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Walt Disney's The Hobbit

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The Hobbit (Walt Disney Film)

The Hobbit is a 1959 English/American animated fantasy film based on the novel of the same name, by JRR Tolkien, That was produced by Walt Disney and Co-Directed by the original author himself as a new found collaboration between the two and Warner Bros. Animation that aired on Television in August 12th, 1959 in both The UK and The US, six to secen months after the theatrical release of Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

Plot

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Cast

  • Sterling Holloway - Bilbo Baggins; The Main Protagonist of the film. A Humble and neat perfect Hobbit of The Shire who embarks on an adventure with Thorin and his fellow dwarves, and Gandalf to The Misty Mountains.
  • Sebastian Cabot - Gandalf The Grey; A secondary protagonist for the film. A wandering wizard who seeks Bilbo out to join the 13 dwarves, he advises and assists his companions thru every which way, a wize leader and a worthy fighter with his magic staff in one hand and an elvish blade "Galmbring" in another.
  • J. Pat O'Malley - Thorin Oakingshield; Rightful ruler of the misty mountains, Thorin with Gandalf seeks Bilbo's assistance to join them and his fellow dwarves to reclaim "Lonely Mountain" over ran by the Dragon Smaug.
  • Paul Frees - Gollum, Smaug

Production

As of 1937, during the publication of the book The Hobbit, Young JRR Tolkien stated in an interview that he "Loathed Disney" and animation in general and did not want want his stories to be adapted in an animated film. But since then people have been asking for an animated hobbit movie to come out (including some of his fans) to which he still says no. But in summer of 1957 when on Holiday in the United States, Tolkien's friend and colleague CS Lewis along with his children Christopher and Priscilla had an inside look into Walt Disney's Animation Studios in Los Angeles and watched the film "Cinderella" Lewis was intrigued by Disney's Hand-Drawn Animation, and Priscilla especially adored the main character of the film; With that said Tolkien's sons and daughters tend to convenience their father himself about what Disney could do, Though still skeptical about it since one factor to Tolkien's dislike to Disney was how they alter the Brother Grimm Stories. Then CS Lewis made his own argument that despite the differences there are not that many and they aren't that major; and pretty much still the same stories and there is no other way to turn his stories into movies.

With that said, and when offered glimpses of the artwork, Tolkien finally decided to give animation a chance and offered Walt Disney himself to adapt The Hobbit; with the condition that he will be involved as a co-director to supervise the production so it will be how he intends it to be. Disney on the other hand, who did like his stories and even came to knew him once, while pleased and willing to let Tolkien in found it somewhat difficult since he was already having plans for future films like Sleeping Beauty. Then Warner Bros. stepped in and made their own offer; to animate with Disney to save profit, time and resources. The deal also states that there would be a time factor for different types of animation:

  • 2 minutes of rotoscope animation
  • 2 minutes of limited animation; as with Hannah Barbara later on
  • 4 minutes of Disney and Warner Bros. Hand Drawn Animation.

And so the contract was held and production began, making it the first collaboration not only between Disney and Warner Bros. but also the author JRR Tolkein. Tolkien explains to the staff how certain scenes should look and how the characters are to be drawn, and even voice-directs how the characters should talk and sing. And because he was involved, some of the production status had to move back to the united kingdom to continue their work before the deadline.

Release and Later History

The Hobbit first aired on television in August 12, 1959, and it was received positive reviews by film critiques and novelists from The United Kingdom and The United States. It was praised for it's well drawn animation, it's riveting yet still delightful and colorful story that retained much of the original content from the novel.

J.R.R. Tolkien himself even admnitted himself that he was wrong to over judge the genre of animated films for his story and from them on he would allow both Warner Bros. and Walt Disney to make short films based on The Simillarion, as well as an animated series based on The Lord of The Rings; Which lasted from 1964-1966.

The film was even given a theatrical release in 1962, after the release of 101 Dalmatians, and it for it's original budget it made twice as much money than the previous film, and profits were shared equally for both animation studios, and Tolkien enterpises in The United Kingdom.

Awards and Nominations

The Hobbit was nominated for best animated film at the time. It was several awards including best songs, best animation, and best acting. Tolkien himself won an award for his collaborating with two of America's greatest animation companies and for his original story.

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