The Two Towers

Important Note: This information was originally compiled while the Lord of the Rings films were still in production. It is now in the process of being updated with the actual changes that were made when the films went into release.


Which Two Towers?

Teaser poster for The Two TowersTeaser poster for The Two TowersFilm: Gandalf says the following line, ""The veiling shadow of the East takes shape. There is a union now between the Two Towers & Orthanc and Barad-dûr."

Book: The postscript at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring says, "The second part is called The Two Towers, since the events recounted in it are dominated by Orthanc, the citadel of Saruman, and the fortress of Minas Morgul that guards the entrance to Mordor."

Pro: Many readers of the book assume that the second tower referred to is Barad-dûr, since Minas Morgul is mentioned only in passing. Frodo is journeying to Mordor in his portion of the story, and Barad-dûr is the seat of power in Mordor. Besides, both the postscript and the book's title was the publisher's creation -- not Tolkien's.

Con: This line is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work, since Tolkien intended for the title to be ambiguous about which two towers it referred to.


Film Opens With Gandalf's Battle with the Balrog

Film: The film begins with a gorgeous panoramic view of the mountains, a voice is heard in the background yelling "The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass... " Then the camera turns into the rocks nearby and smashes through them as Gandalf yells "Fly, you fools!" - we then see a repeat of the shot from Fellowship but instead of Gandalf falling away from the camera into the darkness, this time the camera races after him, following him down - and then we see a great battle between Gandalf and the Balrog.

Book: Gandalf merely discusses his battle with the Balrog several chapters into the book.

Pro: This is an exciting opening for the film.

Con: Reminding the audience again of Gandalf's fall insults their intelligence and takes up unnecessary screen time.


Gollum Sneaks Up On Sleeping Hobbits

Gollum sneaks up on sleeping hobbits.Gollum sneaks up on sleeping hobbits.Film: Gollum crawls down the side of a cliff to the hobbits sleeping below. As he reaches for "the precious" around Frodo's neck, Sam tackles him and begins wrestling. Then Frodo brings out Sting and threatens Gollum with it. The hobbits then tie up Gollum with the Elven rope (that's the only use of the rope in the film.)

Book: Frodo and Sam first climb down the cliff using the Elven rope, which "magically" unties itself. The two hobbits then see Gollum climbing down the cliff and lie in wait for him.

Pro: Having the hobbits sleeping (or appear to be) makes their initial encounter with Gollum all the more frightening.

Con: Such a change does not represent Tolkien's story.


Sam Hits Gollum with Pan

Film: Sam smacks Gollum in the head with a pan when Frodo and Sam first capture him.

Book: Sam uses his pan only for stewing a rabbit.

Pro: This is a welcome bit of comic relief that is in keeping with Sam's character.

Con: Sam did not do this. It is an invention of the filmmakers.


Treebeard Makes Short Work of Grishnakh

Film: After meeting Merry and Pippin, Treebeard "makes short work of Grishnakh," who has pursued them into Fangorn forest.

Book: Grishnakh is killed by the Riders of Rohan, providing Merry and Pippin with an opportunity to escape into Fangorn, where they meet Treebeard.

Pro: This change makes Merry and Pippin's escape into Fangorn Forest and meeting with Treebeard more exciting.

Con: This change is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Treebeard Takes Merry and Pippin to Gandalf

Off to see a wizard!Off to see a wizard!Film: Treebeard takes Merry and Pippin to see a "local wizard," who turns out to be Gandalf (although the audience is not explicitly made aware of the white wizard's identity until his meeting with the Three Hunters).

Book: Treebeard does see Gandalf in Fangorn forest before the wizard hooks up with Aragorn and company, but Merry and Pippin do not see him until after the storming of Isengard.

Pro: We are meant to think Treebeard is taking the hobbits to see Saruman, so this provides a nice surprise for the audience. It also eliminates the need for a scene in Isengard.

Con: This line is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work. It also ruins the surprise of Gandalf meeting the Three Hunters.


Quickbeam Cut

Film: Pippin and Merry attend an Entmoot, but no ent other than Treebeard is named.

