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The Lord of the Rings (1978)

tomatometer

40

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.

audience

65

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 473,467

My Rating

Movie Info

Controversial animator Ralph Bakshi's literal adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, is brought to the screen in a reverent, stilted way, with Bakshi forsaking his sharp-edged animated looniness for a rotoscoped dullness. Although the film's title encompasses the entire Tolkien trilogy, this longish Bakshi feature, in fact, covers only the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, and the first half of the second, The Two Towers. Given the complexity of the

Sep 11, 2001

WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (15) | DVD (13)

It looked terrible then and it still does: cartoon characters move differently from live actors, and the attempt to duplicate natural movement ends in stylistic incoherence.

December 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Quite simply, those who do not know the characters of Middle Earth going in will not know them coming out.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bakshi's version, using animation and live-action tracings, is uniformly excellent, sticking closely to the original text and visually echoing many of Tolkien's own drawings.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is visually compelling even when murk overtakes the narrative.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Falls far short of the charm and sweep of the original story.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (5)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tolkien fans, who are familiar with novels, will find it enjoyble, while others may be confused by the action.

December 3, 2012 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Innovative and beautiful, cheesy and disjointed.

December 3, 2012 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

What most people remember is the mix of the live-action tracing within the traditional animation and just how effectively creepy it managed to be, but for the time this did a pretty good job of adapting the dense novels.

December 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It's a reckless film, blitzing through some plot points and stalling out over others; the lack of a particular rhythm does not do it any favors, and it is certainly not a fast 133 minutes.

November 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Animated adventure too dated and dark for younger kids.

August 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comments (5)
Common Sense Media

The live action version trumps it in every conceivable way; there simply is no comparison. And yet Middle Earth is still better off for its presence.

April 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Sci-Fi Movie Page | Comment (1)
Sci-Fi Movie Page

... dark and fantastical with a mature approach rare in animated films of its day, and Bakshi's rotoscope process creates an unusually fluid and expressive style.

April 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Seanax.com
Seanax.com

... in retrospect it feels like an elegant, appropriately sized adaptation - with some beautiful animation work.

April 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

At its best, Bakshi's visualization of Tolkien's world can be startlingly effective… Tolkien fans will appreciate what Bakshi managed to get right.

January 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

It is here we see Bakshi "jump the shark..."

November 7, 2003 | Comments (7)
Greenwich Village Gazette

A showcase for inspired imagery and sheer strangeness, a near-miss magnum opus from another era, before the cult of Tolkien went Hollywood.

November 24, 2001 Full Review Source: Slate
Slate

...a noble effort, original in concept if disappointing in execution.

September 12, 2001 | Comments (2)
Movie Metropolis

The hobbits all look like Joey Lawrence -- what's up with that?

August 5, 2001 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com | Comments (3)
Filmcritic.com

An atmospheric fairytale romp across the landscapes of Tolkien's imagination.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC
BBC

I didn't like this film version of Lord of Rings. If it's any comfort, fans won't like it either.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Sci-Fi Movie Page
Sci-Fi Movie Page

Audience Reviews for The Lord of the Rings

Hated it, bored me!
June 23, 2011
murphmann93
Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

Bakshi's version of Lord of the Rings, which is of course animated, is good, I enjoyed it, sometimes there are fantasy elements that can only be brought to life in the animated form. The movie follows very close to the book, and the characters look just as I expected them to. I enjoyed this version.
January 5, 2011
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

Now this is much better than the live action movies. Its done with rotoscoping and looks great. Very dark, brooding and alittle eerie, especially the orges and the landscapes. It really looks sooo good, the animation is also good for the time and combines some live action in there too which sounds odd but does work. The voice work is another main winner here, it makes the whole thing rise above your expectations and lift it out of the realms of a 'cartoon', every character is perfect and adds realism to the film, Hurt offering that real classic touch.

This is how the Lord of the Rings should have been.
May 25, 2010
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

11/03/2010 (DVD)

A brave attempt but it didn't do it for me. It was probably legendary at its released date and I must say, there were some pretty interesting animation ideas that sort of surprised me knowing how pretty old this flick is.

Its funny when we say "No offense" just before we offend someone, well, "no offense" to those who gave more than 2 stars but it bored the crap out of me, but I'm glad it tickled your bum. (Remember "No offense")

It must be because I saw "Peter Jackson's" version, and as a result I find it hard to enjoy it and appreciate its true value. (Let's blame Peter!)

Anyway, check it out if you still desire.
March 12, 2010
EightThirty

Super Reviewer

    1. Gollum: Don't hurt us! Don't let them hurt us, precious!, Cruel little hobbitses!
    – Submitted by Tom Y (20 months ago)
    1. Aragorn: And who are they going to trust? A fat innkeeper who only remembers his name because people shout it at him all day?
    – Submitted by Zach W (24 months ago)
    1. Gandalf: Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time! Be quiet!
    – Submitted by Tyler H (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Herr der Ringe (DE)
  • The Lord of the Rings (1978) (UK)
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