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Red Middle-Earth April 10, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is fantastic, in a kitsch sort of a way. News that a Soviet television version of the Lord of the Rings has been rediscovered.

A Soviet television adaptation of The Lord of the Rings thought to have been lost to time was rediscovered and posted on YouTube last week, delighting Russian-language fans of JRR Tolkien.

The 1991 made-for-TV film, Khraniteli, based on Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, is the only adaptation of his Lord of the Rings trilogy believed to have been made in the Soviet Union.

Aired 10 years before the release of the first instalment of Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, the low-budget film appears ripped from another age: the costumes and sets are rudimentary, the special effects are ludicrous, and many of the scenes look more like a theatre production than a feature-length film.

Consider this must have been one of the last productions before the USSR left the stage of history.

In any event the adaptation is quite something. It’s entertaining to see the manner in which the same elements were utilised – the Ring itself, the Black Riders, the aforementioned theatre like production. Some strange choices in respect of the background music, and wigs too. Really the experience is bizarre, check out the attack on Weathertop (at least I think it’s the attack on Weathertop), or the Orcs, or…Sauron. Sauron. What can one say? As far as can be made out the series only gets through part of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Add to this footage from a proposed animation of The Hobbit. A fascinating sideways view of how Tolkien might be interpreted.

Comments»

1. Paul Culloty - April 10, 2021

Many Soviet films were highly regarded, even in the West, during the Sixties and Seventies, so you do wonder why this looks like it was effectively cobbled together for two roubles, as the Guardian alludes – cutbacks to the sector during the Gorbachev era, or more that the regime never particularly cared for fantasy as a genre?

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WorldbyStorm - April 10, 2021

Yeah, look at Solaris, Stalker, and even less science fictional ones and they’re pretty fabulous in their own way (Stalker would be one of my two five or six films full stop). Though perhaps Stalker and Solaris were more grounded in reality on some level and this was a bit suspect?

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2. NFB - April 11, 2021

Yeah, watched this the other day. Fascinating little tidbit. Had a kind of 1970’s Doctor Who feel in its production. Some odd choices throughout all the same, not least Gandalf’s confrontation with the Balrog being entirely off-screen!

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WorldbyStorm - April 11, 2021

It is very 1970s. Perhaps that offscreen encounter was a good thing given how they handled the Bombadil scene effects wise! Btw what was it with the hair caps over actors hair. Very strange production.

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