Adapting Lord of the Rings

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Jul 11, 2015 3:30 am

I think Tolkiens text strongly supports the proposition- that Bergil would mistake someone who looks almost thirty for someone who looks about 15 just because he is short seems highly unlikely to me, especially when talking to him and looking right at him at close range.
I think the description of hobbits in their tweens as irresponsible the use of the word tweens, and the association with that period being the time between childhood and coming of age and a longer life expectancy all point to it.

And as a final bit of proof, Beregrond, who has been talking with Pippin for some time says of him-

'I will not hide from you, Master Peregrin,' said Beregond, 'that to us you look almost as one of our children, a lad of nine summers or so.'

He thinks Pippin only looks 9 or 10. I just dont buy that if he has the face of someone nearly thirty.

But I accept your humble defeat on the matter. Wink

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by David H on Sat Jul 11, 2015 7:46 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
Whilst I am not a fan of viking Boromir I dont think anything in the Bakshi films is done without reference to the original in the sense that Bakshi does not mind changing the visual description of something or someone, if he feels the new visual conveys a meaning that is relevant and from the text.
In the case of Gondorians equal vikings its an attempt to portray without explanation that they are primarily a great seafaring nation, its what they were built on and they were founded by the greatest see going nation of all Numenor.

Aragorn is a ranger and a superb tracker so Bakshi gives him a Native American appearance- its totally not Tolkien, but again it conforms to his use of visuals to convey genuine information about the character or people from the book in a manner which cost no screen time.

I appreciate the cleverness of your rationalizations in your spirited defense of Bakshi Petty, but the problem remains that as far as I can see he fails completely to convey either "meaning" or "genuine information".

I don't know of anybody who actually inferred "superb tracker" or descended from a great seafaring nation from the simple ethnic stereotypes Bakshi used. Instead the stereotypes seem to introduce a lot of other racial baggage that has nothing to do with the characters. But even if someone were to make those inferences, why are the concepts of Tracker and Seafaring Nation so important that it's worth messing up everything else we should know about Aragorn and Boromir?

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:53 am

bungobaggins wrote:Maybe I'm just a bad movie watcher that needs everything spoon fed to him, but I never inferred from their character designs that Aragorn was a tracker, and Boromir was from a sea faring culture. Granted I saw the Bakshi cartoon after I read the books, but it didn't stick out to me and make me go, "oh yeah that makes sense to do." I thought it looked silly and still looks silly.

Plus, Vikings and native Americans are things from our world. Very specific cultures that have no place in Middle-earth. They're out of place, an anachronism.

well said Bungo and Dave. Nod

I also don't get these tracking or seafaring inferences from Bakshi. I think that the Viking costume was just a shorthand for 'generic northern warrior', nothing deeper than that.
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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by halfwise on Sat Jul 11, 2015 3:14 pm

The Bakshi characters looked so ridiculous that I have to feel Petty was right: nobody in their right mind would create those looks for Boromir and Aragorn without a good reason. I'd call it a loopy artistic epic fail.

I also have to largely agree with him on the hobbit ages; I think a multiplier of roughly 1.5 works. This would put our real coming of age when leaving college at 22 to a hobbit's 33, Frodo setting off on his journey at age 50 equivalent to a human age of about 34 (which feels right), our life span of 70 going to 105 (with Bilbo's party at age 111 corresponding to our 74 years old), and the Old Took dying at 130 corresponding to an age of 87 - which admittedly feels a bit young for what at the time was the oldest Hobbit on record, but they didn't have our medicine.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Jul 11, 2015 3:45 pm

But even if someone were to make those inferences, why are the concepts of Tracker and Seafaring Nation so important that it's worth messing up everything else we should know about Aragorn and Boromir?- David

I don't think they would view it such a manner- making Boromir look Viking and implying he is from a maritime nation is all they are concerned with in his look, I don't think for them it does mess up anything else about their characters. It just informs on something about what type of people he is from, it extra information conveyed solely by the visual. The actual character and personality of Boromir in Bakshis version is closer to the book than PJ's, and its not clumsily signposted all the time he is going to have a bad turn like it is in PJ's.

'I think that the Viking costume was just a shorthand for 'generic northern warrior', nothing deeper than that.'- Figg

I dont see how, Gondor is in the south it has no connection to northerly races, but vikings and Gondorians are both famous sea faring nations (all be it one fictional) and seems therefore to be far more likely to me thats the thinking behind that choice.
And if it was a one off thing, maybe it would be so random, but as I have explained already this technique of visual shorthand to convey some extra character information is done by Bakshi in many places throughout his film, it seems clearly intentional to me.

