Long thought lost, Gene Deitch's 1966 adaptation of The Hobbit has made its way online. This beautiful and at times psychedelic 12-minute short is like looking through an older relative's favorite picture books. "We had taken some liberties with the story that a few years later would be grounds for burning at the stake," Deitch writes. He then jokes, "I could Hollywoodize as well as the next man."
Deitch completed the short in just one month with the help of Czech illustrator Adolf Born and others. Why so short a timeframe? Producer William Snyder had exclusive film rights from the Tolkien estate, but better offers were being presented to the estate after the Lord of the Rings books became popular. In order to renew his rights, Snyder had to deliver a full-color adaptation (note the loophole: not "feature-length") of The Hobbit. Deitch writes:
Deitch's full reminiscences on Snyder and this animated version of The Hobbit are worth a read. Be sure to check them out at Gene Deitch's official website.