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WATCH: Soviet-Era Lord of the Rings Series Unearthed After 30 Years

One tin foil ring to rule them all...
IMAGE 5TV - RUSSIAN GOVERMENT
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We had to pause the video when the image of the One Ring (wrapped in wrinkly tin foil) appeared. Here is the most revered artifact in Middle Earth mythology, looking like a poorly executed prop that looks like a cake tin with Russian inscriptions. It is so bad it is satisfying. 

Trailer of Soviet-Era Lord of the Rings Series

And then we get to the better parts: very badly chroma keyed hobbits feasting on white bread, honey, and milk. Instead of the hobbits looking like actual halflings, what were supposed to be normal-sized people in the scene looked like giants. It was a gem. 

In one episode, the hobbits encounter the vengeful Ents of the Old Forest, where they meet Tom Bombadil, the enigmatic figure that dwelled therein. In The Lord of the Rings canon, Bombadil is the only character totally immune from the effects of the One Ring (he casually takes it from Frodo and wears it but he does not disappear).

And remember that epic fireworks scene from Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring in which Merry and Pippin got in trouble with Gandalf?

Epic Fireworks Scene from Peter Jackson’s LOTR Adaptation

Photo by New Line Cinema.
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This is its Soviet version from 30 years ago:

 

Epic Fireworks Scene from Russia’s LOTR Adaptation

Photo by 5TV, Russian Government.

The Soviet-era Lord of the Rings series was funded by the Russian government, according to Russia's 5TV, which posted the video on its YouTube page. What’s interesting about it is how it preserved canon elements from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels—some of which Peter Jackson decided to forego in his film adaptations—such as the very significant appearance of Tom Bombadil. 

A Super Rare Find

According to a report by The Guardian, the find is super rare because apparently, the Soviets were threatened by the plot of the alliance of men, elves, and dwarves fighting against an evil dictator named Sauron. 

“Earlier adaptations and even translations of Tolkien’s work in the Soviet Union were hard to come by, with some convinced that the story of an alliance of men, elves, and dwarves fighting a totalitarian eastern power had been blocked by the censor,” wrote Andrew Roth. 

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Nevertheless, the Soviet-era LOTR series should rightfully be preserved as part of world heritage.

Watch part 1 and part 2 of the U.S.S.R.’s The Fellowship of the Ring below. 

Part 1

Part 2

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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