You might have thought Peter Jackson was the first to produce a full-length feature film of J.R.R. Tolkien’s story of The Hobbit back in 2012. It turns out that isn’t actually true — just like putting a man into space, the Russians got there first.
Move over Peter Jackson, Vladimir Latyshev was the first to direct The Hobbit back in 1985.
While it might not have the same glossy CGI class of the more recent film, the Russian version of The Hobbit is true to Tolkien’s story and, as fans have since added English subtitles, the first live-action version of the movie isn’t that bad.
— bob calhoun (@bob_calhoun) April 17, 2015
Actually titled The Fabulous Journey of Mr. Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit, the film is based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 book and was made for children back in 1985.
The epic stars Zinovy Gerdt in the role of the professor, who narrates the story as a sort of stand-in for Tolkien himself. The inimitable hobbit himself, Bilbo Baggins (pictured top), was played by Mikhail Danilov, with Anatoly Ravikovich playing Thorin Oakenshield and Igor Dmitriev in the role of Gollum (no doubt with the Russian equivalent of those famous words, “my precious”).
While many humans played in the film, the part of Smaug and the Mirkwood spiders were portrayed by puppets.
In this version of The Hobbit, there were no trolls and Elrond, Beorn, and the wood elves didn’t make a showing. There were, however, goblins. The goblins, as well as the inhabitants of Lake Town, were played by dancers from the Leningrad State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.
According to the Yoki(Russian language), originally the film was shot as a teleplay in 1984 as part of a children’s TV series in Russia called Tale after Tale, but eventually, The Hobbit version was also released as a feature film for children in 1985. The Russians were going to make a sequel, but apparently that film was never completed.
The Hobbit is, apparently, available on DVD, and that version apparently contains more material than the original.
While the original film had no subtitles, some keen fan added them later, possibly when the film hit the popular video website, YouTube, where it was uploaded by one Bilbo Baggins. The video is included below.
The scenery somehow just doesn’t match up to the surroundings used as a film set by Jackson in New Zealand for the more modern version of The Hobbit, details of which can be seen on a travel article about the country on the Inquisitr, but the film itself is kind of cute.
[Image: Screengrab from YouTube video]