4 Non-Peter-Jackson Lord of the Rings Movies & TV Shows You Forgot Ever Existed
Middle-earth has a very long history of adaptations.
Today, most viewers associate Middle-earth with Peter Jackson’s movies. For more than half a century, however, the world created by the Professor has been adapted several times, but each time in a completely different way.
Not a single attempt to translate The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings into the language of the movies made before Jackson can be called a complete success, but that doesn't mean these attempts don't deserve your attention.
For the most hardcore fans of the Professor and his universe, we recalled the most interesting incarnations of Middle-earth on the screen.
1. The Hobbit by Rankin and Bass
Tolkien did not live another four years to see the first decent adaptation of The Hobbit. On November 27, 1977, NBC premiered the animated film by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass. It is a well-made adaptation that respects the original.
Work on The Hobbit took five years, and the movie cost $5 million. Screenwriter Romeo Muller was proud by the fact that he stayed as close to the original as possible. Topcraft's Japanese animators worked on adaptation, and later, the entire team joined Hayao Miyazaki's Ghibli.
2. The Lord of the Rings by Ralph Bakshi
In 1978, director Ralph Bakshi, a big fan of the Professor, presented the public with an adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring and a small part of The Two Towers.
Basically, the movie follows the plot of LOTR, omitting the episodes that Peter Jackson would also avoid twenty years later. For example, the Hobbits go directly from their homes to Bree without meeting Tom Bombadil. Bakshi's inaccuracies include Saruman the White dressed in red.
The movie ends with the Battle of the Hornburg, during which Frodo and Sam walk to Orodruin.
3. Return of the King by Rankin and Bass
Although Bakshi never made the second part of his LOTR, his movie did get a sequel of sorts. It was 1980's The Return of the King, an animated movie by Rankin, Bass and the same Japanese animation team.
The film begins with Bilbo's one hundred and twenty-ninth birthday. Bilbo sees that Frodo is missing a finger and demands an explanation. Gandalf summons a Gondorian minstrel to sing the ballad of Frodo and the Ring.
The story of the War of the Ring begins when Frodo arrives at Cirith Ungol. Sam finds the Ring that fell from Frodo at the city gates, as well as the Sting. We are then transported to the Fields of Pelennor, where the defenders of Minas Tirith battle the Nazgul, see Eowyn kill the Witch-King, and follow Gandalf and Aragorn to the gates of Mordor.
4. Soviet adaptation Khraniteli
While the most hardcore fans have probably seen previous adaptations, very few have watched this teleplay, filmed in the Soviet Union in 1991.
Although all technical aspects of the TV adaptation look beyond cheap, this iteration stands out for the fact that it reflects almost all of the events described in the original. No one would have remembered this adaptation of the Lord of the Rings if it hadn't appeared on YouTube in 2021.