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High fantasy behind the Iron Curtain: Illustrations of The Hobbit from the Soviet Union in 1976

Soviet Hobbit

Ever since The Lord of The Rings (and later The Hobbit) hit the Big Screen, the world’s interpretation of J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth has been unified in a way that it had never been before.

soviet hobbit

Check out these strange, brilliant illustrations of The Hobbit by a graduate of Soviet Academy of Fine Art in 1976.

Prior to 2001, visual representation of the books had been fragmented, dictated either by the imaginations of readers, or the myriad perspectives of illustrators who had their works published in various editions of the books.

One fascinating example of this is those of Mikhail Belomlinsky – a graduate of the revered St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Art who illustrated The Hobbit for the Detskaya Liretatura Publishing Company in 1976.

As one would expect, these illustrations from behind the Iron Curtain are a far stretch from what we’ve seen in Western editions of the book.

Apparently Belomlinsky based Bilbo on Soviet actor Yevgeniy Leonov who once narrated a Soviet version of Winnie The Pooh. Gandalf, Gollum and Smaug are all there too, charmingly drawn but also kind of bizarre. Bilbo legs are VERY hairy, and Gollum is more ghoulish that he’s depicted in the movies. Gandalf also looks like he’s smoked a little too much pipe weed – he is smiling ear to ear in pretty much every frame. Strange, but pretty awesome.

Check out a bunch of the larger illustrations below, and see more here via Mashable.


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October 30, 2017

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