A 30-Year-Old Soviet Adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring Is Available for Your Viewing Pleasure

This is not Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring. A 1991 Russian-language adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s book recently surfaced on YouTube, and it’s—to put it mildly—a hoot.

The Guardian reports that the 1991 film, called Khraniteli, was a made-for-TV movie that’s believed to be the only LOTR adaptation made in the Soviet Union. It boasts a score by Andrei Romanov of the band Akvarium, which lends a distinctive low-budget-music-video vibe to the opening scenes of badly costumed men pushing their way through spindly trees.

Supposedly, Khraniteli only aired once. People knew the film existed, but there was no way to watch it until it appeared, in two parts, online last week.

I have not watched the whole thing, but even a cursory skip through the first half hour or so is a very special experience. Actors look at the camera a lot. Gandalf has a touch of purple highlight in his bangs. The wigs look as if they’ve been recycled from a high school drama program after decades of use. The Nazgul’s horses have some baffling flashy red tack. One hobbit appears to be a fan of a pacifier, while Frodo seems to have skipped over from a matinee of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and forgotten to change his costume.

Screenshot: YouTube

Tom Bombadil fans, your time has come.

Screenshot: YouTube

You may ask why the hobbits are hovering in midair, but this is more of a “don’t ask questions” situation. You can start watching here.


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