Review The Hobbit (1977)


Member: Rank 3
(Summary taken from Wikipedia)

The Hobbit is a 1977 American animatedmusical television specialcreated by Rankin/Bass, a studio known for their holiday specials, and animated by Top Craft, a precursor to Studio Ghibli. The film is an adaptation of the 1937 book of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien, and was first broadcast on NBC in the United States on Sunday, November 27, 1977.
The film was produced and directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass of Rankin/Bass Productions and was adapted for the screen by Romeo Muller, with Rankin taking on the additional duties of production designer. When interviewed for the film, Rankin declared that he would add nothing to the story that wasn't in the original.[2] The New York Times reported that The Hobbit cost $3 million.[2]

The story's hero, Bilbo Baggins, is voiced by Orson Bean, backed up by noted Hollywood director and actor John Huston as the voice of Gandalf. In supporting roles, the comedian and performance artist Brother Theodore was chosen for the voice of Gollum, and Thurl Ravenscroft performed the baritone singing voices of the goblins. The gravelly voice of the dragon Smaugwas provided by Richard Boone, with Hans Conried as Thorin Oakensheild, rounding out the cast of primarily American voice actors.

The Hobbit was animated by Topcraft, a now-defunct Japanese animation studio whose animation team would re-form as Studio Ghibli under Hayao Miyazaki. Topcraft successfully partnered with Rankin/Bass on several other co-productions, including The Last Unicorn. According to Rankin, the visual style of the film took its basic cue from the early illustrations of Arthur Rackham.[2]

While Topcraft produced the animation, the concept artwork was completed in the US under the direction of Arthur Rankin.[2] The Rhode Island-based artist Lester Abrams did the initial designs for most of the characters; Rankin had seen Abrams' illustrations to an excerpt from The Hobbitin Children's Digest.[3] Principal artists included coordinating animator Toru Hara; supervising animator/character designer Tsuguyuki Kubo; character and effects animators Hidetoshi Kaneko and Kazuko Ito; and background designer Minoru Nishida. The same studio and crew members were also used for The Return of the King.

Harry N. Abrams published a large coffee-table illustrated edition of the book featuring concept art and stills.[2]
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Member: Rank 3
(My review)

This and the 2003 video game were my introductions to the story. For a long time, this was how I visualized the story when I read the book. It's been suggested to me that the reason Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy wasn't as good as I expected was because I was expecting it to live up to this version. Perhaps those people were right. I don't know. In a way, Peter Jackson's version was very much my introduction to poor reboots/remakes. While I do enjoy Peter Jackson's version very much, I think that the original animated version's simpler storyline was easier to swallow, and the animated version for sure has the better imagery. A very creepy Gollum, hideous trolls, frightening Goblins, and sinister spiders.

People can talk about how cool-looking Jackson's version was, but, in my opinion...

This is a Goblin:

This is NOT a Goblin:

Need I say more?
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Member: Rank 3
I thought this was an interesting comparison video. The film was remastered in 2001, and a whole bunch of sound effects were lost in the process (this applies to the entire movie, not just the clips shown here. I have the DVD now and can confirm a lot of sounds are missing).

So, for those of you who want the movie the way it was meant to be seen, buy any pre-2001 VHS (the cover shown in the picture in the original post is the remastered version, even on VHS, so don't buy that one if you want the original). Actually, I ended up just syncing the VHS audio to the DVD visuals just to get a perfect version for my personal viewing. :-)

Doctor Omega

Member: Rank 10