The Animated Lord of the Rings
August 12, 2020
(The Channel Awesome logo and NC title sequence are shown)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it–
NC: (looking around) Hello?
(We then cut to a woman (played by Tamara) wearing a beret and holding a glass of something-or-other in one hand and a book of Tolkien in the other. Beethoven's "Fur Elise" plays in the background)
NC: Why, do you have something to say, real Tolkien fan?
Tolkien fan: Oh, I was just sighing at the misfortune that you have to review that god-awful animated Lord of the Rings.
NC: The Ralph Bakshi one? Well, I mean...
(Cut to the title card for NC's "Old vs. New" video on "LOTR")
NC (vo): ...I've talked about it before in the past...
NC: ...and even though I do like the Jackson films more, I do think there's a lot of good things about it.
Tolkien fan: No, there's not.
NC: Well, I'm sorry it did nothing for you, but I actually got quite a bit out of it.
Tolkien fan: (smugly) No, you didn't.
NC: Dude, how do you know what I got out of it?
Man: Because no real fan would enjoy something so beneath us.
NC: Oh, is that so, real movie fan? God, your parents give you weird names.
Man: Yes, we smelt the stench of this film and wanted to congratulate you for tearing it apart.
NC: Look, I know this film isn't that beloved, but honestly, I think it gets way too much hate.
Tolkien fan: Double gasp!
Man: I hope you mean that ironically.
NC: No, I legit really like this film.
Tolkien fan: Are you not aware of the masterpieces that are the Peter Jackson movies?
Man: Though, wait, are we at the point where we dislike them yet?
Tolkien fan: No, we have to wait for one more botched Tolkien project (A shot of a news article is shown in the corner, announcing a Lord of the Rings TV series coming to Amazon Prime) and then we can say we always thought they were overrated.
NC: Okay, I know a lot of people make fun of this movie, especially after the Peter Jackson trilogy came out, but I still think there's a lot to praise about it.
Man: Nope, there's nothing.
NC: Not one thing, huh?
Tolkien fan: It's just a crazy film by a crazy man who doesn't under cinema or Tolkien.
(Suddenly, NC hears an explosion and looks offscreen to see Ralph Bakshi (played by Rob) come flying into the room, using Julie Taymor (Tamara) and Spike Lee (Malcolm) as his wings. He drops to the floor, then gets up, his hands balled into fists)
Bakshi: You wanna say that to my face, you elitist bastards?!
NC: Aw, great, you got Ralph Bakshi involved!
Tolkien fan: So what?
NC: It's kind of like social distancing: far away, there's a lot to study; up close, it might be dangerous.
Man: Well, good thing we're extremely far away.
Bakshi: Oh, hey, you got something on your face. Come closer.
Man: (leaning in close) Oh?
(Suddenly, Bakshi reaches out and punches the man)
Man: How did you do that?!
NC: (shaking head) Things rarely make sense with him.
Tolkien fan: Oh, yeah, well, Peter Jackson took years to film his masterpieces, and you lazily told people to draw. I appreciate where the real talent is at.
Bakshi: Oh, you're so right. That's why I mailed you a present for being (points to his head) so smart.
Tolkien fan: (surprised as she sees a box in front of her) Oh, so you have. (laughs) Well... (laughs again) how kind of you (starts to open box) to kindly be so–
(As she opens the box, however, she lets out a scream, as a strange Bakshi-style drawing of a tentacled creature of some kind with teeth pops out and attacks her)
Bakshi: How dare you call me lazy, you brainless, babbling bimbo!
(Shots of invading armies being filmed are shown)
Bakshi (vo): Do you know how many armies I had to direct in the freezing cold? How many directors said this couldn't be filmed? How many fans, including Peter Jackson, may not have heard of "Lord of the Rings" if it weren't for me?!
NC: Yeah, maybe we should give a little background before we go any further.
(The title for this movie is shown, followed by footage of the movie)
NC (vo): First off, nobody, including the people that made it, would call this film perfect, but it did take more steps in furthering recognition for both animation and Tolkien than many give credit.
(Cut to footage of another concurrent animated movie: the Disney movie The Rescuers)
NC (vo): In the '70s, animation was in kind of a strange time. Disney was turning out very few films, and what they did turn out was not as mind-blowing as they once were.
(Now cut to a montage of clips of other Bakshi movies: Heavy Traffic, Fritz the Cat, and Wizards)
NC (vo): So this opened the door for other animators to experiment. Ralph Bakshi found success making animation for adults with a risque style that, much like the man himself, people either love or hate. I love them, if for any other reason just to see how many people would be offended watching them today.
(A clip of Fritz the Cat is shown)
Winston Schwartz (voiced by Judy Engles): Why does a great actor like James Earl Jones always have to play black men?
NC: (his head resting on his hand) God, I love these movies.
(More footage of Bakshi's Lord of the Rings is shown)
NC (vo): But with that said, the idea of Ralph Bakshi making a Lord of the Rings movie seemed as odd as...well, (The poster for Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles is superimposed) Peter Jackson making a Lord of the Rings movie. Much like Jackson, though, Bakshi pushed the envelope of what could be done in his field and combined his weird take on the world with the love and respect he had for Tolkien's work. Thus, the film ambitiously tried a style of animation rarely tackled on such a grand scale: rotoscope, the art of filming your subject and then animating over them to place them in different styles and environments. Nowadays, people do this all the time with CG and motion capture, but back then, this was the closest you had to putting any character of any design in any world of any design. It was a type of filmmaking that would morph over the years into something that's now very common. With that said, it still didn't have the budget a film like this needed, resulting in a lot of inconsistencies and...maybe some artistic choices that would make more sense in Fritz the Cat than Lord of the Rings. But...that's also part of what makes it so unique. It really isn't a film you can categorize in one box. So, even though I've compared this film to Jackson's in the past, I want to take a closer look at it just on its own, to see what works, what doesn't, and even what could never fall into either category.
