A Soviet television adaptation of the Lord of the Rings has been discovered 30 years after it first aired.
The 1991 made-for-TV movie Khraniteli – which is based on JRR Tolkien’s beloved fantasy epic The Fellowship of the Ring – is believed to be the only adaptation of the author’s trilogy made in the Soviet Union.
A world away from Amazon’s much-hyped series, the low-budget film was thought to have been lost over the past 30 years, but was found and shared on YouTube last week.
For Russian-language fans, this is a hidden gem – and honestly, it’s got plenty to offer for all Tolkien lovers around the world.
It aired a decade before Peter Jackson first brought Fellowship to the big screen to start his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
From basic costumes and sets to wild green screen effects, the feature length film comes across as more of a theatre production than a movie, which adds to the charm.
A wild take on Tolkien’s work (Picture: 5TV)
It was reportedly broadcast just once before being lost to the archives of Leningrad Television.
However, the network’s successor 5TV suddenly dropped the piece of Tolkien history onto YouTube and it quickly gained almost 400,000 views within a few days.
World of Fantasy – a Russian-language magazine which has covered adaptations of Tolkien’s work – wrote: ‘Fans have been searching the archives but had not able to find this film for decades.’
For a long time, earlier adaptation – or even translations – of Tolkien’s books were difficult to find in the Soviet Union.
One ring to rule them all (Picture: 5TV)
While some have suggested this was down to the story of an alliance between man, elves and dwarves coming together against a totalitarian power, others have put it down to the intricacies in both Tolkien’s plot and language.
While the newly discovered adaptation features music from Andrei Romanov – from rock band Akvarium – it also boasts some elements not included in Jackson’s big screen trilogy.
Fans of the books will be delighted to know that Tom Bombadil makes an appearance in the Soviet version.
The Fellowship of the Ring received its first Soviet samizdat translation in 1966, while the first published translation was released in the Soviet Union in 1982.
Three years later, Leningrad Television’s first version of The Hobbit was broadcast.
The abridged version – which was called The Fantastic Journey of Mister Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit – featured ballet dancers from the Mariinsky theatre, and cut many elements for its one-hour adaptation.
And in 1991, plans for an animated version of The Hobbit – which was made with the title The Treasure Under the Mountain – was cut, although there is still six minutes of footage online.