The Lord of the Rings: Original Animated Classic (1978) - Remastered Deluxe Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Animation / Fantasy
Warner Brothers || PG - 133 minutes - $29.99 || April 6, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-04-08

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Writer(s): J.R.R. Tolkien (novels); Chris Conkling and Peter S. Beagle (screenplay)
Cast: NA

Theatrical Release Date: November 15, 1978

Supplemental Material:
  • Featurette
  • DVD/Digital Copy Combo

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English SDH. French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Even though I’ve never been an ardent fan of “The Lord of the Rings” both in book form and Peter Jackson’s three epic movies, I did know that there was in existence of this Original Animated Classic and all I have to say, I sure have a different viewpoint on the word “classic”. Not only does it cram 9 hours (if not more) of story into 133-minutes, but it also has the awful 1970s animation, though he did utilize some live action using a process called rotoscoping, but even that could not save this film...

The Lord of the Rings: Original Animated Classic follows the same story we all know and love, though I believe it rearranges a few of the elements here and there to make a more linear story, but having not read the books in many years (and never finishing), I can’t be 100% sure. For instance, this movie opens similarly, but ineffectively, as Fellowship with a prologue of the battle before moving into when Smeagol is fishing and his friend discovers the ring, and a fight – and murder – ensues. You then fast forward to Bilbo Baggins finding the ring and fast forward even further to his birthday party where he promptly does his disappearing act. And really, this is how the rest of the movies goes as well, and I’ll tell you, I had a difficult time getting through it.

In any case, the biggest problem I had with this so called “Animated Classic” is the fact director Ralph Bakshi, who has worked on many animated shorts and features including 1992’s Cool World, pushes through the journey with no real emotion and an animation style that hurt my eyes.

The other issue at hand, and not really his fault or the fault of anyone on the production team, is that this will always be compared to the live action films (at least those of us who were not around or aware of this beforehand). Whenever I see Gandalf, even an oddly drawn version, I can only hear Ian McKellen’s voice. And the same goes for Frodo and many of the other characters.

I don’t know. I realize The Original Animated Classic has many, many fans out there, but I didn’t get it. Even when not in the shadow of Peter Jackson’s live action epics, I could never get into this story nor these characters or the animation style, though credit where credit’s due, Bakshi utilized rotoscoping, which is an interesting process. That said, in my quick research of the project, I discovered that in fact Baskhi had planned a sequel but no studio wanted to fund it, thus an incomplete story. Personally, it’s just as well because even with a three-quarters of a story this had, was enough for me.

Overall, this Lord of the Rings might have its fans but I never could get full engulfed in the story, voice acting and animation style. It never once grabbed me and made me want to care about any of these characters nor their journeys or the importance of that journey as many of the important scenes seem to go by too quickly.


Along with a DVD/Digital Copy Combo Disc (** Blu-Ray Exclusive **), this Blu-ray also comes with the extensive Forging Through the Darkness: The Ralph Bakshi Vision for The Lord of the Rings (30:25; SD), which features an interview with the director as he explains how he utilized various techniques as well as creating and adapting the story.

There is also a trailer (promo) for “Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Complete Season 1”.


I’m not entire sure how to approach this video transfer. First, it is now 32 years old and anything animated of that age without an extensive, and no doubt expensive, restoration isn’t going to look great. The picture is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio (originally 1.85) and as you might expect, it’s rough going outside of some of the rotoscoping scenes. Colors are also fairly muted. I can’t really be too harsh on the video transfer as I’m sure getting it in 1080p might be a slight upgrade over the DVD versions that have come before.

Equally disappointing is the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which throughout sounded more like a stereo surround track than anything else. Again, not the fault of the studio as getting a better audio track would’ve probably been expensive, but the dialogue and even sound effects were flat, though both are still easy to hear.


Bakshi deserves all the credit for the early use of rotoscoping and although it is a unique visual style, I found the project as a whole to be a tad overrated. The biggest issue isn’t just the cramming of so much story into 133-minutes but that there really wasn’t an emotional core at all to the voice acting. Also, it doesn’t help that anything related to “The Lord of the Rings” will undoubtedly be compared to Peter Jackson’s version, so perhaps that too clouded my judgment. In the end, I know this “Animated Classic” has its fans but unless you are an aficionado into the field of animation, this is probably not for everybody.