The Hobbit (1966)

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Ghostwalker2061's avatar
Nearly a decade before Rankin Bass had hired the wonderful animators of Studio Ghibli to create the very movie that gotten me into the world of Middle Earth and Tolkien's writings, there once was another version.

The first!

It was called plainly enough, The Hobbit.

And it was only 12 minutes long.

Well, this story, because it was so short, pretty much stripped everything that was The Hobbit out.

So, we begin our tale in the Kingdom of Dale, that was very rich and golden because of the mines of the Lonely Mountain.  And here is where we get our first incorrect bit of info.  Firstly, Dale wasn't a kingdom, it was pretty much a duchy, most importantly, it was a city.  It was a city of Men that rested only, from what I've seen, short of 10 miles outside the gates of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain.  Erebor was a kingdom of dwarves ruled by Thrór, King Under the Mountain.

Now Esgaroth and Dale were apart of the kingdom of Rhovanion, but that was actually a principality, because it was ruled by a prince.

But Dale itself had a Lord, not a king.  Though some text say he's a king.  Hell, some other text state that the Lonely Mountain was an extinct volcano.  Eh, maybe?  Because lonely peaks like that don't usually spring up all by themselves unless they're volcanos.  Think Mt Rainier more so than Mt. Everest.  Kinda looks like Rainier too.

And in Dale is the Arkenstone, the literal Heart of the Mountain!

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Um, no, again.  The Arkenstone was called the Heart of the Mountain because it was this giant diamond like thing that was more beautiful than any other stone there. And some think it's a Simaril. (A Simaril, or the Simarili, are three "Man made" actually Elven made, artificial gems that were created to house the light of the Two Trees of Valinor.  One ended lost to the wind, the other in the earth, and the last in the ocean.) Some think it is.  And in PJ's version, it represented Thrór's divine right to rule.  Which I do agree with that version's reason for wanting the Arkenstone.  But it was a giant rock, and it WASN'T a literal diamond heart.

And now, this is where we get our titular dragon coming to destroy the town and take over the Lonely Mountain...the Dragon Slag!

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Wait, Slag?

Isn't he supposed to be called Smaug?

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Yeah, I'm griping about that too.  And god, that's an awful design.  Here is where we get our big issue.  This story is narrated by some guy, and there's not even movement.  It's just illustrations with some strange effects here and there.  And it's not even good animation.  This was obviously made during the Dark Ages of animation and Animation Ghetto years.  I realize that in 1966 they've never heard of motion comics or even After Effects, but really?  You could at least put a little more effort rather than show the drawings your 5 year old made and turn it into a 12 minute movie.

So the Princess, General Tauren Oakenshield....

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Um...Thorin is a general and a human?

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Where are these people who worked on this thing get their sources?  What is this?

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Yeah, that's another gripe.  Princess?  Uh....yeah.

So, they go to Gandalf's tower to beseech the wizard's wisdom.  Wait, Gandalf is living in Orthanc, Isengard?  And there's the other issue.  Gandalf didn't live in a tower, that was Saruman the White.  Gandalf was known as the Wandering Wizard.  Which means exactly what it says, he wander around a lot, never staying in one place for too long unless absolutely necessary.

And as for Gandalf's purpose in this.  He went to Thrain, who was the son of Thor, and father to Thorin Oakenshield and Thrain gave Gandalf the map and key and told him to give it to his son.  According to the Lost Tales, Gandalf found Thrain in a prison nearly out of his mind and pretty much dying by that time.  PJ's version stated Thrain was also the last known dwarf to have the Dwarven Ring of Power, where as most of these Dwarven Rings were gathered by Sauron and their owners most likely killed. I can't seem to recall if Thrain still had it or not, considering where Thrain was locked up in at the time.  Most likely that ring has been taken from him.

Gandalf obviously in the appendix, wanted Smaug dead, and therefore enlisted Thorin's help and gathering the other dwarves and then Bilbo Baggins to find a way to kill the dragon.  The reason being is exactly as it is stated in PJ's movie...Smaug was the LAST OF THE GREAT URULÓKI, as in giant flying fire breathing dragons created by Morgoth during the First Age.  Remember, Ancalagon was a member of this specific species of dragon.  Most dragons by the time of the Third Age had dwindled to the point where most likely Long Worms and Cold Drakes, the ones who did not breathe fire, or very small, possibly panther-sized fire breathing dragons were left.  And of these now weakened dragons, I highly doubt many of them were capable of the intelligence that Smaug was gifted, let alone even the ability to speak.  Basically something Smaug's size, as in around 240 feet in length or bigger, they weren't around anymore.  

