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Old 04-07-2021, 10:32 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Pipe The Downs on film in Soviet FotR

In 1991, the Soviet broadcaster Leningrad TV aired an adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring in Russian. It only had a single showing, and then... well, it was 1991 in the USSR, things went a bit wonky. For thirty years, the film was assumed lost.

A week ago, it re-emerged.

(EDIT: There is now a version with English subtitles: Part 1 | Part 2)

I've watched it, and it is a thing of exquisite beauty. All the hobbits have huge sideburns, the three Black Riders (horses are expensive) gallop along to a techno beat, and most important of all - the Barrow-Downs made it in! In fact the whole Old Forest/Bombadil/Barrow sequence forms the break-point between the two episodes, and form a major part of the story.

And it's beautiful. Take a look at this delightful nonsense:


(Click here for larger version)

The Downs -- The Barrow-Wight
The hobbits in the barrow -- Tom Bombadil tearing the barrow apart

Now, I don't speak a word of Russian (though the occasional 'Da! Da! Da!' made it through), but I sat down and watched the whole thing, and created a photo-synopsis of the wonders I found. If you want to see drugged elves, the Orcs Who Say Ni, the Mines of Bluescreen, and of course Legolass, look no further:

Shaving is a decadent capitalist lie: Soviet Fellowship of the Ring

You will not regret it.

hS

Last edited by Huinesoron; 05-07-2021 at 06:02 AM. Reason: Subtitled version
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Old 04-14-2021, 08:06 AM   #2
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If you can believe it, the Barrow-Downs actually appear in two films - they're also in the Finnish adaptation of LotR, Hobitit! Well... sort of. They're more sort of Barrow-Woods this time through.


(Larger version)

The Barrow-Woods -- Frodo threatened by a disembodied glove twirling a baton
Pippin and Merry in the wight's clutches -- Tom Bombadil banishing the wight

This version weirdly cuts Goldberry and the whole House of Bombadil, so Tom rescues the hobbits from Old Man Willow, then abandons them in a swamp after telling them to be more careful. He shows up again out of nowhere to deal with the wight, then once again just leaves them in the middle of the forest.

All of this is in Episode 3 of Hobitit, along with semitransparent Black Riders and the Wild West town of Bree. I'm doing another pictoral summary (much easier this time, as it has English subtitles!), so you can follow along here if you like. Six episodes to go!

(Be advised that Episode 1 has a lot of adorable hobbit children. I have a whole Appendix A of pictures.)

hS
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Old 04-14-2021, 09:27 AM   #3
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I have seen Hobitit, I liked it very much. Tob Bom there is quite a unique take with his indigenous look, a different twist on the guardian of his land. But my favourite parts were surprisingly the Book IV equivalent, which is not my favourite to read.

I am yet to see the Soviet adaptation, though several people have sent it to me already. I will absolutely post impressions once I do! At first glance though, I think I get most dissonance from Galadriel and least dissonance from Bombadil. Making Frodo look a 50 year old bachelor is also something that I believe is unique to this take. This Gollum reminds me a lot of the Hobitit Gollum, which I suppose is just in the nature of what you can do without a green suit.
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Old 04-17-2021, 03:44 AM   #4
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Thumbs up

Well, some of us have seen Hobitit as kids, way before the PJ movies. Naturally I have a soft spot for it.

I'm really glad it's on YouTube these days with decent subtitles (won't nitpick about them now) so it's accessible to fans around the world. The cheap early 90s special effects and some of the costume/makeup choices are pretty ridiculous, and some of the adaptation choices are questionable too (following just Frodo&Sam after the breaking of the fellowship? really?) but I would definitely recommend it. It's very atmospheric, more faithful to the book than the PJ movies, and certainly something different.

That being said, I really want to check out the Soviet LotR now. I was happy to discover it seems to have subtitles too, so I can actually follow it!
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Old 04-17-2021, 08:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
Well, some of us have seen Hobitit as kids, way before the PJ movies. Naturally I have a soft spot for it.

I'm really glad it's on YouTube these days with decent subtitles (won't nitpick about them now) so it's accessible to fans around the world. The cheap early 90s special effects and some of the costume/makeup choices are pretty ridiculous, and some of the adaptation choices are questionable too (following just Frodo&Sam after the breaking of the fellowship? really?) but I would definitely recommend it. It's very atmospheric, more faithful to the book than the PJ movies, and certainly something different.

That being said, I really want to check out the Soviet LotR now. I was happy to discover it seems to have subtitles too, so I can actually follow it!
Hobitit is quite adorable - and even when it gets weird, as you say, it's different.

I've added links to the (a) subtitled version of the Soviet thing to my Google Doc; I think it was only posted after I'd already gone through it.

