The Hobbit (1977)

Rated: 4 / 5

“There’s a magic in that music.”
“And it moves through me.”
“You feel the love of beautiful things.”
“To go and see the great mountains and hear the pine trees and waterfalls…”
“To wear a sword instead of a walking stick…”
“Just once…”

The majority of the songs in this movie are pretty good, in that you will definitely be humming them to yourself well after the credits have rolled. The exception would be “The road goes ever on and on,” which the live action Lord of the Rings film did much better than this one, but that’s about it. But it’s not a musical (that already exists thanks to Leonard Nimoy), the music comes in during the travel segments for the most part, during scene transitions. People don’t just break out into song and dance just for the hell of it, it’s a background thing, and it works tremendously well in this movie.

Kinda wish the new Hobbit movie had some of that. With all the crap Peter Jackson stuffed into those movies, you would think a few more songs would be in order. Or a few talking birds. But no, the only animal that could talk in his movie was the dragon, which meets the bare minimum of talking animals in a Hobbit movie.

Speaking of the dragon, the one in this movie looks like a komodo dragon, a cat, and a bat had a threesome and produced Smaug as a result. Seriously, how often do you see a dragon with hair on its back? That said, he was still intimidating to see.

And Gollum, this is how I came to know that character, from this film. He looks and sounds absolutely fantastic in this film, easily rivaling his depiction in the live action Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. In fact, to this day, it’s still my favorite depiction of Gollum.

For a made for tv film in the 70s with a low budget, this turned out pretty well. The only real point in the film where its budget truly hindered anything was during the battle of five armies sequence. They couldn’t show as much as they should have, unfortunately. But it’s still watchable.

The only other real downside are the death scenes, when goblins or spiders are killed. You’ll see what I mean when you see them. The camera spins. That, and I hate that the dwarves don’t fight back until the finale battle in the movie. At least the Jackson Hobbit trilogy got that part right. Dwarves should be carrying axes and/or swords, and use them when they need to. The dwarves in this movie, particularly when they get captured by the goblins, just get taken without a fight.

And even though this film was only an hour and a half, the majority of the book was put into the entire film, it is paced well, and I felt more sad at Thorin’s death in this compared to his death in the Jackson movie. The music fit better, the mood and atmosphere was just right, and it wasn’t anywhere near as overly dramatic as in the live action films. Plus the dialogue just cuts straight to the point and hits right in the feels. That’s the biggest advantage this little feature has over its live action counterpart, it’s not over-dramatic, at all. Peter Jackson love adding unnecessary overly dramatic elements to his films (the bard’s family and rivalry with the mayor and his cliche’d weasel assistant being the worst of it), to the point where they just become cheesy and stupid. I mean, this was an issue in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, but he dialed it up to 11 for his Hobbit trilogy.

That said, I should give a warning to those who plan on watching it today. Don’t buy the dvds. Either get a hold of an old VHS cop (and by old I mean not the newest vhs version released), or find a source online to download an old version. Why? Because for some reason, the dvd editions (even the ones that currently claim otherwise) do not have the original sound effects in them. Let me rephrase that, a lot of the sound effects are missing. Smaug’s fire breathing sound effect, gone. The eagle’s screeching, gone. Sword swishing, gone. Why? From what I understand, they couldn’t get a hold of the rights to use the original sound effects. I don’t know how that’s possible, but I know that’s a problem not just limited to this movie. There are a lot of old animated films and tv series that have these issues with the music tracks or sound effects, sometimes even footage (such as An American Tail). So if you want to see this movie, I highly recommend getting a parrot and putting a patch over your eye for a small amount of time, and seek that lost treasure.

All in all, I consider it superior to the new trilogy, even though the new trilogy did some things better than this one. By comparison though, for me personally, the pros outweigh the cons between the animated film and the live action trilogy. It still holds up for me after all these years. The greatest adventure…

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