NC: So let's look at the good, the bad and... (shrugs) whatever you call the strangeness of Bakshi...
Bakshi: Do you mind if I'm upside-down for a minute?
Bakshi: (now upside-down from the ceiling) Thank you.
Tolkien fan: (battered from the mauling she received) That doesn't make sense, and therefore, it's bad!
Bakshi: Boom! You're a dog's head now.
(The Tolkien fan is revealed to now be a dog's head floating in midair)
Tolkien fan: So I am. (falls to the ground with a crash)
NC: This is 1978's Lord of the Rings.
NC (vo): The film opens with simple but effective shadow play, giving the backstory about the One Ring to rule them all, made by the Dark Lord, Sauron.
(Sauron, in shadow, attacks and kills his enemies by impaling them on his sword)
Narrator: With the One Ring, Middle-earth's his, and he cannot be overcome.
NC: (as narrator) Even the Elves'...
(Shots of crude shadow puppets are shown in the corner)
NC (vo; as narrator): ...dog and bunny impressions did nothing. (normal again) The ring is chopped off and passed from person to person, eventually ending up in the hands of a Hobbit named Gollum... who will look less like Doc Brown with Wreck-It Ralph hands. It's found by Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit, who takes it home to the Shire...
(We see a whole crowd of Hobbits having a huge party together)
NC: (confused) ...currently being directed...
(As we cut back to the Hobbits, a shot of Bilbo Baggins from Rankin-Bass' concurrent version of The Hobbit is shown in the corner)
NC (vo): ...Rankin-Bass... and decides, years later, it's time to leave. His friend Gandalf the Wizard wishes him well...ish.
Gandalf (voiced by William Squire): Have you left the ring for Frodo as we agreed?
Biblo (voiced by Norman Bird): It's mine, I tell you! My precious...
(He holds up a dagger to Gandalf, who advances on him, unafraid of the dagger)
Gandalf: Do not say that again! (holds up fist at Bilbo who drops his dagger, scared)
NC: (as Gandalf) Don't make me slap you with (holds up hand) my ring finger! (looks at hand) Oh, that's right, I'm not married. (reaches out) Give me that! (pretends to put "ring" on finger, then makes a slapping motion)
NC (vo): He snaps him back to his senses, and Bilbo leaves, never to return.
Narrator: Seventeen years passed sleepily in the Shire.
NC (vo; as narrator): In a very sloppy edit.
(Frodo has moved into Bilbo's old home when he hears a knock on the door, which he answers)
Frodo (voiced by Christopher Guard): Gandalf!
NC (vo): Well, that was about a half hour for the Jackson film in six minutes. Usually, there's (The logo for 30-Second Bunnies Theatre is shown on the left) bunnies or (The title for The Lord of the Rings in 5 Seconds is shown on the right) an A.D.D. idiot required for such a crunch.
Frodo: It's the ring, isn't it? Bilbo's funny magic ring. You always used to look like that when you talked about it.
NC: That is one of the things you'll notice, though: because it is so short, and they have to cram in so much, every scene counts.
NC (vo): They have to make you feel like this world is real, establish these characters, make you like these characters, and squeeze in a buttload of story, and with almost (The running time for this movie is shown: 2 hours and 15 minutes) one-third the running time and (The cost of the movie is shown: $8 million) one-eleventh the budget, it's amazing they did this as well as they did, usually keeping good pacing and an animation style that was very mature for its time.
(Cut to a clip of the then-concurrent Disney movie, The Rescuers)
NC (vo): Compare this to what Disney was putting out a year earlier. There was usually big movements, goofy voices, kid-friendly stuff, like most animation then.
(Cut back to Lord of the Rings)
NC (vo): This, moved much more dramatically, quietly. It wasn't afraid to give you slower moments, despite being in such a time crunch.
NC: (holds up index finger) But with that said, it is still a Bakshi film, which of course means there's gonna be some weird, over-the-top moments as well.
NC (vo): Like, how about this weird pointing?
Gandalf: (pointing to Frodo, with his finger frozen) You are the one who has the ring now.
(Gandalf's finger is frozen while the rest of his body moves)
NC: What are you gonna do, shoot me with that thing?
(Gandalf's pointing finger is edited to look like the tip is opening, revealing an opening in a gun)
NC (vo): JESUS!!
(Gandalf's finger gun actually fires!)
NC (vo): It's almost silent film acting, which creates a strange contrast sometimes with the usually grounded voiceovers.
Gandalf: ...until he passes into the world of shadows. (spins around in a circle)
Kang (vo; audio from The Simpsons): ...and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
NC (vo): Even Frodo sometimes gives a face like, (A shot of Frodo looking rather disgusted/confused is shown) "What the hell is going right now?" Regardless, the film still holds your attention as Gandalf tells Frodo the ring is evil and he cannot use it, as he will become too dangerous.
Frodo: And I suppose I must keep the ring and guard it? And I hope to go away somewhere alone. They won't bother the Shire if the ring isn't here.
NC: I know I've said it before, but I really do like the way this film gets going better than the other one.
NC (vo): I think a lot of that is because Frodo takes more initiative and responsibility in this.
(Cut to Frodo in the Jackson films)
NC (vo): He doesn't just solve a riddle and then fall or cry. Sometimes both.
(Cut back to the animated film)
NC (vo): For all the pros this movie has, though, it does cost us a ganji.
Gandalf: (to Sam, having brought him out) What have you heard, and why did you listen?
Sam (voiced by Michael Scholes): (to Frodo, who runs up) Oh, Mr. Frodo, sir!
NC (vo; as Gandalf): What is that performance? Why are you acting that way? Stop it!
