Director: Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Original Release: 1977
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Lord of the Rings Fanatics Site
We've been in Hobbit-prep mode for over a year at our house. The first installment of Peter Jackson's three-part live action interpretation opens on December 14th. In anticipation, I've been reading Tolkien to my daughter since last summer. Here are my write-ups so far:
Bedtime Stories: The Hobbit
Bedtime Stories: The Fellowship of the Ring
My own Tolkien adventures began with the made-for-TV animated film of 1977. In fact, I think it may have been one of my very first video rentals. The production team of Rankin/Bass are best-known for their Christmas specials, most notably Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. The animation work for The Hobbit was done by Topcraft, a precursor to Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli.
An unofficial trailer:
Watching the film again all these years later, what's most interesting to me is the pace. By Tolkien standards, this one really whips along. Despite the short length (only 77 minutes), Rankin and Bass were able to squeeze in a fair amount of the book. As such, there isn't much dawdling allowed. Most gratifying is the fact that so much of Tolkien's original language was preserved, including Thorin's farewell speech to Bilbo - my own favorite passage.
- This is definitely a film for kids. The pacing is less satisfying for an adult who knows the full story. That said, considering the time and resources available, this film is admirable work.
- The music is definitely hokey. I remember thinking "The Greatest Adventure" was a great song when I was a kid. Now it just seems silly.
- I'm glad that my daughter was exposed to the book before the movie. She was disappointed that things were left out. I'm very proud of our Tolkien snob in-training.
- Our excitement for the Jackson film has only been hightened.
My Rating System:
5 = The best of the best. These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films. They're fine. Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it. It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film. An insult to the art form.