The Animated Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings

[image description: a triptych of cover art for the three animated films based on the works of j. r. r. tolkien: the hobbit, the lord of the rings, and the return of the king. (Fair Use)]

Here’s something I don’t think I’ve mentioned about myself before: I love animation. I have ever since I was a child, watching Saturday-morning cartoons on network television, and going to see Disney’s Bambi and Dumbo at the movies with my mother. So I’m a huge fan of Netflix’s Castlevania, and I’m eagerly looking forward to The Legend of Vox Machina–so much so, in fact, that I contributed to the Kickstarter at the Defender level, for which I was rewarded with the goodies you see below (this was long before the pandemic, which led to the loss of my job and my having to collect emergency unemployment benefits which have since run out).

[image description: photograph of an array of critical role’s the legend of vox machina kickstarter backer rewards, including the 8×10 art print, trinket plushie, waxed canvas messenger bag, sticker set, character pin set, dice set, beanie, and set of letter openers. not pictured: set of playing cards. image copyright 2021 by strider lee.]

In fact, my very first introduction to the fantastical world of J. R. R. Tolkien was with the Rankin/Bass animated movie version of The Hobbit, which aired on network television in the late seventies, and then again a couple years later along with Ralph Bakshi‘s The Lord of the Rings, which as I mentioned in a previous post, aired right after The Hobbit that one year, followed by the earlier film’s sequel, The Return of the King, also by Rankin/Bass. Though as a child of about 9 or 10 I was a bit confused by the different animation styles between Bakshi’s version and the other two, I still had a sense that this was the same story and set in the same world, with many of the same characters. But I wouldn’t find out it all came from books until a few years later, when I first started getting into D&D.

Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is that I had intended to rewatch those three movies this week even as they had been first presented to me in my childhood. But not just for the nostalgia–I intended to blog about them, for the enjoyment of my readers, whether you are familiar with them or not. And I still intend to do that, only it won’t be as easy as I’d first imagined. The reason is that two of the movies, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, are not available to watch for free on any streaming service right now (except broken up into short clips in a playlist on YouTube), and now that my unemployment benefits have ended, I can’t afford to be paying for anything I don’t need. Besides, I already have them on DVD, I just don’t know where in this mess they can be found (probably packed away in a box somewhere). Also, The Return of the King isn’t even available to stream at all (except in the aforementioned manner on YouTube), only to purchase from Amazon in the form of an exorbitantly priced DVD. That one I have on videotape somewhere, but I don’t even own a VCR anymore, so even if I could find it now, that’s out.

So here’s what I plan to do instead: I’m going to watch every scene of those three movies that are available to me on YouTube, in the order they were meant to be seen (this will take some doing when it comes to the Bakshi film, since the playlist presents a few of the scenes out of sequence for some reason). And then sometime in the near future I’ll be back to tell you all about them. If you’d like to watch them yourself, here are the links to the playlists I found:

The Hobbit (Animated 1977 Rankin/Bass)

Ralph Bakshi – The Lord of the Rings (1978)

Return of the King (1980)

Frodo sings a Shire song at the Prancing Pony while Ringwraiths attack Merry. From Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of The Lord of the Rings (1978).

Published by striderlee

Dungeon Master, homebrewer, foodie, bibliophile, and fantasy author. He/Him

10 thoughts on “The Animated Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings

  1. I really enjoyed these movies too, more than the Peter Jackson versions. I have a cel from Bakshi’s movie that he signed of one of the Ringwraiths.

    1. That’s awesome! Yeah, I don’t think I’ve watched any of these in full since the PJ films came out, so I was really looking forward to it. There’s still time to dig out my Bakshi’s LotR DVD… I think I’ll do a thorough search for it tomorrow.

      1. I do have the dvds but I cracked and bought The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings on Amazon digital but no Return of the King to round it out. ;/

      2. Well, I finally found my DVD of Bakshi’s LotR but it was an exhausting search so I didn’t bother looking for The Hobbit. I just made do with the incomplete playlist on YT. But I just got done watching the Bakshi film, and I sure am glad I was able to find it because it’s really an experience you don’t want broken up into small bites, especially if the scenes are out of sequence. Next I’ll be tackling RotK, but it’s a YT playlist again, so I’m expecting it won’t be complete. Should be enough to jog my memory so I can write about it though.

    1. You’re most welcome! I would have been six years old when I saw the 1977 airing. Then as I recall, when my younger sister and I watched the televised event featuring all three animated films back to back a couple years later, we both remembered having seen “The Hobbit” previously, and were a little confused by the “Gollum” in the Rankin/Bass versions and “Smeagol” in the Bakshi version, but we eventually worked out that they were the same character.

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