Sam: (to Frodo) Don't let him turn me into anything unnatural!
NC (vo): Yeah, I guess the idea of Sam was he was supposed to be the comedic levity...
(Cut to a clip of Merry and Pippin in the Jackson films)
NC (vo): ...the same way Merry and Pippin were in the Jackson film...
(Cut back to Sam)
NC (vo): ...but man, every time I see him, he gets worse.
Sam: Me go and see the elves? Oh, my... Oh, hooray!
Jar Jar Binks: (audio from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) Wesa goin' home!!
NC (vo): On the one hand, I guess the exaggerated simplicity does make his dedication to Frodo all the more touching.
(Sexy jazz music plays during one scene as Sam looks toward Frodo with a suggestive smile)
NC (vo): Not that way. You know what?
NC: Take it that way, I don't care anymore.
NC (vo): But I'm sorry, the Sam from the book does not deserve doody-doo music.
(Said doody-doo music plays as Sam dances in front of Galadriel. He giggles and leaves. Then cut briefly to a clip of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, showing Brom Bones shuddering, which NC imitates. Then cut back to Lord of the Rings)
NC (vo): Despite Sam-I-Ain't, Frodo starts his journey, bringing Merry and Pippin along, as Gandalf meets Saruman at (A shot of Skeletor's lair is shown in the corner) Skeletor's hideout.
Gandalf: (to Saruman) I have come for your aid in troubled times. The Nine are abroad! Darkness approaches! The Black Riders!
NC: God, I want to start every conversation that way!
(Cut to a purple-haired Heather, who is reading "Sandman". Her cell phone rings and she answers it. It's NC)
NC: I have come for you aid in troubled times. The Nine are abroad! Darkness approaches! The Black Riders!
Heather: (confused) I'm changing my number.
NC: I'm honestly shocked it took you this long.
(Heather turns off her phone and puts it away. Then we cut back to the movie)
NC (vo): But Gandalf discovers Saruman is totally Syltherin.
Saruman (voiced by Fraser Kerr): A new age is upon us. A new power is rising.
Gandalf: You are saying that we should join with Mordor?
NC (vo; as Gandalf): You are the worst Santa in our mall order?! You wish the children Happy Life Day, don't you?
Saruman: Would you rather see the dark lord have it? (shucks robe, revealing a bright light) Or Saruman of many colors! (Gandalf recoils at the bright light)
NC (vo): Saruman flashes Gandalf and leaves him on top of his tower via Jackson Pollock staff. Our Hobbit friends aren't doing much better, as they are confronted by a Black Rider.
(While the Hobbits are hiding, the Black Rider stops above their hiding place and looks around, sniffing. Frodo holds up the ring, which shakes in his hand)
NC (vo): I like how twisted and otherworldly he [the Black Rider] looks, though the sounds he makes can be a little much.
(The Black Rider makes strange sounds as he looks around, which sound rather like he's yawning)
NC: (confused) Was that a sound of defeat or a guy...
NC (vo): ...getting a blowjob while stretching?
(NC stretches his arms while making the strange sounds of the Black Rider, then becomes startled and rolls up his eyes. He then takes on the expression of pure pleasure with his eyes rolled up. Then, as the Black Rider leaves, the Hobbits come out of hiding)
NC (vo): Merry and Pippin admit they're aware of Frodo's mission and they're coming with him whether he likes it or not.
Merry (voiced by Simon Chandler): You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin to the bitter end. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone and go off without a word.
NC: It's funny, Merry and Pippin in this version feel more like real people, but not real people I know very well.
(A clip of Merry and Pippin in the Jackson films is shown)
NC (vo): Where in Jackson's film, they feel more like movie characters, but they're very fleshed-out movie characters.
(Cut back to the animated version)
NC (vo): While I like this version fine, I will admit I don't really know the difference between them, apart from Merry's the one that makes this weird Humphrey the Bear face.
(Merry smiles goofily at Frodo, accompanied by the sound of Humphrey saying, "Hah...")
Frodo: Bless you, you deceitful scoundrels.
NC (vo): They make it to the inn, where the animation looks a little...
(Inside the tavern, the characters almost look like live actors, even though they're still animated)
NC: (looks up in thought) ...too real?
NC (vo): This is in part because the cinematographer who shot the footage to rotoscope said he could solarize it, overexposing the film and coloring it to make it look more real and save time. On characters like the Orcs, it looks good, but on regular people, it doesn't jell as well as the more expressive line work. The backgrounds, you may notice, are also a little inconsistent; sometimes, bright and colorful, and other times, more sketchy, like out of a book illustration.
(Cut back to the bespectacled man smoking the pipe)
Man: Exactly, less consistency means less art.
Bakshi: (holding up fist to him) You say something, Colonel Dingus?!
Man: (panicked, gesturing the Tolkien fan with his pipe) It was her!
Tolkien fan: (now human again, but disheveled) Huh?!
(She is suddenly crushed by a deranged-looking animation of a strange-looking, two-headed man, one of whose heads is in his stomach, which roars)
NC: That does bring up a good question, Bakshi: why do the backgrounds vary?
NC (vo): I mean, sometimes, they look like something out of Sleeping Beauty, and other times, they don't even look entirely finished.
Bakshi: Oh, I'm sorry, did you want (holds up index finger) one style, like in the Jackson films?
NC: They are pretty...
Man: And consistent.
Bakshi: WHAT WAS THAT?!
Man: (again gesturing toward the Tolkien fan) Her again.
(The Tolkien fan gets crushed by a strange animation of an octopus. Then we cut to a clip of the movie again)
Bakshi (vo): You see, in animation, you're not just bound to one style.
(Cut to a montage of shots of American Pop, which have a wide range of styles)
Bakshi (vo): Like in American Pop, the backgrounds reflected the style of whatever time period we were in.
