Tuesday, September 17, 2002

The Movie I Watched Last Night XXXVIII
The Lord of the Rings
After my recent viewing of the disappointing Heavy Metal animated movie, I didn't have high hopes for Ralph Bakshi's 1978 adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's historic fantasy novel. And even though the movie has its flaws, it was actually quite impressive, and I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to watch the whole thing. Depending heavily on rotoscope animation, the cartoon, while largely lifelike and fluid, is rather jerky at times, and that can be distracting. Bakshi also experimented with some almost-animation, similar in some ways to the techniques Richard Linklater used in Waking Life. In these sequences, Bakshi filmed live actors and then heavily colored the film so they felt animated but really were not. While interesting, Bakshi overused this technique, and there are several sequences -- particularly those featuring the black riders and the orcs -- that run long and frustrating given their lack of art. Must've been some fun weekends running around on the Bakshi estate! The cartoon is also notable because of some solid parallels not just to the books, but to the more recent live-action movie. Several scenes, including the tree-trunk vista of the elven village and the guardian statues on either side of the river pass, were seemingly recreated visually -- from the cartoon -- in the newer movie. Curious how much they used Bakshi as source and inspiration. Worth watching if you're a fan of the Tokien mythos -- or if you need a fix before the second live-action installment is released.

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