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Go back to Middle-earth the way it was imagined—in low-fi Soviet-era brilliance. 

I am a massive Lord of the Rings fan and have devoured every iteration I can find. But one has always eluded me. It’s the one made years ago, inside Soviet-era Russia. It was a made-for-television adaptation that for legal reasons seems to be “loosely inspired” by Lord of the Rings and is titled Khraniteli

The legend of this film has been told far and wide. The costumes were rudimentary, the music was scored by a rock musician channeling classical roots, and the special effects seemed fit for a local theater production. 

But this project seemed lost to the annals of time. It was on Leningrad TV, which doesn’t exist anymore. But last week, 5TV, the successor to Leningrad TV, posted the movie online. 

Since then, it’s rocketed to hundreds of thousands of views, and people are rejoicing. 

“Fans have been searching the archives but had not able to find this film for decades,” wrote World of Fantasy, a Russian-language publication that has written about adaptations of Tolkien’s work.

You can check out part one below. 

And this is part two.

These are important for many reasons. Perhaps the largest reason is that The Lord of the Rings was hard to find in Russia for very long. The source material had been blocked by censorship. Still, the books made it into the country, were passed around, and grew popular.  Eventually, the books were allowed to be read and were adapted. The first published translation came out in the Soviet Union in 1982. 

Other than that, this version contains Tom Bombadil, which is a character left out of Peter Jackson’s version. The character is beloved by many fans. 

Now you can view them on YouTube whenever you like. They are sort of wonderful artistic expressions of a book that was a joyful secret passed around in a country for a long time. It features enthusiastic portrayals of popular characters and people devoting their time and efforts to capturing what is so special about the books. 

Check it out, and let us know what you think in the comments.      

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