when you’re reading the LotR books and in comes Tom Bombadil pic.twitter.com/hf5SGsQBpe
— Halt and Catch Feelings (@ElSangito) February 7, 2021
It always amused me that buttoned-up JRR’s I awoke and found me there on the cold hill side interlude, the brush with Wild Magic that leaves its victims shaken and confused, is… a couple of happy subsistence dwellers, who sow not, and yet reap all they need. The vasty halls and elves of otherworldly beauty, serious business; living in coexistence with the natural world, eerie!
— Scott Rose (@rprose) April 5, 2021
From early reports, it is — well, not great. On the other hand, considering what its makers had to work with:
Khraniteli: The Soviet take on Lord of the Rings https://t.co/CO49E8wUi5
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) April 5, 2021
… Khraniteli (The Keepers) is based on the first novel in the Tolkien trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, but while readers may recognise the plot and the characters, this weirdly psychedelic Soviet reimagining is a very different experience from Peter Jackson’s epic film version a decade later.
To find out just how different, we spoke to Irina Nazarova, a Russian artist who saw Khraniteli when it first came out and was familiar with the arts scene which inspired it in Leningrad (Russia’s second city, now known again as St Petersburg)…
So how was your viewing experience this weekend?
Like all my friends, I felt shock and pity… It really was laughter through tears. Actually this was more about the fading away of the USSR than any adventures in Middle Earth [the imaginary world where the action unfolds in The Lord of the Rings].
Are Tolkien fans in for a lavish visual treat?
Nope. Zilch budget. Really not sure whether this version is The One To Rule Them All. I have my suspicions that at least some of the people who took part in this worked for free or paid for it themselves, like in a school pantomime, just to get it filmed. The costumes seem to have been assembled from all Leningrad theatres that ever staged a play by Shakespeare or Lope de Vega, which is why Gandalf [the wizard] looks like a knight errant and why Elrond [the elf ruler] pinched his outfit from Othello.
Sam [protagonist Frodo Baggins’ sidekick] has four eyebrows for some reason, while the puppet eagle which carries Gandalf to safety looks like a seagull that drank aviation fuel – maybe that’s why it flies like that?…
It was a desperate attempt to present a much-loved book [published in the UK in 1954] to the masses through the medium of television. They made it without anyone’s help. There was no money, there were no experts. People at that time would go for half a year without getting their wages paid and they didn’t know how they would feed their own children.
Bearing all that in mind, have a bit of mercy on the people who made this and give them credit for trying at least. I’m not sure anyone else could have done better in the circumstances…