I was reading an interview with Bakhis where he talked about the script, his instruction to his screen writer was "Don't add any of your own shit, Tolkien doesn't need any help" which explains why almost every single line of dialogue in the Bakshi version can be sourced in the book. Not something you can say of the Pj version where the writers filled it to the brim with their own shit.


Cheers Halfy, nice to not feel like I'm just shouting into the wind here.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by David H on Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:14 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:
I don't think they would view it such a manner- making Boromir look Viking and implying he is from a maritime nation is all they are concerned with in his look, I don't think for them it does mess up anything else about their characters. It just informs on something about what type of people he is from, it extra information conveyed solely by the visual.

Well it's just about as effective as the Glasgow dwarf headbutts in AUJ, or the African American influences in Jar Jar Binks for that matter. I'm pretty sure you're right about their thought processes in each case, but I agree with Halfy that it was an epic FAIL. Messing around with cultural and racial stereotypes usually conveys too much information, different information to different viewers, and can easily alienate a lot of people if it's not done well.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:25 pm

There seems to be a mistaken belief that I am defending the Bakshi look of these characters because I think they are good, despite saying I prefer fidelity to the source material descriptions. Just not coupled with an awful script- and for me the Mirror scene is one of the worst adapted scenes in Fellowship, it fails in almost ever respect to give the viewer the relevant information they need to understand the elves position in regards to Frodo, the Ring, Sauron and their lose/lose scenario of fighting the Long Defeat.

I am arguing that Bakshi method is based in trying to convey through adapting in a visual medium something genuinely based in the text. And that it is a more legitimate form of adaptations than PJ's make it up as you go along version, which is often not adaptation at all because they are just making it up. And even when they are basing it on Tolkien, like the Mirror scene they often miss the whole point.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by halfwise on Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:47 pm

The mirror scene in PJ's version overplayed Galadriel's temptation scene, but I don't think they missed the point, simply ruined it. There's better examples of PJ missing Tolkien's vision than that one.

I think there's at least as many instances of Bakshi missing the point by throwing off the feeling of a scene by kooky choices or taking characterizations too far. We can start with Sam being a mealy mouthed simpleton for one; or by overplaying the 'wraithing' of the ringwraiths to make them seem like Igor from campy horror movies.

On the whole I think PJ came closer to Tolkien's vision, even if the script ran further afield.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:10 pm

Sam is a great example, his dialogue is Tolkiens, throughout, the problem is in the manner of how its acted and how the character has been animated. The script for Sam is fine and book based. Like everything in Bakshi's script its truncated, but its still Tolkien.

I challenge you, or anyone, to watch just PJ's Mirror scene, then watch Bakshi's Mirror scene, and tell me that near perfect Tolkien adaptation could not have been achieved if you take Bakshi's script exactly as it is and put it in PJ's sets and costumes, give those words to Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and Sean Astin and even PJ directing - but just directing which he is great at, it when he gets involved in what's going on in the story there's a problem, its not his bloody place he should just bring the script to screen. Mad - that would have been a proper Mirror scene, with all the relevant information, none of which is in PJ's version.

I mean watch even just PJ's-



First the slow mo start is very annoying and wastes screen time, then when Frodo does look in the Mirror all he learns is that if he fails shit will be bad afterwards- I'm guessing he knew that already. Then he sees the Eye and of course this being PJ's Frodo, falls over again on his arse, and then Galadriel says she knows what he say because its also in her mind, then he offers the Ring and she goes nuclear and is tempted by it, overcomes temptation and goes right into signposting Boromir as a bad guy whose about to do something bad very soon, definitely before the end of the film. Nod, wink.

