Peter Jackson

The Nit Picker's Guide to the Lord of the Rings

Updated to include changes made in the recently released extended edition of The Return of the King
- Additions are listed in a red font -

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

The Return of the King

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The following is a lengthy list of deviations to be found when comparing the text of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and the translation of those texts to film as undertaken by Peter Jackson, et.al. Take note, I'm not paying attention to omissions on Jackson's part (i.e. the obvious: Bombadil, the Barrowdowns, etc.; nor the less obvious, how the party ended up with Bill the pony or the arrows bouncing off Frodo's mithril shirt as the party flees the Terror at the Bridge of Khazad-dum). I must admit that I am a purist. I am not happy with many of the changes Jackson and Boyens made to the tale. In fact, the only change I really enjoyed was the insertion of Eowyn singing at Theodred's funeral. As such, the tone I take in some of my descriptions of the deviations is sometimes quite critical of Jackson and Boyens--not that there isn't plenty to like...especially when comparing Jackson's telling to Bakshi's.

One major issue is pagination. The page numbers I'm using are from the Ballantine editions. Any Ballantine edition published between 1965 and 1990 should work. If you're using older or newer editions, you'll need to convert the page numbers. Check here for a good Houghton-Mifflin-to-Ballantine conversion table. Here is another site that may be of additional help.

I might add that I did enjoy the films: FOTR the most; ROTK the least. I own the extended edition DVD's and will continue to check them out now and then. I also I understand that film is a medium that lends itself to a different telling than the medium of text. In fact, I argued that very point with a lot of my friends who were put off after FOTR came out and Bombadil, etc. had been cut. Many of the items on the list are admittedly petty. I understand why certain changes were made for the visual medium and story flow. However, I'm not convinced that Faramir's nobility had to be sacrificed, that Frodo needed to send Sam home, that Arwen's role needed to be built up, etc. That is, my only real problems are with the big stuff. Finally, I put this list together simply to stimulate conversation. It is not intended as an attack on Peter Jackson or the films. This is just the sort of thing I do for fun. Anyway, the list:

The Fellowship of the Ring

  1. It was both Bilbo and Frodo's birthday party--Bilbo's 111th and Frodo's 33rd (FOTR p.44,55). Jackson failed to mention Frodo's birthday.
  2. Tolkien states, regarding the arrival of Gandalf with his fireworks, that "not a single squib or cracker was forthcoming" (FOTR p.46). Jackson has Gandalf set of a few fireworks for the children of Hobbiton as he rides into town.
  3. Gandalf sets off the "dragon" firework (FOTR p.51-52). Jackson has Merry and Pippin set off the "dragon" firework.
  4. There is a flash of light--thanks to Gandalf--when Bilbo disappears. This helps to explain Bilbo's vanishing act (FOTR p.52,54). Jackson has Bilbo simply disappear.
  5. Bilbo leaves the Shire with Dwarf companions (FOTR p.62). Jackson has Bilbo leave Hobbiton alone. Forgivable though the thought of Bilbo walking to Rivendell alone is somewhat reckless.
  6. There is a 17 year span of time between Bilbo's departure and Frodo's departure from Hobbiton (FOTR p.72). Jackson makes it seem like, at most, a year has passed. Forgivable, yet that cuts out all the time during which Aragorn and Gandalf track down Gollum, Gandalf searches the archives of Denethor, etc.
  7. Gil-galad and Elendil smote Sauron (though they died in the process). Isildur merely cuts the Ring from the defeated Sauron's hand (FOTR p.83,319). Jackson leaves Gil-galad out and has Sauron unharmed up to the point at which he has Isildur cut the Ring from his outstretched hand.
  8. Gandalf first grabs Sam by the shoulders outside the window of Bag End and scolds him, then he carefully lifts him through the window (FOTR p.97-98). Jackson has Gandalf pull Sam quickly through the window and onto a table. Unnecessary and poorly handled. Why did Gandalf need to treat poor Sam so violently? It was also an obvious stuffed dummy prop.
  9. Frodo leaves Hobbiton with Sam and Pippin (FOTR p.98). Jackson has Frodo leave Hobbiton with Sam, and then has them run into Pippin and Merry near Buckleberry Ferry. Of course this is muddled by Jackson's omission of the whole Crickhollow ruse.
  10. Frodo had stolen mushrooms from Farmer Maggot as a younger lad (FOTR p.132). Jackson has Merry and Pippin (who seem to be on good terms with Maggot in the book) stealing Maggot's crops.
  11. Farmer Maggot takes the three hobbits to Buckleberry Ferry in his cart--they meet a fourth, Merry, along the way (FOTR p.137-140). Jackson has the four Hobbits running to the Ferry to escape the Black Riders. Had Jackson allowed the Maggot scene to progress as it does in the book, it would have allowed some examination of Hobbit community, friendliness, even forgiveness (on Maggot's part). I'm torn on this.
  12. There is no chase to the Ferry (FOTR p.143). Jackson has the Hobbits running from the Black Riders. In the book, the Black Riders are not spied until the Hobbits are half-way across the Brandywine River.
  13. Sam does not lament leaving home until the Hobbits are crossing the Brandywine on the Ferry (FOTR p.142). Jackson has Sam lament leaving before he and Frodo meet up with Merry and Pippin.
  14. Merry and Pippin knew Frodo was leaving the Shire before Frodo even set off to go--thanks to Sam (FOTR p.146-150). Jackson has Merry and Pippin finding out about Frodo's departure from Frodo himself.
  15. Tom Bombadil gives the Hobbits blades taken from the Barrowdowns (FOTR p.200-201), blades of Westernesse, one of which--Merry's--plays a significant role in Eowyn's confrontation with the Witch-King at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields (ROTK p.143,146). Jackson has Aragorn arm the Hobbits at Weathertop. No significance is ascribed to the blades. Of course, this point is muddled by the fact that Jackson chose to leave Bombadil out of the films.
  16. Tom Bombadil is the one who suggests the Hobbits make for Bree (FOTR p.203). Jackson has Gandalf make this suggestion though, having left Bombadil out of the film entirely, this is somewhat understandable.
  17. One can look over the gate at Bree (FOTR p.207). Jackson has a gate that is at least 10 feet high.
  18. The patrons at the Prancing Pony are hospitable and greet the Hobbits with a "chorus of welcome" (FOTR p.212). Jackson has the patrons at the Prancing Pony seem crude and intimidating. They are sloppy and, one might venture, that Jackson is trying to make it seem like the Hobbits should be scared.
  19. Strider introduces himself to Frodo before Frodo does his "vanishing act" (FOTR p.215,222). Jackson has Frodo meet Strider after Frodo has accidently put the Ring on (though he had seen him across the room prior to his "vanishing act").
  20. Frodo vanishes after accidently slipping the Ring on while performing a song for the folks in the Prancing Pony (FOTR p.219). Jackson has Frodo trip while trying to stop Pippin from blabbing on to the Prancing Pony patrons about the Baggins he knows.
  21. Strider carries the shards of Narsil with him (FOTR p.233). Jackson has the shards on display at Rivendell.
  22. The Black Riders enter Bree without their horses (FOTR p.236). Jackson has the Black Riders enter Bree on horseback. He has them knock down the gate--something they don't do until Aragorn and the Hobbits have left Bree and entered the wild (FOTR p.346). Additionally, the gatekeeper was working for the Black Riders (FOTR p.236) and is not killed in the book--though he is crushed under the gate in the film.
  23. The party had seen the Riders on the road from Weathertop and were expecting them. Strider had even built a fire to use as a weapon (FOTR p.256). Jackson has the party caught unawares by the Riders after the Hobbit's cook fire is espied from afar.
  24. Frodo tries to stab a Black Rider at Weathertop (FOTR p.263). Jackson has Frodo lying prone and unarmed.
  25. Glorfindel finds the party in the wilderness (FOTR p.279). Jackson has Arwen find the party. Building up (and distorting) Arwen's role was one of Jackson's Four Major Mistakes, in my opinion.
  26. Frodo is placed on Glorfindel's horse alone for the flight to the Ford (FOTR p.281-282). Jackson has Frodo ride with someone, namely, Arwen.
  27. Frodo remains defiant up to the point when the Black Riders are unhorsed by the river (FOTR p.285-286). Jackson has Frodo barely able to breathe and half-dead...and defended by Arwen. Bah!
  28. Six of the nine Black Riders are forced into the flood by Glorfindel (FOTR p.286,294,295). Jackson has all nine Riders enter the river and swept away without anyone coming up from behind.
  29. Bilbo does not "freak" when he sees the Ring, instead Frodo sees him as a Gollum-like creature merely reaching out for the Ring (FOTR p.305-306). Jackson has Bilbo lunge at Frodo and hiss like some sort of crazed leprechaun.
  30. Arwen and Aragorn appear together with Elrond after the feast the night before the Council (FOTR p.313). Jackson portrays Elrond as disapproving of Arwen and Aragorn's relationship and has the couple appearing alone, conceivably (one might say), keeping out from under the watchful eye of Arwen's father. Just more booyah designed to boost Arwen's role, in my opinion.
  31. Bilbo was at the Council of Elrond (FOTR p.314) and even offering to be the Ring-bearer (FOTR p.353). Jackson does not have Bilbo at the Council.
  32. Isildur is counseled to destroy the Ring by Elrond and Cirdan (FOTR p.320). Jackson has Elrond (alone) lead Isildur into the Crack of Doom. This was a poor decision because rather than portraying Isildur as unwilling to listen to counsel, Elrond is portray as unwilling to try and stop Isildur in the Crack of Doom and simply letting Isildur walk away with the Ring.
  33. Narsil is only broken into two pieces (FOTR p.323-324). Jackson has Narsil broken into six or seven pieces. If you ask me, the idea of reforging a blade in two pieces to be battle-ready is a much more believable than assuming a blade in seven pieces could be reforged into something battle-ready.
  34. Elrond names Aragorn at the Council (FOTR p.324). Jackson has Legolas name Aragorn when he explains who he is to Boromir.
  35. Gandalf asks Frodo to "bring forth the Ring" (FOTR p.324). Jackson has Elrond ask Frodo to bring forth the Ring.
  36. Boromir does not dismiss or disrespect Aragorn but instead states how his return would be welcomed in Gondor (FOTR p.324-325,351). Jackson has Boromir say something to the effect that Gondor doesn't need a king.
  37. Isildur burnt his hand when he first picked up the Ring (FOTR p.331). Jackson has Isildur pick the Ring up without suffering any pain or being burnt.
  38. When Gandalf speaks the tongue of Mordor, it is part of his tale to the Council and occurs within the context of a long statement of Gandalf's (FOTR p.333). Jackson has Gandalf speak the tongue of Mordor to grab everyone's attention and to make a point to those who might be thinking like Boromir, that the Ring should be used against Sauron.
  39. Saruman does not plan to share power with Mordor though he does offer to share it with Gandalf (FOTR p.340-341). Jackson has Saruman trying to convince Gandalf to side with Sauron and him.
  40. Gwahir comes looking for Gandalf and thus helps Gandalf escape (FOTR p.342-343). Jackson has a moth show up as some sort of messenger of the Eagles (a very slow messenger, if you ask me) who later returns with Gwahir in tow.
  41. Frodo offers to be the Ring-bearer while the Council is silent and deep in thought (FOTR p.354). Jackson has the Council arguing, and Frodo has to shout to be heard when he agrees to take the Ring. That is to say, in the book the Council is much more rational. For example, just look at the way Boromir is portrayed in the book (FOTR p.322-323,350-351).
  42. Merry and Pippin find out about the Council after the fact (FOTR p.356). Jackson has Merry and Pippin show up at the Council in much the same fashion as Sam had.
  43. Frodo wanted to stay in Rivendell with Bilbo, not return to the Shire (FOTR p.356). Jackson has Frodo pining to return to the Shire with Sam.
  44. The number of the Fellowship was to be nine as a counter to the nine Black Riders. This number is set before anyone volunteers to join the Fellowship (FOTR p.360). Jackson portrays the number of companions in the Fellowship being the result of another logic (i.e. Sam, Merry, and Pippin all showing up). In addition, the members of the Fellowship are chosen after the Council whereas Jackson has the membership of the Fellowship set and the conclusion of the Council. The idea that there are nine companions in the Fellowship to counter the nine Black Riders is never touched on in Jackson's film.
  45. Narsil is to be reforged before the Fellowship departs Rivendell (FOTR p.361,362). Jackson has Narsil reforged after Helm's Deep.
  46. The Fellowship sets out at night so as to avoid being seen by spies of the Enemy (FOTR p.365). Jackson has the Fellowship set out during the day.
  47. Only Sam and Aragorn see the crebain (birds) in Hollin (FOTR p.372). The others are all asleep because the Fellowship is sleeping by day and traveling by night. Jackson has the whole Fellowship up and running around when the crebain show up.
  48. Gandalf is the one who wants to try to pass through Moria (FOTR p.375,386). Jackson has Gimli pushing for the trek through Moria and Gandalf opposed.
  49. Boromir names the "fell voice on the air" during the ascent of Caradhras (FOTR p.378). Jackson has Legolas name it.
  50. The snowstorm that forces the Fellowship back down the mountain is blamed on the mountain itself (FOTR p.378,381,382,384). Jackson has the Fellowship blame it on Saruman. The book never even suggests that Saruman is to blame--though at one point the Fellowship considers blaming Sauron (FOTR p.377) beforing setting the blame on Caradhras.
  51. Frodo does not drop the Ring during the ascent of Caradhras (FOTR p.377-382). Jackson has Frodo dropping the Ring and Boromir picking it up.
  52. The Fellowship turns to go back down the mountain when a final fall of snow and rock falls behind them (FOTR p.383). Jackson has the Fellowship turn back because of the final fall of snow and rock.
  53. Both Glamdring and Sting glow in the presense of Orcs (FOTR p.384). Jackson always has Sting glow blue in the battle in Balin's tomb, but Gandalf's sword does not shimmer at all.
  54. The decision to take the road through Moria is made after descending Caradhras (FOTR p.386-388). Jackson has the decision made in the mountain pass as a precursor to going back down the mountain. In fact, Wargs gathering to attack the Fellowship cement their decision to take the road through Moria (FOTR p.388), not the arbitrary decision of Frodo alone (as Jackson portrays it).
  55. The only battle with Wargs described in the book occurs at the foot of Caradhras (FOTR p.389-390). Jackson omits the Warg attack at Caradhras and inserts one into his (already) battle-heavy second chapter of the film, The Two Towers.
  56. Boromir throws a rock into the water outside the Doors of Durin thus disturbing the Watcher in the Water (FOTR p.401). Jackson has Merry and Pippin throwing stones into the water which only serves to play up Merry and Pippin as foolish in the films (which I felt was unnecessary).
  57. Gandalf is suddenly inspired to speak the Elvish word for 'friend' at the Doors of Durin (FOTR p.401). Jackson has Frodo figuring out the "riddle".
  58. Bill is spooked by the Watcher in the Water and dashes away in fright (FOTR p.402). Jackson has Sam and Aragorn send Bill off before the Watcher in the Water spooks anyone.
  59. Only one tentacle grabs a hold of any member of the Fellowship (FOTR p.402). Jackson has Hobbits being flung in the air by the Watcher in the Water.
  60. The Watcher in the Water shuts the Doors of Durin and then there is a landside heard through them (FOTR p.403). Jackson has the Watcher in the Water pulling the doors off their hinges and causing a massive cave-in.
  61. There are no dead Dwarves with Goblin arrows sticking out of them just inside the Doors of Durin (FOTR p.403). They do not find dead Dwarves until they reach Balin's tomb (FOTR p.415-416). Jackson has the Fellowship finding Dwarves just inside the doors.
  62. The only light the party has in the Mines of Moria is Gandalf's staff as the party had "no fuel nor any means of making torches" (FOTR p. 405). Jackson has Aragorn carrying a torch in the film.
  63. Pippin merely drops a stone down the well--which is not immediately answered by drums (FOTR p.408). Jackson has Pippin knocking a skeleton, bucket, and lengthy chain down the well.
  64. Gandalf makes up his mind which way to go at the passage with three archways while on watch, that is, while the others slept (FOTR p.409). Jackson has Gandalf decide on the way at the end of a conversation with Frodo while all members of the Fellowship are awake.
  65. Gandalf decides to take the path that goes up because the middle path feels wrong and the air smells foul coming from the path that leads downward (FOTR p.409). Jackson has Gandalf choose the path that leads downward.
  66. Gandalf stumbles upon Balin's tomb quite by accident (FOTR p.415-416). Jackson has Gimli see something that looks like a tomb and then has Gimli charge off against the will of Gandalf.
  67. Frodo does not show the others his mithril shirt after being "speared" by a huge orc-cheiftan (not a cave troll) while the Fellowship are in the Mines of Moria (FOTR p. 422,425). Jackson has Frodo revealing his mithril shirt after their brief battle with the Orcs. In fact, in the book Frodo does not reveal his mithril shirt to the party until they reach the eaves of Lorien (FOTR p.436).
  68. Legolas names the Balrog (FOTR p.428). Jackson has Gandalf name the Balrog.
  69. Gandalf's staff breaks when he uses it to break the Bridge of Khazad-Dum (FOTR p.429). Jackson does not have Gandalf's staff break. Instead, it merely falls into the abyss when Gandalf is pulled down from the bridge by the Balrog.
  70. Boromir refers to Lothlorien as "perilous" (FOTR p.439). Jackson has Gimli refer to Lothlorien as "perilous".
  71. Sam breathes so loud that the Elves of Lorien claim they could have shot him in the dark (FOTR p.443-444). Jackson has the Elves tell Gimli that he's the loud breather.
  72. Boromir does not quake under the gaze of Galadriel (FOTR p.463-464). Jackson has Boromir looking distressed and turning away from the gaze of Galadriel.
  73. Both Sam and Frodo are offered a chance to look into the Mirror of Galadriel. And both do so (FOTR p.467-468). Jackson only has Frodo being offered a chance to look in the mirror.
  74. The idea of taking the Ring to Gondor is not an idea that Aragorn finds objectional (FOTR p.477). Jackson has Aragorn vehemently opposed to the idea of taking the Ring anywhere near Gondor.
  75. The Elves leave three coils of rope in each boat (FOTR p.481). Jackson portrays Sam as the only member of the Fellowship who receives rope.
  76. Sam first mentions Gollum to Frodo (FOTR p.495-496). Jackson has Frodo spying Gollum in Moria and mentioning him to Gandalf. In fact, in the book Aragorn is the one who has long been aware of Gollum's pursuit, not Gandalf (FOTR p.497).
  77. Aragorn says "a shadow and a threat" in reference to his suspicion that there are Orcs on the Western shore (FOTR p.511). Jackson attributes these lines to Legolas.
  78. Frodo asks for an hour to consider his decision and walks away from his companions with instructions not to wander too far (FOTR p.512-513). Jackson has Frodo suddenly gone and Sam surprised to learn as much.
  79. Frodo talks with Boromir, sits, and accepts his counsel before seeing the strange look in his eye (FOTR p.514). Jackson portrays Frodo as immediately suspicious of Boromir.
  80. Frodo slips on the Ring before Boromir lunges at him and, thus, escapes Boromir unscathed (FOTR p.517). Jackson has Boromir tackling and grappling with Frodo before Frodo slips on the Ring and escapes.
  81. The Ring alters Frodo's perception for the first time when he reaches Amon Hen--the "Ring was upon him" (FOTR p.518). Jackson has the Ring altering Frodo's perception everytime he puts it on. This made me constantly question why Bilbo would have such a nonchalant attitude toward the Ring if wearing it was such a horrifying experience (what with the Eye and all).
  82. Frodo perceives that the Eye is searching for him for the first time on Amon Hen (FOTR p.519). Jackson has the Eye looking for Frodo everytime the Ring is placed on his finger. In fact, in the book Frodo pulls the Ring off at Amon Hen just before the Eye finds him (FOTR p.519) whereas Jackson has the Eye constantly finding Frodo throughout the film and the voice of Sauron saying things like, "I see you!"
  83. Aragorn does not find Frodo at the Seat of Amon Hen for Frodo has already fled to the river (FOTR p.520). Jackson has Aragorn find Frodo near the Seat of Amon Hen. He also has Frodo offer the Ring to Aragorn--a deed that never happens in the book. Another point: since Aragorn does not find Frodo on Amon Hen, he does not see Frodo's sword glow blue--though he did see it glow blue the day before (FOTR p.511).

