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The Return of the King

3.7 out of 5 stars 247 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

FRODO THE HOBBIT IS BACK TO BATTLE THE EVIL FORCES THAT INVADED MIDDLE EARTH IN THE RETURN OF THE KING.

Special Features

  • Tolkien and filmmaker highlights

Product Details

  • Actors: Orson Bean, John Huston, Theodore Bikel, William Conrad, Roddy McDowall
  • Directors: Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass
  • Writers: J.R.R. Tolkien, Romeo Muller
  • Producers: Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass, Masaki Îzuka
  • Format: Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 11, 2001
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005MP5D
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,495 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Return of the King" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 13, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
To be accurate, Ralph Bakshi's animated version of "The Lord of the Rings" only made it halfway through "The Two Towers" before suddenly concluding. My understanding was that because Bakshi did not get to "The Return of the King," the rights were available for Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. to do their own version for television in 1980 in the same style they had employed for "The Hobbit." In fact, Orson Bean is back to do the voices of not only Bilbo but also Frodo, and John Huston returns to provide a perefect voice for the wizard Gandalf.
"The Return of the King" certainly begins in the middle of things, with Sam (Roddy McDowell) trying to rescue the captive Frodo from the orcs and Gollum scrambling after his "precious" ring. Those who have read the trilogy will be able to pick up the narrative without any problem, but for the uninitated who have to try and enjoy this without some sort of "Previously on 'The Lord of the Ring,'" it is going to be quiet disconcerting. Clearly this version is geared for the kids, in the grand tradition of "The Hobbit," which was far and away the best of these three animated Tolkein films. Adults will undoubtedly cringe at some of these moments, as when the Orcs sing "Where There's a Whip There's a Way," but hopefully you will find a few small moments that you can enjoy. The chief charm of "The Return of the King" for me is that it does a decent job with my favorite scene of the Trilogy, when Éowyn, the shield maiden of Rohirrim engages the Lord of the Nazgul in mortal combat during the Battle of Pellennor Fields.
Glenn Yarborough again does the music, as he did with "The Hobbit," but with notably less success.
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Format: VHS Tape
My boys (ages 5 and 7) have seen ads for the Peter Jackson trilogy, heard about it from classmates, etc. and were desperate to see The Lord of the Rings. My husband and I loved the trilogy but strongly feel they are far too young for the Peter Jackson version. I remembered watching the Hobbit on tv in the 70's and went looking for it and found this gem as well. Yes, the music is cheesy and very 70's--and yes, it's a very hurried summary of a very complex movie--but my children LOVE it. It is their current favorite movie and I can't wait until they can read the books and someday seen the "grown-up" trilogy. So, I'd say--valid criticisms aside--this movie succeeds admirably in allowing younger kids some access to the Tolkien world.
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Format: DVD
I don't agree with the reviewers here who find this 1970s gem cringe-worthy. Sure, Samwise spends way too much time talking to himself, but that's more the fault of Romeo Muller's script than the late, lamented Roddy McDowall's voice work. And the mispronunciations by the cast of Tolkien's place names gets on one's nerves. And yes, the "Frodo of the Nine Fingers" song is a tad overused. But the late, also lamented John Huston is the best damn Gandalf this side of Sir Ian (his voiceover work receives far less notice than his acting and direction, and that's an injustice); the artwork and animation, by a long list of Japanese animators, are gorgeous (this was the first Rankin/Bass TV cartoon to be produced largely in Japan); and the rest of the music has stayed with me since I first saw the film in childhood; come on, admit it -- haven't you sung "Where There's A Whip (There's A Way)" to yourself a time or two? And Glenn Yarbrough deserves to be remembered at least for the poignant, inspirational ballad "It's So Easy Not to Try." (It always makes me sniffle a bit.)

I consider this film a fine bookend to Ralph Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings" and the earlier Rankin/Bass special "The Hobbit" as an animated trilogy. (And more appropriate for young children whose parents wish to introduce them to Tolkien's magical storytelling than the more complex and violent films by Peter Jackson.)
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Format: DVD
Rankin-Bass' "Return of the King" is by far the most underrated of the six films that have been adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's works. One has to bear in mind that it was an animated prime-time television special aimed at children, that it was intended to be at least halfway comprehensible to viewers whose only previous Middle-earth knowledge came from the Rankin-Bass "Hobbit", and that the filmmakers were apparently unable to use any material whatsoever from the previous two volumes of Tolkien's trilogy.

Given all those restrictions and obstacles, it's amazing how good the Rankin-Bass RotK is and how much of Tolkien's work it captures. Viewers get to see many elements of the book that were excluded from the Peter Jackson films, from little things like the all-white standard of the Stewards of Gondor to big moments like Sam feeling pity for Gollum on Mount Doom. I also think Rankin-Bass' ending is sadder, and closer to the spirit of Tolkien's ending, than that of Jackson's trilogy.

So I wholeheartedly recommend this film for younger viewers. And as for all you adult Tolkien aficionados who have heard nothing but bad things about this movie: Give it a try; you just might like it!
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