Voices of Christopher Guard, William Squire, John Hurt. Animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy adventure, covering the first two novels of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Animated. 1978/color/133 min/PG/widescreen.
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Although it was ultimately overshadowed by Peter Jackson's live-action Lord of the Rings trilogy, Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic is not without charms of its own. A target of derision from intolerant fans, this ambitious production is nevertheless a respectably loyal attempt to animate the first half of Tolkien's trilogy, beginning with the hobbit Frodo's inheritance of "the One Ring" of power from Bilbo Baggins, and ending with the wizard Gandalf's triumph over the evil army of orcs. While the dialogue is literate and superbly voiced by a prestigious cast (including John Hurt as Aragorn), Leonard Rosenman's accomplished score effectively matches the ominous atmosphere that Bakshi's animation creates and sustains. Bakshi's lamentable decision to combine traditional cel animation with "rotoscoped" (i.e., meticulously traced) live-action footage is jarringly distracting and aesthetically disastrous, but when judged by its narrative content, this Lord of the Rings deserves more credit than it typically receives. --Jeff Shannon
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