Thirty years ago the Soviet Union made a Lord of the Rings movie. It got through to the end of the first book and aired on television once. Then it vanished, becoming an unatainable phantom–until now. Two weeks ago, 5TV made Khraniteli available on YouTube for all of us. As it is just under two hours, one might expect a fast-paced adventure, but the actual movie is oddly dreamlike in a lot of ways, starting with a strange, slow motion celebration of Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday where the hobbits alternate between an almost graceful country dance and an awkward sort of jigging. Low budget doesn’t begin to describe a work that requires a still, cartoon painting of stars to cover the grand fireworks show Gandalf gives, but it has a certain charm to it. So far, I have only hit the highlights of the full show, but it looks like there is plenty to enjoy.
According to The Guardian, the film aired for the first–and last–time on Leningrad TV in 1991 with a score composed by Andrei Romanov of the rock band Akvarium. This might or might not explain the slightly trippy quality the film has.