The film trilogy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ – ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001), ‘The Two Towers’ (2002) and ‘The Return of the King’ (2003) – are among the most awarded films (with 17 Oscar awards in all, with the last film winning 11 of them) and celebrated in the industry. But they are not the only adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s work.
The Ring Saga inspired two animations, released in 1978 and 1980, a musical made for TV in Sweden in 1971, a miniseries also for TV in Finland in 1993, and two specials produced in the Soviet Union, one in 1985 and the other in 1991. The latter came back to life on YouTube, thanks to Russia’s Channel 5.
The production, entitled ‘Khraniteli’ (which means “guardians” in Russian), was filmed in a television studio in Leningrad and aired only once, never to be seen – until now. Based on the first book, the film was directed by Natalya Serebryakova and features Viktor Kostetsky (Gandalf), Georgy Shtil (Bilbo), Valery Dyachenko (Frodo) and Elena Solovey (Galadriel), among other artists.
‘Khraniteli’ is divided into two parts, and adapts the first book in the saga, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. The budget is very low, and the production is nowhere near the visual care of the versions made by Peter Jackson. But the Russian ‘Lord of the Rings’ has its merit: it is more faithful to Tolkien’s original material, and even counts the hobbits’ encounter with one of the most controversial characters in the Middle-earth universe: Tom Bombadil.
One of the most powerful creatures in the universe created by the British writer, Bombadil is at odds with the other characters in the book. It arises when the quartet of hobbits are attacked and trapped by a sentient tree (not to be confused with an Ent) right after they leave the Shire and even before reaching Bri. Tom Bombadil rescues them and takes them to his home, where his wife, Fruta d’Ouro, is. Frodo tells him of his mission with the ring, but the character is strangely unaffected by the magical artifact (Bombadil even touches it).
For these inconsistencies – and to keep the narrative going – Peter Jackson totally cut Bombadil’s participation in the film. To this day, fans of the books debate the true nature of the character, and some argue that he is a type of deity. In the book itself, half-elf Elrond says that Bombadil is one of the oldest beings in all of Middle-earth and that he has little concern for the world outside his own domain.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks