1979 Tolkien Calendar - Ballantine
Ballantine. 1979. The 1979 Calendar of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: A Film. 13 x 12.25in. Contains Middle-earth dates. This calendar is the first to contain artwork from the animated movie directed by Ralph Bakshi. Although many of the Tolkien faithful were disappointed by this movie, the artwork should be judged independently of the other parts of the movie, such as the writing, voices, plot etc. If the artwork in this calendar was presented independently of the movie, most people interested in Tolkien would probably think the artwork was provocative and interesting. One must also consider that the artwork in this calendar did not appear in the movie and was support artwork for the movie and its merchandising. Many of these images have appeared on posters, lobby cards, and even jigsaw puzzles. Unfortunately, the artists are not listed with these images and we may never know who they were. The Fellowship on the cover is a great montage piece. The images of the Galdalf and the Balrog, The Company in Moria and the Ringwraiths Leaving the Shire are very dramatic and stand well in comparison to any illustrations done of Tolkien's work. Many illustrators have felt compeled to present images in which the characters are frozen in some significant moment of the story. The images appear as icons, or scenes of great events carved in stone. By contrast, the images in this calendar have a dynamic and exciting quality that few other illustrators can incorporate into their works. Regardless of other weaknesses, Ralph Bakshi created an animated movie that was not a cartoon. In the late 1970's, the animation medium was the only one in which elaborate fantasy subcreation was possible in movies. Given the practical constraints he was operating under and the general expectation that animated movies appear cartoon-like, he did a great job. For example, the depiction of Gollum is probably the best illustration of this difficult character as anyone could expect. Of course, he had his weak moments: the illustration of Treebeard and the "blue" Shire at night, are particular low points that come to mind.
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