To the delight of fantasy fans, Russian television has released a film adaptation of John RR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” that was broadcast 30 years ago and believed lost. On YouTube, the first of a total of two parts of the film “Chraniteli” (German: “Guardian”) already had more than 1.7 million views on Saturday. The version, which was only shown once on Soviet television on April 13 and 14, 1991, was found and digitized again in March, as announced by the TV broadcaster Pjaty Kanal (Kanal 5) in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad).
Without special effects, but with enthusiasm
The station found the television play, which was produced in the Soviet times with very little money by enthusiasts in the Leningrad television studios, in its archives on a film reel. The TV channel described the find as a “world sensation” because it was the first television adaptation of the classic. “Chraniteli” can only be seen in Russian so far – without English subtitles. In contrast to Peter Jackson’s famous cinema trilogy (from € 25.99), it only stayed with the first part of the saga (known in German as “The Companions”).
According to Russian media, the writer and director of the Soviet version, Natalia Serebryakova, said she was ready to make a sequel. At that time, she found the actors, sets and costumes for the project, which was largely without special effects, but obviously a lot of fun, in Leningrad theaters. Andrei Romanov from the rock group Aquarium composed the film music and led the story as a narrator.
“Cheap implementation” or “iconic trash”?
“We played it with great enthusiasm at the time,” said the actor Valery Dyachenko, who played the hero Frodo, of the newspaper Izvestia. The conditions were very simple. “There were only four horses that were shown twice to make it look like eight horses,” said the actor.
The reactions to the two-parter, which has been available online since two weeks ago, are different. Some viewers praised the television game as fun and “iconic trash” that was closer to the original than Jackson’s movie. Others criticized the cheap implementation with a Gandalf who had neither a hat nor a beard, and with hobbits played by men of a more mature age.