Artist and filmmaker Gene Deitch — whose work you'll probably remember from Saturday morning cartoons and the Tom and Jerry series — created a beautiful, animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. One of the most impressive parts of the project is that Deitch created the work in only 30 days. That sound you just heard was Peter Jackson's head exploding.
In 1967, filmmaker William Snyder managed to secure the rights to Tolkien's story and set out to make a feature length adaptation with his collaborator, Deitch. The duo worked diligently, but were unable to secure financial backing. As Deitch laments on his blog
, "I had a fat script, but no other film companies were then interested. It was crushing. Even today, when I flip through my screenplay, and can almost see the fabulous scenes I had imagined, I feel a heavy regret." Things died down for a while, until Snyder approached Deitch again with a bit of a challenge. Deitch explains:
"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."
He worked with well-known Czech illustrator Adolf Born to create a short version of the fantasy tale, on one 35mm reel of film, running 12 minutes long. Deitch wasn't happy about it, but he met Snyder's challenge is one month's time. "I should have told him to shove it, but I was basically his slave at the time. It suddenly became an insane challenge."
Watch the 1966 version of The Hobbit below, and let us know what you think.
[Spotted via The Daily What Geek]