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The Two Towers

Okay. Here's part two which covers the events that occur in Tolkien's The Two Towers. As I put this list together, I started to notice a theme that I hadn't before: in Jackson's telling of FOTR, he basically omitted a lot of things (i.e. while he deviated, he didn't didn't necessarily fabricate entire scenes or significantly alter the story). The only major change was the beefing up of Arwen's role. However, in TTT, Jackson begins altering the story significantly. Often, these changes are, in my opinion, drastic and uncalled for. For example, having Elves at Helm's Deep, his re-working of Faramir and the way he portrayed his handling of both Frodo and Gollum, the insertion of the scene at Osgiliath, and the continual inclusion of Arwen material that does not friggin' exist in the book. One could also bring up the fact that Jackson has Eowyn go to Helm's Deep, Gimli riding a horse, Eomer an exile instead of a prisoner, Wormtongue present when Saruman addresses the Uruk-Hai prior to sending them off to Helm's Deep, Eowyn making Strider soup, that ridiculous battle with the Warg riders in which Aragorn takes a tumble, etc. This trend continued in The Return of the King...much to my great displeasure.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I wonder that perhaps the reason so many are kindly disposed to Jackson's retelling is because the look of Middle Earth as portrayed in the films is so close to being right on. Personally, I wish Jackson had paid as much attention to the details of the story as his prop department and set designers did to the physical descriptions therein. Oh well. Here's the list:

