Rankin/Bass

Could we devote time to discussing the animated Rankin/Bass TV adaptations of Tolkien? Especially Return of the King, which they had to adapt both for brevity and for filling in the audience on parts of the story not adapted. Some of this is unsuccessful, but a number of scenes are far better than in the PJ film version (Eowyn especially!) There are so many adaptation alleys to be explored in the two movies. I know The Hobbit got touched on some ack in Riddles in the Dark, but the latter film has yet to be discussed. You can tell they tried for detail in certain places like including the Elessar (Faramir even makes a two second cameo).
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I will certainly give them points for trying!

I agree that the scene where Eowyn faces the Witch-king is very well done (certainly compared to the rest of the film!)


Of course, you also get scenes like this, where Frodo just straight up speaks the description in the scene rather than any attempt being made to adapt it to reasonable dialogue: "I feel like a child at rest, when night fears are driven away." Well okay then!



But of course the most supreme bit of cinema provided in this film is the inimitable song, "Where there's a whip, there's a way"!


No. Words.
 
Is Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way any more ridiculous than the “Ya hey ya harri hey ya hoy!” In The Hobbit book?

Though the later lyric “If we win then you will lose” is certainly no great work of art.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Oh, I agree that it fits with "Fifteen Birds in Five Fir Trees" - the orcs of Rankin Bass's Return of the King are quite clearly the goblins of the Hobbit.
And, of course, I love it - it's easily my favorite part of the movie. ;) I still think it's ridiculous.


One of the best commentaries I've ever heard on the Rankin/Bass Hobbit put it this way: "No one involved had read Lord of the Rings." That explains how you end up with suspiciously German and wizened Thranduil and Elrond with his beard and the stars around his head. These characters look like they belong in a fairy story, which is good, but they do not look like the elves described in LotR. Which was unfortunate when they then had to...connect their original film to Lord of the Rings and 'finish' the Bakshi adaptation.


Some of the choices they made really ruined their attempt. Gandalf as narrator? Merry and Pippin speaking with archaic dialogue rather than being the approachable hobbits? A timeline that requires Frodo to claim the Ring and wander around Mount Doom for weeks while the rest of the story catches up to him? Putting narration from the book directly into clunky dialogue? These are all...choices. Not good choices, but choices. Singing orcs are not the worst of it - those, at least, are Tolkienian.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
The Aragorn in the Rankin-Bass version leaves quite a bit in his personality; the way it's placed it seems that the army he brings is mopping up rather than the cavalry. He's also rude as hell, without a sense of comradeship with the rest, and barely does anything to help. And this guy is supposed to be the King?
Oh, I agree that it fits with "Fifteen Birds in Five Fir Trees" - the orcs of Rankin Bass's Return of the King are quite clearly the goblins of the Hobbit.
And, of course, I love it - it's easily my favorite part of the movie. ;) I still think it's ridiculous.


One of the best commentaries I've ever heard on the Rankin/Bass Hobbit put it this way: "No one involved had read Lord of the Rings." That explains how you end up with suspiciously German and wizened Thranduil and Elrond with his beard and the stars around his head. These characters look like they belong in a fairy story, which is good, but they do not look like the elves described in LotR. Which was unfortunate when they then had to...connect their original film to Lord of the Rings and 'finish' the Bakshi adaptation.


Some of the choices they made really ruined their attempt. Gandalf as narrator? Merry and Pippin speaking with archaic dialogue rather than being the approachable hobbits? A timeline that requires Frodo to claim the Ring and wander around Mount Doom for weeks while the rest of the story catches up to him? Putting narration from the book directly into clunky dialogue? These are all...choices. Not good choices, but choices. Singing orcs are not the worst of it - those, at least, are Tolkienian.
Not to mention a froglike Thranduil in The Hobbit.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Rankin/Bass were my first introduction to LotR. Despite being poor in many aspects they hold a special place in my heart. Mainly for the songs honestly.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I mean, same.

I usually tell people that I saw those movies many times as a child, and they in no way spoiled Tolkien's books for me.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I never onew they existed before the Jackson trilogy came out...
My introduction had been the Bakshi film i had seen as a kid!

I was quite surprised to see there had not only been a hobbit movie before bUt even a somehow continuiation of the Bakshi Film, which BRke off somewhere in Isengard IIRC!

I HAVE SEEN the Hobbit adaption now, (and the russian adaption as well) but still never FINISHED SEEING the rankin bass take on return of the king, only the beginning of it IIRC.
 
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