Blu-ray Review: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: Original Animated Classic Deluxe Edition

Warner Home Video
Release date: April 6, 2010
MSRP: $29.99
Starring the voices of Christopher Guard, William Squire, Michael Scholes, John Hurt
Runtime: 132 minutes
Rated: PG
Written by Chris Conkling and Peter S. Beagle, based on the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien
Directed by Ralph Bakshi

In 1978, using traditional painting and drawing as well as rotoscoping based on live action, maverick animator Ralph Bakshi (Fritz The Cat, Heavy Traffic, Cool World) was the first to show a story with the daunting scope of The Lord of the Rings would translate to film.

The variety of techniques employed don’t always make for smooth viewing and some liberties are taken with the story, but I found it easy enough to follow and was riveted wondering how each character would be depicted. It’s amazing how heavily Peter Jackson’s live-action saga seems to borrow from Bakshi’s movie.

I would call this a family film, but at the same time there is realistically animated violence and blood. The movie might receive a PG-13 today, and I’d recommend it to viewers that age and above, whether or not they’ve read Tolkien’s books or seen Jackson’s saga. An excellent introduction to a fantasy epic.

This release includes one Blu-ray disc and one DVD, with a featurette on Bakshi’s career. It’s great to experience the movie in 1080p and Dolby TrueHD 5.1, but enough film defects remain that I wonder how much restoration was possible.

–Gerald So