  1. Aragorn ascends Amon Hen, observes nothing, then hears Boromir's horn and heeds its call (TTT p.17). Jackson has Aragorn find Frodo at the Seat of Amon Hen and then waylaid by Orcs.
  2. Boromir is left for dead by the Orcs. This is how Aragorn finds him (TTT p.18). Jackson has Aragorn fight off a few Orcs to keep them from finishing Boromir off.
  3. The scabbards of Merry and Pippin are found near Boromir (TTT p.20). Jackson has Gimli find the scabbards in the ash heap of Orcs near the edge of Fangorn.
  4. The Orcs of Saruman has a S-rune set on their helms in metal (TTT p.20). Jackson has them use a painted white hand.
  5. Aragorn finds footprints in the sand and deduces that Sam and Frodo have crossed the river (TTT p.24-25). Jackson has Legolas see Sam and Frodo scampering up the eastern bank of the river.
  6. Dwarves are known for their endurance (TTT p.26). Jackson has Gimli say that Dwarves are "natural sprinters" who are "lost on cross country".
  7. Pippin was on foot when he dropped the brooch of Lorien (TTT p.31,63). Jackson has Pippin on an Orcs back when he manages to drop the brooch.
  8. Eomer threatens to cut Gimli's head off in response to Gimli's statement in defense of Galadriel and about Eomer having little wit (TTT p.42). Jackson has Eomer threaten Gimli in response to his "Give me your name, horsemaster" statement.
  9. Aragorn accepts Eomer's word that no Hobbits were among the dead and assumes that the Hobbits must have been carried off into the wood before he and his companions part with Eomer (TTT p.49,50). Jackson has Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas assume that the Hobbits are dead and among the burnt Orcs when Eomer tells them that none were left alive.
  10. The Orcs did not cut any wood for fires at the edge of Fangorn for they were fleeing pursuit and never reached them (TTT p.52,70-71). Jackson has the Orcs reaching Fangorn and starting cook fires. It is worth noting that, in fact, it is the Rohirrim who take wood from Fangorn to start the fires used to burn the Orcs (TTT p.54)
  11. Aragorn talks of a presence in Fangorn that may be akin to that in the Old Forest (TTT p.55). Jackson has Merry tell Pippin of "trees that can move" when they hear strange noises emanate from the forest.
  12. Pippin cuts his ropes much earlier in his captivity, in fact, before he "drops" the Elven brooch (TTT p.62-63). Jackson has the Hobbits cut their ropes near the edge of Fangorn.
  13. Both Merry and Pippin are given some Orc "medicine" (TTT p.64). Jackson only has Merry receive "medicine".
  14. Merry and Pippin are not pursued into the forest of Fangorn by an Orc (TTT p.76-78). Jackson has Merry and Pippin followed into the Fangorn by an Orc.
  15. The Mordor Orc wanted "information" from Merry and Pippin (TTT p.73-75). Jackson has the Mordor Orc wishing to merely eat the Hobbits.
  16. Treebeard decides the Hobbits are not Orcs after hearing their voices (TTT p.83-84). Jackson has Treebeard suspect that the Hobbits are Orcs even after engaging in conversation with them.
  17. Treebeard does not take the Hobbits to the "White Wizard" (TTT p.87). In fact, Treebeard does not even talk to Gandalf when he sees him under the trees of Fangorn (TTT p.131). Jackson has Treebeard say he is taking the Hobbits to the White Wizard and later has Treebeard mention a conversation with Gandalf.
  18. Treebeard drinks the ent-draughts with Merry and Pippin (TTT p.93). Jackson has Merry and Pippin drinking the ent-draught while Treebeard is off organizing the Entmoot.
  19. It may be more nit-picking, but Treebeard's statements about "sides" are conditional--i.e. he says "I am not altogether on anybody's side" (TTT p.95). Jackson has Treebeard leave out the crucial word 'altogether'.
  20. Treebeard realizes that Saruman is a threat and a problem that needs to be dealt with (TTT p.95,96). Jackson has Merry and Pippin constantly badgering Treebeard to do something about Saruman and does not have Treebeard accept that Saruman is a threat until he sees the destruction at the southern edge of the forest. In fact, Treebeard's whole speech in which he curses Saruman and talks about the trees felled that he had known "since acorn and nut" occurs before the Entmoot (TTT p.96-97).
  21. The Entmoot is called by Treebeard so he can convince the other Ents to go to war against Saruman (TTT p.98). Jackson has Treebeard call the Entmoot so that the Ents can decide whether or not they should worry about the affairs of the world beyond the forest. The distinction is subtle, but, I think, significant.
  22. The Ents were not reluctant to go to war. The came to the decision to attack Isengard quickly (TTT p.113). Jackson has the Ents opposed to war until Treebeard sees the destruction on the southern edge of the forest. While Jackson's telling makes a much more overt environmental statement, I am constantly bothered by how quickly all the Ents show up after Treebeard howls. What? Were they all just hanging out there at the southern edge of the forest, for they surely showed up awfully quick?
  23. Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas plan to search the burnt bodies of the Orcs last, not first (TTT p.117). Jackson has Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas search the burnt bodies first, despair, and then examine the surrounding area.
  24. The first clues that Aragorn finds of the Hobbits survival are lembas crumbs (TTT p.117). Jackson has Aragorn say "a Hobbit lay here". This bothered me because the spot where he says a Hobbit lay is but 20 or so feet from the stacked and burnt bodies of the Orcs. One would think that area would have be heavily trafficked by Rohirrim stacking the dead.
  25. Gandalf names Shadowfax one of the Mearas (TTT p.137). Jackson has Legolas name Shadowfax one of the Mearas. In fact, the line "unless my eyes are cheated by some spell" actually belongs to one of the guards at the gate of Edoras (TTT p.144).
  26. Gimli rides with Gandalf on Shadowfax on the journey from Fangorn to Edoras (TTT p.138). Jackson has Gimli riding on a horse with Legolas.
  27. Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas lead their horses through the gate of Edoras and up to the Golden Hall (TTT p.143-145). Jackson has the four companions ride through an underguarded front gate at Edoras.
  28. Legolas carries one knife (TTT p.146). Jackson has Legolas carry two knives.
  29. Theoden's eyes still burn "with a bright light" when the four companions approach his throne (TTT p.148). Jackson portrays Theoden with opaque, glazed eyes.
  30. Eowyn is standing behind Theoden's throne in the Golden Hall when the companions arrive (TTT p.148). Jackson has her enter when Gandalf is "exorcising" Saruman.
  31. Theoden stands to address Gandalf and company and says quite a bit (TTT p.149). Jackson has a seated, feeble Theoden mumble a few, barely intelligible words.
  32. Gandalf bids Theoden rise and step outside his hall to breathe the free air as a means to breaking the spell upon him (TTT p.151-153). Jackson has Theoden channel Saruman (there is no mention of Saruman "possessing" Theoden in the book) and then Gandalf strike Theoden on the head with his staff to break the spell.
  33. Wormtongue is the only one hostile toward the four companions in the Golden Hall (TTT p.152). Jackson has the four companions waylaid by toughs in Wormtongue's "employ".
  34. When the spell on Theoden is broken, he merely stands, smiles, and casts aside his walking stick (TTT p.153). Jackson has Theoden go through some sort of age-regression metamorphosis. The only hint of such a change in the book is the line: "...yet he looked at Gandalf and smiled and as he did so many lines of care were smoothed away and did not return" (TTT p.153).
  35. Eomer had been imprisoned for threatening Wormtongue (TTT p.153,162). Jackson has Eomer banished and roaming the lands of Rohan with his loyal fellows.
  36. Theoden grasps Eomer's sword to recall his strength (TTT p.155). Jackson has Theoden draw his own sword. Of course, this issue is muddled by the fact that Eomer had not been banished (as Jackson told the tale) but was a recently freed prisoner who had been held at Edoras.
  37. The women and children of Edoras are sent to the fastness of Dunharrow (TTT p.156). Jackson has the women and children of Edoras join Theoden and the Rohirrim on a march to Helm's Deep. This issue is muddled by the fact that Theoden and the Rohirrim did not set out from Edoras for Helm's Deep (as Jackson told the tale) but to the Fords of Isen and battle with Saruman (TTT p.156,167-168).
  38. Gandalf names Wormtongue's desire for Eowyn (TTT p.159). Jackson has Eomer name Wormtongue's desire for Eowyn.
  39. Theoden does not raise his sword against Wormtongue but bids him depart with a horse (TTT p.159). Jackson has Theoden raise his sword to kill Wormtongue and then restrained by Aragorn.
  40. Gimli has a short corslet forged in the Mountains of the North for armor (TTT p.161-162). Jackson has Gimli try on a long, chain mail shirt given to him by the Rohirrim.
  41. Eowyn accepts her charge to go with the women and children to Dunharrow willingly (TTT p.163). Jackson has Eowyn complain about not being able to fight either the Warg riders or on the walls of Helm's Deep (of course, she wasn't at Helm's Deep in the book).
  42. Gimli rides on Eomer's horse to battle with Saruman's Orcs (TTT p.164). Jackson has Gimli riding his own horse to war with Saruman's Orcs. Also, Gimli never falls from a horse.
  43. The Rohirrim rode to fight with Saruman at the Fords of Isen but then retreated to Helm's Deep when word reached them of the flight of the men of the Westfold to Helm's Deep (TTT p.167-168). Jackson has Theoden and the Rohirrim heading to Helm's Deep from the get-go.
  44. When Gandalf parts company with Theoden prior to Helm's Deep, he does not promise to return at a specific time. Additionally, he goes to aid Erkenbrand and the Rohirrim of the Westfold (TTT p.168-169,170). Jackson has Gandalf promise to arrive at Helm's Deep at a specific time. Also, he has him leave to retrieve Eomer and his men. Again, the significance of this point is muddled by Jackson's handling of the Eomer storyline.
  45. Theoden and the Rohirrim see the Orcs approaching behind them just prior to their arrival at Helm's Deep (TTT p.171). Jackson has the Rohirrim safely in Helm's Deep before the Orcs arrive and has Aragorn spy their approach just prior to his arrival at Helm's Deep. Of course, this too is muddled by Jackson's insertion of the Warg rider battle, Aragorn's fall from the cliff, and more pointless Arwen booyah.
  46. The women and children at Helm's Deep are refugees from the Westfold (TTT p.172). Jackson has the women and children of Meduseld ride with Theoden and the Rohirrim to Helm's Deep. Again, this is muddled by the fact that Tolkien has Theoden set out for war at the Fords of Isen while Jackson has Theoden leading all of Meduseld to Helm's Deep (women and children included).
  47. The Orcs fired the first volley of arrows at Helm's Deep (TTT p.175). Jackson has one of the men on the Deeping Wall fire the first arrow which incites the Orcs to charge.
  48. Eomer and Aragorn sneak out the "side-hatch" to drive the Orcs from the gate (TTT p.176). Jackson has Gimli and Aragorn take on this task. However, in the book Gimli does show up there just in time to save Eomer and Aragorn from a couple of Orcs who had been pretending to be dead (TTT p.177).
  49. There was a narrow path from the "side-hatch" to the bridge leading up to the gate (TTT p.176). Jackson has a gap there, presumably, so he could insert a Dwarf-tossing joke.
  50. Orcs sneak through the culvert in the Deeping Wall without explosives (TTT p.178). Jackson has no Orcs enter through the culvert until it had been blown upon with explosives. However, in the book explosives are used to widen the culvert later in the battle (TTT p.180-181).
  51. Gimli is separated from Legolas and Aragorn and driven back to the caves (TTT p.181-182). Jackson has Gimli rescued by Legolas and Aragorn after the explosives are set off, and the three of them are never separated.
  52. Theoden suggests riding out to meet the enemy (TTT p.183). Jackson has Aragorn suggest riding out to meet the enemy to a despairing Theoden.
  53. Theoden and his mounted remnant drive the Orcs back from Helm's Deep (TTT p.185). Jackson has Theoden and his mounted remnant riding out to what is surely certain death.
  54. Gandalf shows up with Erkenbrand when the Orcs are already dismayed by Theoden's charge (TTT p.186). Jackson has Gandalf show up with Eomer just in time to rescue Theodon, Aragorn, and the mounted remnant from certain death.
  55. Gimli says that he killed 42 Orcs at Helm's Deep (TTT p.188). Jackson has Gimli end his tally at 43.
  56. Hama is killed and cut to pieces before the gates of Helm's Deep by Orcs (TTT p.191,237). Jackson has Hama killed by a Warg in a scene that does not exist in the book.
  57. Gandalf and Theoden do not meet with Treebeard in front of Orthanc but at the northern wall of Isengard (TTT p.209). Jackson has Gandalf and Theoden meet Treebeard at the foot of Orthanc.
  58. Saruman had men at Orthanc "to guard the gates: some of his most faithful servants" (TTT p.210-211). Jackson portrays Isengard as being completely run by Saruman and Orcs; in fact, it is Orcs who come and ask in the tower: "What news from Mordor, my lord?".
  59. The knives of Merry and Pippin are returned to them at Isengard by Aragorn (TTT p.215). Jackson has Gimli find the knives amidst the charred Orc bodies left by the Rohirrim near Fangorn (although, in the book, the companions never search the charred heap of bodies).
