The Lord of the Rings (1978)

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Released 3-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Listing-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 128:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (77:05) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ralph Bakshi
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Christopher Guard
William Squire
John Hurt
Michael Scholes
Dominic Guard
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Leonard Rosenman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Lord Of The Rings is the animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy adventure. This story is soon to be released as a live action feature, and presumably as a consequence of the hype surrounding this new movie, Warner Home Video have seen fit to release this 1978 version.

    At the start of the Second Age, Elven smiths forged nineteen Rings of Power. Nine were for mortal men, seven were for the Dwarf Lords and the remaining three were for the Elf Kings. After creating these rings, the Dark Lord created a final Master Ring, the one ring to rule them all. This Master Ring is extremely powerful but it unfortunately corrupts everyone that uses it and only evil comes from their actions. The Ring is lost over time but is finally recovered and passed down to a young hobbit called Frodo Baggins. This is where the story begins, and it follows Frodo as he and a group of friends attempt to return the Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it while avoiding the many evil forces who wish to capture the Ring for their own use.

    This movie begins at the same place as the book, the going away party for Bilbo Baggins, and finishes at the battle at the fortress Helm's Deep. This battle is a natural break in the story, and occurs approximately half-way through Tolkien's story.

    When initially released, this film was a huge commercial failure for a number of reasons. At the time of its release, the only animated features that most Western viewers would have been familiar with would have been Disney productions. While this story is a lot darker and aimed at an older audience, I believe that if executed correctly, this film still could have been a success despite being animated. Unfortunately, the animation presented in this movie is very inconsistent and often of quite low quality. In numerous sections, the film uses live action and then animates over the top of the action. In other places, traditional hand-drawn cel animation is used. Backgrounds for the animations vary wildly throughout and they have obviously been produced by numerous designers with no single group coordinating efforts. As a result of the lack of consistency in both the backgrounds and the animation styles, the film feels quite disjointed and does not engage the viewer.

    I would only recommend this film to die-hard fans or to people that wanted an overview of the series before watching the upcoming live action version.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image often appears to be quite soft but this is due to the original animation style and not a result of the transfer. No low level noise was detected during the transfer. The transfer displays acceptable levels of shadow detail and during the numerous dark scenes the viewer is able to see all the detail present in the animation.

    The colours displayed in this transfer are usually slightly muted and are often inconsistent. This is due to the original animation with completely different looks for different sections of the film and styles that change within a single scene. While the colours displayed are quite varied, they appear to accurately reproduce the original material.

    No MPEG artefacts were detected at any stage during this transfer.

    Two very minor instances of aliasing may be seen at 19:40 and 42:08 but these are not distracting to the viewer.

    Numerous minor film artefacts may be seen throughout the transfer and these are moderately distracting to the viewer. Considering the age of this film, some artefacts are to be expected but others appear to have been always present in the original material. During the scenes involving live action with overlaid animation, there is often a notable increase in film artefacts. Some examples of film artefacts may be seen at 13:27, 14:12, 17:52 and 26:32. Obvious film grain is also present throughout the transfer and like the film artefacts it becomes more noticeable during the segments incorporating live action. This grain is only slightly distracting to the viewer.

    Twelve sets of subtitles in a white font with a black border are included on this disc. I viewed the English set and also briefly sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired version and found these to be consistently accurate.

    The RSDL layer change occurs at 77:05 part way through Chapter 24. This change occurs on a naturally static shot and should not be detected by most viewers.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Three audio tracks are provided on this disc. The default track is an English Dolby Digital 192 kbps 2.0 surround mix. Mono French and Italian tracks are also included. I listened to the English track and briefly sampled the French and Italian tracks.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times.

    As this title is animated, the expected problems with audio sync may be seen. No dropouts were detected at any time during the transfer.

    The instrumental score by Leonard Rosenman makes its presence felt throughout the film but rarely seems to easily fit the on-screen action, hence constantly drawing unwelcome attention to itself.

    The surround channels are mainly used to support the ever-present score and are only occasionally used for effects. Very little low frequency information is present in the audio mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The full screen non-animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 or 1.78:1 depending upon your player setup.

Cast and Crew

    This is a simple listing of major cast and crew members and does not provide any detailed information.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    There is probably nothing compelling about the missing extras to be found on the Region 1 disc, but serious fans may want to consider it over the Region 4 disc.

Summary

    The Lord Of The Rings is a disappointing film that could have been much more and will only be enjoyed by die-hard fans or when seen as a basic introduction to the story. For all other viewers, I would recommend waiting for the new live action version due out later this year.

    The video transfer is acceptable but numerous minor film artefacts may be seen throughout.

    The English surround audio track is adequate for the film but does not make a lasting impression.

    There are no real extras provided on this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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