Ten years before Peter Jackson’s masterpiece, a Soviet film attempted to transcribe JRR Tolkien’s pen to the screen. Disappeared after a single broadcast in 1991, the strange feature film is now available on YouTube.
For fans of Lord of the Rings, this adaptation was a legend. Then the legend became a myth. For 30 years no one heard of Khraniteli, a Soviet telefilm without the ruble covering Tolkien’s saga with the means at hand. Until, by chance, a Russian TV channel brought out the cinematic artifact on YouTube.
According to Guardian , the feature film had only been broadcast once in 1991 on Leningrad Television, the oldest Russian channel still active and now renamed 5TV. The film came out of those archives three decades later. With over a million views in just a few days, both sides of Khraniteli – The gardians in the language of Molière – did not fail to appeal to lovers of Middle-earth. “Fans searched but couldn’t find this movie for decades», Wrote the Russian specialized site World of fantasy, relayed by the Guardian. “There should be a statue to the glory of whoever found and digitized this», Rejoiced another fan, still according to the British media.
Yet the Soviet version of the Lord of the Rings shines more for its historical aspect than cinematographic. Oscillating between special effects barely worthy of the first season of Star Trek 1967 and theatrical sets, the DIY TV movie suffers, to put it mildly, when compared to the trilogy made by Peter Jackson less than a decade later. Russian speakers and the most attentive observers will, however, recognize in Khraniteli the great moments of the books, sometimes adapted very freely. Something to titillate the zygomatics of fans a little while waiting for 2022 and the new Amazon series taking place in the universe of JRR Tolkien.