The Hobbit


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Hobbit
"A whimsical tale that will continue to charm younger viewers today."

Once upon a time, back in the dim and distant world of 1966, a film producer was afraid that he might lose the rights to his most precious treasure, JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit. There was only one way to save the day, and that was to make a film adaptation of the book very fast indeed. So he turned to his loyal friend Gene Deitch and asked for his help, and what emerged was this.

At 12 minutes in length, this is a film that shows you don't have to be big to achieve success. It also knows how to tell a tall tale as well as any hobbit ever did. Our story begins with a history of the terrible dragon Slag, who destroyed a golden city and stole the Arkenstone. Three survivors - General Thorin Oakenshield (not just tall for a dwarf but the second tallest character in the whole story), a little round guy who doesn't do much of anything, and a token beautiful princess, set off to find someone who can help them. The wizard Gandalf leads them to a peaceful green land where they meet Bilbo Baggins and tell him it is his destiny to slay the beast. Unsurprisingly, Bilbo is somewhat nonplussed, but then he sets eyes on the princess and destiny (albeit not quite the one Tolkein imagined for him) will have its way.

Copy picture

Brought to life by the beautiful illustrations of Czech painter Adolf Born, which will strike a chord with anyone who grew up watching kids' TV in Europe in the Seventies, this is a whimsical tale that will continue to charm younger viewers today. Excitement is provided by the swelling orchestral music of Václav Lidl, and Herb Lass' narration delivers on drama whilst maintaining a reassuring, bedtime story tone. Although there's no animation in the conventional sense, flashing lights lend impact to the scary sequences and there's so much detail to enjoy that the eye never wanders.

This may not be the most glamorous Hobbit film out there, and it may take a few liberties with the plot, but it's still a treat for completists and an enjoyable little film in its own right.

Reviewed on: 12 Dec 2014
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A little hobbit is persuaded to go on a quest to kill the monstrous dragon Slag.

Director: Gene Deitch

Writer: Gene Deitch

Starring: Herb Lass

Year: 1966

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: US, Czechoslovakia


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