Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the great cinematic accomplishments of the 21st century, a stunning epic that culminated in a well-deserved Best Picture win for The Return of the King. The Soviet Union’s recently-unearthed television adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring is none of those things, but it’s a different kind of experience. Think of this way: Jackson’s Lord of the Rings is an expensive steak; the Soviet’s The Fellowship of the Ring is the fever dream you’ll have after getting food poisoning from the expensive steak.
The Guardian reports that the “1991 made-for-TV film, Khraniteli, is the only adaptation of [Tolkien’s] Lord of the Rings trilogy believed to have been made in the Soviet Union… Few knew about its existence until Leningrad Television’s successor, 5TV, abruptly posted the film to YouTube last week, where it has gained more than 800,000 views within several days.” Khraniteli, which has even crummier production design than the Star Wars Holiday Special, came out a mere 10 years before The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring became the fifth highest-grossing film of all-time.
The Soviet version includes some plot elements left out of Jackson’s $93 million blockbuster, including an appearance by the character Tom Bombadil, a forest dweller cut from the English-language version because he was too long-winded and failed to move the plot forward.
The two-part special runs about two hours — although rumor tells of a four-hour special edition buried in Lenin’s tomb. Only one way to find out (#ReleaseTheLeninCut). Until then, you can watch parts one and two below.
(Via the Guardian)