(Cut back again to Lord of the Rings)
Bakshi (vo): So, why not do the same thing with fantasy? In a calm and more relaxed environment, you could go for more solid lines and cooler colors. In a more rustic environment, you can go for more of a paperback illustration. And in a more threatening environment, go more abstract to become more intense and otherworldly.
Bakshi: You see, you can't do that in live action, only animation. Why settle for only one style of fantasy, when you could have several?
NC: Well, you're certainly throwing everything at the dartboard to see what sticks.
Bakshi: Actually, that inspires me.
(Suddenly, the bespectacled man ducks down as several darts are thrown at him, sticking in the wall. Then we cut back to the movie again)
NC (vo): While going for a walk, Merry is exposed to con funk and passes out. Back at the inn, the hobbits come across Aragorn, played by John Hurt. A lot of people took issue that he looked different from the book, having more of a Native American design. (scoffs) Imagine, replacing a white dude with a different ethnicity.
(As he says this, shots of various white characters played by nonwhite actors are shown, including Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch in Fant4stic and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Then these images are replaced by a woman)
NC (vo): Next, you'll be telling me the live-action reference for Frodo was a woman. But John Hurt's performance still gives me chills for how good it is.
Aragorn (voiced by John Hurt): Lothlorien is a place of healing. There is no evil in it, unless a man brings evil there with him.
(Cut to a shot of Viggo Mortensen in the Jackson movies)
NC (vo): I can see Viggo Mortensen as a ranger, but not as king.
(Cut back to Aragorn in the Bakshi film)
NC (vo): This dude? I can easily see as both, even when he says lines like this...
Aragorn: They'll come on you in the wild.
NC: Okay, that's a different Bakshi movie. (The poster for Hey Good Lookin' is shown in the corner)
(They then hear the sound of knocking at the door)
Merry: Frodo! Frodo, I've seen them!
(Aragorn backs up against the wall behind the door, which flies open as Merry and the innkeeper run in)
NC (vo; as Aragorn): Oh! Son of a bitch!
Merry: I've seen them! I've seen them!
(Aragorn emerges from behind the door.)
NC (vo; as Aragorn): I don't need this! I was the first to die in Alien!
Innkeeper (voiced by Alan Tilvern): (to Aragorn) Save us!
Frodo: Strider came to offer me his help.
Innkeeper: (scowling) In your place, I wouldn't take up with a ranger out of the wild.
NC: (as innkeeper) Did I mention my split personality? It changes opinions in literally seconds!
Innkeeper: (as the word "BEFORE" appears) Save us! (Cut to "LITERALLY 7 SECONDS LATER", as per subtitles) In your place, I wouldn't take up with a ranger out of the wild.
Timon: (aggravated) DID I MISS SOMETHING?!
(Cut back to Lord of the Rings)
NC (vo): I really love how Aragorn makes it clear he's not messing around in this scene, though it is a little jaded when you see his weapon.
Aragorn: If I wanted the ring for myself, I could have it. Now. (draws sword, whose tip seems to have been cut off)
NC: (as Aragorn) Oh, dammit, a full sword was supposed to come out of that! Please be intimidated! Just imagine it's sharp at the end of that!
NC (vo): The hobbits agree to go with him as, later that night, the Black Riders sneak in and give a harsh wakeup call.
(The Riders start slashing at the hobbits' beds, trying to kill them. One of them lets out a roar)
NC (vo; as another Rider): Use your words, Frank! He's always like this when he doesn't get his Apple Jacks. (They notice, however, that the beds are empty) What the hell?!
(Screaming, the Riders raise their swords in the air. Aragorn and the hobbits are sleeping in the attic, safe from the Riders)
NC (vo): They fool the Black Riders and make their way toward Weathertop.
Aragorn: But Luthien Tenuviel was the daughter of a king of elves.
NC (vo): It's pretty cool that Aragorn tells a story that will mirror his own, with an elf falling in love with a human, sacrificing her immortality for him.
(Cut to a similar scene in the Jackson films)
NC (vo): It's nice foreshadowing, even if it's only explored in the Jackson films.
(Cut back to the animated film)
Aragorn: She followed him. And so he was her doom. But he was her love as well.
(Cut to another shot of Luthien in the Jackson films)
NC (vo; as Aragorn): Oh, and her life force was also tied to a ring of power...for absolutely...no...reason...
NC: (shaking head) Yeah, that will never make sense.
NC (vo): The Black Riders surround our heroes, who are terrified and...maybe a little stoned, but Frodo puts on the ring.
Aragorn: (seeing Frodo) No!
(It's too late, as after putting the ring on, Frodo disappears, appearing in a strange dimension with the Riders)
NC (vo; as Rider): Hi, guy...!
(As Frodo and the Rider fight with their swords, the Rider breaks off Frodo's blade and jabs its own sword into his chest. Then Aragorn appears and chases off the Riders with torches)
NC (vo): The Black Riders are chased off, and the shard slowly starts to make its way into Frodo's heart.
(Legolas arrives on his horse towards Aragorn and the hobbits)
NC (vo): Oh, I thought Arwon wasn't in this movie.
NC (vo): They come across Legolas, played by Anthony Daniels, and I never did mind that both versions switched up who they come across, as in the book, they're approached by Glorfendel...
(Cut to a clip of Guardians of the Galaxy)
NC (vo): ...exactly. So I think this make more sense.
Legolas (voiced by Anthony Daniels): I have been on the road for nine days.
Sam: Mr. Frodo has been on the road a lot longer than that, and he needs a rest!
NC (vo; as Legolas): Am I going to have to cut a Hobbitch?
(The Black Riders catch up with our heroes)
NC (vo): The Black Riders catch up, but luckily they have Aragorn to protect–
(The Black Riders rush up and Aragorn dodges)
NC (vo): They have Legolas to protect...