Nothing relevant is here- Galadriel being offered the Ring in Pj's is just another example of someone being tempted by the Ring, ok she goes nuclear and gives a big speech, but tempted, turns it down is all its about.
And that's because PJ has neglected to tell the viewer beforehand that the elves face a lose/lose scenario- so when offered the Ring that decision has weight- the viewer knows how great the temptation must be to take it and use it to change that lose/lose scenario. And her overcoming that has real weight.
Without that knowledge of why Frodo is the footstep of doom to them her temptation scene is just a flasher version of Faramirs, or Aragorn, even Boromir save he fails to overcome it. But its just another Ring tempts someone scene in the end, just at the point in the dialogue where Galadriel should start imparting the cruucial information it instead chooses to spend the time signposting Boromirs end. Rolling Eyes

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by halfwise on Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:37 pm

Most likely, almost definitely, Bakshi's script with PJ's directing etc would be better. No argument there. But most of us feel {{{ 'most' = 'all but 1' }}} that since Bakshi managed to screw EVERYTHING ELSE up, PJ still comes out ahead.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:46 pm

For me Tolkiens words and characters are more important than all the flashiness. Ill take a LotR's play with no props or costumes and just a bunch of decent actors with a really good script over PJ any day.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:58 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:But even if someone were to make those inferences, why are the concepts of Tracker and Seafaring Nation so important that it's worth messing up everything else we should know about Aragorn and Boromir?- David

I don't think they would view it such a manner- making Boromir look Viking and implying he is from a maritime nation is all they are concerned with in his look, I don't think for them it does mess up anything else about their characters. It just informs on something about what type of people he is from, it extra information conveyed solely by the visual. The actual character and personality of Boromir in Bakshis version is closer to the book than PJ's, and its not clumsily signposted all the time he is going to have a bad turn like it is in PJ's.

slap laugh you crack me up



'I think that the Viking costume was just a shorthand for 'generic northern warrior', nothing deeper than that.'- Figg

I dont see how, Gondor is in the south it has no connection to northerly races, but vikings and Gondorians are both famous sea faring nations (all be it one fictional) and seems therefore to be far more likely to me thats the thinking behind that choice.
And if it was a one off thing, maybe it would be so random, but as I have explained already this technique of visual shorthand to convey some extra character information is done by Bakshi in many places throughout his film, it seems clearly intentional to me.

I was reading an interview with Bakhis where he talked about the script, his instruction to his screen writer was "Don't add any of your own shit, Tolkien doesn't need any help" which explains why almost every single line of dialogue in the Bakshi version can be sourced in the book. Not something you can say of the Pj version where the writers filled it to the brim with their own shit.


Cheers Halfy, nice to not feel like I'm just shouting into the wind here.
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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:59 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:For me Tolkiens words and characters are more important than all the flashiness. Ill take a LotR's play with no props or costumes and just a bunch of decent actors with a really good script over PJ any day.

yeah like that would be so much better. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:07 pm

Bakshi Boromir is closer to the book than PJ's in everything bar looks.
Every word out of Boromirs mouth in Bakshi is right off the page they also include his dissension over the route, the choice of Moria and over going into Lothlorien and the voice actor is a talented Shakespearean actor who had already played a much fuller, even truer to the book version in the BBC radio adaptation. So you have Tolkiens words excellently delivered.

14.50 to hear him doing Boromirs tempted by the Ring scene from the BBC version-



'yeah like that would be so much better.'

Nod Yes, yes it would.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:09 pm

it might be straight off the page but its butt ugly. Tolkien deserves something as beautiful as PJ gave us.
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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:13 pm

No Tolkien deserves the integrity of his work, his words that he laboured over and his characterisations which he depicted very carefully indeed, and the themes he was expressing to be respectfully handled. That is true in PJ's Tolkien films only in the look and increasingly less so as the films progress, and eventually not really at all in TH.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Radaghast on Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:41 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:No Tolkien deserves the integrity of his work, his words that he laboured over and his characterisations which he depicted very carefully indeed, and the themes he was expressing to be respectfully handled. That is true in PJ's Tolkien films only in the look and increasingly less so as the films progress, and eventually not really at all in TH.
Quoted for truth.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Eldorion on Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:49 am

Generally speaking, I think copying dialogue is one of the most superficial ways you can compare faithfulness in an adaptation. We all have our favorite lines but an adaptation can (in theory) remain faithful to the plot, characters, and themes even if it invented all its own dialogue. Obviously that isn't what PJ did, but just because Bakshi used more Tolkienian dialogue doesn't make his film faithful. Much of it is disjointed by jumping from one book-based scene to another with little connective tissue to explain what's going on. And in the second half things break down so badly that the film barely has a coherent plot at all, and certainly not a proper resolution. It barely counts as a story at all, much less Tolkien's story.