  60. Merry and Pippin saw Isengard emptied while waiting outside of its gate with Treebeard (TTT p.217-218). Jackson has Merry and Pippin spy the armies of Isengard marching toward Helm's Deep before Treebeard and the Hobbits reach the Entmoot.
  61. The Ents kill or drive off all of those defending Saruman, then spend the evening preparing to break the dam (TTT p.224-225). Jackson has the Ents break the dam as a means to destroying what Orcs are left in Isengard.
  62. The Huorns encamped around Isengard leave prior to the arrival of Theoden, Gandalf, Aragorn, et.al. at Isengard (TTT p.226). Jackson has Theoden, Gandalf, Aragorn, et.al. arrive at Isengard by picking their way through the Huorns.
  63. Wormtongue arrives at Isengard after Treebeard and the Ents have broken the dam and flooded the surrounding plain (TTT p.227). Jackson has Wormtongue arrive at Isengard before the Orcs are sent to Helm's Deep.
  64. Gandalf had the Ents "hide" when he went to speak with Saruman (TTT p.232). Jackson has the Ents milling about around the tower of Orthanc when Gandalf approaches Orthanc. Of course, this is muddied due to Jackson having Gandalf meet Treebeard at the foot of Orthanc instead of at the northern wall.
  65. Gandalf, Aragorn, Theoden, Eomer, Legolas, and Gimli ascend the steps to the door of Orthanc to speak with Saruman (TTT p.233). Jackson has Gandalf and his companions speak with Saruman from horseback.
  66. Saruman speaks to Gandalf and his companions from a window above the door to Orthanc (TTT p.234). Jackson has Saruman speak to Gandalf and his companions from atop Orthanc.
  67. Theoden is, at first, overwhelmed by Saruman and struggles with his thoughts for some time before mastering himself (TTT p.235-237). Jackson has Theoden bark back at Saruman's words straightaway. In doing so, Jackson has fashioned a Saruman that is much less threatening (excluding those fireballs he shoots from his staff) than one finds in the book.
  68. Saruman attempts to flatter Gandalf with kind words and offers him counsel (TTT p.238). Jackson has Saruman treat Gandalf gruffly from the get-go (and has Gandalf asking for counsel). It might be added that Jackson has completely omitted Gandalf's references to Saruman being a "jailor of Mordor" (TTT p.238).
  69. Saruman turns and crawls away from the window after Gandalf breaks his staff (TTT p.241) thus ending the company's dealing with Saruman until he shows up again in the chapter "The Scouring of the Shire" in The Return of the King (which Jackson did not film). Jackson has Saruman stand before the Gandalf's company clutching his hand while Theoden tries to reason with Wormtongue.
  70. Grima throws the palantir at Gandalf's company...much to Saruman's displeasure (TTT p.241,243). Jackson has the Palantir slip from Saruman's sleeve after his fatal fall from atop Orthanc.
  71. Pippin is in a vale halfway between Isengard and Helm's Deep when he sneaks through camp to snatch the Palantir from under a sleeping Gandalf's arm (TTT p.249-251,256). Jackson has Pippin back at Edoras when he snatches the Palantir from Gandalf. The significance of this is muddled by the fact that the heroes head for Helm's Deep after dealing with Saruman, not Edoras.
  72. Merry is sleeping when Pippin finally decides to take the palantir from Gandalf (TTT p.250). Jackson has Merry awake and gaping at Pippin's ill-advised pilfering.
  73. Pippin's cry of anguish wakes up the whole camp (TTT p.252). Jackson has most of the Men near Pippin remain asleep even after Legolas and Aragorn burst in to "save" Pippin from the palantir.
  74. Gandalf tells Pippin that he sees "no lie in [his] eyes" immediately after questioning him about what he saw in the palantir (TTT p.253). Jackson has Gandalf telling Theoden that there was "no lie in his eyes" at a gathering in the king's hall at Edoras.
  75. Gandalf puzzles out the connection between Mordor and Orthanc after he and Pippin depart for Gondor (TTT p.258-260). Jackson has Saruman boast of his alliance with Sauron when admonishing Gandalf and his company from atop Orthanc.
  76. Frodo falls while trying to climb down a slope without rope. When he later tries to climb using the Elven rope, he does not slip and fall (TTT p.271-272,274-275). Jackson has Frodo slip and fall when trying to climb down a slope using the Elven rope.
  77. Gollum falls while trying to climb down to Sam and Frodo (TTT p.279-280). Jackson has Sam and Frodo pull Gollum down off the rock face.
  78. Sam ties the Elven rope around Gollum's ankle (TTT p.284). Jackson has Sam and Frodo tie the Elven rope around Gollum's neck.
  79. Gollum leads the Hobbits on across the Dead Marshes by night so as to avoid being seen by spies of the Enemy (TTT p.286,289). Jackson has Gollum lead the Hobbits across the Dead Marshes by day.
  80. Gollum sings his song about fish being "so tasty sweet" at the border of the Emyn Muil and the Dead Marshes (TTT p.287-288). Jackson has Gollum sing this song in the Forbidden Pool beneath Henneth Annun.
  81. Sam finds Frodo standing lost in thought in the Dead Marshes with slime and filth on his arms (TTT p.296). Jackson has Frodo fall into the Dead Marshes and nearly perish if not for an 'unlikely' rescue at the hands of Gollum.
  82. Sam overhears Gollum's debate with himself before the Hobbits reach the Black Gate (TTT p.303-305). Jackson has this debate occur unheard by the Hobbits after the Hobbits move south into Ithilien. It is also worth noting that, at least in Sam's mind, the "good" Gollum does not triumph in this debate (TTT p.311).
  83. Sam hears Gollum mention a "She" (TTT p.305). Jackson has Gollum mention "She" when far ahead and out of earshot of the Hobbits. Of course, Jackson tries to cover his tracks by inserting another debate of Gollum's later in his telling that Sam does overhear.
  84. There are Orc patrols of Mordor spied in front of the Black Gate (TTT p.309). Jackson has no Orc patrols in front of the Black Gate.
  85. Sam does not cause a ruckus before the Black Gate (TTT p.310-311). Jackson has Sam fall from a vantage point causing a large rockslide. This issue is muddled by the fact that, in the book, the Hobbits and Gollum view the Black Gate from a hollow before the gate (TTT p.312), not from a precipice.
  86. Frodo heeds Gollum's advice not to try the Black Gate and despairs (TTT p.310-311). Jackson has Frodo start to make for the gate and then has Gollum and Sam pull him back.
  87. Gollum says that the Black Hand has four fingers (TTT p.315). Jackson has Isildur cut all of Sauron's fingers off [see FOTR pt.5].
  88. Sam asks Gollum to find Frodo something fit to eat for a "hungry hobbit" (TTT p.329). Jackson has Gollum find Sam and Frodo some rabbit to eat as a goodwill gesture.
  89. Faramir and his men find Sam and Frodo before they start attacking the Southrons (TTT p.335). Jackson has Faramir and his men find Sam and Frodo after the oliphaunt charges over them. And thus, I might add, begins a huge restructuring of the tale on Jackson's part. Jackson, in my opinion, commits another Major Mistake in his handling of the Faramir storyline.
  90. Frodo does not deny knowing Gollum when questioned by Faramir (TTT p.336). Jackson has Frodo deny that he and Sam have a travelling companion.
  91. Sam climbs a tree and from there sees the oliphaunt (TTT p.340). Jackson has Sam and Frodo see the oliphaunt while laying on the ground.
  92. Sam wonders what sort of life the dead Southron led before being called to Mordor for Sauron's war (TTT p.341). Jackson has Faramir wonder about the dead Southron.
  93. Arrows skip off the hides of the oliphaunts (TTT p.341). Jackson has arrows sticking out the oliphaunts like they were something akin to pin-cushions...and, in fact, they stick so well that Jackson has Legolas climb up the backside of an oliphaunt using arrows as a type of ladder in his retelling of The Return of the King.
  94. Faramir questions Frodo in the wild of Ithilien (TTT p.345-355). Jackson has Faramir question Frodo in the fastness of Henneth Annun. In fact, in the book Faramir takes Frodo back to Henneth Annun not because he is suspicious of Frodo, but because he feels that area is not safe to travel in immediately following the assault of his men upon the Southrons (TTT p.350-351).
  95. Boromir insisted on going to Rivendell to ask about the riddle (TTT p.354,ROTK p.29). Jackson has Denethor insist that a somewhat reluctant Boromir go to Rivendell.
  96. Faramir never intended to take the Ring to Minas Tirith (TTT p.354,367,383). Jackson has Faramir take Frodo as far back toward Minas Tirith as Osgiliath before he finally gives up on the idea of hindering Frodo's quest. And, of course, in the book Faramir never leads the Hobbits to Osgiliath.
  97. Sam tells Faramir that Frodo has the One Ring (TTT p.366). Jackson has Gollum tell Faramir that Frodo has the One Ring.
  98. Faramir does not even want to see the Ring (TTT p.368). Jackson has Faramir pull that Ring out from under Frodo's shirt with his sword.
  99. Faramir asks the Hobbits where they want to go (TTT p.368). Jackson has Faramir giving the Hobbits no choice until his booyah Osgiliath scene that should never have been.
  100. Sam followed Frodo and Faramir to view Gollum swimming in the Forbidden Pool (TTT p.370-371). Jackson has Faramir lead Frodo to the overlook without having Sam awaken.
  101. Gollum is not beaten, but is questioned honestly and treated rather well (TTT p.378-379). Jackson has Faramir's men beat and kick Gollum cruelly.
  102. Frodo is present when Gollum is questioned by Faramir and helps to soothe him (TTT p.378-379). Jackson has Faramir question Gollum without Sam and Frodo present...and then goes on to add the pointless scene of Sam encouraging Frodo to put on the Ring and escape (a scene that is not in the book).
  103. The Ring, as mentioned, does not go to Osgiliath. Instead, Sam, Frodo, and Gollum are released by Faramir and given leave to wander Gondor (TTT p.386). Jackson has Faramir lead Sam, Frodo, and Gollum as far as Osgiliath before releasing them...and then does so with some bogus speech of Jackson's contrivance about him having to answer to Denethor for his gross insubordination. Bah!
  104. Frodo points at the statue's head at the crossroads and says to Sam, "Look, the king has got a crown again!" (TTT p.395). Jackson has Sam point out the crown of flowers to Frodo.
  105. Minas Morgul glows with a pale light like the "moon ailing in some slow eclipse" (TTT p.396-397). Jackson has Minas Morgul glow green.
  106. Frodo exerts his will and makes the effort to turn away from the road to Minus Morgul (TTT p.398). Jackson has Frodo stumble toward Minas Morgul until both Sam and Gollum drag him back against his "will" to the foot of the Stairs of Cirith Ungol.
  107. When the gate of Minas Morgul opens, its tower emits blue lightnings (TTT p.399). Jackson has Minas Morgul emit some sort of greenish column of "smoke" when the gate opens.
  108. When the Orc army issues from Minas Morgul, there is a cavalry at the fore led by the Witch-King on horseback (TTT p.400). Jackson has a column of foot soldiers issue from Minas Morgul, never portrays Mordor cavalry, and has the Witch-King mounted on one of the flying beasts of Mordor.
  109. Sam's speech about he and Frodo being put into stories occurs on the stairs leading up to Shelob's Lair (TTT p.407-409). Jackson has Sam give an abbreviated form of this speech when he and Frodo are hiking through Ithilien after being released by Faramir.
  110. Gollum does not steal the lembas from the Hobbits and fling it down the mountainside (TTT p.411). In fact, Sam still has a packet of lembas when he and Frodo are dressed in Orc gear after escaping from the Tower of Cirith Ungol (ROTK p.243). Jackson has Gollum discard the lembas in order to undermine Frodo's trust in Sam when, in fact, no such scene is to be found in the book.
  111. Frodo does not send Sam back to the Shire (TTT p.412-414). Jackson has Frodo do just this when, again, there is no such scene to be found in the book.
  112. Sam guesses that the stench emitted from Shelob's Lair is Orc filth (TTT p.415). Jackson has Gollum tell Frodo and Sam that the stench is Orc filth.
  113. Sam and Frodo enter and go through Shelob's Lair together (TTT p.415-422). Jackson has Frodo and Sam make it through Shelob's Lair separately. Of course, this is muddled by Jackson's insertion of the bogus scene in which Frodo sends Sam back to the Shire.
  114. Shelob's Lair is pitch black, and the Hobbits have to pick their way through by feeling the walls of the tunnel with their hands (TTT p.415). Jackson has Shelob's Lair rather well lit, in my humble opinion.
  115. Frodo confronts Shelob. He moves to attack her, and she retreats (TTT p.419-420). Jackson has Frodo running from her and holding up the Light of Galadriel in defense, but never taking such an overt offensive.
  116. Frodo bounces off the webs of Shelob (TTT p.421). Jackson has Frodo stuck helpless and spread-eagle in Shelob's web, yet somehow able to cut his way free.
  117. Sam sees Shelob issue from the cave and cries out to warn Frodo (TTT p.425). Jackson, having for some reason separated Sam and Frodo, has no one see Shelob issue from her lair.
  118. Gollum flees into Shelob's Lair after his fight with Sam (TTT p.426-427). Jackson has Frodo force Gollum over a ledge and shows him falling what seems to be a great distance (though he seems to miraculously survive it and recover in time to show up again on the slopes of Mt. Doom).
  119. Shelob stings Frodo in the neck (TTT p.431). Jackson has Shelob sting Frodo in the belly--despite the fact that he's still wearing the mithril shirt!
  120. Sam learns that Frodo is alive by listening to Gorbag and Shagrat talk on the other side of a door (TTT p.444). Jackson has Sam crouched behind a rock near where he left Frodo for dead when he hears Gorbag say that Frodo is still alive.

