The Soviet Union Made a Lord of the Rings Movie and You Can Watch It!


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.

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins

I am almost entirely sure this is Lobelia Sackville-Baggins attending Bilbo’s party. She seems to be providing some commentary on his speech, at any rate.

Gandalf at Bilbo's Eleventy-First party

Gandalf the grey (and purple) has come to the party.

Low budget Fireworks in the Soviet Union version of the Fellowship of the Ring

Gandalf’s magnificent fireworks display summed up for the story.

Frodo is scared in Khraniteli

Frodo really, really doesn’t want to hear the bad news about his ring.

Goldberry, Tom Bombadill, and the Hobbits

The Hobbits show Goldberry and Tom Bombadil their clean hands. Now everyone can eat.

A Barrow wight in Khraniteli

A barrow wight. Probably.

Gandalf grabs Gollum in Khraniteli

Gollum is wretched.

Aragorn in Khraniteli

Aragorn is noble

Sam and Frodo about to leave in Khraniteli

Sam is smug

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.

The Soviet Union mad a Lord of the Rings movie. Go watch it: Part One (50 minutes) and Part Two (65 minutes) for yourselves. Your life won’t be forever changed, but you will smile.


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