This isn't a defense of PJ (who has always been extremely open about his debt to Bakshi), I just don't the praise directed at the animated film at all. Is it just a strategic move to try to make PJ look worse by comparison? At least we haven't had anyone here try to argue that Bakshi's vomit-tinged live action footage (it's not rotoscoping when he does that; the rotoscoped parts are the ones with finished animation in them) is a bold artistic choice. I mean, I apologize if anyone out there genuinely enjoys Bakshi's film on its own merits and takes offense at my snark, but I find the film an utterly joyless experience to watch.
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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by azriel on Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:46 am

I think, next to Charles Dickens "Scrooge" this has to be the one story film makers want to adapt & call their crowning glory. I watched Bakshi's stab at LOTRs years ago & thought it bloody odd then ! The Balrog was amazingly weird, where the fook did he dream that up ? Im not sure Orcs singing ala Disney style hits the note either ? I think, as a very young person, the live action scribble over with crayons bought from Woolworths was the pulling power for me. I had not seen anything like it before. It was only 10yrs before when The Beatles brought out "Yellow Submarine" animation & to be honest I enjoyed that so much more. Very Happy These were the times of the "make love not war" generation, Hippies, Carnaby Street, Incense sticks, flowers & nudity. Anything was open to interpretation & everyone felt they had a right to do things "their way". We had quite a few ground breakers, "Jason & The Argonauts" was another. Ray Harryhausen was hailed & through him it opened the doors more to the public in films where creatures of the imagination now became real & something to either like or destroy.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:27 pm

I think copying dialogue is one of the most superficial ways you can compare faithfulness in an adaptation. _eldo

To a point- but when was the last time you watched a successful Shakespeare or Dickens adaptation where the film makers rewrote almost every single line of dialogue, completely altered many of the characters, invented tons of their own material at the expense of original material and missed the originals main theme?

'just because Bakshi used more Tolkienian dialogue doesn't make his film faithful. Much of it is disjointed by jumping from one book-based scene to another with little connective tissue to explain what's going on.'

Id only agree with that statement as far as the end of FotR, Bakshi's FotR is perfectly easy to follow, its far from perfect, its still too truncated, it does some weird things (Like the Bagend ring scene). But for me it still feels more like Tolkien because I can at least still recognise the characters and the dialogue as Tolkien- neither of which I can do with pJ's version.

'I apologize if anyone out there genuinely enjoys Bakshi's film on its own merits and takes offense at my snark, but I find the film an utterly joyless experience to watch.'

I do find your seeming utter hostility to it a bit odd, its not like I am arguing Bakshi's version is a great film, Ive never done that, but it does some things far better than PJ does, and it does some scenes in particular, like the Mirror scene, way, way, way better than PJ's in terms of content.
I find it hard to see how anyone can read the book Mirror scene, watch PJ's version of that scene, watch Bakshi's version and think PJ's is better. It looks better, there the advantage to PJ begins and ends.


Azriel- yes and that 60's in to 70' view of things persists in Bakshi's work. The visual style of his film is not out of step with a lot of the fantasy artwork which was common in the sixties and seventies on posters, book covers and especially album cover art.

If there is an argument to be had that the style of a decade ruins everything else then it surely is not nearly so bad as our current times, where the style of the times results in utter shite like TH being produce as acceptable.
Give me Bakshi's stab at Tolkien over that rubbish any day. At least Bakshi gives me the sense that he really was trying and cared, even when it goes horribly wrong. I honestly don't think PJ gives a shit for Tolkien really.

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Radaghast on Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:40 pm

Eldorion wrote:Generally speaking, I think copying dialogue is one of the most superficial ways you can compare faithfulness in an adaptation.  We all have our favorite lines but an adaptation can (in theory) remain faithful to the plot, characters, and themes even if it invented all its own dialogue.  Obviously that isn't what PJ did, but just because Bakshi used more Tolkienian dialogue doesn't make his film faithful.  Much of it is disjointed by jumping from one book-based scene to another with little connective tissue to explain what's going on.  And in the second half things break down so badly that the film barely has a coherent plot at all, and certainly not a proper resolution.  It barely counts as a story at all, much less Tolkien's story.
I wouldn't say faithfulness is the issue—since Bakshi does stay true to the story and characters more than PJ does—but, rather, efficacy . Bakshi frantically tried to fit all of dialogue into his film, with less than ideal  results, as far as making a good movie (imo). I think when there's a lot of dialogue, it has to be tailored for a movie script. PJ did this, albeit at the cost of fidelity to the book, but it doesn't look like Bakshi (or whoever did the screenplay) even tried to craft a proper script. Of course, Bakshi didn't have the budget and was prevented from making any more LotR movies, so there's that.