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The Return of the King

Here is the last installment. You may note that there are large chunks of the book in which I have not pointed out any deviations. This is because Jackson did not include large chunks of content from Tolkien's tale into his film. Of note, the pivotal Scouring of the Shire is completely ignored as is a great portion of Sam and Frodo's journey across the lands of Mordor. One semi-related bit: Arwen's only lines in the book are found on page 311 of The Return of the King. If only Jackson had kept her role so brief.

  1. Gandalf and Pippin witness the lighting of the beacons of Gondor from the back of Shadowfax as they ride from Rohan to Minas Tirith (ROTK p.20). Jackson has Pippin light the beacon of Gondor.
  2. Gandalf dismounts Shadowfax before the Seventh Gate of Gondor for no horses are allowed on the level of Gondor wherein lies the White Tree before the Citadel (ROTK p.26). Jackson has Gandalf ride Shadowfax right up the White Tree.
  3. Gandalf warns Pippin that Denethor will expect to hear about Boromir from him but cautions him not to mention Aragorn (ROTK p.27). Jackson has Gandalf tell Pippin not to speak at all.
  4. Denethor is already aware that Pippin was with Boromir when he died (ROTK p.29). Jackson has Denethor unaware that Pippin was with Boromir when he died.
  5. When Pippin offers his service and sword to Denethor, he swears fealty then and there (ROTK p.31). Jackson has Pippin offer his service upon arriving in Minas Tirith and then swear fealty the next day.
  6. Pippin and Gandalf eat with Denethor after Pippin swears fealty (ROTK p.31-32). Jackson has Pippin swear fealty with Faramir (not Gandalf) as witness and then eats in front of Pippin (not with him).
  7. Gandalf does not consider Pippin's offer of fealty foolish (ROTK p.34-35). Jackson has Gandalf tell Pippin that his offer was foolish.
  8. There are no women and children left in Minas Tirith--except those in the Houses of Healing (ROTK p.160). The women and children had been sent off to the refuges (ROTK p.41). Jackson has Minas Tirith brimming with women and children.
  9. Beregond says to Pippin that the calm is the "deep breath before the plunge" (ROTK p.42). Jackson has Gandalf speak these lines.
  10. Beregond tells Pippin that the "hammer stroke" of the Enemy will fall hardest on Minas Tirith (ROTK p.43). Jackson has Gandalf speak these lines.
  11. Pippin expresses his feelings about "waiting on the edge of [a battle] that I can't escape is worst of all" to Beregond (ROTK p.44). Jackson has Pippin express these feelings to Gandalf.
  12. Elrohir, son of Elrond, encourages Aragorn to seek the Paths of the Dead (ROTK p.55-56,63-64). Jackson has Elrond show up at Dunharrow to encourage Aragorn to seek the Paths of the Dead.
  13. Theoden already has plans to take Merry with him to Dunharrow as an esquire when Merry kneels before Theoden offering his service--in a sense, formalizing the arrangement--while at Theoden's table at Helm's Deep...in Eomer's presense (ROTK p.58-59). Jackson has Merry come upon Theoden while he is watching the Rohirrim march out of Edoras toward Dunharrow and offer his service as esquire. Of course, this is muddied by the fact that Theoden rode to Helm's Deep after departing Isengard, not Edoras.
  14. Aragorn gains knowledge of the black ships of the Corsairs from the palantir (ROTK p.63). Jackson has Aragorn learn of the Corsairs from Elrond who, if I haven't mentioned this already, never came to Dunharrow.
  15. Aragorn tells of his intentions to walk the Paths of the Dead and even asks Gimli and Legolas to come with him (ROTK p.64). Not only that, he is also joined by Elrond's sons and the Dunedain (ROTK p.65,70). Jackson has Aragorn trying to sneak off without telling anyone and saying to Gimli and Legolas, "No, not this time."
  16. Aragorn arrives at Dunharrow before Theoden and takes to the Paths of the Dead before he arrives (ROTK p.69). Jackson has Aragorn and Theoden ride to Dunharrow together.
  17. Aragorn passes into the Paths of the Dead, calls out to the Dead there, and they follow without discussion convening at the Stone of Erech and then setting out to war (ROTK p.72-74). Jackson has Aragorn parley with the King of the Dead who refuses to answer his summons instead disappearing into the dark with his army.
  18. All of the Rohirrim respond to the muster of Rohan (ROTK p.80). Jackson has Theoden ask where the Riders from Snowbourne are and is told that they haven't shown up.
  19. It is when Hirgon, the errand-rider from Gondor, presents the Red Arrow that the dire peril of Gondor is made plain to Theoden King (ROTK p.86). Jackson omits the Red Arrow and has Theoden respond to the beacons of Gondor.
  20. Merry does not recognize Eowyn in armor until she confronts the Lord of the Nazgul (ROTK p.93,142). Jackson has Merry recognize her right away. In fact, Jackson has Merry and Eowyn converse on the journey to Minas Tirith at one of the camps though Tolkien says that Eowyn (aka Dernhelm) speaks to no one and that Pippin longs for someone with whom to talk (ROTK p.127-128).
  21. Pippin does not sing for Denethor (ROTK p.96). Jackson has Pippin sing a song for Denethor.
  22. Faramir crosses the Pelennor with four comrades (ROTK p.99). Jackson has Faramir cross the Pelennor with 50 or so riders. Also, he is coming from Ithilien, not Osgiliath (ROTK p.102-103).
  23. Gandalf rides out to aid Faramir and his comrades by himself (ROTK p.99-100). Jackson has Gandalf ride out with Pippin to aid Faramir and his comrades.
  24. Faramir tells Gandalf and Denethor that he has seen hobbits before in council (ROTK p.102). Jackson has Gandalf guess that Faramir has seen a hobbit before just inside the gates of Minas Tirith.
  25. Denethor is upset with Faramir for not bringing him the Ring (ROTK p.104). Jackson has Denethor upset with Faramir for abandoning Osgiliath when, like I mentioned, he didn't come from there nor had Osgiliath been abandoned.
  26. Gandalf tells Denethor that if Boromir had taken the Ring, he would have fallen and that, upon returning to Minas Tirith, Denethor would not have recognized him (ROTK p.104). Jackson has Faramir tell Denethor that the Ring would have corrupted Boromir.
  27. Faramir is sent to Osgiliath by Denethor to bolster the defenses there (ROTK p.109). Jackson has Denethor send Faramir to Osgiliath to retake it.
  28. When Faramir leads his men in the retreat from Osgiliath, he is aided by the Prince of Dol Amroth and his riders (ROTK p.114). In fact, the Prince of Dol Amroth bears the injured Faramir back to Minas Tirith (ROTK p.114). Jackson has Faramir dragged by his horse back from Osgiliath alone.
  29. The range of the trebuchets of Minas Tirith is too short to reach the armies of the Enemy (ROTK p.116). Jackson has the trebuchets of Minas Tirith toss blocks of stone onto the armies of the Enemy.
  30. The first volley from the catapults of the armies of Mordor consists of missiles--some of which explode on impact. The second volley consists of the heads of fallen Gondorian warriors (ROTK p.117). Jackson has the armies of Mordor sling the heads of the fallen as the sum of the first volley.
  31. The airborne Nazgul are careful not to fly within range of the arrows of the Gondorian archers (ROTK p.117-118). Jackson has the Nazgul swooping down and picking up Gondorian soldiers from the battlements...something they never do in the book.
  32. Gandalf takes command of the defense of Minas Tirith because Denethor refuses to leave Faramir (ROTK p.118-119). Jackson has Denethor despair, tell his troops to abandon their posts, and then has Gandalf whack him on the head and take command of the defense.
  33. Pippin does not accept his dismissal from Denethor's service (ROTK p.120). Jackson has Denethor physically remove Pippin from his sight. This issue is muddled by the fact that Denethor's dismissal of Pippin occurs in the Citadel, not in the tombs. Thus, in the books, Pippin is not locked out of the tombs after being thrown out by Denethor.
  34. The tombs of the Stewards are in the 6th circle of Gondor (ROTK p.121). Jackson has a burning Denethor flinging himself to his death from the level of the Citadel which would require quite a trek for a burning man. Of course, this is muddled by the fact that Denethor never jumps from the level of the Citadel, nor any other level, to his death (more on this below).
  35. When the gates of Minas Tirith are broken down, the first through the gate is the Witch-King, the Lord of the Nazgul, on horseback--all others had fled save Gandalf on Shadowfax (ROTK p.125). Jackson has trolls and orcs charge through the gate when it is broken down and has Gandalf confront the Witch-King later on the battlements of Minas Tirith.
  36. The Witch-King is wearing a "kingly crown" (ROTK p.125). Jackson has the Witch-King wearing a bulky, spiked helm.
  37. The Rohirrim show up just as the gate is broken down (ROTK p.126). Jackson has the Rohirrim show up when all but the last circle of Gondor has been taken. In fact, the armies of Mordor never get past the first circle of Gondor.
  38. Theoden's horse is shot by a poison arrow and then falls on the King of the Mark (ROTK p.140). Jackson has the steed of the Witch-King grab Theoden and his horse in its mouth and fling them and, thus, mortally wounding both.
  39. Eowyn declares herself as woman before killing the steed of the Witch-King (ROTK p.141-142). Jackson has Eowyn declare herself after killing the Witch-King's steed (and after, I might add, Merry stabs him in the leg).
  40. Eowyn cuts off the head of the Witch-King's steed with one, swift stroke (ROTK p.142). Jackson has her hack at the neck twice before separating the head from the body.
  41. The Witch-King wields a mace (ROTK p.143). Jackson has the Witch-King wielding a flail.
  42. Eowyn's sword shatters in a shower of sparks when she stabs the Witch-King (ROTK p.143). Jackson has her sword remain intact. He doesn't even have it break.
  43. Theoden's horse rolls off of him before Merry and Eomer hear his last words (ROTK p.143-145). Jackson has Eowyn hear Theoden's last words while his horse still lies on top of him. This is muddled by the fact that, in the book, Eowyn lays unconscious near the King of the Mark, and it is Merry and Eomer who hear Theoden's last words before Eomer notices Eowyn lying nearby.
  44. Eomer shouts, "Death! Ride to ruin and world's ending!" after finding Theoden slain on the field of battle. All the Rohirrim then cry "DEATH!" with one voice and charge into battle (ROTK p.145). Jackson has Theoden lead the Rohirrim in the Death! chant before the initial assault of the Riders of Rohan.
  45. The mumakil are not engaged by the Rohirrim for their horses refuse to draw near to them (ROTK p.148). Jackson has the Rohirrim ride right up to the mumakil and take them on.
  46. The Dead who followed Aragorn from the Paths of the Dead are told that their oath has been fulfilled in Pelagir, 42 leagues south of Minas Tirith. They never show up to take part in the battle on the Pelennor (ROTK p.150,187). Jackson has Aragorn show up at Minas Tirith with the Dead when, in the book, Aragorn shows up with soldiers mustered from Lebennin, Lamedon, and the fiefs of Gondor south of Minas Tirith--along with the Dunedain and Elrond's sons (ROTK p.150).
  47. Beregond was holding the door of the tombs against the Tower Guard preventing them from assisting Denethor in lighting his funeral pyre (ROTK p.155). Jackson omits Beregond from his telling and has Denethor's servants preparing the pyre for Faramir and himself unhindered.
  48. Gandalf jumps up and removes Faramir from the pyre prepared in the tombs (ROTK p.156). Jackson has Pippin roll Faramir off of the pyre. Note that in the book, the pyre had not been lit when Gandalf removed Faramir.
  49. Denethor's speech about not being supplanted by some Ranger from the North occurs in the tombs (ROTK p.158). Jackson has Denethor give this speech when Gandalf and Pippin first come before Denethor after riding from Rohan.
  50. Denethor burns to death on the pyre in the tombs--holding the palantir of Minas Tirith, I might add (ROTK p.159). Jackson has Denethor run burning from the tombs and then jumping to his death.
  51. Pippin finds the injured Merry in the streets of Minas Tirith (ROTK p.163). Jackson has Pippin find Merry on the field of battle.
  52. Aragorn tells Eomer that in him Eowyn only loves "a shadow and a thought" (ROTK p.175). Jackson has Aragorn tell this to Eowyn herself back in Dunharrow.
  53. Merry still has some of Saruman's pipeweed in his pack (ROTK p.178). Jackson has Merry giving Pippin the last of his pipeweed in Rohan.
  54. Pippin still has some Longbottom Leaf of his own left (ROTK p.179). Jackson has Merry giving Pippin the last of his pipeweed in Rohan because he knows that Pippin has smoked all his already.
  55. The Dead were like a "grey tide" according to Gimli (ROTK p.186,187). Jackson has the Dead appear as a sort of sickly green.
  56. When Aragorn and the Army of the Dead come upon the main fleet of the Umbar, there were "fifty great ships and smaller vessels beyond count" (ROTK p.186). Jackson has a despondent Aragorn (for the Army of the Dead had yet to answer his call) spy the fleet of the Umbar which numbers a mere 13 ships. In addition, Jackson has Aragorn spy the ships immediately after coming out from under the mountain whereas Tolkien does not have them reach the Pelagir, where the main fleet lay, until Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and the Army of the Dead had traveled 93 leagues, i.e., 279 miles (ROTK p.184).
  57. Aragorn releases the Army of the Dead after the aid him in defeating the fleet of Umbar. The freed slaves and men from southern Gondor then man the ships (ROTK p.187). Jackson has the Army of the Dead remain in Aragorn's service until the Battle of the Pelennor Fields has come to an end.
  58. The Captains of Gondor convene their council in Aragorn's tent outside of the walls of Minas Tirith (ROTK p.189). Jackson has this council take place in the throne room of the Citadel.
  59. Gandalf states that Sauron cannot be defeated by force of arms (ROTK p.189). Jackson has Eomer speak these words.
  60. Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron via the palantir of Orthanc while encamped at Helm's Deep (ROTK p.190). Jackson has Aragorn reveal himself to Sauron after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in the Citadel of Minas Tirith.
  61. Gandalf suggests sending an army to the Black Gate as a diversion (ROTK p.191-192). Jackson has Aragorn suggest the diversion.
  62. Merry does not ride to the Black Gate with the host from Gondor because of the injury he took when stabbing the Witch-King (ROTK p.195). Jackson has Merry go to the Black Gate.
  63. The Black Gate is a rampart with three archways beneath which are three gates (ROTK p.200). Jackson portrays the Black Gate as a singular, swinging gate.
  64. The hosts led by Aragorn and the Captains of Gondor are arrayed on two hills before the Black Gate (ROTK p.201,206). Jackson has the hosts of Gondor massed on a single, low rise in front of the Black Gate.
  65. The heralds of the Captains of Gondor demand that Sauron come forth to receive justice (ROTK p.201). Jackson has Aragorn and his Captains ride forth to the Black Gate without heralds or helardry and then has Aragron demand that Sauron come forth.
  66. Trumpets and drums sound from atop the Black Gate before it opens (ROTK p.202). Jackson simply has the gate open.
  67. The Mouth of Sauron rides forth at the front of a small embassy from Sauron (ROTK p.202). Jackson has the Mouth of Sauron ride forth alone.
  68. The Mouth of Sauron looks at Aragorn, Gandalf, and the others when he speaks to them (ROTK p.202-203,204). Jackson has the Mouth of Sauron wearing a helm that covers his eyes.
  69. The Mouth of Sauron shows Gandalf and the others Frodo's cloak and mithril shirt as well as Sam's sword (ROTK p.203). Jackson has the Mouth of Sauron present only the mithril shirt as "proof" of Frodo's capture.
  70. The Mouth of Sauron states that Frodo's fate depends on whether Gandalf and the others accept Sauron's terms (ROTK p.204). Jackson has the Mouth of Sauron state that Frodo has already been tortured, going so far as to refer to Frodo in the past tense.
  71. Gandalf takes the mithril shirt, cloak, and sword from the Mouth of Sauron (ROTK p.205). Jackson has the Mouth of Sauron throw the mithril shirt at Gandalf.
  72. The Mouth of Sauron rides back through the Black Gate after talks with Gandalf and his companions break down (ROTK p.205). Jackson has Aragorn ride up and behead the Mouth of Sauron.
  73. Aragorn has no time to deliver a speech before the Orcs come streaming out of the Black Gate (ROTK p.206-207). Jackson has Aragorn deliver a speech while the armies of Mordor simply walk out and surround the host of Gondor without even firing arrows (which, of course, they do in the book).
  74. Pippin imagines that he hears someone shouting, "The Eagles are coming!" as he lies beneath the corpse of a fallen troll (ROTK p.208). It is actually Gandalf (ROTK p.278). Jackson has an unscathed Pippin spy the Eagles and shout, "The Eagles are coming!".
  75. Sam passage through the gate of the Tower of Cirith Ungol sets of an alarm, "a high shrill cry that echoed in the towering walls" (ROTK p.218). Jackson has Sam simply walk through the gate.
  76. Sam scares one Orc off as he ascends the stairs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol (ROTK p.220). Jackson has Sam kill three Orcs as he ascends the stairs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
  77. Shagrat leaps past Sam and runs off to Barad-dur to deliver the items taken from Frodo while another Orc, Snaga, guards Frodo. Snaga, in turn, is not killed by Sam, but has his arm cut off, trips, falls, and breaks his neck (ROTK p.224). Jackson has Sam kill Shagrat. In addition, Jackson has Gorbag make off with the mithril shirt. This is odd because Jackson just had Gorbag and Shagrat start fighting because Gorbag wanted the mithril shirt while Shagrat was going to see that it was taken to Barad-Dur, yet, since the shirt shows up later in the hands of the Mouth of Sauron, one can only assume that Gorbag ended up delivering the shirt to Barad-Dur after all.
  78. Frodo was naked when Sam found him in the tower (ROTK p.227). Jackson has Frodo slightly clothed.
  79. Sam offers to help Frodo bear the burden of the Ring after rescuing him from the Tower of Cirith Ungol (ROTK p.230). Jackson has Sam make this offer on the Straight Stair. This decision of Jackson's leads to another one of his Major Mistakes: having Frodo send Sam home.
  80. Frodo is wrapped in Sam's elven cloak (ROTK p.239) when he and Sam make their way up the slopes of Mt. Doom (ROTK p.264). Jackson has Frodo wearing his shirt but no cloak as he and Sam trudge up the slopes of Mt. Doom.
  81. The Orcs camp mainly along the Morgai, a range of foothills along the western mountains of Mordor (ROTK p.245). Jackson portrays the Orcs of Mordor as camped not only along the Morgai but all the way to Mt. Doom and covering all of the space in between. Also, in the film, when you consider the size of the plain of Gorgoroth (e.g. 60 miles from Mt. Doom to Barad-dur), it is amazing how quickly those torches move when Sam and Frodo witness the Orcs empty the plain as they move toward the Black Gate.
  82. Sam and Frodo escape from the marching Orcs when two regiments of Orcs arrive at a crossroads at the same time and begin fighting (ROTK p.256). Jackson has Frodo and Sam start a fight when their line is stopped for inspection.
  83. Frodo is barely able to crawl 20 yards from the road before collapsing in a pit after escaping the regiment of Orcs (ROTK p.257). Jackson has Frodo and Sam run to a tent to escape.
  84. When Gollum tackles Sam and Frodo as they climb Mt. Doom, Frodo clasps the Ring in his hand and orders Gollum away. Sam never lays a hand on Gollum (ROTK p.272-273). Jackson has Gollum tackle the Hobbits and then has Sam wrestle with Gollum as Frodo makes a dash for the Crack of Doom.
  85. Gollum bites off Frodo's third finger (ROTK p.282), dances with the Ring, slips, and falls into the fires of Mt. Doom. All of this occurs while Frodo merely lies on the ground in pain. (ROTK p.275-276). Jackson has Gollum bite off Frodo's index finger and then has Frodo wrestle with Gollum. Jackson then has both of them fall (though Frodo finds a handhold instead of following Gollum into the fire). This is just another example of Jackson adding some bit of, in my opinion, unnecessary drama to Tolkien's tale.
  86. When the Ring is destroyed, the Orcs attacking the hosts of Gondor before the Black Gate flee (ROTK p.279-280). Jackson has the Orcs attacking the hosts of Gondor swallowed by chasms that suddenly appear beneath them.
  87. Frodo and Sam are reunited with their friends in Ithilien and are there received with great honor by the Captains of the West (ROTK p.284-288). Jackson has Sam and Frodo received with great honor by the Captains of the West in front of the Citadel in Minas Tirith.
  88. Faramir tells Eowyn of his recurring dream in which a great wave rolls over green lands (ROTK p.297). Jackson has Eowyn relate this dream as her own to Aragorn in Meduseld at Edoras.
  89. The crown of the King has wings upon it like that of helms of the Guard of the Citadel (ROTK p.303). Additionally, Tolkien has a drawing of the crown in letter #211 wherein the crown is pictured as standing tall on the head--somewhat akin to the crowns of the Egyptian Pharoahs (Tolkien's Letters).
  90. Jackson has Aragorn given a crown without wings.
  91. Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor before the gate of Minas Tirith (ROTK p.304). Jackson has Aragorn crowned in front of the Citadel.
  92. Frodo informs Bilbo that he "lost the Ring" while visiting with him in Rivendell (ROTK p.328). Jackson has Frodo inform Bilbo of the Ring's fate while the two of them journey from the Shire to the Grey Havens.
  93. The Hobbits return to Hobbiton on foot (ROTK p.365). Jackson has the Hobbits return to the Shire on horseback.
  94. Hobbiton has been marred horribly by Saruman (ROTK p.366). Jackson has the Hobbits return to find Hobbiton much as it was when they set out on their quest. Of course, this is all muddled by Jackson's decision to leave out the Scouring of the Shire, what I consider to be another of Jackson's Four Major Mistakes.
  95. Frodo tells Wormtongue that he need not stay with Saruman (ROTK p.369-370). Jackson has Theoden tell Wormtongue this at Orthanc.
  96. Wormtongue jumps on Saruman, pulls his head back, and slits his throat (ROTK p.370). Jackson has Wormtongue repeatedly stab Saruman in the back.
  97. Wormtongue is slain by three Halfling archers after slitting Saruman's throat (ROTK p.370). Jackson has Legolas kill Wormtongue with a single arrow.
  98. Sam moves into Bag End with Rosie (ROTK p.376-377). The Gaffer lives in 3 Bagshot Row (ROTK p.373). Jackson has Sam live in 3 Bagshot Row with Rosie...even after Sam has returned from the Grey Havens.
  99. Sam recalls that Frodo felt the pain in his shoulder on the anniversary of his confrontation with the Witch-King on Weathertop (ROTK p.378). Jackson has Frodo tell Sam that his pain has returned on the anniversary of that confrontation.
  100. When Frodo tells Sam about his wound not healing, only two years had passed since the attack on Weathertop (ROTK p.378). Jackson has Frodo tell Sam that its been four years.
  101. Bilbo's handwriting is described as 'thin' and 'spidery'. Frodo's is described as 'firm' and 'flowing' (ROTK p.379). Jackson has the handwriting of the two looking darn, near identical.
  102. Frodo gives his written account the title: The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King (ROTK p.380). Jackson has Frodo give the account the simple title: The Lord of the Rings.
  103. Sam and Frodo meet up with Bilbo and the Elves in the countryside outside of Hobbiton (ROTK p.380-381). Jackson has Sam and Frodo meet up with Bilbo in Hobbiton.
  104. Bilbo rides to the Grey Havens on a pony (ROTK p.381). Jackson has Bilbo ride to the Grey Havens in a covered wagon.
  105. Celeborn was not with Galadriel when she took the boat to Valinor with Frodo, Elrond, and Gandalf (ROTK p.383 and Foster's Complete Guide to Middle-Earth also mentions that Celeborn was in Middle Earth during the Fourth Age). Jackson has Celeborn at the Havens with Galadriel. We don't see him board the ship, but we don't see him on the landing with the Hobbits watching it sail off into the sunset either.
  106. Tolkien describes the approach to Valinor with the bit about "a far green country under a swift sunrise" (ROTK p.384). Jackson has Gandalf describe the afterlife to Pippin with these words when, in The Silmarillion it is stated that no one knows what awaits Men (and, by extension, Halflings) in the afterlife. Valinor is only for the Elves...Frodo and Bilbo (and possibly Sam) being the exceptions.
  107. Sam goes into Bag End and sits down before saying to Rosie, "Well, I'm back" (ROTK p.385). Jackson has Sam tell Rosie he's back in front of 3 Bagshot Row before they go inside.