Legolas: Fly! Fly, the enemy is upon us!
NC (vo): You know, Frodo, just run. I'm not entirely sure why everything goes slower here, like he put the ring on or why Frodo suddenly sounds like a ten-year-old in this one line...
Frodo: Go back!
NC: Maybe he went through the same five puberties as the Sword in the Stone kid did.
(Cut to a clip of that movie, as we see Wart carrying a very tall stack of dishes)
Wart: Oh, Sir Ector...
(He stumbles and falls down the stairs, yelling and dropping the dishes as he does so. Then cut back to Lord of the Rings)
NC (vo): But the scene is still creepy, like something out of a fever dream.
Rider: Come back. To Mordor we will take you.
NC: They sound nice, take a chance.
NC (vo): The river rises up against the evil Riders and Frodo wakes up in Rivendale.
Frodo: (tossing and turning in bed) Barely I can't. I get it onto you. No! Never!
NC (vo; as Frodo): Get off me, Sam!
Gandalf: Yes. I am here.
NC (vo): They heal Frodo up, and Gandalf tells him how he escaped from Saruman.
Gandalf: The Great Eagle, Gwaihir, came and answered to my call, Saruman was never payed enough attention to animals.
NC: Much to his father Sam Eagle's discontent.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Muppet Show)
Sam Eagle: Freakos, one; civilization, zero.
(Cut back to Lord of the Rings)
NC (vo): He's reunited with Bilbo, who naturally, wants to see the one ring one more time.
(Bilbo nervously walks towards Frodo as he show him the ring and NC makes crazy sounds as Bilbo freaks out, which sound rather like noises made by the Three Stooges)
Bilbo: Put it away.
NC (vo): They call a council where many have different ideas what should be done with the one ring.
Boromir (voiced by Michael Graham Cox): I am Boromir. In a dream, I heard a voice crying to me, "Seek for the sword that was broken."
Aragorn: (holding up broken sword) Here is the sword of Eledelvav Gondor.
NC: Okay, I know I said I wouldn't do that many comparisons to the Jackson films, as I really do like them more and I think they are better put together, but... God, I love how they talk in this film!
(Cut to a clip of the Jackson films)
NC (vo): It's in the other version, too, but you also have pandering lines like central nervous systems, and dwarf women have beards, and mission...quest...thing. Here, they just go for it.
(Cut back to the animated film)
CN (vo): Everyone talks with that epic demeanor that was in the book. When someone starts off a sentence with "In a dream", I actually want to know what that dream's about, as opposed to that friend who's just going to end the sentence with, "Isn't that weird?"
Boromir: In a dream, I heard a voice crying to me, "Seek for the sword that was broken."
(Cut to a clip from an episode of Seinfeld)
Woman: And you had these wooden teeth.
Jerry Seinfeld: How do you like that?
(Cut back again to the film)
NC (vo): Frodo says it makes the most sense for him to go to Mordor and drop the ring into Mount Doom. Thus, the fellowship is formed to help him on his journey. The storm gets too powerful, though, so they discuss the possibility of going through the mines of Moria.
Aragorn: We might go by way the gap of Rohan.
Gandalf: That would take the ring too close to Isangard and Aruman!
NC: Okay, I always wonder, Bakshi, how come half the time they don't say "Saruman", they say "Aruman"? They dropped the S.
Bakshi: Well, that was the s-s-s-studio's fault!
NC: Really? Seems like an odd call.
Bakshi (vo): Oh, yeah, no, get this: halfway through, one of the producers decided that Sauron and Saruman sound so similar, so he decided to change his name to Aruman!
(A series of clips is shown of characters saying "Aruman" instead of "Saruman")
Gandalf: The Wizard, Aruman. / And Aruman!
Boromir: That should've been his friend, Aruman!
Frodo: Oh, it must be Aruman.
Gimli (voiced by David Buck): It's Aruman!
Bakshi (vo): By the time I found this out, the lines were already recorded, and I couldn't get every actor back to rerecord them!
NC: Really? You couldn't do ADR?
Bakshi: Well, we did it in one scene.
(Said scene is shown)
Frodo: But he said to leave as soon as we could. And Merry and Pippin insisted on coming with us as far as Breev.
(The words "WTF?!?!?" appear in yellow text)
NC: Okay, maybe it's best you didn't try.
Bakshi: I guess I've could've made an S sound and put it at the beginning of his name.
(A series of clips is shown of Gandalf saying "Aruman" as Bakshi makes a S sound at the beginning of his name)
Gandalf: How long since Saruman? / Only because Saruman is kind! / Saruman's poisoned... / Too close to Isangard and Saruman!
Bakshi: That means it's better!
(We go to a commercial. Upon return, the movie resumes as we see our heroes making their way to the mines of Moria)
NC (vo): The fellowship makes it to the mine's entrance when tentacle hentai grabs Frodo.
Sam: I'm coming, Mr. Frodo!
NC (vo; as Frodo): Oh, thank God. I'm saved. (normal) I love how Boromir pushes Sam like he's not even helping in the slightest. He can't even stand after such a light nudge. (as Boromir) Yes, Sam, you're saving the day. Piss off and play with your G.I. Joes, you little idiot!
Gandalf: Into the gateway, all of you!
(They all rush through the gateway as the tentacled monster closes the door behind them)
NC (vo; as the monster): And stay in! (normal) They slowly but surely make their way through, with Gandalf staying calm and collected.
Gandalf: Be quiet, Pippin! / Be still! / What's that?! / Be quiet! / Both of you! / Throw yourself in next time!
Pippin (voiced by Dominic Guard): I don't want to stay here.
NC (vo; as Gandalf): D'oooh! I almost slapped you. (normal) But Orcs attack.