Book: Pippin and Merry witness the start of the Entmoot, but a young ent named Quickbeam who has already decided to attack Orthanc take the two young hobbits out for a stroll.

Pro: Quickbeam is not a necessary element to the story and can be eliminated to use the screen time for more important things.

Con: It would be more faithful to the books to include actual Tolkien characters rather than expanding the roles of characters such as Arwen and Haldir who have no business being in this part of the story.


Gandalf's Resurrection Shown on Screen

Film: Gandalf is shown being resurrected as Gandalf the White while lying naked upon the snowy mountain-top after his battle with the Balrog.

Book: Gandalf merely discusses this event when he meets up with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.

Pro: It is more effective film storytelling to show things rather than have characters talk about them.

Con: The filmmakers may portray Gandalf's resurrection in a way different from how Tolkien would have visualized it.


Saruman Doesn't Appear In Fangorn Forest

Film: When the Three Hunters (Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli) meet Gandalf The White in Fangorn Forest, it is the first time they see a white-clad figure there.

Book: Before meeting Gandalf, they see another white-clad figure, who they assume to be Saruman.

Pro: The brief glimpse of Saruman is an unnecessary use of screen time.

Con: Removing this scene takes away some of the nuances of Tolkien's story.


Théodred's Funeral

Théoden mourns the loss of ThéodredThéoden mourns the loss of ThéodredDead ThéodredDead ThéodredFilm: Théoden's son, Théodred, is brought back to Edoras after being killed in battle with Saruman's forces. Éowyn mourns her cousin besides the bed he is set upon, and Grima tries to comfort her, but she finds his overtures to be disgusting. She leaves the Golden Hall, to see the Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas approaching in the distance. Later, after Wormtongue is banished, Théoden buries his son in the flower-covered tombs outside the Edoras and prays while Gandalf speaks words of comfort to the grieving king.

Book: There are no such scenes. Théodred was killed in the first battle of the Fords of Isen five days before Gandalf and company's arrival in Edoras, but he was buried at the battle site. Éowyn and Grima are introduced after Gandalf and company enter the Golden Hall.

Pro: The funeral is a dramatic way of showing how Saruman's aggression personally affected the people of Rohan. Also, the scenes of Éowyn and Grima better establish their characters.

Con: This change is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Théoden Gives Wormtongue The Bum's Rush

Théoden and Wormtongue go mano-a-manoThéoden and Wormtongue go mano-a-manoFilm: After Gandalf heals Théoden and reveals Wormtongues treachery, Théoden tosses his old advisor down the stairs.

Book: Grim ran down the stairs without "assistance."

Pro: This is a more dramatic way of showing Grima's departure.

Con: This is an invention of the filmmakers.


Elrond Dissuades Arwen From Marrying Aragorn

AloneAloneElrond tells Arwen, But he's too young for you, hon.Elrond tells Arwen, "But he's too young for you, hon."Film: Elrond tries to convince Arwen not to marry Aragorn, because she is immortal and he is not. He explains that, when Aragorn eventually dies, she will wander the woods alone, and she with have to live the rest of her long years alone. The scene then dissolves into a "flash forward," many years in the future. Arwen standing by Aragorn as he lies atop his grave, his beard is gray, he has a crown atop his head, and he lies with his sword. The body then fades into stone, and Arwen standing at the foot of the grave. The scene dissolves back to Arwen in Rivendell. She sheds a tear. Elrond sits next to her and asks her in Elvish, whether she has love for her father as well. Crying, she answers "yes."

Book: Elrond gave his conditional approval for Aragorn to marry Arwen. His requirement was that he be king of both Arnor and Gondor.

Pro: This is an effective way to illustrate the sacrifices Arwen is willing to make, as well as dropping the complexity of explaining that Aragorn is destinied to be the king of two kingdoms.

Con: This change relegates Elrond to having the sensibilities of a modern-day father, and as with previous changes, perverts the characters of Arwen and Aragorn.


