As part of the Screenplay Festival our volunteers have been reviewing some of the films they’ve been watching. Here Logan Nicolson reviews Lord of the Rings (Dir Ralph Bakshi).
Let me begin by saying this is not an animated version of Peter Jackson's semi-classic trilogy, but is in fact a very interesting (and to an extent, charming) animated version of JRR Tolkien's book trilogy made back in 1978. Being that it was made in the seventies, the animation obviously lacks today’s standards - and also appears to have been made on a shoestring budget (the film didn't even have the funds to include anything from the third book), and this does show occasionally. So that and a few other things kind of pull this film back from being a truly excellent animated film.
It's easy to say that several times during the film you may think you're watching some kind of student art film and some of the effects can't quite do what they'd like to: for example, Gandalf's Magic comes out looking like something out of a Pink Floyd music video. And the face and voice of Sam-Wise is the most intolerable animated creature I've met since Jar-Jar Binks. The standard shots in this try to be artistic but most often look silly and annoying; for instance, when someone's face is half cut off entirely (side note: this is animation, you can do literally any shot you want from any angle if you can draw it, so why limit yourself so much?). The editor probably should've lost his job as some scenes go on much longer than necessary and other cuts are rough and too jarring.
An interesting technique they tried here is something called "Rotoscope" which is, from my understanding, shooting a scene in live action then animating it afterwards. This should work but given the technology of the time it often falls flat and is overused.
All of this isn't to say the film is bad, in fact for from it. The film has a lot of merits including the beautiful scenery drawn up, and the great score to go along with it. But the characters people do look a bit sketchy (geddit?)...
So despite its little irritations that really can be ignored, this is one very interesting film for Tolkien fans, budding filmmakers and anyone with some interest in animation.
??? Three Stars
Make no mistake- three stars is a recommendation. There’s a plot that chugs along nicely, excellent voice acting, and an idea perhaps too far ahead of its time.