Frodo: (raising a dagger) For the Shire!
(Frodo stabs the Orc's foot and he makes a gritted-teeth expression like a pirate)
NC (vo; in a pirate's voice): Arrgh me... (A shot of Mouseketeer Sharon Baird is shown in the corner) Mousekeeters! (normal) Yeah, she was a Mousekeeter, too. (This shot is replaced by another of Wheel of Fortune) Spin the Wheel of Random!
Aragorn: (confronting the Orcs) Come no closer! Come no closer, I warn you!
(The Orcs surprisingly stop in their tracks and try to attack him)
NC (vo; as Aragorn): Oh, I can't believe that worked. Um, could you stab yourselves next? That'd be very helpful. (normal) They're approached by the Balrog, and Gandalf breaks the bridge, causing him to fall, which, seeing how he has wings, I question.
(As the Balrog falls, he cracks his whip at Gandalf. It wraps around his leg and pulls him over the cliff. He falls down the pit with a Goofy Holler sound effect added in)
NC (vo): He takes Gandalf with him and our heroes mourn by leaning on each other. Literally, Legolas leans on Pippin. What the hell?
Boromir: Out of Moria into the Golden Wood. Is there no way less perilous?
NC (vo): They make it to Lothlorien, which looks pretty and all, but something about Galadriel and Celeborn always looked like they were part of a furniture showroom.
Galadriel (voiced by Annette Crosbie): I am Galadriel, and this is my lord, Celeborn.
NC (vo; as Galadriel): Welcome to our variety show, I'm a little bit country... (as Celeborn) I'm a little bit rock and roll. (normal) They all sing a song about Gandalf, which sadly isn't played in its entirety. (an image of the movie soundtrack is superimposed) Check out the full song if you can; it's actually quite beautiful. And Galadriel brings Sam and Frodo to a fountain to see what could be in their future.
Galadriel: And not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be.
NC (as Frodo): So, like YouTube conspiracy theories?
NC (vo; as Galadriel): (offscreen) Pretty much, yes.
NC (vo): Feeling the weight of the ring, Frodo offers it to Galadriel.
Frodo: I will give the one ring, if you ask for it. It's too great a matter for me.
(Galadriel laughs at Frodo)
NC: (as Galadriel) Okay.
(NC puts the ring on and we see Galadriel's head photoshopped onto the body of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz)
NC (vo; as Galadriel): Galadriel's house, bitches!
Galadriel: You will set up a queen! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!
NC: (as Galadriel) Oh, is that what it does? I had no idea!
(NC puts the ring on and we see Frodo's head photoshopped onto the body of the Wicked Witch of the West as NC does a evil laugh)
NC (vo): They leave Lothlorien, and continue on their quest.
Aragorn: (holding out sword) For Gondor, and the House of Isoldor!
Boromir: (holding out sword) For Gondor, and the city of Minasterith!
NC (vo; as Boromir): I'm not putting my sword down until you do! (as Aragorn) I had it up first! (as Boromir) Mine was more poetic! (as Aragorn) Fine, we'll just stand like this the whole boat ride! (as Boromir) Great! (as Aragorn) Terrific! (as Boromir) Splendid! (as Aragorn) I have to pee. (as Boromir) Me, too. (normal again) Boromir confronts Frodo, asking for the ring to defend his people, but Frodo refuses knowing it will turn anyone who wears it to evil.
Boromir: For themselves that may be right, these elves and half-elves and wizards, but true-hearted men would not be corrupted!
NC: You don't keep track of American...anything do you?
NC (vo): Boromir tries to take it for himself, and Frodo flees. Sam finds him trying to sneak away on a boat.
Sam: If I hadn't had guessed right, where would you be now?
Frodo: Safely on my way.
Sam: Safely? All alone and without me to help you?
NC: I love how they're so deep in conservation, they're not aware that they're technically...
NC (vo): ...rowing in opposite directions. It'd be so funny if everyone got to the...
(Cut to a clip of Jackson's Return of the King)
NC (vo): ...Black Gate in Return of the King, and it was like...
Aragorn: For Frodo.
(Cut back to the Bakshi film as Frodo and Sam continue to row in different directions)
NC: There'd be three more movies just wondering where the hell they are!
NC (vo): Merry and Pippin though, come across Orcs nearby.
NC (vo; as a orc): We prefer "vertically-impaired". (normal) Boromir tries to save them, but in a grizzly scene right out of Game of Thrones, arrow after arrow leads to his bloody death.
NC (vo; as Aragorn): Oh, you'll be fine.
Boromir: (weakly clutching at Aragorn) Go to Minasterith! Save my people.
Aragorn: I will go.
NC: (as Aragorn) My animation might be a little (image of the following is shown in the corner...) Bible School, but I'll get there.
NC (vo): Boromir dies, and the remaining fellowship decide to go after Merry and Pippin, captured by the Orcs.
(As the Orcs lead Merry and Pippin away, they make strange whimpering sounds, which grow louder as they trip and fall and the Orcs run over them)
NC: Sheesh, I know you're in pain, but do you have to sound like...
(As the scene replays, a shot of Shemp Howard behind a water is superimposed)
NC (vo): ...Shemp Howard drowning?
(As the scene replays, Merry and Pippin's whimpering is heard again, along with the shot of Shemp opening and closing his mouth, supposedly making the whimpering sounds on their behalf)
NC (vo): They're stopped by Aromir's men, and I will admit, this is the only part of the movie that really drags. It's kind of confusing, but I think they're at a standstill, and every once in a while one may attack, and then they're at a standstill again and it all looks, pretty ugly. The biggest fight seems to be with the Orcs deciding how many arrows to use.
Orc leader: Now, chilt in there! Wasting arrows! Down the hills to Sauron!
