Last week, the Soviet television adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, which is considered a waste of time, was rediscovered and posted on YouTube last week, delighting Russian-speaking fans of JRR Tolkien.
The 1991 television film The Guardians, based on Tolkien’s Ring Society, is the only film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy believed to have been made in the Soviet Union.
Aired 10 years before the release of the first part of Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, the low-budget film looks torn from another era: the costumes and scenery are elemental, the green screen effects are funny, and many scenes are more like a theatrical production than a feature film.
The score, composed by Andriy Romanov of the rock band Aquarium, also gives a distinctly Soviet atmosphere to the production, which is reportedly aired only once on television before disappearing into the archives of Leningrad Television.
Few people knew of its existence until the successor to Leningrad Television, 5TV, unexpectedly posted the film on YouTube last week, where it garnered nearly 400,000 views in a matter of days.
“Fans searched the archives, but for decades could not find this film,” – writes the Russian publication “Fantasy World”, which writes about adaptations of Tolkien’s works.
“There must be a statue of someone who found and digitized it,” wrote one commenter.
Previous adaptations and even translations of Tolkien’s work in the Soviet Union were difficult to find, with some arguing that the story of a union of men, elves, and gnomes fighting a totalitarian eastern state had been blocked by censorship.
But another assumption about the stinginess of translations was that Tolkien’s intricate plot and linguistic invention made it difficult to translate into Russian, without falsifying the original and leaving the Soviet audience with no idea what was going on.
However, the unusual adaptation seemed to scratch the nostalgic itch for many who watched it.
“It is as absurd and horrible as it is divine and magnificent. The introductory song is especially sweet. Thank you to those who found this rarity, “wrote another. In the opening song, Romanov performs a rough translation of Tolkien’s description of the origins of the rings of power, three of which are given to elves, seven gnomes, and nine mortals doomed to death.
The Soviet version includes some plot elements left out of the $ 93 million Jackson film, including the appearance of Tom Bombadil, a forest dweller cut off from the English version because he was too stubborn to push the plot forward.
The first Soviet samizdat translation of The Brotherhood of the Ring was made in 1966, more than ten years after the publication of Tolkien’s book of the same name. And the first published translation was published in the Soviet Union in 1982, although its sequels “Two Towers” and “Return of the King” were published only years later.
In 1985, Leningrad Television released its first version of Tolkien’s work, a low-budget film adaptation of The Hobbit starring ballet dancers from the modern Mariinsky Theater and a mustachioed narrator who advocated Tolkien. An abbreviated production called “Mr. Bilbo Baggins’ Fantastic Journey, The Hobbit” takes trolls and elves into the hour-long revelry that has long been considered the only complete adaptation of Tolkien’s Soviet-era adaptation.
According to World of Fantasy, the animated version of “The Hobbit” in 1991 “Treasures under the mountain” was canceled, leaving only six minutes of video available online.
The adaptation of the Jackson trilogy became a hit in Russia. Many young Russians watched the version dubbed by translator Dmitry Puchkov under the pseudonym Goblin, which was characterized by intense persecution of the text. In this version, Frodo is called Fyodor Mikhailovich, Legolas has a pronounced Baltic accent, and Aragorn shouts “Who does not beat [an orc] is a donkey ”when his archers allowed the arrows to fly while defending the Helmet Depth.