The Lord of the Rings (1978) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Lord of the Rings1978

The Lord of the Rings (1978)



Critic Consensus: Ralph Bakshi's valiant attempt at rendering Tolkein's magnum opus in rotoscope never lives up to the grandeur of its source material, with a compressed running time that flattens the sweeping story and experimental animation that is more bizarre than magical.

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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 original story line, this unfortunately means that only those intimately familiar with the books will be able to understand what is happening in the movie. In brief, however, an evil sorcerer from a previous era created a magical ring which enables its users to call upon its tremendous powers to rule the world, but it inevitably warps them to evil. It was believed lost, but during a resurgence of magical evil in the world, Bilbo, a simple, plain-spoken hobbit, recovers it from its hiding place. The forces of good give his nephew Frodo the choice to bear the awful burden of the ring to a place where it may be destroyed.

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John Hurt
as Aragorn
Alan Tilvern
as Innkeeper
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Critic Reviews for The Lord of the Rings

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (10)

Lacking a firm center in Frodo's story, the film plays itself out as a bewildering parade of elves, dwarves, ores, trolls and talking trees.

March 26, 2019 | Full Review…

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 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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…

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…

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…

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

May 9, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Lord of the Rings

Hated it, bored me!

Bethany Murphy
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.

Aj V
Aj V

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.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

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