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Other Nit-Picks

  • Orcs - Jackson has Saruman producing the Uruk-Hai. It is intimated that they are the result of a breeding experiment in which Saruman has bred Orcs with "goblin men". In Appendix A of The Return of the King, Tolkien states that Uruk Orcs first appeared out of Mordor over 600 years before the birth of Frodo...and over 400 years before Saruman took up residence in Isengard (ROTK p.414). I must also say that I've always been troubled by Jackson's portrayal of the production of Uruk Orcs (i.e. being farmed). Of course, Tolkien never, to my knowledge, mentions Orc women, but he does say that Orcs are a mockery of the Elves created long ago when Morgoth took Elves prisoner and corrupted them. However, I am intrigued by Tolkien's use of the word 'spawn' (FOTR p.424, ROTK p.225). What exactly Tolkien is implying in using this word, I'm not certain. Certainly, it is food for thought.
  • Arwen - Arwen's only line in the entire book--not including the appendices--occurs on page 311 of ROTK. It also worth noting that she never cries in the books. Jackson stated that he built up her role to make the movies more appealing to female movie-goers. I truly doubt that this had much impact--especially compared to the impact of having Orlando Bloom running around in tights or having Viggo Mortensen up on the big screen. I truly think that the beefing up of Arwen's role was the major mistake of Jackson's adaptation. Omission of the Scouring of the Shire is a close second.
  • The Scouring of the Shire - The chapter is essential in the book. The Scouring of the Shire is where peaceful folk learn that war affects us all, it's where Tolkien makes his point that even common folk far from the troubles of the world must also remain vigilant against the Shadow, that no one is safe from the encroachment of evil regardless of the tranquility of a land such as the Shire, itís where Merry and Pippin really shine, itís where the four hobbits truly realize how much they have matured since leaving Hobbiton, and itís where closure of the Saruman storyline belongs.
  • Narsil - One fella wrote me and said, "As a sometime swordmaker, I state here that 2 pieces or 7 doesn't really matter. No competent smith is going to try to just forge weld a broken sword back together, because doing a jump weld is pretty difficult, and the pieces have to fit exactly for it to work. It is far more likely that the smith would weld the pieces back together into a billet, then forge the billet out to the original form (medieval technology recycling, more or less). Then you'll have beeter control over the end product. But I agree that there was no reason why Jackson should have made it 7 pieces". Another guy wrote and said, "'Reforging' does not mean something like 'welded together'. It means 'melted down & remade'. Still. the 6 pieces was pretty unbelievable -- you'd have to do something like freeze it in nitrogen & then smack it to get it into 6 pieces".
  • The Eye of Sauron - Nowhere in the books is it stated that Sauron appears as a large, disembodied eye perched atop Barad-dur. During the Council of Elrond, Gandalf mentions that he had taken shape while residing in Dol Goldur (FOTR p.328). It is also stated in the appendices of The Return of the King that while Sauron cannot take a form that is fair and pleasing to look upon, he can take a form that is "black and hideous" (p.393). To portray Sauron as some sort of searchlight on top of Barad-dur borders on comical. In fact, I sort of forgave Jackson his portrayal of Sauron in FOTR and TTT, but when he became a lighthouse with a will in ROTK passing his gaze across the plain of Gorgoroth, my patience with the portrayal gave way to disgust.
  • Wearing the Ring - I have major issues with the way the world seems when Frodo is wearing the Ring. In the films, every time Frodo puts the Ring on, Sauron is immediately aware of his exact location. For example, when the Ring slips on Frodo's finger in the Prancing Pony, he has a vision of "the Eye" and the viewer hears a disembodied voice say "I see you". In fact every time Frodo puts the Ring on, he sees the Eye. In the books, the first time Frodo gets the impression that the Eye is searching him out is when he puts the Ring on to escape Boromir, ascends Amon Hen, and there casts his gaze in the direction of Barad-dur. There Tolkien writes: "And suddenly he felt the Eye. There was an eye in the Dark Tower that did not sleep. He knew that it had become aware of his gaze. A fierce eager will was there. It leaped toward him; almost like a finger he felt it, searching for him. Very soon it would nail him down, know just exactly where he was" (FOTR p.519). Notice that the Eye never discerns his location (as it always seems to do in the films). Notice also that Sauron becomes aware of Frodo because Frodo looks toward Barad-dur while wearing the Ring. It is also a sensation that Frodo has. He feels the will of Sauron looking for him; he does not see a burning, lidless Eye. Additionally, it is not until Frodo and Sam reach Mordor that they realize (in fact, it is Sam that suspects it) that they are too close to Barad-dur to risk using the Ring anymore (ROTK p.216-217). One other point, if Jackson were to actually make The Hobbit, how is he going to portray reality when Bilbo wears the Ring? Just a thought.