Smaug being what he is, this giant fire-breathing, high intellect Weapon of Mass Destruction and his close proximity to Lorién, where Galadriel was, yeah, you can kinda see why Sauron would want him.  And from the map that I studied on how close Erebor was to Minas Tirith, all Sauron would do is convince Smaug to firebomb the White City and that would be the end of it.  Then he would be ordered to attack places like Rohan and the Golden Hall of Meduseld.  Yeah.  This is why Gandalf wanted Smaug dead.  And PJ did a good job of bringing that to light by making Gandalf worried about the dragon and his position to various military outposts.

But in this version, Gandalf held a book of prophecy that one day Slag would attack the kingdom of Dale and steal their treasure.  And that a Hobbit would come and slay the dragon.

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Totally agree, Bilbo.  Totally agree.

So, they ask the reluctant Bilbo to help them kill the dragon Slag and save Dale.  And yeah, he goes along with the Princess, her General, and some dude with a hood who didn't get a name, as well as Gandalf.  And they travel through these Impassible Barricade Mountains.  You mean the Misty Mountains?  Why are these people changing the names of these things?  Changed Smaug to Slag, renamed the Misty Mountains Barricade Mountains.  Oh, and get what they did to the Trolls.

They called them Groans.  

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And they look more like Tree Ents rather than Trolls.  And they turned into trees at sunrise?  Were you afraid that Tolkien would sue you for gross infringement?  I mean after seeing what I just saw, yeah, I can see why.  This is absolutely horrid.  Rankin Bass did better than this.

So, then Bilbo was whisked away into a dark hole where the Grablins lived.  You mean Goblins?  Goblin Town?  To meet Gooloom.  You mean Gollum?  And apparently according to this 12 minute atrocity, Gandalf knew Gollum had the One Ring.  And that's why Gollum was hiding under Goblin Town.  Excuse me, Grablin Town.  Also, Gollum knew that Bilbo would come and steal his ring.

Again, one: Gandalf never knew Gollum had the One Ring.  

Two: Everyone though Sauron's Ring had been lost with Isildur.  

Three:  Gollum, when he was Smeagel, took it from his brother because he was a spoiled brat of a halfling who wanted the gold ring as a birthday present 700 years prior the journey to Erebor.  And the reason why he was hiding in dark places was because he went crazy and started killing people.  He was kicked out of his village.  And over the course of 700 years, the Ring drove him mad and deformed him as well as extending his life and taking away the Gift of Men, aka mortality.  So, he had to hide.  And he was warped so badly that he couldn't remember who or what he was before he became that ghoul.

Four: Gandalf didn't know THAT ring was the ONE RING!  He didn't even come to realize it until AFTER Smaug was slain.  60 years after.  And even then, in order to be sure, he had to travel around to places, and then finally Minas Tirith to recount Isildur's journal that even told him about the writing of the ring and what it looked like.  Gandalf knew that Bilbo had a magic ring.  But he didn't know it was the ONE.  He thought it was pretty much like many other magical rings out there, and there were many outside of the 19 Sauron crafted (kinda sorta crafted....he didn't make the three Elven Rings...)...anyway.  The point is, Gandalf didn't know until 60 years later when Bilbo was one hundred and eleven years old.  This, whoever he was, didn't even do his research.  

And then, somehow, the One Ring just magically lands on Bilbo's fingers.   And the narrator states that Bilbo was destined to have it and wield the power of the One Ring.

God...Sauron, tell them why this is utter shit.

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Firstly, when Tolkien wrote the Hobbit, he didn't know that he would do the Lord of the Rings later.  So the magic ring could have been any ring.  Yes, in Desolation of Smaug, we get to see Bilbo kinda succumb to the One Ring's charms, from what I read from the production journals, BUT he still didn't know it was the ONE RING!  And again, only Sauron can use it's power to its full ability.  NO ONE ELSE CAN.  And especially not Bilbo.  The whole reason that Frodo was chosen to take the Ring to Mordor was because Frodo was a non magical, non superpowered being.  Because of the corrupting nature of the One Ring, if anyone else touched it that had power, say Gandalf or Galadriel, it would turn them into horrible and very powerful monsters.  It could possibly had turned Gandalf into a Balrog for all we knew.

