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1977’s The Hobbit Showed Us the Future of Pop Culture

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Austin Gilkeson revisits the most excellent animated version of The Hobbit, which first aired on tv in the 1970s.

Check out the full piece on Tor.com!

But in 1977, all of that is yet to come. The animated Hobbit is merely the first step out the door. The movie is certainly aware of its larger context. It opens with a skyward-dive toward a map of Middle-earth entire, almost like the opening credits of Game of Thrones, and ends with an ominous shot of the One Ring. But despite the gestures towards The Lord of the Rings, the film largely seems content to be an adaptation of Tolkien’s children’s adventure. It even includes the songs. All of the songs.

The film opens with the sort of “someone reading a storybook” conceit common to many Disney cartoons. We then dive down to Bag-End, which is lovingly animated, but seems to exist by itself—we see nothing of the rest of Hobbiton or the Shire. Bilbo Baggins walks outside to smoke and suddenly, the wandering wizard Gandalf appears literally out of thin air. He accosts poor Bilbo, looming over the little hobbit, more or less shrieking at him, and summoning lightning and thunder. It’s a strange greeting, and a marked departure from the banter the hobbit and wizard exchange in the book.

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