I hate to say this… but after watching Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers again and then comparing it to the not-so-well-aging Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings… I hate to say it, but the biggest, best part of the movie was done infinitely so much better in Bakshi’s version.

Let’s examine the two…


Okay yes… raining… suspense, tension and build up. Its all there. We’ve seen this before. Continuous marching and the pounding of feet, yeah it’s ominous, but its something we see in most, if not all medieval and fantasy style war movies. If anything, its kind of underplayed. I also take issue with the behavior of the orcs in this… its… almost comical for something that is supposed to be taken seriously.

Also I’d say our heroes tempt fate one too many times to be taken seriously. Its almost like they know that they are the main cast and thus immune from death. This really takes you out of the battle.

My last issue… the elves. Yeah okay… we see what one elf, Legolas can do… and we’re to believe that an army of Orcs completely took them out? This fight should have been over in minutes when the Orcs stormed the keep. The other takeaway here is that it was completely unnecessary, as an avid fan of the species, I don’t get the elven abuse. They didn’t even show up to Helm’s deep in the book. They were busy defending their own lands as I recall. So why did they have them show up? The situation was supposed to look desperate… having an elven army show up sort of takes the edge off.

Okay… now lets look at Bakshi…

Here, the red backdrop is infinitely more menacing. You see them slowly climb over a ridge and start to get an idea just how large the army is. What’s more? They don’t just march or slam their weapons on the ground to freak their enemy out. They’re chanting as they march. If you get an army coming at you, chanting in perfect harmony, you have my permission to soil yourself. I won’t judge.

Their chanting continues through most of the battle and actually gets louder and more bombastic as they beat back Rohan. Not to mention the desperation of the battle is really there. It’s so potent, you can really feel it. Yes the animation is sub par, the defenders just stand there as they’re hit with arrows, and the orcs look like an army of Tuskan Raiders (wow… they really did come back in greater numbers.), but they got the feel of the battle down much better.
When someone dies, you really feel it. There’s concern, there’s emotion, everything is there unlike in the Jackson version where the characters are so stoic, it’s to the point of suicidal.

Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments.


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2 Comments on “Unpopular Opinion: Bakshi did it better!

  1. Well Jim, I definitely don’t agree with you. It feels like arguing about whether it looks like a real dragon to belabor it, but here goes.
    First off, I liked Jackson’s version of Lord of the Rings (his expnded The Hobbit trilogy is another matter), and felt that he got the tone of the story right. I’m not a purist, and there’s something about translating from one medium to another – things that work in the read word don’t always work on film. The Jackson LOTR remains among my favorite movies. Yes, there are absurdities (like Legolas shield-sledding down the stairs at Helm’s Deep, then outdoing that feat on the oliphaunt at Minas Tirith, but a lot of that I took as an illustration of the absurd body-count contest between Legolas and Gimli.)
    I had the misfortune of viewing Bakshi’s version when it was originally released in theaters. There were weeks of ads in the paper (printed newspaper, young’uns!), including at least one full page add touting the animation as being like MOVING PORTRAITS. I was really looking forward to it (I was and am a Tolkien fan), and even when friends saw it before me and told me how bad it was, well, I still had to go see it.
    At least their warning helped soften my disappointment.
    As I recall, a lot of the battle scenes were filmed in Spain, then the film was polarized to give it the look of animation. I recall orcs that looked like the tribal extras from old, black-and-white era Tarzan movies, with fangs and other distinguishing features drawn on them. To top it off, I had somehow missed that this was ONLY THE FIRST HALF OF THE TRILOGY (I don’t recall this being mentioned in the ads, but quite frankly, I was happy to be done watching it.) I don’t know if the 2nd half was ever completed, but I have no interest in seeing it regardless.


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