Bilbo Rankin Bass Much has been written about The Hobbit in recent years thanks to the filming of the new trilogy of Peter Jackson films.But during all the hubbub surrounding Jackson and Company’s take on Tolkien’s classic story (positive and negative), there has been very little mentioned about the underrated 1977 Rankin Bass film adaptation of The Hobbit.

This animated movie–clocking in at right around a lean 90 minutes–introduced me to Middle Earth at the age of 7, for which I will always be grateful. To say the least, that Tolkien magic translated beautifully through my parents old 19″ Zenith radiation machine. And I attribute that to the story as well as a clever, tight script, wonderful voice acting, brilliant score, and some terrific character and creature design.

The Rankin Bass Hobbit has its problems, to be sure — terrible, stilted animation; elves that look like wizened saplings. But the good far outweighs the bad, and the animated film stands the test of time and is still probably the best children’s introduction to Tolkien short of The Hobbit book itself. And for very young children, even more so than the book.

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BOOTNOTE: Just to clarify, this is an extract over on Talkbacker and is written by someone else. I’m just linking it because I felt it was cool and have no vested interest at all. Enjoy!