Before Peter Jackson created his phenomenal Hobbit trilogy, there was just The Hobbit, an animated film from 1977. It was animated by Topcraft, a precursor to Studio Ghibli, and the hand drawn style of animation is incredibly impressive. Right on par with what Studio Ghibli is known for putting out. This was my second introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series. The first was through the books, but I was so young (8 yrs old) I had issues understanding what was going on. This is an adorable way to help younger children out. However, I would NOT show this to Captain Little Dude yet. Some of the animation may be too scary for him, just like we don’t show him Peter Jackson’s version yet.
The plot is pretty close to the book, but the movie has clearly been edited for TV (as was its original format) and some parts are missing or altered. Beorn is not in this version, nor does the Party stop at his house. The Eagles carry them all to Mirkwood. A shame. I really liked Beorn. They also do not mention the Arkenstone. They mention the Dwarves’ quest to reclaim their treasure, but no mention of the Cursed Arkenstone unless it is in passing or odd references that make little sense unless you’ve read the book. The scene where the Elves feast too much while the Dwarves starve in the dungeons was never filmed. Like the Arkenstone, references are made, but no explanation is given.
The major Battle of the Five Armies has more dwarves dieing in battle than in the books. They mention Bombur dies, but really don’t mention who else besides Thorin. I’m not sure why more of the main dwarf cast didn’t survive the battle in this version. It really did not lend to the movie at all. In the end of the movie there is a moment where Gandalf mentions he knows Bilbo has the ring, but the One Ring is not even identified as the actual One Ring until The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings.
The music is really what stands out in this film. The songs are presented in a sort of Folk-style and use lyrics taken or adapted from the book. I wish I could acquire the soundtrack to this movie. The songs are so lovely and really fit with the story being told, in the way it was told in this version. They would really not work in Peter Jackson’s version. A fun watch for the whole family, but leave the little ones in bed.