The movie poster that set my young soul aflame...

Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of
THE LORD OF THE RINGS, released in 1978, was one of my biggest formative influences as a child. Ye Gods, was this movie gorgeous! I had never seen anything like it. However, as a third-grader I remember reading THE HOBBIT and loving it.

It took Bakshi’s film opening at the local State Theatre to open my eyes to the  existence of the LOTR trilogy. Plus, the fact that Bakshi’s movie stopped halfway through the trilogy made me eager to get these books and read the whole story for myself.

These books must have been considered “too mature” for my elementary school library; but I was determined to get my hands on them. Thanks to my mother’s position at a local high school, she was able to check out all three books in glorious hardcover versions, with the HUGE fold-out maps designed by Tolkien himself.

It was about this time that Warren Publishing released a LORD OF THE RINGS magazine, composed of 120 stills from the Bakshi production and summaries of its major plot points. I used to stare at the images in this magazine for hours….nothing outside of my Frank Frazetta art books captured my imagination so powerfully. And when I read the LOTR trilogy, this was how I saw the characters in my mind—as Bakshi designed them.

Thanks to a recent post on io9, I’ve discovered that the ENTIRE MOVIE is available for viewing on YouTube. I highly recommend it, both to those who have never seen it, and those who enjoy an eye-popping blast from the past:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hJZPJrbGgEc#!

Of course, for the highest quality picture, it’s also available on DVD and Blu-Ray.