6:29 AM on November 15, 2019 [13 favorites]


Watched this as a child, though I'm not sure if it was before or after I read the book. What's most remarkable about it, I think, is how 'sticky' some of the songs are. I still occasionally get the goblins' "Pretty Little Birds" song from when Bilbo and the Dwarves are hiding up the trees stuck in my head for no reason, and now it is stuck in my head again. Not particularly upset about it though.
posted by bridgebury at 6:29 AM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


I watched the Bakshi LOTR again three or four years ago and having spent a fair bit of time with the extended Jackson versions, I was struck by how... accelerated it all is. The Council of Elrond, where the Free Peoples of the West convene to confront an enduring evil that threatens all the world, is held like they all have a bus to catch.

Also, the way the filmmakers seemingly decided that having an antagonist offscreen (Sauron) with a name somewhat similar to an antagonist onscreen (Saruman) was really asking too much of the audience, so Saruman is often just Aruman.

I haven’t watched the Rankin-Bass Hobbit probably since it was first shown. Even as a pre-teen I reckoned it kind of dubious and I cannot imagine that The Suck Fairy has dealt with it in a kindly fashion. I leave it to others to take such enjoyment as they can from this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:40 AM on November 15, 2019


I hadn't seen it, and I tried to put it on for my kids a couple of months ago over their mom's (well-informed) objections, and it started soooo gloooooomy. I'd read the book to my boys and they knew it started hilarious with Gandalf being snarky to Bilbo and a thousand dwarves coming into Bilbo's house looking for sandwiches. We only made it about ten minutes in, so if the pace picks up after that I don't know it.
posted by turkeybrain at 6:44 AM on November 15, 2019


Down, Down to Goblin Town yt is pretty badass.

It absolutely is, in a Red-Army-Chorus-sings-Andrew-Lloyd-Webber way.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:44 AM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yes, that Gollum scene did give little me nightmares, thank you very much!
posted by treepour at 6:50 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


If the Hobbit / LOTR are going to be done again on screen

A day may come
When the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings
Is considered old
Outdated
In need of a remake
But it is not this day!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:07 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


What's with these wrinkly earthy lumpy figures all over?

Now, everyone in the film looks to me like those creepy "Love Is" comics from the 70's, maybe crossed with those troll dolls. Also: hobbits do not have perms.
posted by thelonius at 7:20 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


I wonder why nobody has ever tried to do another film adaptation of The Hobbit since. Not a single film version of The Hobbit other than this one and the Soviet one. So strange.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:44 AM on November 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


Hobbits do not have perms, but I basically thought of them all as having Tom Baker hair.

Have a *chuckle*, tobascodegama.
posted by clauclauclaudia at 7:48 AM on November 15, 2019


Like it or not, pantsless Aragorn is, at the very least, a valid interpretation.

Very much looking forward to "Does Aragorn wear pants?" being the new "Do balrogs have wings?"
posted by solotoro at 8:49 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Apparently it is already a debate that has been raging for years among Russian fans.
posted by kyrademon at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


If you want just a little more Glenn Yarbrough in your life (as all right-thinking people do), the soundtrack to the Rankin-Bass Hobbit features an additional song not present in the film, adapted from Bilbo's spider-taunting song in the book.
posted by jedicus at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


One of the best things about the Rankin-Bass version is that (to my mind) it nailed the central themes of the book: Greed is a sickness. War is not glamorous or heroic. Adventure is at best a mixed bag.

The RB version does a far better job of capturing Bilbo's character and the conflict between Bilbo and Thorin than Peter Jackson's version, which was (to my mind) a failure in both regards. The RB version also has a much more faithful adaptation of the Battle of Five Armies, pulling Bilbo out of it almost immediately and focusing more on its bad effects than valorizing the fighting.
posted by jedicus at 9:16 AM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


We had this on a taped-from-tv VHS that was missing the first 5 minutes and that I about wore out as a child. My sisters and I can - and will - sing all the songs at the drop of a hat.