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Emails of Note

Within 24 hours of posting the site I received over 200 emails. There's no way I can respond to them all as (and this is sure to shock the eight or so people who have "flamed" me) I do have a life, a lovely fiance, and a job. Anyway, there are a couple emails that I wanted to share because these individuals address some of the issues that others have asked me about. One other thing: yes, these emails are from people who are basically supportive of my conclusions regarding major deviations. I have gotten hate mail, but I don't see any point in putting that up, nor do I want to encourage others to out-"flame" the "flames" I've already received.


I both loved and hated the movies for many of the reasons you mention.

One thing to add, that has disturbed me greatly: As I read LOTR, one of Tolkien's central concerns is the question of what is honorable. All of the characters' actions, even when they fail, seem--to me--to be informed by this. I don't think I am making this up, as Tolkien was among other things a Early Medieval scholar and wrote more than one essay seemingly saying as much. But PJ, apparently thinking his audience is too post-modern and too self-absorbed to understand, repeatedly has the "good guys" behaving in selfish, sloppy, or under-handed ways that imply that they have no concept of honor either. Too many scenes to even begin to list--and you have alluded to many of them already--but I nearly stood up screaming in the theater when Aragorn tried to go slinking off to the Paths of the Dead, thereby apparently abandoning his comrades in a most blatantly cowardly fashion in the face of battle. Are we supposed to accept for the sake of "drama" that the foremost king of Middle Earth would needlessly allow himself to appear a coward at such a crucial moment?

In a way, despite the wonderful depiction of Middle Earth, I wonder if PJ hasn't reversed and undercut Tolkien's entire moral universe.

We might argue that it is the only way such a mammoth project could have gotten made, but still, it is a deep, deep flaw.

N.U.


Well researched and made some good points. I would disagree only in a few places. The stretching of Arwen's role didn't bother me as much as leaving out the Scouring of the Shire. Except the part where she rides out and retrieves Frodo. That was just dumb, the rest I can pretty much accept as poetic license.

You are right on when you talk about the importance of the scouring. I was disappointed with his entire take on the hobbits as foolish throughout the films and felt that the Scouring was the triumphant part of the story, vs. the take down of Sauron. The fact is Tolkien, continually pointed out how strong and courageous Hobbits were and you were exactly right about Merry and Pippin really showing their mettle in this part. This was a big mistake on Jackson's part.

I also was very disappointed with the way Jackson portrayed Aragorn. He made it seem like he was ashamed of who he was or scared to be. Tolkien portrayed him opposite of that. Aragorn knew who he was, he knew he would be King and was simply waiting, because his time had not arrived. The sword, reformed very early on, was carried by Aragorn nearly through the entire trilogy. Evidence of all of this is given when Aragorn is reluctant (not sure if reluctant is accurate) to give it up when they come to Edoras to free Thťoden from the spell of Saruman. There are other times where his pride is evident in the book but I cannot give chapter and verse because I am writing from memory here.

Two other things that stood out to me: 1)The skipping of the entire section where Gandalf breaks Saruman's staff and Wormtongue THROWS the Palantir at them vs. it was just found sitting there and 2) Faramir being portrayed less noble than he was in the book. The first one was an important piece of the story. It signified the quelling of Saruman but in it Gandalf foreshadows the Souring of the Shire by warning them that Saruman was not DEFEATED. Of course knowing now that he intended to leave out the Scouring of the Shire, I guess I can see why he left it out. The second, I don't know what he was trying to do. It was just silly. Faramir was not EVER tempted to take the ring much less cart them off to Osgiliath.

Anyway, a few things to chew on. You did some sound work here, I enjoyed reading it.

Thanks!
Jeffrey


Thanks for the list.

I sent a letter to the editor of a national magazine saying something like, "This is the best motion picture adaptation that could have been made of the LOTR and that is just the problem." One of the things I get at is that blockbuster movies need simplified plot lines, obvious heroes and obvious villains. Jackson systematically in scene deletions, rewriting of scenes and adding new ones moved the focus of attention from hobbits to Aragorn and his "faithful sidekicks" and his love life and destiny. Tolkien not only wants get across the effect of war and necessity for vigilance as you say but also makes the case that it is the common folk who are the true warriors against the Shadow of Evil The heroics are a thing of the past.Thanks for the list.

In the whole of Book I, Tolkien moves the story forward through a series of "educational events" for the hobbits. Jackson gets rid of almost all these scenes - Sam's first meeting of the elves in the Shire, your mentioned scene with Maggot with his inner resources and quiet strength, which Tolkien develops into a characteristic of hobbits. Of course the much discussed deletion of the Old Forest/Bombadil/Barrow Downs scenes fits. I have often heard it said that as regrettable as the deletion of those scenes is, it didn't hurt the movement of the story. As you can see I disagree. All that action is deleted so that Jackson can get his true hero on the scene as soon as possible. What really clinched this in my thinking was the ridiculous insertion of the Rohirrim/Warg fight and Aragorn's plunge over a cliff. Why else insert this? There is not even a remote connection with the Tolkien text and this scene. It is a diversion from even Jackson's story line. So why introduce it? I think the only answer is to guarantee the focus on Aragorn. The deletion of the "Scouring of the Shire" scenes is the most brazen example of this change of focus.

A much smaller movie of something like focusing on Frodo writing his memoirs with small simple flashbacks that move from his naivete and ignorance to the on going pains on the anniversaries of his injuries would be far more faithful to Tolkien's story even with more deleted scenes than Jackson's.

Jackson's visual imagination is much grander than mine. I was disappointed in his visualization of the Shire disappointing but otherwise from now on his visualizations of Edoras and Minas Tirith and especially Gollum/Smeagol will be the basis for pictures in my imagination when I read the LOTR again. There was a time 25 - 30 years ago when I read the Trilogy two times a year - once during Winter break and once during summer break. I still read it every few years. Good works stand up well under repeated readings. In spite of their technical qualities and some very good performances, esp. Andy Serkis's Gollum/Smeagol, these movies won't bear the burden of reviewing with anything like the books ability to repeatedly satisfy me.

Peace
dch


I couldn't agree with you more! I've been reading and rereading the Lord of the Rings trilogy since around 1969. I even turned my father on to those books, including "The Hobbit" and so I can safely say that between us, we have read Tolkien's master work at least 20 times. In some of the newer editions, I can tell when a word or even a punctuation mark has been misplaced and even threw out a set of paperbacks because they were so poorly edited.

My father passed away in 1999, well before the first movie. In spite of their misfires, I think he would have loved to see it. I give Peter Jackson a "A" for effort because it was such a mammoth project and he actually completed it and because the "flavor" of the books was well done. However, I was appalled at some of the changes. Not only did I object to how padded Arwen's part was, but the whole fatalistic attitude of the elven leadership really angered me. The "conversations" between Galadriel and Elrond would have you believe that they've already foreseen the failure of the whole quest. If that was the case, why did they advise the nine walkers to go in the first place? Secondly, the unconscionable change in Faramir's personality. In the book, one sees Faramir as a good man with a capital "G"! In the movie, I think of him as "mini-Boromir." And when he takes the Hobbits with him to Osgiliath, I'm ready to spit nails. To my mind, however, the most unforgivable part was Jackson's treatment of the Ents. As you point out, Fangorn already knew what Saruman was up to, and Jackson passed up the stirring march of the Ents for the anticlimactic "trick" played by Pippin.

My biggest objection, as far as Sam and Frodo goes, has to be in the final movie where Jackson has Gollum tricking Frodo into telling Sam to go home. What!!! Not only did that never happen, Frodo never trusted Gollum, even though he did want to be kinder to him than Sam did. Sam, to my mind, was the real hero, but that wasn't because Frodo had been fully overcome by the ring, just that he was too weak to throw it away in the end. Jackson would have you believe that Frodo could revile Sam, trust Gollum and even hold a sword to Sam's throat - never.

And talk about insulting, Jackson makes Gimli into a buffoon, which he was definitely not, and Merry and Pippin into idiots. They were innocent - that is until they learned what they were really up against - and then they showed their true bravery and resourcefulness, as all Hobbits would.

I guess this email could get really long and wouldn't serve to do much but to tell you that I agree. The only saving grace is that in the extended versions out on DVD, some things are explained a little better and critical omissions are included that somewhat mollified me.

Sue


As another long-time fan, I enjoyed reading your list. I wasn't quite as bothered by some of the plot deviations as you. Rather, it was some of the in-your-face character deviations that bugged me, especially in the first movie.

The first instance that really bothered me was the big staff battle between Gandalf and Saruman - something that was added just for the movie. On pages 338-341 of the Ballantine edition, Gandalf recounts his meeting with Saruman for the Council of Elrond. Gandalf and Saruman talk, after which, Gandalf says, "They took me and they set me alone on the pinnacle of Orthanc..." To me, these were men of power and understanding. Gandalf knew full well that he was at that time overmatched by Saruman. A battle with staffs was just an insulting action addition to the movie.

The second instance was in Lothlorien when Frodo was before the Mirror of Galadriel. In the book, when Galadriel delivers her speech (page 473 - "And now at last it comes. You will give me the ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen..."), "there issued a great light that illuminated her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful." At no point does the book say, as happened in the movie, that she turned into some kind of strange, horrible monster, screaming her words at Frodo in an†Exorcist-inspired rage. For me, this was one of the most beautifully crafted moments of the book. It was a wonderful speech and Jackson should have trusted his audience and just allowed the actress to deliver it. Say what else you will about Bakshi's rendition (and there was plenty to say), he nailed that scene. Bakshi also nailed Boromir's death scene - a moment in the book and in Bakshi's film that nearly stopped my heart. Jackson did not handle it so well.

At any rate, I can understand plot deviations and the sacrifices one must make to market a movie. But taking away wonderful moments like these from characters and turning them into in-your-face 14-year old action fare is unforgivable.

Walter


I agree with you that Peter Jackson and his group of incredibly talented location scouts, carpenters, set dressers, greens keepers, costume designers, prop makers, CGI geniuses, etc., etc., realized Middle Earth perfectly. The "look" of the films is bang on. Where I feel he failed miserably was in two areas: the egregious gaps in his storytelling and his manipulation of the characters. Many have already observed that his omission of the Scouring of The Shire is the truly great flaw in ROTK (didn't keep the Golden Globe voters from liking it though, did it?); it was the raison d'etre for the entire trilogy. To have left it out was not justifiable on any level as far as I'm concerned. I didn't miss Frodo's having time to say goodbye to the Shire, or Bombadil and the Old Forest, the Barrow Downs, Gimli's foray into The Glittering Caves of Algarond, Aragorn's ride from the Erech Stone, his taking of the Corsair fleet and then the sail up Anduin, etc. etc., etc., nearly as much as I missed several other critical sequences: the confrontation between Gandalf and Saruman after Helm's Deep, the future relationship between Faramir and Eowen that began in the Houses of Healing, The Mouth of Sauron bargaining with Frodo's mithril coat and Sam's sword (I don't care if it will be in the extended DVD), but to leave out The Scouring of the Shire SHOULD have been unthinkable.

