Before Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, before his Lord of the Rings films, before the Rankin Bass Return of the King and The Hobbit, before even Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, there was another film based on Tolkien’s works. In 1966, there was a Hobbit animated feature created–and it was just under twelve minutes long.
Suffice it to say, this film makes Jackson look like a purist of the highest order. It tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, General Torin Oakenshield (no, that’s not a typo), an unnamed watcher, and the young Princess Mika go to kill that great dragon Slag who has destroyed Mika’s kingdom of Dale. Along the way they meet Groans, who try to eat them alive but are tricked by Bilbo into fighting until dawn. Bilbo falls into a Grablin hole and meets Goloom (pronounced “ghoul-loom”). In the hole, the One Ring finds its “true” bearer–Bilbo. At the end, Bilbo saves the day by stealing the heart-shaped Arkenstone from Slag, fitting it as an arrowhead to a giant arrow and launching said arrow at the dragon using a giant crossbow. He then marries Princess Mika, rules Dale, and later returns to his hobbit hole.
I…don’t even have words. It’s crazy how far this departs from the original story. It’s even worse than the film that Morton Grady Zimmerman was trying to make in the late ’50s. In that version, Boromir was spelled Borimir, Radagast was an eagle, Rivendell was a “shimmering forest,” lembas is a food concentrate, and hobbits munch “ridiculously long sandwiches” (Letters, 266, 270-276).
Get it together, guys. Why bother with an adaptation if you just want to write your own story anyway?
If you care to watch this yourself, see the video below. You can also read the writer/director/animator’s comments on his blog.
Photo credit: Hector Alejandro