The Lord of the Rings is an epic trilogy of novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. But before it became an epic trilogy of films by Peter Jackson, it had another version from all the way back in 1978: an animated film by producer/director/animator Ralph Bakshi. Now fans can see some snippets that once adorned the cutting-room floor.
According to the Verge, Bakshi’s son Eddie has found two segments from his father’s archives. In them, Gandalf battles the Balrog. They’re short but eye-catching, a great reminder of just how interesting Bakshi’s version of The Lord of the Rings was.
The Lord of the Rings was rendered with a combination of traditional hand-drawn animation and rotoscoping; that is, animation drawn over live footage. The screenplay was written by fantasy author Peter S. Beagle, and the voice cast includes John Hurt and Anthony Daniels.
Although the events of the film cover The Fellowship of the Ring and the first half of The Two Towers, producer Saul Zaentz decided not to make the sequel. However, it had an unofficial sequel in the form of Return of the King, a 1980 film by animation studio Rankin/Bass Productions.
As fans may know, the name "Bakshi" is synonomous with "adult animation." His 1972 film Fritz the Cat was the first feature-length animated film to receive an X rating, and his 1992 movie Cool World had as many sexual themes as its PG-13 rating would allow. His work is weird and wonderful, a must-watch for any animation buff’s list.
First the trailer, for more context. Then the two snippets: