Khraniteli (found Soviet TV adaptation of "The Fellowship of the Ring" novel; 1991)
Khraniteli (Russian: Хранители) translated as Keepers was a late Soviet television program that was based on JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books. Khraniteli was based on the first book in the trilogy The Fellowship of the Ring and aired once from April 13th-14th, 1991, only in the city of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) on Leningrad Television (now 5TV). Due to issues arising in the Soviet Union, funding to state television was drastically reduced, only aired in one city, and as such Khraniteli was made on a low-budget production and overlooked due to ongoing issues. When the Soviet Union dissolved on December 26th, 1991, Leningrad TV was changed to 5TV and began to broadcast media from abroad. As the years went by, due to the factors at play, many had questioned if Kraniteli was an urban legend due to searches coming up empty-handed. On March 27th, 2021, Khraniteli was found in the archives on 5TV and subsequently was uploaded to YouTube.
While attempts to translate JRR Tolkien's books into Russian date back to the 1960s, due to a lack of money and professionals, it was not until 1976 when The Hobbit was translated and published in Russian with The Fellowship of the Rings in 1982, The Two Towers in 1990, and The Return of the Kings in 1991. These initial translations were heavily abridged in order to comply with Soviet censors and omitted themes such as anti-industrialism and re-wrote it as a conflict of the Capitalist West and Soviet East. Later translations of Russian would be more faithful to the original themes. Due to the lack of an established fantasy genre in Russian literature, Tolkien's works became very popular among readers in the Soviet Union. Groups called "Khobbitskie Igrishcha" ["Hobbit Games"] were popular among youth in the Soviet Union and in 1985, a television adaption of The Hobbit titled Ска́зочное путеше́ствие ми́стера Би́льбо Бе́ггинса, Хо́ббита, че́рез ди́кий край, чёрный лес, за тума́нные го́ры. Туда́ и обра́тно [The Fabulous Journey of Mr. Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, Across the Wild Land, Through the Dark Forest, Beyond the Misty Mountains. There and Back Again] was produced and aired in 1985.
The plot for Kraniteli follows the plot of the first book in the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy the Fellowship of the Ring. Many claims that Kraniteli is a more faithful adaptation when compared to Peter Jackson's trilogy.
Khraniteli premiered in two parts with the first part airing on April 13th, 1991, and the second part airing on April 14th, 1991, on Leningrad Television. Whereas the 1985 adaptation of The Hobbit was broadcasted across the country, due to rising tensions within the Soviet Union, the broadcast of Khraniteli was only shown in Leningrad. This, in turn, hindered its chances of reaching a wider audience and fell into obscurity.
- Victor Kostetsky - Gandalf
- Georgy Shtil - Bilbo
- Valery Dyachenko - Frodo
- Elena Nightingale - Galadriel
- Sergey Parshin - Tom Bombadil
- Vladimir Matveev - Sam Scrombie
- Andrey Tenetko - Aragorn-Strider
- Evgeny Solyakov - Boromir
- Andrey Tolshin - Elrond
- Evgeny Baranov - Saruman
- Olga Serebryakova - Legolas
- Victor Smirnov - Gollum
- Nikolay Burov - Barliman Butterbur
On March 30th, 2021, 5TV the successor to Leningrad Television posted the entirety of Khraniteli in two parts to their YouTube channel. They claimed to have found it within the archives of the station. This story did not gain traction in the English-speaking realm until April 5th, 2021, when the BBC posted an article on the discovery.
Khraniteli is available on YouTube in both parts, though they are only in Russian.
- A paper on why Tolkien's works are popular in Russia. Retrieved 15 Apr '21
- LiveJournal entry about the plot of Khraniteli. Retrieved 15 Apr '21
- BBC article on the discovery of Khraniteli. Retrieved 15 Apr '21