I wonder how much the previous movie treatment of The Lord of the Rings -- in the form of Ralph Bakshi's great (albeit unfinished) animated version from 1978 -- had any kind of influence on Peter Jackson's movie trilogy.

While the production design of Jackson's movies was directly influenced by illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe, the style of Bakshi's movie was declaredly not influenced by any contemporary illustrators and they indeed seem to have quite different designs in many aspects. However, I can't help but notice that other scenes in turn seem to feel similar (like the Hobbits hiding under a tree root from a Nazgul), but that might as well just be a result of the common source material or me overimagining things.

So is there any acknowledgment by the people behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy giving insights into how much their movie was influenced by the animated version from 1978, be it the design, story, cinematography or whatever? Or is there even evidence that they actively eschewed from replicating it in any way? Or are there maybe even direct references paying tribute to Bakshi's movie (afterall it was the movie that sparked Jackson's interest in the books in the first place)?


2 Answers 2


I lifted this directly off the LOTR Wiki, so I didn't have to go transcribe the DVD Extra:

Peter Jackson first encountered The Lord of the Rings via Bakshi's film, and some shots in his live-action trilogy appear to have been influenced by it:

  • One such shot features Frodo and the other hobbits hiding from a Black Rider under a big tree root, while the Black Rider stalks above them. In his version of the sequence, Jackson uses a similar shot — although he films it from a different angle (in the book, Frodo hid separately from the other hobbits).
  • A second sequence features the camera slowly revolving around Strider and the hobbits, who stand in a circle as the Black Riders approach them on Weathertop. In his staging, Jackson also uses a similar shot — although his camera is much faster, and Strider is not among the hobbits.
  • A third similarity is the depiction of Gollum losing the ring in the prologue: both films show very similar events but the book had no such prologue and indeed it runs directly counter to Tolkien's scheme for the storyline.
  • Another similarly staged scene is Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn's discovery of Gandalf the White.
  • On the DVD commentary of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson acknowledges one shot, a low angle of a hobbit at Bilbo's birthday party shouting "Proudfeet!", as an intentional homage to Bakshi's film.
  • By far the biggest "lift," however, is the scene of the Nazgûl appearing in the hobbits' room at the Prancing Pony and slashing the beds to ribbons thinking the shapes under the sheets to be the hobbits (but are actually pillows). This is almost identical to Bakshi's version, which is significant, as the scene is not depicted in the book; a passage does appear that states that hobbit beds wind up slashed during the night, but the townsfolk of Bree are the perpetrators, not the Nazgûl.
  • Some of Sam's interjections are also sourced from Bakshi rather than Tolkien.
  • Another idea used in both films is to depict Éomer as a late arrival at the Battle of the Hornburg, rather than the book's Erkenbrand.

Indeed, the whole stricture of the first two installments is but Bakshi's movie script plight in two and a little expanded with some episodes (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ends exactly where Bakshi's movie ends: the end of the Battle of Hornburg and Gollum leading Frodo and Sam to Shelob - the Black Gate is presumably cut, since Gollum talks about his "secret way", and Faramir could be as well, since the Hobbits are journeying through the Mountains of Shadow).

  • I wonder what's meant by "it runs directly counter to Tolkien's scheme for the storyline".
    – Prometheus
    Jun 7, 2020 at 19:02
  • @Prometheus - If I'm not mistaken, this refers to why The Lord Of The Rings featured a prologue, since there was no context for the ring in LOTR. I could be mistaken. Jun 8, 2020 at 12:34

Whilst I know Peter Jackson's interest in LOTR did come partially from him watching Ralph Bakshi, I found this interview with Bakshi and thought it might help:

And of course it could be really ironic if someone said something like, "In the spirit of Lord of the Rings" considering you did the first one. I'll send it to them! Are you kidding? I'm not going to let that one slide. "In the spirit of Lord of the Rings, I want to do Wizards II." I'll use it. [I've been asked] to finish Rings in animation. I really don't want to.

That was one of the questions I wanted to ask. I know that. Everyone wants to ask that question. Why should you be different?

Because we're all curious. We love Lord of the Rings the books, we liked your Lord of the Rings, we liked the Peter Jackson one. The picture was just done. I don't want to do a picture that's been done. He's finished it! It's no fun doing something that's been done. It's just no fun for me. Why would I want to spend three or five years working doing something that someone else did?