NC (as orc leader): And you six on the left, MOOOOOVE!
NC (vo; as orc leader): You look like Vegas mimes who died!
Merry: It's no good groping in the dark.
(The PG turns into a R on the top left screen)
NC (vo): One of the soldiers saves them, and they escape to come across a talking tree.
Treebeard (voiced by John Westbrook): Not a tree. A tree herder.
NC): Bet you didn't know Christopher Lee* was in the both these versions, I think he even modelled for this one.
- NOTE: small mistake NC made; it was John Westbrook who voiced Treebeard, not Christopher Lee.
Treebeard: You may call me "Treebeard".
NC: That's an odd name, isn't that like calling a person "Man-stache"?
NC (vo): Awkward animation at 12'o clock!
Treebeard: Tree king orcs and their masters!
NC: Did their applause need a minute to load. What was that?!
NC (vo): Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam are approached by the walking turd Gollum, who is not very cooperative.
Frodo: I think your rope might prove useful again, Sam.
(Sam ties his rope onto Gollum's legs as he yell and screams in pain)
NC: Jesus, it's like asking a Karen to put on a mask.
Gollum (voiced by Peter Woodthorpe): Smeagel, will be very good.
NC (vo): They get him to calm down and lead them to Mount Doom while Aragorn and the others have a surprise visitor of their own.
(Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are startled when they see Gandalf the White)
NC (vo; as Gandalf): I am Gandalf the– (his gray cape wraps around as NC makes a muffled sound) Oh, that moment passed.
NC (vo): He explains what happened after he and the Balrog fell.
Gandalf: Until at last, he fled back, up the secret ways of Moria, above the mists of the world.
NC: Wait, no, you're supposed to have landed on top of another mountain. Yeah, how did they explain that?
NC (vo): He tells them of the attack that's about to occur on Helm's Deep, and the importance of getting King Theoden to protect it.
Gandalf: Theoden has grown old, and leaves everything in the hands of his new minister, Grimer Wormtongue.
NC: (as Gandalf) He was going to go with another advisor, Shirley Happy Truth Teller. But he had a gut feeling about the name Wormtongue, you know?
NC (vo): So they follow Gandalf the White– Uh, I mean, Gray– Okay, White. And they put Wormtongue in his place. Theoden is told about his lies, and asks Grimer if he truly is working for Saruman.
Theoden (voiced by Philip Stone): "I will not harm you." Is it so?
(Wormtongue hisses as Theoden and he runs off)
NC (vo; as Theoden): Does that count as a no?
Theoden: My, sister-daughter...
(Cut to a clip from Chinatown)
Evelyn: My sister, my daughter!
Theoden: ...Iwion, my only loyal kin.
NC (vo; as Iwion): My backstory is... Oh, never mind, just over two hours, forgot.
NC (vo): Theoden gets his army ready, leading to one of the film's more cryptic moments.
Aragorn: My lord?
Theoden: Is there any hope for us?
NC (vo; as Theoden): Does that count as a no? (as Aragorn) Okay, you need to read The Room. (normal) The armies are in place, the sky goes red, and we begin...
NC: ...honestly, a really frigging awesome battle!
NC (vo): The red makes the Orcs look like something right out of Hell, the music is just as cryptic as anything from Howard Shore's score, and this is the first time an animated film could show a battle with hundreds of people on a scale like this.
Bakshi: Well, nowadays, you would just CGI all that shit! But we couldn't do that.
Bakshi (vo): So we had to film the armies attacking the castle, and then not only draw over them, but place more soldiers in the background so it appeared larger than it was!
NC: But even knowing that, there's still a battle you had...
NC (vo): ...to shoot outside a castle with all these extras.
Bakshi (vo): Yeah, it took forever to set those shots up. In fact, after God knows how long to get all the extras in place, and their action synchronized, a producer yelled "LUNCH!" before I could even get the shot! So, some of the footage you see is literally them walking to lunch!
NC: Oh, so that's why some of them are...
NC (vo): ...holding sandwiches.
Man: Yes, but the battle in the other film had more stunts and looked more realistic. Therefore, it was better.
Bakshi: Oh, yeah, well, sure, you could do more stunts when your friggin' invincible!
Bakshi (vo): They leap into certain death a million times and never get scratch on them! If I did that, they'd say I made it too cartoony! I knew if I wanted people to take it seriously, it had to be more violent and gory! When someone gets hacked, it really feels like someone's getting hacked!
(The orc solider kills a soldier as another soldier kills the orc soldier)
Tolkien fan: They don't always have the best strategies, though. Like, look here.
Tolkien fan (vo): Arrows are being fired, and no one takes cover.
Bakshi: That's your biggest problem?! How about asking why they're using...
Bakshi (vo): ...a battering ram on a wall when the door's right there?!
Tolkien fan: Oh, yeah. Wait, did you just help make my point?
Bakshi: Well, I mean, that depends. Is that you screaming from a monster's mouth?
Tolkien fan: Oh, God. Not again! (covers her head with her book)
(A skull eat the man as he screams)
Tolkien fan: Huh?
Bakshi: Yeah, I thought I'd give you a break, sweetie.
Tolkien fan: That's very kind–
(A piano lands on the Tolkien fan. As we cut back to he movie, fireworks are launched from the castle on the battle)
NC (vo): Oh, no, Admiral Boom is attacking with his fireworks!
(Cut to a clip of Mary Poppins)
Admiral Boom: We're being attacked by Hottentots!
Mr. Binnacle: Aye, aye, sir!
NC (vo): Saruman sends his magic to break down the walls, forcing the armies to retreat into the caves.
Theoden: I will not end here. Will you ride with me then? We may make such an end, as will be worth a song!
NC (vo; as Aragorn): Who'd sing the song? (as Theoden) Maroon 5. (as Aragorn) I'm out.
