While fans of of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary excursions to Middle Earth are anticipating Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series, they’re no doubt aware of Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, which spanned from 2001 until 2003.
In fact, fans may even be aware of earlier effort, a 1978 animated feature from “Fritz the Cat” director Ralph Bakshi.
However, what isn’t widely known is that there was another screen adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings”, a 1991 version made for Russian television during the waning days of the Soviet Union.
Titled “Khraniteli”, this TV version adapted the first book in the series, The Fellowship of the Ring. Thought to be lost to time, this rarely seen take on “LOTR” has been found, and uploaded to YouTube in two parts.
The special effects can generously be termed crude; Gollum looks like a half-man, half-fish in an “SNL” comedy sketch, while Frodo and the other Hobbits are shot via green screen to make them appear tiny next to non-Hobbits.
Meanwhile, a scene in which wizard Gandalf flies on the back of an eagle is about as low-tech as it gets.
According to The Guardian, the existence of “Khraniteli” was largely unknown until the videos were uploaded on YouTube by 5TV, formerly Leningrad Television.
“Fans have been searching the archives but had not able to find this film for decades,” wrote the Russian-language World of Fantasy, via The Guardian.
“There should be a statue to the person who found and digitized this,” wrote one fan in a comment.
The first part can be viewed in the video above, and the second below.
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