Not sure if I need the open spoiler warning for films that came out in 1978 and 2000’s but anyways:
I got the Bakshi movie on dvd today (remastered “deluxe” edition) and watched the entire thing for the first time. I’ve seen bits and pieces but not the entire thing. In some ways it’s not as bad as I thought. So here’s some thoughts and comparisons to PJ’s movies. Of course the Bakshi movie rushed through a lot of stuff, cramming Fellowship and Two Towers into one movie. So a lot of stuff was cut, and it kind of feels like the “Cliff’s notes” version. Just the highlights please. However the dialogue, or at least most of it, is truer to the books than the PJ version.
Some key points:
The Shire. Bakshi had the relevant Gandalf/Bilbo and Gandalf/Frodo scenes but you only get a glimpse of the Shire. Bakshi’s Bilbo party starts and ends with the speech. Jackson showed you around the shire and made you want to live there, or at least buy a house with round doors and hallways. Advantage: Jackson
Saruman (Aruman) and Orthanc. I can kind of understand (if not agree with) the decision to cut off the first letter of one of your characters names to avoid confusion with the main villian. But at least be freaking CONSISTENT about it. Sometimes he’s Saruman, sometimes he’s Aruman. Does he have an evil twin? Everything about Jackson’s Sauramon and Orthanc was better. Visually, that is. The ridiculous “air battle” between Gandalf and Saruman was a joke. “You have elected the way of PAIN!”. Bakshi’s Saruman at least resembled Gandalf (Tolkien said it was hard to tell the wizards apart), and his dialogue was better. But the Bakshi Orthanc was terrible, and why was Saruman the WHITE wearing a RED robe? Advantage: neither
Black Riders. They were both very good but Jackson’s were scarier. Advantage: Jackson
Bree. Every single thing about the Bakshi version was better in this scene. This is one of the bits of Jacksons movie that I hated most. Jackson’s Bree was short and and everything about it was horrible. Advantage: Bakshi
Weathertop. Jackson’s LOOKED like the ruins of an ancient tower. Bakshi’s looked like a clearing in a forest. Other than that both were about the same. Bakshi’s Nazgul didn’t actually look like it caught fire though. Advantage:** Jackson (slight)**
The Council of Rivendell. Bakshi’s was not completely true to the book but much better than the 5 minute fiasco of a council that took place in PJ’s movie. On the other hand, Jackson’s Rivendell was beautiful. But [Monty Python]it’s only a model. [/Monty Python] Advantage: Bakshi
Orcs. Bakshi’s orcs were a horrible rotoscoped mess. They were so dark you couldn’t tell what was going on most of the time in the orc scenes. Jacksons orcs were cool and scary. Advantage: Jackson
Mines of Moria. Neither gave us much of a glimpse of Moria. Jackson does have a slight edge, but in the end it’s a draw. Advantage: neither
Gandalf reading the book of Marazbul (sp?) in Balin’s tomb. Bakshi had the more complete and accurate scene, but the PJ Gimli reaction to finding his cousin’s tomb was better. Advantage: Bakshi
The Balrog. If the Bakshi Balrog could fly, why did it fall down the pit? That collection of mismatched parts didn’t look like something that would inspire terror and drive thousands of battle hardened dwarves out of their homes. Jackson’s Balrog was a little over the top, but pure bad-ass. Advantage: Jackson
Lothlorien. Neither showed us much that much of Lothlorien, but PJ’s staircases up the trees and his depiction of Celebron and Galadriel was much closer to how I’d pictured it. Bakshi’s Galadriel looked like Barbie. Advantage: Jackson However:
The Mirror of Galadriel. PJ gave us nuclear Galadriel, while Bakshi’s Galadriel seemed kind of… emotionless in that scene, considering how important it was that she refused the ring. But in the end Bakshi’s scene was more accurate. Advantage: Bakshi
Frodo leaving the party. While not completely accurate, the Bakshi version was far, far better and made much more sense. PJ’s version was kind of ham handed. On the Jackson side, I loved Aragorn covering the ring with his when he lets Frodo go (even though it wasn’t in the book). Still the Advantage goes to: Bakshi
Boromir’s death. The Bakshi version seemed a little more accurate, but PJ had the emotional impact. They were both very good, but I liked Jacksons version a little better. Advantage: Jackson
Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas chase the orcs. Again, Bakshi has the edge in accuracy but his orcs sucked the big one. His rotoscoping is one of the worst things ever put to film. Advantage: Jackson
Meeting the Riders of Rohan. This is one of the areas where Jackson actually was pretty true to the books. Bakshis scene is very truncated and due to his horrible rotoscoping you can’t tell what the hell is going on. Advantage: Jackson
Treebeard and the Entmoot. How does a walking tree get fat? Bakshi’s treebeard was a joke, there was NO entmoot, or any other ents at all. Jacksons version didn’t have the full entmoot but was pretty good (if you can overlook Gimli voicing treebeard). Advantage: Jackson (by far)
Theoden and Grima Wormtongue. I hated Jacksons Theoden pre-exorcism, and loved him post exorcism. His Grima was more along the right lines but waaaay too over the top. Bakshi’s Theoden, on the other hand, sucked the whole way through, but his Grima was much better. Advantage: draw
Helm’s Deep. Jackson’s Battle was fairly decent except for a few things. Extreme Legolas. “Toss Me!” I’m going to lead a calvary charge into pikemen and it will work because I’m GANDALF!. Bakshi, on the other hand, completely butchered this scene. This is easily the worst example of his awful rotoscoping technique. Imagine an animated Theodens (who looks like Santa Claus) head atop a rotoscoped Theoden body, sitting astride a real horse. Yep. Advantage:** Jackson**
So that’s my take on it. In some ways I can see why the Bakshi version has such a terrible reputation. Most of the background/landscapes were pretty unimpressive, if not downright terrible, and didn’t give me that Middle Earth feeling. The rotoscoping was absolutely terrible, easily the worst rotoscoping I’ve ever seen. It was too dark and it was very jarring. Scenes where an animated character was fighting a rotoscoped character were really bizarre looking. Jacksons scenery, landcapes, weapons and armor, and characters all looked stunning and really made me feel like I was in Middle Earth. On the other hand, some of the scenes, most notably Bree, the Council of Elrond, and Galadriels mirror, were pretty good, and Bakshi didn’t butcher the dialogue as much as Jackson did, and was much truer to the books in some respects.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?