The Return of the King (1980)

The Return of the King (1980)

Directed by: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Starring: Orson Bean, John Huston, Theodore Bikel

I guess this is a little complicated, but here’s the story behind this cartoon version of the last book of The Lord of the Rings. Rankin-Bass made a version of The Hobbit which was more for kids and had songs and happy little wacky hobbits and dwarves and it was fun. Then, Ralph Bakshi made The Lord of the Rings, which only covered the material from the first two books. For some reason (which I have no real desire to look up), Rankin-Bass decided to finish out the Lord of the Rings by themselves, and made a kiddie sing-songy version of Return of the King, which is half huge battles and half two guys on the brink of death climbing a mountain.

Frodo has apparently been killed by a spider, and his friend Sam has to take The One Ring up Mount Doom so he can destroy it and rid the world of Sauron forever. It turns out Frodo isn’t dead, and the two of them masquerade as orcs until they get there. At the same time, Aragorn and those people are trying to hold the city of Gondor against the merciless forces of the dark lord (and also from the crazy, self-destructive king).

I don’t really want to describe the whole thing because it’s dumb and you already know it, but yes, this is a cartoon version of that with lots of songs. LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF SONGS. Just like in their version of The Hobbit, barely a minute can pass without a fucking folk song about elves turning up. Half the time the song will just get quieter for a moment so characters can exchange a single line of important plot-related dialogue, then goes right back into the warbling. After an hour of this shit, I just really wanted it to be over. The movie, my life, the world, whichever came first.

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