So, Frodo had to keep it on him.  Because the worst it could do to Frodo was turn him into another Gollum.  Hell, the Ring of Power could have turned an ordinary man into a Wraith, which again states that even Men can become far more dangerous if they had touched it.  But not a Hobbit.  That is why.

But I digress.

So, somehow, without even saying that Bilbo could turn invisible.  And from what we see in the movie, he doesn't, just some how manages to hide in plain sight, Gollum gets tricked and accidently leads Bilbo out.  Yes, Gollum leads Bilbo out, but only because Gollum thought Bilbo had escaped first.  Really Bilbo was invisible.  And he managed to outsmart Gollum because of the riddling game.  We didn't get a riddling game here.  No battle of wits.  Just Bilbo running because he was scared.

So, they go into Mirkwood, skipping Beorn and Thranduil, and Shelob and the Ungoliant Spiders.  And we get to the Lonely Mountain.

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And there is Slag, sleeping on the treasure of the mountain, complete with unfriendly epileptic seizure inducing flashes that even made my eyes hurt.  And nope, not even a conversation between them.  

And he finds the Arkenstone on Slag's chest.

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Yeah, Smaug didn't know of it.  Nor did Bilbo for that matter UNTIL he found it AFTER Smaug was slain.  And Bilbo kept it on his person until he managed to barter with Thorin with his share of the gold to give to the Men of Lake Town, because Smaug had also stolen the gold from Dale when he raided it.

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And Smaug is actually wearing a diamond vest?  

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A diamond vest?  Okay, morons who made this film.  When Bilbo refers to Smaug's belly as a "waistcoat made of fine diamonds" Bilbo meant the dragon's belly.  I do realize that waistcoat is the British word for fancy vest, but what you did was STUPID!  Smaug wasn't wearing an actual vest made out of diamonds, because he was laying o on his hoard for over 200 years, and due to the nature of his scales, the jewels themselves embedded into his scales, covering his vulnerable underbelly.  Tolkien's dragons, especially the Fire Drakes, were stated to have scales as hard as iron, but their bellies were soft.  Now, I'm guessing because of Tolkien's love of Germanic myths such as Beowulf, this referred to that.  But again, SMAUG DIDN'T WEAR A VEST YOU VAPID IDIOTS!  And you know what, you didn't draw him wearing a vest when he first attacked Dale or Erebor.  So, shame on you again.

And then, they painted him red-golden instead of black...BECAUSE.  Because in the chapter of Inside Information, we finally get what Smaug's color was?  Whatever.

So, Bilbo gets an idea on how to defeat the dragon.  Instead of talking with Smaug and trying to get him to expose his belly, or riddling with him, or anything like that, you know, the Conversation with Smaug that made the story unique and interesting, because up until Tolkien wrote the Hobbit, we've never had a clever and intelligent dragon talk in stories before...Bilbo somehow, because he has Sauron's One Ring, I guess, was able to steal the Arkenstone and fashion a gigantic crossbow with the Arkenstone as it's arrowhead to kill the dragon Smaug.

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I shit you not, this happens.

And Bilbo, with the help of General Thorin and Princess NOT Eowyn, and Gandalf/Saruman, and that other guy, all use this to kill Smaug.

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I'm with you on that Bard.  

But seriously, what?  WHAT?!

And then, they all lived happily ever after.  Bilbo marries princess Not-Eowyn and rules over the city of Dale? And then they both return to Hobbiton.  Until Gandalf says he may come back to ask Bilbo for help again.   To destroy the Ring of Power?  I dunno.  This 12 minute thing was utter drek.  It was the 60s, I know, but what drug induced hallucination conjured this?  I get it, this was made by some German guy named Gene Deitch, and well, I've not seen anything else of his.  But if this is how he treats a great piece of children's literature, then, I have no hope on anything else he created.  And I'm afraid what his Lord of the Rings movie would have looked like as well.

I was wrong, I have seen Deitch's work.

