Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An Alternative Vision of the Hobbit that Never Was -- Thank Heaven

Over at the Tor books website, there is a post discussing a short animated version of The Hobbit that was produced long before the Rankin/Bass film adaptation with which most people are familiar.  The film was worked on by Gene Deitch, who shares the genesis of the project on his website.

As I watched the approximately 12 minute adaptation, I was struck by two thoughts.  The first was how similar the animation style was to the illustrations on the covers of the paperback editions of The Lord of the Rings that my parents had sitting around the house when I was a child.



The second was how little the illustrations captured the feel of the fiction for me.  I never felt that the Ballantine covers truly captured the magic of Middle Earth.  They were dynamic covers, but they were too faux surreal and angular for my young tastes.  The Fellowship cover, above, captures neither Hobbiton nor Rivendell for me.  This isn't to say that those places might not look surreal, just that these images fail to capture my vision.

The same holds for the animated film.  It's adaptation of Thorin and the insertion of hearts into the costuming of various characters seems bizarre, though I do like the angular Gandalf who has a darkness that the other characters lack.

Watch the clip and judge for yourself.  One thing is certain though, the name change they gave Smaug is nigh unforgivable. 


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