Much like The One Ring itself, a previously thought lost Soviet adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has resurfaced unexpectedly.
Thought to be the only Russian film adaptation of the famous trilogy, the film was released in 1991 and aired on televisions across the Soviet Union.
After being lost decades, the film reappeared and has quickly gone viral among Tolkien fans for being really rather weird.
While the adaptation is certainly interesting to those looking for an alternate take on Tolkien’s trilogy, the film feels rather like a fever dream, featuring oppressive music, low-budget effects, and very strange artistic choices. Despite all this, or perhaps because of it, the film is strangely compelling and has had Tolkien fans talking of little else. The music was created by Andrei Romanov of the rock band Akvarium, and the film aired only once on Russian television before disappearing into the archives of Leningrad Television.
As The Guardian reports, very few people even knew of the film’s existence until it was recently digitised and uploaded as Part 1 and Part 2 to YouTube by 5TV, Leningrad Television’s successor. The film quickly went viral and the first half has gained over a million views, with many of the comments being from Western viewers. While Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking films have since ignited a great deal of interest in Tolkien in Russia, his work was less well known prior to the academy award-winning films. Perhaps due to censorship, or perhaps due to the difficulty in translating Tolkien’s complex fantasy world.
Before this adaptation, an adaption of The Hobbit was aired in 1985 featuring ballet dancers and moustache-sporting narrator standing in for Tolkien. Called The Fantastic Journey of Mister Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit, this is thought to be the only finished Tolkien adaptation created during the Soviet Union, though it slips many notable parts of the book, including Bilbo’s encounter with the trolls. In 1991, a cartoon adaptation of The Hobbit called The Treasure Under the Mountain was planned, but then cancelled, though some footage can be found online.