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Look Familiar?  Yeah, not only has this guy ruined the Hobbit, he also had his untalented dirty hands on the classic cartoon of Tom and Jerry under the guidance of friggin Chuck Jones.  Now, granted Chuck is pretty good at what he does, but he never fit in with the style of MGM's Hannah Barbara's Tom and Jerry Cartoon shorts.  And why was Dietch hired to do Tom and Jerry?  Again, this was back during Animation Ghetto years where cartoons became cheaper to make, frames were cut to save money, and squiggly background were drawn.  

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Yeah, like that.  

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And this was my same exact feeling when I saw the 1966 12 minute adaptation of the Hobbit.

And of course, no Battle of the Five Armies, because we didn't run into Thranduil, who also wanted the gold.  No Bard to argue that part of Dale's share was in that hoard Smaug stole.  No Goblin forces coming over to claim the gold too, and certainly no deus ex eagles to fly over and help out.  No dwarves either.  This wasn't the Hobbit.  This wasn't anything.  

Fine, you want to make your own little fairytale about a dragon stealing gold and trashing a town.  That's great., make your own.  But don't trounce on someone else's work and change all the names, except for Gandalf, Mirkwood Forest, or Bilbo Baggins.  What was the point to changing their names?  Is this how their names were in German?  Was Smaug really called Slag?

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Fuck this movie!  Thank god, thank god, Rankin Bass hired what would soon become Studio Ghibli of fucking Hayao Miyazaki fame to come in and do a much better, and much artistically lovely movie that was the Hobbit.  Yes, to those people who asked for perhaps a new animated Hobbit movie to be done by Studio Ghibli.  Guess what?  It already exists.  It was made in 1977 and it features one of my favorite renditions of Smaug, the one that evolved into the various races of the Kethosi.  That movie.  We got our wish, Studio Ghibli already touched the Hobbit.

Yes, it isn't perfect, and at times the dialog is a little stilted, but it is such a beautiful art style.  It's almost like the old water color paintings of that age.  It just fits the story so perfectly.  Yeah, they went a little literal with Thranduil's design, but still, I love it.

But this 1966 piece of crap...really.  I think this was an art film.  It has the stench of one.  And being someone who studied and even graduated with a degree in that particular field, I know an art film when I see it.  

My only word is, make your own, dude.  Don't trash already a wonderful piece of work.  Let the professionals who know this story and love this story handle it.  Like Rankin Bass and Peter Jackson.

Yes, the Jackson films have a lot of flaws, and the Hobbit had a lot of added stuff that originally it didn't need, but were somewhat sequential for the tie-in to the Lord of the Rings.  But the thing is though, Jackson put in a lot of effort.  Rankin Bass put in a lot of effort.  Yes, Jackson had the budget too, but he also had the love.  And I could see it in those films, even the flawed Unexpected Journey.  Despite the appendix additions, I really enjoyed it.  Finally, I can see the movie I grew up on as a child in live action form.  But the people who made this 12 minute short really didn't put any effort in it.  And I'm guessing it was because the probably showed it to Tolkien to buy the rights for it and Tolkien told them "Fuck no!"  Yeah, Tolkien was still alive during the making of this movie.  he died in 1985, I think, so he was alive when this movie was made in 1966.  And from what it seems, it could have been the works for the possible Disney rendition of the Hobbit.  

And if it was, then, yes I completely understand why Tolkien told Uncle Walt to fuck off.  And even applauded him for handing it over to more capable in Rankin Bass and Studio Ghibli.  Thank GOD for Studio Ghibli!  They even made Smaug have an ear-splitting whistle as he flew on by, which makes perfect sense.  Something that big would make such a sound.  Unfortunately, that sound was taken off the remastered DVD of Rankin Bass's Hobbit.  But, luckily, I managed to splice together the remastered version with the original Hi-Fi sound effects.  So, we get nice and clear, bold images that really make Rankin Bass's/Studio Ghibli's Hobbit shine, and the original sound effects that were so unique to that movie.

And for those of you who hated An Unexpected Journey all because of all the appendices additions to the story itself, well it could have been worse.  It could have been the 1966 Hobbit.

I forgot to include an embedded video that links this horrible atrocity so that you all can suffer with me.

You will not be spared now.

