What do you do when you’ve seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey so many times that the movie theater staff is beginning to worry about you, you just watched the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy a month ago, you refuse to watch the behind-the-scenes DVD extras because they ruin the mystique of an adopted religion and you can’t talk to your fiancé anymore because you frequently break out in Elvish?
You certainly don’t watch the very first Hobbit movie, a 12-minute, super-condensed 1966 short film made solely to fulfill a contractual loophole that gave its producer the rights to a future Lord of the Rings screenplay (one of its greatest travesties – Smaug the dragon was inexplicably changed to Slog the giant lizard). Nay, you pull out your copies of Rankin/Bass and Ralph Bakshi’s animated Middle-Earth trilogy from the late ‘70s!
Peter Jackson may be the new master of Middle-Earth, but he wasn’t the first to visualize J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic works. Saturday morning cartoon staples Rankin/Bass released their charming Hobbit film in 1977, with following that went up with his spotty-at-best The Lord of the Rings the next year. When United Artists chose to not release a sequel (Bakshi’s movie only covers the first two books in Tolkien’s trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers) Rankin/Bass saved the day with The Return of the King in 1980.
Despite what the display at your local Barnes & Noble might suggest, the 21st century movies don’t have a monopoly on cool Middle-Earth collectibles either. There was plenty of Seventies-tastic memorabilia released in conjunction with the animated trilogy. Here are five treasures even more precious than the Arkenstone! (Don’t tell Thorin I said that.)
5. The Lord of the Rings program
This program was available at UK screenings of Bakshi’s film and includes an explanation of the material covered and stills from the movie. Audience members must have been some combination of confused and frustrated when they saw that this LOTR ended at Helm’s Deep.