~

To complete the set... some time ago I scoured the web for details of the John Boorman Lord of the Rings script treatment. I put a written summary together (no pictures, as it never got made):

Boorman of the Rings

Neither Tom Bombadil nor the Barrow-Downs made it into the script... but Old Man Willow did!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boorman of the Rings
Soon thereafter here one comes...a Black Rider! Off the Hobbits go at a run into the thick forest. The Hobbits notice that the branches of the trees seem to fight against the Black Rider, impeding its progress, allowing the Hobbits to get away.

But then a bad tree trips Pippin and then Merry. Sam laughs, but then the tree gives him a smack, which makes Sam angry enough to try to attack it with his axe. The tree knocks the axe out of his hands, so the Hobbits try a different tack:

They apologize to the tree, and the Hobbits chant to it:

Eat Earth,
Dig deep,
Drink water,
Go to sleep.

Now the tree likes the Hobbits, and allows them to sleep the night in safety up in its branches.
The following day, Strider rescues them from another Black Rider, right outside the crystal palace of Rivendell. The Boorman script is weird.

hS

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Old 04-17-2021, 11:53 AM   #6
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Part 1: Review

I watched the first part. I mean, I understand why it was never aired again, it's just weird. But it does have its little gems. For one thing, I love that they used this translation. It's my favourite, and most other LOTR adaptations are based on other translations. You might ask if it makes a difference, and let me tell you, it does. They quote quite a bit directly from the book; in fact, I would say at least half of the dialogue is book-based. It's music to my ears, I enjoyed every moment of those quotes. Of course, by the same token, it's a little disappointing when they do book scenes without the book quotes (eg the Help Us Bombadil rhyme, which I guess they changed to shorten it from 8 to 2 lines).

I would comment on a few scenes too, but I think a lot of them make more sense with the subtitles. I kept half an eye on them, and they are quite decent and mostly accurate.

Quote:
The Ring makes a couple of appearances too, all under a rather nice song (which is apparently an interpretation of the Verse of the Rings)
That is an excellent deduction, if you've done that without the subtitles. It is indeed a musical rendition of the Ring Verse.

Quote:
When Comrade Tolkien remembers to look at the camera, he seems to be trying to flirt with the audience.
Hey! He's doing the "I'm narrating for children" act. He's essentially talking to kids behind the screen, or perhaps talking to the audience as if we were kids. Except that I'm not sure if I would want my kids to watch this movie, but that's another story.

Quote:
Another hobbit, apparently named Tutti Fruttison, just dances, which is probably for the best.
Tutti Fruttison! That's one for the yearbook. Good ear - he says Tut i Bulkinsy, which is quite close, but actually means "the Bulkinses are here' (Bulkins - Breadbunnins? Loafins? And whoever made the subtitle matches them to Boffins).

I have to correct you on the long friendly chat with Lobelia. She spends the whole thing berating Bilbo for spending so much of their inheritance on his party, but he seems to be in too amiable of a mood to bait.


I rather liked the acting in the Gandalf/Bilbo scene about "leave the Ring to Frodo". It's more helpful with the subtitles, I bet. It didn't make as much sense because it was shifted to the middle of the Party, but Bilbo's gollumesque overtones were very well done. What I dislike is how it resolves, with Gandalf essentially magicking Bilbo into agreement with some wizarding hypnotic hand motions.

Quote:
This young lady is the Figwit of this movie - she, not Frodo, gets the first reaction shot after we see Bilbo is gone.
I'm with you on that one - my reaction too was who was she supposed to be, and with that haircut. Watch her be Rose Cotton or something.

Quote:
Lobelia argues with… someone. Her husband, maybe?
Probably, but they end with a direct quote of "But why worry? He hasn’t taken the vittles with him."

Quote:
They're just like I always imagined them!
...Errr, I mean Frodo has red hair! ^.^

Speaking of Frodo, he is quite immature the entire time, both during the Party and with Gandalf. It was rather annoying. And what is it with the sticks? I did not like the "Shadow of the Past" conversation at all. Partially because Frodo was ridiculously immature the whole time, and partially because Gandalf delivered the message so weirdly. He essentially goes: the Ring is deadly, you're gonna take it, go now, and no, I won't help you, cause I'm a wizard and that's not what wizards do (???). Also, I get the impression that Frodo and company depart pretty much right after the Party, which also happens to be right at the onset of winter. I wonder if they had to film the whole thing in snowy weather for scheduling reasons and therefore shifted some dialogue at the time of departure to explain it?

I am not quite sure who The Night Who Say Ni are supposed to be, but perhaps the Nine Mortal Men doomed to die? They are talking about the power of the One at that point, how it would break any mortal.

Quote:
When Smeagol puts on the Ring, he immediately transforms into Gollum, then sort of flickers in and out of invisibility.
They explain in narration that this happened over time, so that was actually fair game. I actually really liked the Smeagol acting.

