Part 1: It is Bilbo Baggins’ (Georgy Shtil) birthday. He is 111. At his birthday party he tells everyone that he is leaving and that his nephew Frodo Baggins (Valery Dyachenko) is to inherit all his possessions. One of the possessions is the ring that Bilbo found in the cave where Gollum (Viktor Smirnov) lived. Gandalf (Victor Kostetskiy) is at the party. When he is alone with Frodo he tells him about the ring and of how Gollum got it. He tells Frodo that the ring must be destroyed. Frodo and three companions Sam Gamgee (Vladimir Matveev), Merry Brandybuck (Sergey Shelgunov), and Pippin Took (Vadim Nikitin) set out on a journey to Mordor while nine dark Ringwraiths on black horses try to catch them.
In the Old Forest they are trapped by the evil Old Man Willow tree. Tom Bombadil (Sergei Parshin) saves them. He and his wife, Goldberry (Regina Lialeikite) feed the hobbits and let them rest. They then set out again on their journey.
Part 2: The hobbits are trapped by Barrow-Wight. Frodo calls on Bombadil who once again saves them. The hobbits continue on their way. The come upon an inn called “The Prancing Pony”. There they are joined by Aragorn (Andrey Tenetko) on their journey. The Ringwraiths attack and Frodo is injured.
When he wakes up he is in Rivendell and is reunited with his fellow hobbits, Aragon and Bilbo. At a meeting of the council of Elrond (Andrei Tolshin) it is decided that others will join Frodo on his journey to Mordor to throw the ring in the fires of Mount Doom. The other party members are Gimli the dwarf, Legolas the elf (Olga Serebryakova) and Boromir the man (Evgeny Solyakov). The now nine travelers head out once more for Mordor.
“Russian Lord of the Rings” AKA “Khraniteli” or “Keepers” is a Russian two part television play based on “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. The film was directed by Natalya Serebryakova. The series was first broadcast in 1991. It was then believed to be lost until it was rediscovered in 2021. The series covers the first book of the trilogy “The Fellowship of the Ring”. The music score was done by Andrei Dyusha Romanov. He was a member of the Russian rock group Akvarium.
The Russian version is noted for including the characters Tom Bombadil, Goldberry and Barrow-Wight as well as the Hobbits’ trek through the Old Forest. This section of Tolkien’s book was not included in Peter Jackson’s version of the story. There is a narrator but he doesn’t say much of anything most of the time. He just smokes his pipe and looks thoughtfully at the camera.
The production values are similar to Russia’s version of “The Hobbit” 1985. The back screen effects are awful and the make-up childish. The acting is atrocious. Props, wardrobe and makeup were anything they could find in the studio. When you consider that the movie had no budget and was filmed in about nine hours over a one week period it is amazing that the movie ever got made to begin with.
It needs to be noted that the Russians only had a Soviet abridged version of Tolkien’s classic so they had no idea what Gollum was supposed to look like. They weren’t even sure if the creature was male or female. All they could assume is that he was weird looking. His well-known cabbage head costume manages to convey weird quite nicely. Similar to the Hobbit, the film was geared toward children. Because of this the censors basically ignored it. The theme of an outwardly happy people living in harmony but with a dystopian underbelly was lost on them.
The movie has been uploaded to youtube and IA but there are no versions that I know of that have proper English subtitles. You can turn on the closed captioning in at least one version that is on youtube to get more than a basic idea of the script.