The Lord Of The Rings may not be such a jewel after all…

the return of the king 009

Image by andy z via Flickr

Similar to my Star Wars post last time, this post is about the big flaw I have with The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.

Just to be clear however, this is not a post where I criticise the plot, as that’s an issue with Tolkien‘s writing (and there are many issues with his writing), this is where I look at one of the worst decisions the film makers (Peter Jackson/New Line Cinema) made in the trilogy.

My biggest problem is that a hugely sufficient chapter in the book ‘The Scouring of the Shire‘  which takes place at the end of The Return Of The King wasn’t even included in the film. For those that don’t know this was a chapter where Frodo and the gang (Gandalf, Sam,Merry,Pippin) returned home to the Shire only to see it taken over by Saruman and his servant Wormtongue. A big battle occurs (where several hobbits are killed) before Saruman is killed by Wormtongue and moments later Wormtongue is shot to death by hobbits.

Why is this such a big deal? When Tolkien wrote the book he was influenced by the increasing destruction of the English countryside, and the rising problem of industrialisation . Tolkien has himself in the past admitted that the chapter was also influenced by his feelings of loss and pain he felt when he returned from WW1 only to find most of his friends had died and all he remembered from his youth had disappeared.

The Scouring of the Shire evidently reflected Tolkien’s life and the film makers decision to leave the Shire unaffected, completely took away so much potential for added emotion and drama.

It was still an amazing film,

but what a missed opportunity.

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    • dreamworks21
    • June 5th, 2011

    I understand where you’re coming from with this – faithful adaptations are few and far between, and something as hallowed and epic as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy should have maybe connected more with the source material than it eventually did. However, there are some things (I think) that work literarily that won’t necessarily translate cinematically (see: Watchmen). I think adding the Scouring of the Shire would’ve created yet ANOTHER climax/conclusion to a third film that was already rife with them. The biggest criticism received by bloggers and critics for The Return of the King was that it had too many endings, and while the Scouring of the Shire had the potential to be a heart-wrenching scene, it would have made an already lengthy film just too long. (In my opinion).

    • You make a good point, but the the trilogy began to be taken by special effects towards the end. Even stars such as Viggo Mortensen said that the last film was probably the least faithful to Tolkien’s works. Scenes such as when the dead arrived on the fields outside Minas Tirith destroyed the entire emotional integrity of the battle. If they sacrificed something like the Faramir/Denethor sublplot there may have been more time for an emotional scene such as the Scouring of the Shire. I think the the Fellowship of the Ring’s faithfulness to the source material is what made it so successful in my opinion.

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