Russian 'Lord of the Rings' TV Adaptation from 30 Years Ago Discovered, Put on YouTube

A Russian television company has delighted fans of J.R.R. Tolkien by sharing on YouTube a Soviet-era TV adaptation of the book The Lord of the Rings which was believed to have been lost.

Based on the first book of the renowned trilogy by the British fantasy writer, the production titled "Khraniteli" which means "keepers" or "guardians" was broadcast only once on television. Filmed at the Leningrad television studio 30 years ago, after it was shown on TV it seemingly disappeared without trace.

The Russian fantasy and sci-fi website World of Fantasy said it published in 2012 a list of forgotten Tolkien adaptations from previous years. Fans had tried to find the 1991 version, which was based on a translation into Russian by Vladimir Muravyov and Andrey Kistyakovsky.

It also starred Viktor Kostetsky as the wizard Gandalf, Georgy Shtil as Bilbo Baggins and Valery Dyachenko as Frodo, the Russian version of Esquire reported.

"Fans had been searching the archives for a long time, but for decades they could not find the film," the post on World of Fantasy said.

But this week, the search was over after Russia's Channel 5 uploaded to its YouTube channel the adaptation in two parts. As of Thursday morning, both parts had been viewed more than 200,000 times.

World of Fantasy noted that in the adaptation, "all the important plot shifts have been preserved, including the appearance of Tom Bombadil," referring to the character who was omitted from the multiple Academy Award winning trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.

While the production falls short of the technical polish and spectacular visuals that Jackson's vision of Middle Earth filmed in New Zealand possessed, it still spurred considerable appreciation among viewers.

"A bow to those who are digitizing the archives of the Leningrad television!" wrote one user. "While listening to the opening mournful song, I almost died from laughter and pleasure," wrote another.

"Many thanks from all Tolkien fans, both from those who have watched it, and those who haven't yet!" wrote one fan, while another posted: "It is as ridiculous and monstrous as it is divine and magnificent. The opening song is especially lovely. Thanks to the one who found this rarity."

It is not the only Soviet-era adaptation of Tolkien. A TV show was produced in 1985 called "The Fabulous Journey of Mr. Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit," Esquire reported.

Meanwhile, The Lord of the Rings is making the leap to the smaller screen with a TV adaptation for Amazon Prime Video, in collaboration with the Tolkien estate, which is expected to be available some time this year.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's Channel 5 for comment.

Lord of the Rings Russian YouTube
The 1991 Russian adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's fantasy epic 'The Lord of the Rings' has been discovered. YouTube