This morning, browsing through The New Yorker online, I made the most AMAZING discovery! A twelve-minute adaptation of The Hobbit had been made in 1966, cobbled together, but brilliantly, to defend an expiring contract with the Tolkien estate.
I taught the book several times to my gifted grade six class… it was an amazing vehicle for teaching so many aspects of language and literature, and we had so much FUN with it… illustrating, adapting, adding new scenes, writing new songs, exploring “what if? We loved the full length cartoon (1977)read by Orson Bean.
But this earlier version (1966)is just delightful! I wish we could have seen the full length version that was abandoned!
This is what Wikipedia says about it:
The 1966 short animated film The Hobbit! directed by Gene Deitch was the first ever dramatization of The Hobbit. American film producer William L. Snyder obtained the rights to the novel from the Tolkien estate very cheaply while it was still largely unknown, with the proviso that he produce a “full-colour film” by June 30th, 1966, and immediately set about producing a feature-length film, with screenplay by Deitch. The project fell through, but after the explosion in the novel’s popularity, Snyder realized that his contract had not required the film to be of any length: he therefore instructed Deitch to create a 12-minute film based on his earlier work so that he could retain his rights. He later sold the rights for around $100,000 (not adjusted for inflation).