A Soviet television adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that was thought to have been lost in time was rediscovered and posted on YouTube last week, amusing Russian fans of JRR Tolkien.
The 1991 film Khraniteli, based on Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, is the only adaptation of his trilogy The Lord of the Rings believed to have been made in the Soviet Union.
Shown 10 years before the release of the first film in the Peter Jackson trilogy, the very low budget film seems to have been taken from another time: the costumes and sets are rudimentary, the special effects are weak and many of the scenes look more like a theatrical production than a feature film.
The track, composed by Andrei Romanov, from the rock band Akvarium, also lends a distinctly Soviet feel to the production, which aired only once before disappearing in the archives of Leningrad Television.
Few knew of its existence until the station’s successor, 5TV, published, to everyone’s surprise, the movie on YouTube last week.
Previous adaptations and even translations of Tolkien’s work in the Soviet Union were difficult to find, believing that the story of an alliance of men, elves and dwarves fighting against a totalitarian eastern power had been blocked by censorship.
Another suggestion for the scarcity of translations was that Tolkien’s intricate plot and linguistic invention made it difficult to create a Russian version that would not alter the original meaning or make it difficult for the Soviet public to understand the plot.
Lord of the Rings series is in development by Amazon Prime Video
In 2017, Amazon signed a contract to adapt J.R.R.Tolkien’s story once again, now for streaming. The deal says the company can tell stories from the Second Age of Middle-earth, including moments like the rise of Sauron and the forging of the Rings of Power.
However, the streaming has not yet revealed which story it intends to represent, saying only that the adaptation will be set in Middle-earth, and will serve as a prequel, exploring periods that precede J.R.R.
Previously, The Lord of the Rings series was scheduled to debut on Amazon in 2021. However, with the pandemic, production was left without a new premiere date.