These omissions I can understand though, even if I can't accept them, because a filmmaker has serious time constraints and must make decisions about what he wants in his films. Jackson chose to focus on Aragorn as the central character of the final film, since the title required it: The Return of The King. But even worse than his muddled plotting and the introduction of unnecessary sequences, in my opinion, is the fact that he has done an unforgivable disservice to the characters Tolkien crafted so meticulously. In almost every instance he has demeaned and belittled them, with the single exception of Legolas (conceivably because Orlando Bloom turned out to be so damn good with that bow - ambidextrous, has anybody noticed? He kills the warg that's about to decapitate Gimli, from horseback, at a dead run, left-handed, and he fires at least once from the Deeping Wall left-handed) - Logolas suffered none of the character manipulation of the others. But then perhaps Jackson didn't care enough about Legolas to fool with his character. A few examples, but in no particular order:

  • Gandalf: Jackson couldn't even get the pronunciation right! I read interviews before the first film was released that said everyone was being especially careful to get pronunciations correct, according to Tolkien's wishes. In Appendix E, Vowels, Tolkien states that a should be pronounced as in the English word, father. Therefore, Gandalf's name should have a reasonably long "a," not the short, nasal "a" of "candy." In the first film, Frodo was the one who couldn't quite seem to get the "a" long enough, but by the time we got to ROTK, even Gandalf had forgotten how his own name was meant, by Tolkien, to be pronounced. In addition though, as you mentioned, Glamdring never indicates the presence of Orcs as Sting does. Glamdring is never even named in the films, nor is its lineage divulged; it's just a sword. Gandalf himself is presented only as a wizard who seems to do nothing more than attend a party and bring fireworks, urge hobbits to take trips, ride around the country on a white horse, have no good counsel to give in Rivendell or Meduseld or Isengard, and show up in the proverbial nick-of-time (the hugest "arrrggghhhhh" in all of TTT). None of the countless years of hardship, searching, learning, traveling, guarding, guiding, protecting, nurturing, urging and helping the peoples of Middle Earth are even hinted at, except in one line: Galadriel's "Needless were none of the deeds of Gandalf in life." I weep for the film translation of the wonderful character that was Gandalf in the books.

  • Aragorn: Not only is his character portrayed in the films as weak and unwilling to accept the kingship prophesied for him, we are told about none of his own years of hardship, travels, struggles, battles, sacrifice, danger, etc., only, in the extended DVD, that he's 87 years old. How I longed for Bilbo's poem: "All that is gold does not glitter..." But worse yet was to pass the Argonath without his stirring "Fear not..." speech . Viggo would have done the words proud.

  • Aragorn and Arwen: her showing up at Weathertop and riding Frodo to safety in Rivendell, didn't bother me too much; it's a filmmaker's prerogative to beef up the role of a featured female performer. But to have her even contemplating leaving him and Middle Earth, much less actually setting out to do so, was anathema to me. As we know in the books, they had plighted their troth many years earlier and never looked back. Elrond wasn't opposed to their union, he was only saddened by what it would mean to her, and adamant that he would not deserve her until he had fulfilled the quest and freed Middle Earth from the ravages of Sauron. Had Jackson needed to beef up her role, he should have dramatized their backstory, talk about romantic!!! Instead he fabricated the warg battle, Aragorn's supposed death and resurrection, had Arwen bow to the harping of her despairing father (another big arrrggghhhhh) and ride out for the Gray Havens. A phony vision sends her back, only to be dying because the Light of the Valar is failing in her?!? (Oh, don't get me started). Of course, only if Arwen has supposedly left him can Aragorn look even slightly lingeringly on the lovely Eowen. Shame on you, Peter Jackson.

  • The Elves: Portrayed in the books as always realistic, they were ever hopeful that the quest would succeed. Even knowing their race would fail should The Ring be destroyed, still they worked diligently to that end. Jackson has them all in despair, talking about, and in some instances, heading for the Havens before anything's been decided. Subtle but significant manipulations of character.

  • Theoden: In the books, once freed from Wormtongue's insidious whisperings, he becomes the king his people worshipped: one capable of making strategic decisions, providing for the safety of his people, leading his army into battle and being victorious. In the films we are shown a parody of Theoden: he's wishy washy (Theodred's post-funeral scene should have been on the cutting room floor), unable to see the war that's on his doorstep much less make a decision that makes sense. And that scene where he incites his troops to blood fury on the edges of the Pelennor Fields was embarrassing. When you have complete surprise on your side you don't tell the enemy you're there with a 3 minute shouting, sword--to-spear-shaft clanging event that gives them time to form their defenses. What nonsense. More of Theoden's muddled character, thanks to Jackson's manipulations.

  • Gimli: Poor Gimli became the comic relief; two (count 'em) two dwarf-tossing jokes in the three films; he falls off his horse claiming it was deliberate, can't see over the top of the Deeping Wall, gains the only "laugh" in ROTK when he claims that Legolas' single-handed defeat of the mumakil and all its riders "only counts as one" (would Gimli really have been that petty?!) Tolkien's Gimli was staunch, doughty, loyal, utterly dependable, durable, fierce and deadly; he was not a buffoon.

  • Treebeard: This is one of my most serious complaints against Jackson's character manipulation, and I can't honestly understand why he did it. When Merry and Pippin first meet Treebeard he laments the fact that "nobody cares for the trees anymore," and even states that Saruman has been cutting and burning for years. He's not happy with Saruman from the beginning. But then, inexplicably, the Entmoot decides not to take an active part in the war; it's not their affair we're told. It's then that [Pippin] has his brilliant idea and turns Treebeard south to where he sees the destruction caused by Saruman and goes ballistic. Uh....... It didn't work for me, and it evidently didn't work for lots of others, too. But what I resent the most is the way Jackson demeaned the whole character of Fangorn, making him, again, wishy-washy. Treebeard was wise and old and strong. Gandalf had so much respect for Treebeard he was willing to leave the care of Merry and Pippin, and the breaking of Isengard in his capable limbs. Gandalf and Treebeard had known each other for a very long time; another little tidbit Jackson chose not to dramatize. It lessens both characters.

  • Hobbits: Belittled and demeaned through all three films. Merry and Pippin are vegetable thieves, never given their due in The Conspiracy to keep Frodo from being able to leave the Shire alone (but then, all of Frodo's preparations and time delay between Gandalf's verifying that Bilbo's ring was really The Ring, and his actual departure on his birthday, got lost in Jackson's version anyway). They acquit themselves well in the battle at Balin's Tomb in Moria but are then nothing but baggage until Fangorn, where Jackson has given them more "hero stuff" than worked. Had he left in the Scouring, Merry and Pippin would have had their justly deserved heroics.

    Frodo was a reluctant hero in the books, unsure of himself most of the time but made of sterner stuff than even Gandalf realized until faced with the ring's actual destruction. He despairs at times but doesn't spend the whole trilogy mired in self-pity and on the verge of giving up and giving in. If Elijah Wood ever gets a role after this where he's not having to engage in self-flagellation, he'll be very lucky.

    And Sam's character was a victim of the dreaded Plot Device: Conflict. It's something all script writers are taught early on, that conflict is required between major characters. But in this case, where conflict was already more than abundant, having Gollum succeed in separating Frodo and Sam was not only arbitrary, it was unnecessary, completely uncalled for and totally unforgivable. Tolkien had a perfectly believable way of keeping Frodo and Sam apart during the crucial Shelob scene (which went on several minutes too long in the film in my opinion): Gollum's attacking Sam. But, no, Jackson had to manipulate and change and ruin.

  • Boromir: A true son of his father's, Tolkien draws his character as noble and capable but arrogant and self-aggrandizing. He has taken the journey to Rivendell and the discovery of the riddle's meaning (the riddle itself is completely absent from the films, more's the pity) on himself; allowing no other. And when faced with The Ring, succumbs, as was his doom. But Jackson's Boromir has no such strength or conviction, he's wishy-washy (that phrase again), and his on-again, off-again fascination with Frodo and the ring, makes his downfall that much less believable. I haven't seen the Bakshi film (avoided it like the plague) but I'll look for it, now that I have your endorsement of Boromir's death scene.

Enough of my ranting. Just wanted you to know, if you even have time to read all this, that I applaud your nit-picking whole heatedly. Keep up the good work!

Pat

However, Greg wrote: "...I can definitely state that "Pat" whose email appears on your nitpicker's guide page is mistaken in his insistence that Tolkien's expressed wish was that 'a' is always to be pronounced as in 'father' in Middle Earth names. He (or she?) is wrong about this for two reasons: 1) It is a misreading of the information contained in the Appendix quoted - those pronunciations only apply to Elvish names. That appendix expressly says that Westron speech and "all hobbit names and special words" are to be pronounced according to normal English usage since they have been 'translated' entirely into English in the books. 2) Tolkien himself does not obey this rule. I have heard him pronounce in recordings, for example, not only Gandalf with a short 'a' sound on at least one syllable, and sometimes both, but also: Meriadoc as Merry-addock (again with a short 'a'); Minas Tirith with a short 'a'; Legolas (which IS an elven name!) with a short 'a'; and there are other examples. So Peter Jackson et al cannot be blamed for pronouncing Gandalf the way they do when the maestro himself got it wrong!"....(From The Silmarillion, George Allan & Unwin edition, Sydney & Boston, 1977, p.300): "Chief among [the Istari] were those whom the Elves called Mithrandir and Curunir, but Men in the North named Gandalf and Saruman."

But then Jeff wrote: "About the pronounciation of the name Gandalf. I think a worse mistake than the "a" is the final consonant. Gandalf is actually pronounced as Gandalv, following a phonetic rule similar to what we find in Welsh (a language that influenced Sindarin), to leave out details. I consider this a mistake only because Jackson boasted himself as working with Tolkien specialists. Right. To what result? (Tolkien decided to write Gandalf instead because he feared that the un-English look of the word would have bothered the readers too much)....Gandalf is not the name of an Elf, but it is a name in an Elvish language., so the rules still apply. Nobody in his right mind would assume that Tolkien, philologist as he was, would be so incoherent. I cannot find his letter where he mentions this, but in the notes that Tolkien gave to Donald Swann, who put some of Tolkien's poems into songs, we can read the following: 'F' finally (as in 'nef') is used for 'v' (as in English 'of'). See The Road Goes Ever On, p. 71. One just can't be mistaken."

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Why I Did This

A lot of the negative emails I get seemed interested in why I would waste my time tackling a project like this. I just finished responding to one fella, and this is what I had to say to him:

When I walked out of ROTK, I couldn't get the Frodo-sending-Sam-home bit out of my head. Why, I asked myself was that really necessary. I had forgiven Jackson all the other major changes, but I just didn't understand that.

A couple weeks later, I was preparing for a trip to Japan. I was looking at a 16 hour plane ride there and a 13 hour plane ride back (plus time in airport terminals). I figured that it'd be good to bring along something I knew I'd enjoy reading for such an extended period of time. True, I could have taken along some Chomsky or Paul Krugman's latest, but I didn't really think I could read something like that for such an extended sitting. The Lord of the Rings, however, seemed like the perfect choice. I'd read it many times before and felt that it might be a good idea to give it another run through after taking in Jackson's films (I hadn't read it since '98). Then the thought struck me (probably as a result of the Frodo/Sam thing just refusing to go away), why not make a list of deviations between the book and the film. I figured it might make said re-reading a little more interesting, and that it'd be kind of cool to have around as a reference (I am a librarian, by the way).

And so I made the list. I never thought it would end up being so long, but once I start a project, I see it through (and, I'm a stickler for detail--just my personality).

When it was done, I thought it might be fun to share. A pal thought that if I put it on the web, it might generate some interesting traffic. Being one who enjoys creating web pages to a degree, I humored him and put it together. He then posted it to SlashDot, etc., not me.

Anyway, this is all to say that the list started out as a way to keep myself busy on a long flight. Then, my obsessive side took over. As I stated, I understand that film lends itself to a different telling than text (and I've updated the webpage with a note to that effect). And I do enjoy the films though that may not be overtly apparent.

If anything, I put this together for other interested parties (i.e. other purists) to check out. It's not intended as an attack on Jackson...though I do rue a few decisions he made. I don't think that's such a crime.


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Other Guides

It's been pointed out to me that others have created nit-picker's guides. Here are the two best known:

  1. TolkienOnline.com
  2. Encyclopedia of Arda

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Contact

Comments? Send me an email. Please text only.

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Created and posted on January 29, 2004
Last updated on December 28, 2004

Copyright © 2004 by Phil Eskew