April 14, 2021

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Watch the delightfully schlocky Soviet version of Lord of the Rings – CNET

2 min read
YouTube screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

While fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga await the mega-bucks Amazon series, they can indulge in a campier version of the famed fantasy tale. If you love the cheesy films mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000 and RiffTrax, you’ll likely appreciate the shlocky goodness of a 1991 Soviet television version of the LOTR trilogy. 

From the school play-style costumes to the home computer-like special effects, this is a quirky bit of nostalgia that’s about as far removed from director Peter Jackson’s Hollywood trilogy as Moscow is from Middle-earth. 

The TV movie aired on Soviet TV in 1991, then disappeared, not to be seen again until now, the Guardian newspaper reports. It aired on Leningrad Television, and was posted to YouTube by Leningrad Television’s successor, 5TV, the newspaper reports.

Tolkien fans who don’t understand Russian can still kind of figure out who’s who and what’s what. Some of the hobbits kind of look like werewolves, Gandalf could use a bang trim, and the less that can be said about Frodo’s furry-yet-hooflike feet (scroll to 2:09 in the first video) the better. Sitting through the whole thing seems like a punishment worthy of Gollum. But if you’re a LOTR completist, or just a fan of campy cinema, it’s a must-skim.


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