Interview: Ralph Bakshi

Sunday, June 12th, 2005

Ralph Bakshi made the disastrous animated version of Lord of the Rings years and years ago. I sense some bitterness and defensiveness in this interview (with FPS Magazine):

I’m definitely a fan of your version of Lord of the Rings, as well as the Peter Jackson one.

[My version] had more character, more soul, more heart. Less sneaker selling.

We thought it was pretty obvious at several points in the Peter Jackson version that they did take a couple of riffs from you.

Uh huh. They took everything from me. The ring wraiths were taken from me. There was a lot! I mean, I designed the ring wraiths.

Now, I know Peter Jackson said he also saw your films, and obviously it was some degree of an influence. I mean, how do you take that?

Oh, some degree of an influence! Holy shit! Some degree of an influence! What are you talking about?

Hey, I can be diplomatic either way, see? [laughs]

Let me ask you a question. You’re a bright lad in Montreal, right? Some degree of an influence. Look. I’m sitting here with a book called Lord of the Rings, and no film to look at. Every fucking thing you’re looking at in Rings I—the design, Gimli, Aragon, the dwarfs, the elves, all that stuff—I came up with, basically because there was nothing to look at. Peter Jackson looked at it and said, I like that, I don’t like that, I can improve on that. Who are you kidding? Look at his Lothlorien. Look at my backgrounds of Lothlorien. Take a look! He had much more to see than I did, and if you don’t think he lifted it over and over again, you’re wrong. I mean, how did he design a knife in Lord of the Rings? How did he design a sword? How did he design the dwarf with his axe? How did he design the fur around him? Why did Peter Jackson put fur around the dwarf? Because I put fur around the dwarf! Why would the dwarf have fur naturally? You see, I could give you a billion little things. I wish I had a movie to look at. That’s fine for Peter [Jackson]. But for you to say "somewhat"—shit. Shit, that’s ridiculous.

Well, you know, I’ve gotta be diplomatic. I’ve got to be honest—

What? Why? Why do you gotta be diplomatic?

Because I haven’t seen your Lord of the Rings in a bout a decade. So my memory’s not as good as it could be.

Then go see it! Go see it. How about under the tree, under the limb, when the wraith on the road is trying to find Frodo, Sam, and the guys were hiding under the bush, under the tree, under the limb on the road, and it was on top? Where did that come from?

See, you answered my next question, which was going to be, how did you feel about that? [laughs]

How did you feel about that? You’re the guy trying to be diplomatic, I’m not. How did you feel about that? I’m interested in how you felt.

Well, like I said, I hadn’t seen yours in a while, so I didn’t have as good a memory as to how much it was. But there were some things that I saw—

Aren’t you curious? Why didn’t you take a look to see the shot-for-shot cuts and background for background?

Oh, I’m plenty curious. Unfortunately, I don’t get that much sleep as it is. [laughs]

Well, let’s take a look. You slap it in, you roll down there at high speed, and there it is. But you don’t want to do that, because you’d be facing something you don’t want to see, and you wouldn’t know how to write about it, and then Peter Jackson will get mad about you, and you can’t afford that and he’s a hot director. You’d best forget about the whole thing and hide.

Well, we all know I talk to Peter Jackson every week. [laughs]

Did Peter Jackson ever actually contact you at any point?

He can kiss my fucking ass. No he hasn’t. He didn’t have to contact me. He had my movie. Why would he contact me? He robbed me to begin with. What right did he have to make the Rings?

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