A Soviet television adaption of the Lord of the Rings has been rediscovered and posted on YouTube.
The Russian-language movie, which aired 30 years ago and was thought to be lost to time, has delighted fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work with its low-budget production, including rudimentary costumes and sets, absurd special effects, and scenes that look like an entertaining local theatre production rather than TV series.
The 1991 made-for-TV movie Khraniteli, is based on Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s believed to be the only adaptation of his Lord of the Rings trilogy to have been made in the Soviet Union. The movie aired 10 years before the release of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, which had a budget of $281 million.
Few fans of Tolkien's work knew about the movie's existence until Leningrad Television’s successor, 5TV, posted it to YouTube last week, where it has now amassed over 800,000 views within the last several days.
Leningrad Television's version includes some of the plot elements left out of Jackson’s blockbusters, including Tom Bombadil, a forest dweller cut from the English-language version as he was too wordy and failed to move the plot forward.
With the addition of the rediscovered Russian-language film, 2021 seems to be a good year for Middle Earth fans as filming on Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV show continues. Although we will have to wait a while longer before the series makes its debut, we can at least enjoy this bizarre adaptation of Tolkien's work.