© 2013 - 2021 Ghostwalker2061
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scottartistforWD's avatar
Gene Deitch is not German, actually. He's an American cartoonist who had worked for TerryTooons, before he relocated to Prague, where he did a series of Tom & Jerry cartoons for MGM, among other things. He's also the father of cartoonist Kim Deitch.
scottartistforWD's avatar
Gene Deitch was not German, actually. He's an American cartoonist who had worked for TerryTooons, before he relocated to Prague, where he did a series of Tom & Jerry cartoons for MGM, among other things. He's also the father of cartoonist Kim Deitch.
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
Okay, first off.  It's been two years since I wrote that thing.

Since then, I've learned more about him, who he is what he does.

So, my suggestion is this....look for the update journal that I did on the topic.

Don't just assume that I don't know my shit because of this one journal that you decided to pick out of all the others on the subject.

I know all about the Tom and Jerry thing.  

I've written an update on the journal one year later.

Go look at that.

And don't post twice.  I see your message.  Before calling me out for being ignorant, go look at what I've written on it lately.  Not some journal I posted 2 years ago.
Ribbon-San's avatar
And people say that Jackson's version sucks! At least he didn't have Bilbo fall in love with a princess.
POOVER's avatar
Hi, thank you for creating this fantarstic complication! I added photos from here and links to Lotr Wikia.…
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
Can't believe I missed this little thing...

Also, I wish to point at this...

Step Into the Light by Ghostwalker2061    <------cuz I made that.  Since you're crediting me for images I just screenshotted to make that review which will be revised for the new movie coming up in about a about you showing something of mine off that relates to Tolkien that is actually something I made?  Cuz that would be kinda awesome?  

Just thought I'd ask...maybe...kinda sorta...  
POOVER's avatar
Sorry, wrong for the Mirkwood...
moonman86's avatar
i like to think it was a joke 
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
It wasn't.  It was a test of something that was actually going to be.
moonman86's avatar
i was being ironic
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
I don't think that was irony.  You were being facetious, more likely.
moonman86's avatar
thats right it was on the tip of my tounge but you got it 
commanderhavoc's avatar
Good god, that was one really bad animated adaptation of the tale.
Tsuki222's avatar
Well, the Rankin Bass version has a more 'Fairy Tale' visual style to it, rather than your a high fantasy, but it actualy both fit the Hobbit quite well. Also there is an ANOTHER European adaptation of the Hobbit, the Russian One XD

Myuutsuu85's avatar
Eugene Merril "Gene" Deitch was born in Chicago, Illinois. So no german.
I also don't find any clue on wiki that he is of german descent so don't blame them.

Overall, this was quite an enjoyable review. Loved the reactions of the "original" cast :D
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
Actually, the production for this movie was made in Czechoslovakia, during communist occupation.

Even if Deitch wasn't of German descent, it still was done in relatively Eastern Europe area, which is why I asked is Smaug called Slag in that area?
Tsuki222's avatar
I don't know, I live in Poland and he is known here as just Smaug, which is just a little north of Czech Republic, where he is known as  "Šmak", which s oddly simmilar to the Polish word for dragon(smok), and diffrent than the Czech one(drak)
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
And in the English pronunciation, it's referred to as Smack, and in American vernacular, that means a drug?

LOL!  Funny.
Tsuki222's avatar
Indeed, the quirks of languages :D That's why Mr. Tolkien wanted his translations to be more adaptations, to use them more. Thats why in the original Polish translation, Bilbo was known as "Bilbo Bagosz"(read Bugosh)!
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
Bugosh?  Like osh kosh b'gosh?  Bilbo Baggins....Baggy Pants.  And if you don't know where that's from.  Oshkosh is a american clothing company that specializes in children clothes.  I had a pair of coolots from them once.
Tsuki222's avatar
Haha, hilarous, that's the wonders of translations :) 
Ghostwalker2061's avatar
Man, you wouldn't believe how certain words in different languages actually sound silly when spoken by native English speaker, especially one with a general American accent, aka what we refer over here as Midwestern and or the American non-accent.

It's the accent you hear American news anchors use.  There's no regional accented flavor in how they speak their words.  There is nothing but dry and very plain.

I think the British have a variant of their own as well.  
Myuutsuu85's avatar
Yeah, i just read that, too. Might be at least some sort of excuse regarding the animation style, since the Czechs were properly not as skillfull in animation as their american counterparts.

Regarding Slag.. well i am not sure if i found the right article regarding that matter, but if i looked correctly, his name should have been either
Smaugom or Smaugu
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