NC (vo): Let's see how Frodo and Sam are doing.
NC (vo): They're fine. Back to the kick-ass battle!
(The Orcs hear a charging horn from far away)
NC (vo): After a great scene where they sound the charging horn...which confuses the Orcs, so they...run away. It's actually really funny...Rohan rides out and gets a few good kills before they appear to be outnumbered.
(The Orcs are surrounding our heroes who are thinking that all hope is lost)
NC (vo): The film does a good job making you think this might actually be their last stand before...you know, (A shot of the Jackson film is superimposed) everything started that fake-out. But Gandalf brings an army in time, as well as the theme to Star Trek IV. They fight back the Orcs, Gandalf throws his sword in the air, it presumably falls on Legolas... (as Legolas as the sword hits) Dah! Didn't even get a 3PO joke! (normal again) ...and we're given one the main reasons people hated this movie when it first came out.
Narrator: That ends the first part of the history of the war of the ring.
NC: Yep, nobody was told this was a two-parter.
NC (vo): Despite Bakshi saying people would be pissed, the film was advertised as simply (The poster for the movie is shown) Lord of the Rings. Not Part One, not Fellowship of the Ring, not even The Two Towers, just Lord of the Rings, all in one movie. Both newcomers and fans of the books were furious, to the point where when it was released on DVD, a longer narration made it very clear this was "part one", despite there never being a "part two".
Narrator: So too ends the first great tale of the Lord of the Rings.
NC (vo): The thought was folks wouldn't pay to see only one half of a movie, not knowing they'd be even more pissed if they were straight up lied to!
Tolkien fan: (adjusting her beret) Ah, so the film was such a disappointment, they never made a sequel.
NC: (hesitates) Mmm... Not exactly.
(The cover of the DVD release of an animated version of Return of the King is shown)
NC (vo): Rankin-Bass, the people who made the animated Hobbit, also made an animated Return of the King.
(Screenshots from the animated Return of the King are shown)
NC (vo): It's completely different in style, but it does wrap up the story if anyone wanted to see an animated ending.
Man: But nevertheless, the film bombed so hard, no one would dare dream to make another.
NC: Actually, despite the hate it gets, it was a financial success.
(Further references to the story are shown, including a promo for a radio play, as well as some of the actors from the film being shown as well)
NC (vo): In fact, it inspired other adaptations of Lord of the Rings, including a popular radio production that even brought in some of the actors from the film. The sequel wasn't made because so many people were pissed off at it, and Bakshi eventually had a falling out with the producers.
Man: Well, whatever, as long as people hate it.
NC: Well, (sighs) there's certainly many of those, but I really feel like something's being lost by completely dismissing it.
(The footage of the movie is shown one more time as NC gives his closing thoughts)
NC (vo): Bakshi's film is like a rusted, beautiful mug, (A shot of an old mug with a mermaid for the handle is superimposed) compared to Jackson films, which is [sic] like a (A shot of another mug is shown, this one with a skull-like design on it) polished, highly manufactured, beautiful mug. This one is technically better made and has fewer flaws, but (The old mug with the mermaid handle is shown again) there's still admirable artistry and effort put into the flawed one, they're both impressive works in their own right. Jackson even took inspiration from Bakshi's film, lifting some scenes directly from this version and even ending Two Towers at the same point, despite the book not ending there. The film is also reportedly what got Jackson into the "Lord of the Rings" books, and I'll admit, the same came be said for me. When I saw this film, it was unlike any other animated film I'd ever seen. I immediately wanted to know more about this world and was blown away that a realistic style very similar to Disney, could be taken so seriously for adults. When I did read the books, I was more amazed at how much was the same as apposed to how much was left out. Remember, adaptations back then took even more liberties than films today, there was no internet yet for fans to complain about the differences. And, maybe because we do have other film versions now, it is growing a bit of a fanbase. You see it referenced in things like South Park, and people are digging it as kind of the Grindhouse version of the epic story. It's the low-budget take that probably bit off more than it could chew, but it's such an artistic mouthful. Look, I get people who don't like it, I really do. Its problems are very obivous. But to dismiss the entire film of having no value is to ignore some brilliant artistry, wonderful acting, and stylestic storytelling. It's flawed, but even its flaws have a strange kind of beauty to them. So, if you want to see an interpretation that's not perfect, but still engagingly unique, this is one of the most artisticly pleasing adaptions you'll ever see.
Tolkien fan: Well, I totally agree.
Tolkien fan: No, I just don't want Bakshi to go insane again.
Bakshi: Well, that's my secret, Cap. I'm always insane.
(Stunned, the Tolkien fan explodes, replaced by a deranged-looking version of Marge Simpson, and the bespectacled man, also stunned, explodes as well, replaced by the head of a deranged-looking Goofy, which spins around wildly, both cackling insanely)
Bakshi: When the weather vanes spin, alas, it's time to leave. (turns to leave)
NC: Wait, Bakshi! (Bakshi stops and looks at NC) Will you ever return?
Bakshi: When the winds changes, dear lad, when the wind changes.
NC: When then?
Bakshi: It's intentionally vague. That way, I can come back whenever.
(NC nods. Suddenly, Julie Taymor and Spike Lee appear behind Bakshi and raise and lower behind him repeatedly, lifting him into the air as wings. Bakshi flies out. NC runs out of his house and looks up to see Bakshi flying into the sky)
NC: (waving) So long, Ralph Bakshi. Don't stay away too long.
Bakshi: I do whatever I want, you Nixon-voting crypto-fascist!
(NC walks back into his house)
Bakshi: Oh, I lost my Taymor. (Taymor falls to the ground with a thud)
Channel Awesome tagline – Sam: Oh, my... Oh, hooray!
(The credits roll)