I am still, many years later, slightly surprised when I encounter illustrations of Tolkein's work in which the elves are not ever-so-slightly blue.
posted by darchildre at 10:27 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


My cousin Mike audiotaped this when it first aired and we would listen to it ALL the time during our summers in Rockaway Beach for YEARS. To this day, the sound of one my then 6 year old cousin Elizabeth exclaiming "What's gonna happen to him!" when Bilbo falls down into Gollum's Lair is Tolkien Head Cannon to me.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:31 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


"They killed Fritz!"

Sorry I got confused.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:59 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


I was only like 7 so can't really remember this version vs the Bakshi version... Not so much of a Hobbit fan at that age anyways. What I do remember is like my second or third movie in the theater *ever* when my oldest sister snuck me in to see Wizards which I liked much more than any Hobbit sort of thing.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:32 PM on November 15, 2019


Oh, Re: Dragons with arms... The Best Dragon (According to Science).
posted by zengargoyle at 12:34 PM on November 15, 2019


Also: hobbits do not have perms.

I believe Saruman released a song about not fighting hobbits with perms just last year. C'mon, orcs are totally into concrete and leather.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:36 PM on November 15, 2019


Tobascodegama, you can't tease me with a Soviet the Hobbit and not link to it.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:37 PM on November 15, 2019


Tolkien Gateway has a YouTube link, but it's broken. I think this is the same thing, though?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:51 PM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


If Aragorn wore pants would he wear them like this or like this?
posted by glonous keming at 1:22 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


tobascodagama: omgwtf. i've never seen that before. how have i never seen that before? 4 minutes in and my jaw is ON THE FLOOR. thank you thank you thank you flagged as fantastic.
posted by capnsue at 1:30 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]




"How many limbs do dragons have? Four or six?"

"Eight."
posted by tobascodagama at 8:10 PM on November 15, 2019


Is this Russian version for real omg.

Anyway I love the 1977 the Hobbit. I have been unable to continue on the Jackson ones after the first. I also love the Bakshi LotR. The Jackson one has issues.

But I’ve read the books so many times. I made my own board game of the LotR in 7th grade. So.
posted by R343L at 10:11 PM on November 15, 2019


I gotta believe Aragorn wears pants. Homeslice ranges through forest and field--he's got to have some protection against burrs and thorns.

Now what I have no trouble imagining is those filthy little hobbits porky piggin' across Middle Earth.
posted by MrBadExample at 11:20 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Tolkien never mentions it, but Aragorn was covered in ticks at all times. Fact.
posted by kyrademon at 1:25 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I remember seeing the animated version as a teenager and thinking, "Gee, they left a lot out. Should've been longer." Be careful what you wish for.
posted by pangolin party at 10:14 AM on November 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


Dragons have beefy arms; that's canon.
posted by naoko at 5:16 PM on November 17, 2019


Part of my dislike for Peter Jackson's bloated Hobbit trilogy -- trilogy! -- is that Rankin-Bass told that same story nearly to perfection in 77 minutes, and about all they dropped from the source material was Beorn.
posted by Gelatin at 8:46 AM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I got to know it really well, but always found the art style really jarring. After all, it was the 80s, maaan! What's with these wrinkly earthy lumpy figures all over? Where's the pizazz, the rainbows, the colour? I want my MTV!

If memory serves me correctly, Rankin-Bass outsourced animating The Hobbit to the Japanese studio Topcraft.
posted by Gelatin at 8:57 AM on November 18, 2019


Part of my dislike for Peter Jackson's bloated Hobbit trilogy -- trilogy! -- is that Rankin-Bass told that same story nearly to perfection in 77 minutes, and about all they dropped from the source material was Beorn.

Word. I feel the Rankin Bass version was the best adaptation of The Hobbit, truer in spirit to the book as it was originally written, while Peter Jackson's trilogy was a bloated retelling of The Quest of Erebor chapter from Unfinished Tales . Martin Freeman was a wonderful Bilbo, though.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:38 AM on November 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


RE dragons and whether they have four or six limbs, I propose an alternate theory...
posted by darkstar at 4:49 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


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