Last edited by Radaghast on Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:45 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:43 pm

And he had to get a lot in to a short time with a small team of animators and a, even for the time, small budget for an animated film.
My argument with Bakshi is give him PJ's budget, Pj's time but keeping the Bakshi attitude to story, script and characters ('Tolkien doesn't need any help') and I think he would make PJ's work look like what it is -childish.


Typical fantasy style art of the 70's - the look of Bakshi's film does not exists in a void, it was part of the zeitgeist of its time.






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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Radaghast on Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:05 pm

The following IMDb.com review reminds me a lot of your viewpoint, PT (with which I myself agree to a large extent):

(5 stars) Was I right, or was I right?, 1 March 2002

In 1999, I wrote:

"By being better or by being worse, Bakshi could have done a lot more harm."

Peter Jackson's version is either a great deal better or a great deal worse than Bakshi's (the view that it's neither is untenable). It's undeniably flashier, easier on some eyes (but harder on mine), and ... oh, I don't know, I suppose there are a few trivial virtues I haven't thought of. Bakshi has the better script, gets the mood right most of the time, and has a superior musical score.

But while Bakshi was and remains guiltless, Jackson has blood on his hands. He has murdered Tolkein's book. Bakshi left open the possibility that the book was a great work of literature (which it is). Jackson has convinced people that if you read the books you'll get, in literary form, the kind of thing he's served up on screen - and he's even convinced people who had already read the books and ought to have known better, which means he's made it much harder for I don't know how many millions of people to appreciate the books for what they are. As a film, Bakshi's effort is mediocre, but it won't prevent you from understanding Tolkein's novel: a fable about absolute power corrupting absolutely, a solidly grounded adventure story, a valuable and moving reminder of the beauty of the natural world, a meditation on loss and death. Bakshi's mediocre film gets little of this across but at least he doesn't rule any of it out.

Here's the reviewer's previous review:

(5 stars) It can't hurt to watch it if you've read the book, 11 July 1999
5/10

How could anyone possibly make "The Lord of the Rings" on the cheap?

Ralph Bakshi's method was, at all events, an original one. He filmed almost all of his movie with live actors in Europe, with no sets or costumes to speak of. Then he rotoscoped the actors into animation. That is to say, his animators traced over the photographs, frame by frame, altering where necessary (the contours of Gandalf's face, the precise movement and look of the hobbits), and inventing only as a last resort. He could then have the effect of using live actors and be free to design his own landscapes, colours schemes, and so on, from scratch. Possibly this idea was a good one. Trained and talented character animators are expensive and rare; and even if Bakshi had had a warehouse full of them, it would have been very hard to hit upon the correct manner of drawing and animating Gandalf and Gollum - if such a manner exists. So I don't fault Bakshi's decision.

Did it pay off? No. For one thing, the backgrounds are uninspired. Surely the one positive point in favour of Bakshi's method was that it allowed live actors (translated into pen and ink) to be placed in settings that really looked like Middle Earth. This doesn't happen. Secondly, although modest demands are placed on the animators, they fail to meet them on those occasions where they're asked to do more than just trace. Thirdly the story breaks off in mid-battle half way through, and I'm not convinced that Bakshi really knew how he wanted to tell it in the first place. Bakshi has traced Tolkein's work as soullessly as his animators traced his live actors.

Still - perhaps because of all this - the result is inoffensive and a decent enough way of passing a spare hour and a half if you've already read the book (and for heaven's sake, read the book). It is no harder to read Tolkein than it used to be. By being better than this or by being worse, Bakshi could have done a great deal more harm.

http://www.imdb.com/user/ur0035229/comments?order=alpha&start=570

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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Mrs Figg on Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:08 pm

the Bakshi version detracts it doesn't add anything magical, its aesthetics are so ugly that it destroys any enjoyment of the story. The constant gurning of Frodo and Sam are really ludicrous, the weird designs (in a bad way) of Boromir, Legolas and Elrond in particular, just horrible to watch. off putting in the extreme, and its not because of the technology differences, some old Disney films remain lovely to look at even now. I just don't trust his artistic judgement at all. I particularly hate Legolas the half Mongol poofter.
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Re: Adapting Lord of the Rings

Post by Radaghast on Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:14 pm

I think I've seen one other movie by Bakshi, Wizards, which I found to be somewhat bizarre, for lack of a better term. But that also seemed bound by budgetary constraints. I'm not sure Bakshi ever had a decent budget to work with.

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