Gandalf setting fire to Gollum - in context with the text, it's a direct reference to this: "I endured him as long as I could, but the truth was desperately important, and in the end I had to be harsh. I put the fear of fire on him, and wrung the true story out of him, bit by bit, together with much snivelling and snarling. He thought he was misunderstood and ill-used. But when he had at last told me his history, as far as the end of the Riddle-game and Bilbo’s escape, he would not say any more, except in dark hints. Some other fear was on him greater than mine. He muttered that he was going to gel his own back. People would see if he would stand being kicked, and driven into a hole and then robbed. Gollum had good friends now, good friends and very strong." They decided not to do the whole hunt for Gollum or introduce Mirkwood, and presumably Gandalf just finds Gollum in his cave in the mountains.

Moving onward - you're right again! They come to Maggot's Tavern! Where Maggot tells them his Maggot lines, except that he's also innkeeper and therefore charges them money for the food.

Then they walk, walk, and all of a sudden - whoops, we are in the Old Forest! Uh oh! But we couldn't have passed around it anyways, so we have to go through it. (Huh?) They get lulled to sleep by Slow Mo Willow and the other living trees (presumably). I can't understand most of the SloMo Speech. I was hoping for a direct quote here of a chant the hobbits hear as they are falling asleep that is not present in the original (water by the willow, water will bind you, water will draw you and pull you to sleep....), but I didn't recognize it among the SloMo talk.

Tom Bom! Who, as I said before, doesn't give me too much cognitive dissonance, other than he's a giant. That was weird. His chants are all directly from the book. So are Goldberry's. For the life of me I don't understand why their water-themes colour scheme had to be changed to fire-themed, but it's not the worst visual in that production.

The final images with the horrible face full of make up - is that the Barrow Wight? I guess I'll find out in Part 2.
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Old 04-17-2021, 02:26 PM   #7
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The final images with the horrible face full of make up - is that the Barrow Wight? I guess I'll find out in Part 2.
After the commentary, do we get a narrated version done by you? I wouldn't min a screening of the film, if i could understand just half the words uttered.
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Old 04-17-2021, 02:33 PM   #8
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After the commentary, do we get a narrated version done by you? I wouldn't min a screening of the film, if i could understand just half the words uttered.
You would if there was need, but the subtitles are already up now and are pretty decent. Go have a watch, if you're not daunted by questionable make up and hairstyle choices.


(Thanks to Hobitit, I will forever remember how to say One Ring in Finnish. Let's see how much useful Russian this can teach people.)
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Old 05-06-2021, 08:00 PM   #9
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I finally watched the second half. I thought it was even worse, to the point where I couldn't keep a straight face, it got so ridiculous at times. So first there is a Barrow Clown, who, instead of reading his perfectly fine creepy poem, instead goes on an overacted rant about gold and staying underground. Then there is the Prancing Pony, which apparently is managed by Sir Butterbur, the Barliman in Chainmail, and where Frodo manages to get stupidly drunk and then perfectly sober in the timespan of, what, half an hour in story time? Worst of all is probably Rivendell: Frodo spends the entire thing whining about how he is scared and wants to go home, and then Gandalf says "No, Frodo, you have to do this, and only you can do this". Moria, where a bunch of them... fall into a chasm? What? And Gandalf isn't even - like, they're fighting orcs, and Aragorn leads their escape, and when they make it out and do a headcount turns out Gandalf is missing. Aragorn's conclusion: he must have died protecting us (cue synchronized tear wiping). Oh, but Lorien! Turns out the Golden Wood is inhabited by Faeries of the evil variety, who would put you to sleep with their magic bells and send you down an LSD trip until Boromir and Gimli wake you up. Who knew that the scary stories about Dwimordene are all true?! (Also, who knew that you can take specific references and descriptions of what the Elvish realms feel like, and put them just slightly out of context, which will turn them into LSD trips?) And with only-slightly-evil-Seer Galadriel in the playhouse castle of Galadhon... It just can't be taken seriously. And this is without going into the design of the whole thing, whining munching painted hobbitses... "A stout little fellow with red cheeks" doesn't mean a face full of ridiculous make up.

Now to read Hui's commentary... Ha! I think we've nicknamed some of the same ridiculousness in numerous places.

Quote:
Frodo responds by monologuing directly to camera.
That was the only decent sequence in the whole Downs bit: that's Frodo directly quoting his internal monologue, wondering if he should run away while he can, but rejecting the thought of abandoning his friends. Why couldn't the Barrow Wight have his proper quote? It would have been so much better.

Quote:
Pretty soon she's on her feet dancing with him; given the way he's singing, I can only assume she was brought in when they realised their Frodo couldn't hold a tune to save his life.
She's singing verses from There Was An Inn, from the middle of the song. It makes no sense. And it seems that Frodo is just trying to keep up with her.

