Before I begin the Match-Up proper, I want to take a quick look at the very first adaptation of a Tolkien work ever put to film. I’m not bothering to compare it to the others because: A) The thing is only 12 minutes long and B) It was made just to retain the rights. Yep, although producer William Snyder had the rights to The Hobbit, he had to make something by mid-1966 or he would lose them. Well he made something alright. Eventually and undeservedly, he sold the rights back for $100,000.
The whole story is told via animation stills, meaning there is somehow even less movement than The Christmas Tree (but hey, at least no blinking.)
You know, I’ll criticize this thing up and down for being lazy (it was made with that very intention), but at least the animation has a style to it. It’s not good per say, but it sort of has a Middle Ages tapestry feel to it.
The narration and all of the voices are done by Herb Lass, who has no other IMDB credits to his name. I have a feeling I know this Herb Lass is… K. Gordon Murray, the narrator of Santa Claus.
OK to be fair “Herb Lass” does not insert himself into the story. There’s no scene of “Oh no, Bilbo’s ring almost landed around Saturn.”
It would only be appropriate if Ken Smith was going by Herb Lass here, because names are changed in this thing for no apparent reason. Smaug the Dragon becomes Slag, which may sound odd to you if you’re American and hilarious if you’re British. Thorin becomes Torin, Gollum becomes Galoom, Goblins become Grablins, and Trolls become Groans. Some of these changes (code: all) just seem like the writer is changing the names for the heck of it. That said, at least Gandalf and Bilbo do stay the same.
In Tolkien’s book, thirteen dwarves recruit Bilbo for their quest, but here Thorin… Ugh do I have to… Torin is the only dwarf left. Joining him are an unnamed watchman who was sleeping when the dragon came (He had one job and failed, why is he with them?) and Princess Mika Millavonna (I’m completely guessing the spelling. This short is so obscure that no naming info exists).
When Bilbo refuses to go, the child princess (Apparently she’s a child, they say so) guilts him into it by saying she’ll go instead. Bilbo agrees to go with Torin, Princess Whoever, and Mr. Smee the watchman.
Bilbo steals from the Trol… Groans, but instead of turning into stone, they turn into trees.
Also, it’s pretty clear everyone involved (both of them) never read Lord of the Rings, because the narrator speaks of Bilbo’s destiny as the one true ring bearer.
To save time and the addition of more characters, Bilbo walks into the dragon’s lair and kills Slag himself. He marries the princess.
EW. NO. STOP.
You said earlier she was a child! She also has served absolutely no purpose in this thing except the guilt trip (somehow still more than the watchman), but now Bilbo marries the princess, who is clearly a human child. They rule in Dale for many years and then go back to The Shire and live in Bilbo’s hobbit hole, because apparently kings and queens retire in this really strange universe. Whatever.
It’s entirely pointless. If you want to check it out, you’ll only waste twelve minutes of your time.