The Lord of the Rings is one of those books that people have tried to bring to the screen, but it’s never been done fully. Ralph Bakshi did an animation in 1978, starring Anthony Daniels as Legolas. Then, famously, Peter Jackson made an epic trilogy version of The Lord Of The Rings starting in 2001, which is widely accepted as the best the fans would get. There is a new Lord Of The Rings TV series in the works, but we are all holding out judgment on that. Now we learn there was a Russian Lord Of The Rings, too!
Recently, a version of the movie has surfaced from Russia. The Fellowship of the Ring was made in the Soviet Union just a month before its collapse in 1991. Starring Georgiy Shtil as Bilbo Torbins, it was a two-part, 2-hour production, originally produced by 5TV, formerly Leningrad TV. Who doesn’t want to see a Russian Lord Of The Rings?
Georgiy, a veteran of Russian cinema, was surprised to see it resurface after so many years, as he states:
Friends started calling me with compliments, but at first I couldn’t even recall what they were talking about. I did many films at the time that never got to see the light of day [because of the political circumstances] It was a very, very hard time when we were making the movie; people were more focused on the changes in government than any show.
Since it is now on YouTube, he has been re-watching it.
We had almost no budget, no costumes, and almost no time. I was pleasantly surprised we were able to do so much with so little. Mostly, I just thought about how great it was to see everyone in the cast, and how much I miss them.
Georgiy and the rest of the cast were all old friends, where they had worked in and around St. Petersburg in theatre companies. A few of them are still working, despite advancing age. He still works with Boromir, played by Yevgeni Solyakov, and Tom Bombadil, played by Sergei Parshin.
Gollum, famously played by Andy Serkis, in the Peter Jackson version, and incredibly re-created by state-of-the-art CG, was a little different in this version, with orange eye shadow and what appears to be cabbage on his head.
There are a couple of links on YouTube, but this is the best version of this Russian Lord Of The Rings that I have found.
The overall story is interesting and you can read the rest at Variety.