Quote:
A quick chat with the other hobbits reveals that Bilbo is here, and doing very well for himself. He mumbles his way through a poem while drinking from a jewelled goblet, and then has a cheerful reunion with Frodo.
Oh, another part that I hated. Frodo wakes up in Rivendell and starts whining, but Gandalf and Sam tell him there is a surprise waiting. So he makes his way out of the room and lo! the other hobbits are there. At which point Gandalf tells him there is a surprise waiting (Wait, what? Deja vu? No, this is for real!), and sends him off to find Bilbo. Who is evidently trying to make a poem or song, but it's a hideous thing with no rhyme or rhythm about how he is not afraid of Gollum. *shudders*

Quote:
Boromir has some suggestions, but most importantly has an amazing moustache.


For whatever reason, probably the moustache, he reminded me of this guy. Not how I imagined Boromir, but sure.

Quote:
With a final cackle, Saruman imprisons Gandalf, but it's okay: he soon escapes by terrifying muppet eagle.
Oh god, another thing I've succeeded in blissfully forgetting. You said Bilbo didn't turn into Gollum, but somehow Saruman did! He was Smeagumaning his way through the recruitment speech to Gandalf. Ugh. And Muppet Eagle... look at its eyes!

Quote:
things attack! Maybe crebain?
Werewolves. Ornithological werewolves?

Quote:
This is Legolas, by the way, who I'm 75% sure is played by a woman.
I motion to call him/her Legolass.

Quote:
The Eye of Sauron looks back!
And it's a lovely brown colour. ^.^

Quote:
I don't think Legolas even had any lines.
Nope. That was my thought too. I wonder if Legolass would have given herself away too much if she spoke.



Final thought: enjoy the beauty of this exchange, just outside of Moria:
Aragorn: Ahead lies the Golden Wood.
Pippin (I think... a hobbit, anyways): How will we know that it is the Golden Wood?
Aragorn: The power of imagination is a great power.
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Old 05-07-2021, 05:21 AM   #10
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Well, I much prefer their Frodo to Peter Jackson's godawful interpretation of him. And since that is my main criterion in the judgement of just about anything, I am fond of it. And it was made with love for 2p, when Jackson spaffed God knows how much up the wall.

P.S. Something that really puzzled me was why Aragorn was working Merry or Pippin's arms back and forth in Moria. Did he get knocked out and I didn't notice? And is this an effective way of bringing someone round?

P.P.S. Has anyone managed to do any subtitles yet?
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Old 05-07-2021, 06:12 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
Final thought: enjoy the beauty of this exchange, just outside of Moria:
Aragorn: Ahead lies the Golden Wood.
Pippin (I think... a hobbit, anyways): How will we know that it is the Golden Wood?
Aragorn: The power of imagination is a great power.
It sort of reminds me of the prologue to Henry V, which basically says "staging Agincourt is way outside our budget, so just imagine it, mmkay?".
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses that you see them.
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Well, I much prefer their Frodo to Peter Jackson's godawful interpretation of him. And since that is my main criterion in the judgement of just about anything, I am fond of it. And it was made with love for 2p, when Jackson spaffed God knows how much up the wall.
We should put together a version of LotR which is just closeups of people's eyes. 'lijah from the Jacksonverse, the Friendly Brown Eye of Sauron from the Soviets... it'd be fun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pervinca Took View Post
P.S. Something that really puzzled me was why Aragorn was working Merry or Pippin's arms back and forth in Moria. Did he get knocked out and I didn't notice? And is this an effective way of bringing someone round?
Hilariously, Merry is visibly alert in this sequence - he actually takes his pipe out of his mouth after being put down! I can only assume he Had A Case Of The Vapours to get Aragorn's attention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pervinca Took View Post
P.P.S. Has anyone managed to do any subtitles yet?
There are subtitles now! I've just added them to the first post too, but: Part 1 | Part 2.

hS
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Old 05-07-2021, 08:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Pervinca Took View Post
P.S. Something that really puzzled me was why Aragorn was working Merry or Pippin's arms back and forth in Moria. Did he get knocked out and I didn't notice? And is this an effective way of bringing someone round?
Moving arms across the chest is something I've seen in movies they do when they save a drowning person. I suppose the idea is that by squeezing and expanding the chest, it helps expel the water and does a sort of artificial respiration. I've never seen this in real practice so not sure how legit it is, for either drowning or other forms of CPR. In practice, I would think the regular chest compressions would be a more practical way of resuscitating if you are on the scene alone and don't have a buddy to help you move the limbs out to the full range. Is Aragorn's CPR effective? No. Because he barely compresses the chest, bending the arms at the elbows more than at the shoulders, and because artificial respiration is simply unnecessary for a person who is breathing fine on their own.
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