A scene from THE HOBBIT, directed by Gene Deitch.

The Hobbit (1966, Gene Deitch)

Director Deitch does a couple brilliant things with The Hobbit. First, he condenses a novel of some three hundred pages to eleven minutes. I’m fairly sure it’s not a faithful adaptation, but there’s a wizard, a hobbit and a ring so it’s fine by me. Second, he turns The Hobbit into a folk tale. Or at least a fable. It feels classical and traditional, not an adaptation of something written in the twentieth century.

The film’s barely animated–I think the most “animation” is the moving of the wizard’s arm when he’s showing Bilbo Baggins directions on a map. Instead, Deitch uses thoughtful editing and camera movement to imply motion. For this approach to succeed, however, Deitch needs an outstanding narrator….

And Herb Lass is perfect. His narration conveys humor and excitement, along with the suggestion he doesn’t know how the story’s going to go.

It’s a fabulous little short.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Gene Deitch; screenplay by Deitch, based on a novel by J.R.R. Tolkien; music by Václav Lidl; production designer, Adolf Born; produced by William L. Snyder.

Narrated by Herb Lass.

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