Short, animated version of The Hobbit surfaces on the internet
This 1966 twelve-minute animated version of the hobbit was released by Gene Deitch (creator of the Tom&Jerry cartoons) who was hired by the American filmmaker William L. Snyder who had the idea to release a screenplay of The Hobbit. Then, 13 years after publication, The Lord Of The Rings was printed in paperback, which finally gave it growing popularity.
Deitch then states:
“We were well into the Hobbit screenplay when The Lord of The Rings came out in paperback editions. Having assumed there was only The Hobbit to contend with, and following Snyder’s wish, we had taken some liberties with the story that a few years later would be grounds for burning at the stake. For example, I had introduced a series of songs, changed some of the characters’ names, played loosely with the plot, and even created a girl character, a Princess no less, to go along on the quest, and to eventually overcome Bilbo Baggins’ bachelorhood! I could Hollywoodize as well as the next man …
When I did manage to get and read The Lord of the Rings, I realized I was dealing with something far more magnificent than what appeared in The Hobbit alone, and I then back-spaced elements from The Lord into my script so as to logically allow for a sequel.”
Because Tolkein’s work grew popular, Snyder soon realised what an asset having the rights to Tolkein movies actually were. He promptly went looking to Hollywood for a studio to fund the making of a film but was turned down from asking too much of those he pitched the idea to.
In an effort to keep those Tolkein rights, Snyder called Gene Deitch requesting him to have the film cut down to twelve minutes, voiced, animated, and edited in no less than 30 days.
Deitch tells why Will Snyder had made that call:
“What had happened was that in the meantime, the Tolkien craze had exploded, and the value of the film rights reached outer space. Suddenly, Bill had the possibility of getting a hefty profit without having to finance or produce anything!
Why invest money, plus a year-and-a-half of work, when you can make money without all that sweat? Not only had the Tolkien estate lawyers given Snyder the rights for peanuts, but in their ignorance of film terminology, they had left a million-dollar-loop-hole in the contract: It merely stated that in order to hold his option for The Lord of the Rings, Snyder had to “produce a full-color motion picture version” of The Hobbit by June 30th, 1966. Please note: It did not say it had to be an animated movie, and it not say how long the film had to be!”
This rather loosely-based animated version has recently got some negative feedback from viewers because of its low production value and that some liberties were taken with the story-line. But Hobbit fans should be able to appreciate this work due to the short time it took to make. It also has an entertaining story telling form that seems strangly nostalgic. Enjoy!