Good point. If I got the same money he had, I could grind him into the ground with mine, but the point is, why bother? Everyone knows that anyhow.

I'm definitely a fan of your version of Lord of the Rings, as well as the Peter Jackson one. [My version] had more character, more soul, more heart. Less sneaker selling.

We thought it was pretty obvious at several points in the Peter Jackson version that they did take a couple of riffs from you. Uh huh. They took everything from me. The ring wraiths were taken from me. There was a lot! I mean, I designed the ring wraiths.

Now, I know Peter Jackson said he also saw your films, and obviously it was some degree of an influence. I mean, how do you take that? Oh, some degree of an influence! Holy shit! Some degree of an influence! What are you talking about?

Hey, I can be diplomatic either way, see? [laughs] Let me ask you a question. You're a bright lad in Montreal, right? Some degree of an influence. Look. I'm sitting here with a book called Lord of the Rings, and no film to look at. Every fucking thing you're looking at in Rings I—the design, Gimli, Aragon, the dwarfs, the elves, all that stuff—I came up with, basically because there was nothing to look at. Peter Jackson looked at it and said, I like that, I don't like that, I can improve on that. Who are you kidding? Look at his Lothlorien. Look at my backgrounds of Lothlorien. Take a look! He had much more to see than I did, and if you don't think he lifted it over and over again, you're wrong. I mean, how did he design a knife in Lord of the Rings? How did he design a sword? How did he design the dwarf with his axe? How did he design the fur around him? Why did Peter Jackson put fur around the dwarf? Because I put fur around the dwarf! Why would the dwarf have fur naturally? You see, I could give you a billion little things. I wish I had a movie to look at. That's fine for Peter [Jackson]. But for you to say "somewhat"—shit. Shit, that's ridiculous.

Well, you know, I've gotta be diplomatic. I've got to be honest— What? Why? Why do you gotta be diplomatic?

Because I haven't seen your Lord of the Rings in a bout a decade. So my memory's not as good as it could be. Then go see it! Go see it. How about under the tree, under the limb, when the wraith on the road is trying to find Frodo, Sam, and the guys were hiding under the bush, under the tree, under the limb on the road, and it was on top? Where did that come from?

See, you answered my next question, which was going to be, how did you feel about that? [laughs] How did you feel about that? You're the guy trying to be diplomatic, I'm not. How did you feel about that? I'm interested in how you felt.

Well, like I said, I hadn't seen yours in a while, so I didn't have as good a memory as to how much it was. But there were some things that I saw— Aren't you curious? Why didn't you take a look to see the shot-for-shot cuts and background for background?

Oh, I'm plenty curious. Unfortunately, I don't get that much sleep as it is. [laughs] Well, let's take a look. You slap it in, you roll down there at high speed, and there it is. But you don't want to do that, because you'd be facing something you don't want to see, and you wouldn't know how to write about it, and then Peter Jackson will get mad about you, and you can't afford that and he's a hot director. You'd best forget about the whole thing and hide.

Well, we all know I talk to Peter Jackson every week. [laughs] Did Peter Jackson ever actually contact you at any point? He can kiss my fucking ass. No he hasn't. He didn't have to contact me. He had my movie. Why would he contact me? He robbed me to begin with. What right did he have to make the Rings?

It does happen on occasion. I don't know all the details behind it, so I had to ask to find out. Ask me another question.

So we won't be seeing you and Peter Jackson in a bar laughing it up anytime soon. You won't see me and my first wife, either. There are certain people you don't want to go near, right?

Sorry it's so long I thought it was better to lift it from http://www.fpsmagazine.com/feature/040703bakshi-6.php the narrators questions are in bold and italics. Considering the ringwraiths are described as 'Riders disguised in Black' in The Fellowship of the Ring novel its not that far for them to design the film versions similarly and in my view the Jackson version of them in LOTR is more alike their description than the '78 film but I enjoyed both interpretations. Finally just to add I do think the ringwraiths depicted in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies were designed exactly along the lines of Bakshi's interpretation and to me were almost a carbon copy though the design is different it goes along the same lines and is presented in the same way and all I could think of was Bakshi's version as I watched their appearance in that scene as they join Sauron and float around his manifestation but anyway hope I helped.


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