2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The cast is even reuniting for special virtual Q&As this spring. If that wasn’t cause enough to celebrate, 2021 has just given J.R.R. Tolkien fans a legitimate surprise: The discovery of an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that was believed lost for decades.

The TV film is titled Khraniteli, which means “Keepers” in Russian, and it aired a single time in 1991 on Leningrad Television. After that, the movie, which adapts just The Fellowship of the Ring, disappeared, and was assumed gone forever. But last month, the Russian YouTube channel 5TV uploaded Khraniteli in two parts. Now the whole thing is available to the world (albeit without English subtitles):

Certainly, the budget and special effects are not on par with Jackson’s epic blockbuster trilogy. Still, this Lord of the Rings does hold an edge in one respect; it actually includes some scenes from Tolkien’s original novel that Jackson cut from his Fellowship. The Russian adaptation, for example, includes the characters of Tom Bombadil and the Barrow-wights. (Jackson eliminated these parts because he felt they were unnecessary to the overall plot, which was already stretching towards three hours for just the first chapter of the story.)

This is an extremely cool piece of obscure Tolkien arcana. Still, if you prefer Tolkien adaptations with less fake beards and more English dialogue, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings television series is currently in production, and headed our way in the near future.

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