Saruman Gives Dundlendings and Wildmen Pep Talk

Saruman speaks to the wild menSaruman speaks to the wild menFilm: Furious upon learning that Gandalf has healed Théoden, Saruman orders Dunlendings and Wildmen to attack Rohan's villages.

Book: There are no such scenes.

Pro: Having Saruman more visible in the second film makes him a more interesting screen villain.

Con: The script would require additional dialog written by the filmmakers rather than by Tolkien.


Saruman's Forces Attack Rohan Villages

Saruman's forces raid Rohan villageSaruman's forces raid Rohan villageFilm: Orcs and wildmen are shown burning Rohirrim villages and slaughtering their inhabitants.

Book: No such scene is described first-hand in the books, although characters talk about it happening

Pro: Such scenes show that Saruman will wipe out Man if his forces are not stopped.

Con: Showing scenes not actually described by Tolkien requires the filmmakers to invent details.


Saruman Discusses Plans With Wormtongue

Film: Saruman tells Grima Wormtongue about his plans for attacking Helm's Deep.

Book: There is no such scenes between Saruman and Grima.

Pro: Having Saruman and Grima more visible in the second film makes them a more interesting screen villains.

Con: The script would require additional dialog written by the filmmakers rather than by Tolkien.


Éowyn Leads Rohan Refugees To Helm's Deep

Film: With Saruman's forces destroying Rohan villages, Éowyn leads Rohan civilians to the refuge at Helm's Deep. Aragorn accompanies her.

Book: Éowyn lead the Rohan civilians to the refuge of Dunharrow. None of the story's other main characters accompanied her.

Pro: Folding Dunharrow into Helm's Deep eliminates the need for characters to take screen time traveling from Helm's Deep to Dunharrow later in the film.

Con: This change alters the geography described by Tolkien.



Wargs Attack Rohirrim

Aragorn fights warg riderAragorn fights warg riderFilm: Wargs attack the Rohirrim refugees as they set out for Helm's Deep from Edoras. Aragorn fights a warg-rider named Sharku, and ends up riding his warg off a cliff. Aragorn is wounded and left for dead.

Book: There is no such scene in the books.

Pro: This adds necessary action to an early part of the film.

Con: This line is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Sleeping Aragorn Awakened With A Kiss

Film: While floating down a river after being wounded and left for dead in the warg attack, a mist-like Arwen appears and kisses Aragorn on the lips which eventually wakes him from slumber.

Book: There is no such scene in the books.

Pro: This "dream" shows the strong loving bind Arwen and Aragorn.

Con: This is a fabrication of the filmmakers.


Brego The Wonder Horse

Filming of Aragorn being rescued by Brego The Wonder HorseFilming of Aragorn being rescued by Brego The Wonder HorseAragorn spies Saruman's army (ten thousand strong) before reporting to ThéodenAragorn spies Saruman's army ("ten thousand strong") before reporting to ThéodenFilm: Aragorn is rescued from the river by his Brego, the horse once belonging to the late Prince Théodred. On the way to Helm's Deep, he sees ten thousand of Saruman's orcs marching across the plains of Rohan towards Helm's Deep. When Aragorn arrives at Helm's Deep, he tells Théoden that Saruman's army has left Isengard, at least ten thousand of them. He also says they are bred to end the world of men and that they are headed for Rohan. Théoden pauses, and says, "Let them come."

Book: There is no such scenes in the books.

Pro: This scene of Aragorn witnessing the strength of Saruman's forces clearly demonstrates to the audience why Rohan's forces decide to marshall at Helm's Deep.

Con: This line is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Faramir Steals Some of Sam's Thunder

Film: Upon seeing a dead Easterling after the skirmish in Ithilien, Faramir says, "I wonder what his name was, where his home is, his family. Was he really evil at heart, or did the Dark Lord deceive him, as he has deceived so many others? What lies or threats led him on the long march from his home".

Book: It is Sam who thinks such thoughts.

Pro: Giving Faramir this line conveys his thoughtful and sensitive nature.

Con: Sam's character is diluted by having this line stolen from him.


Boromir's Death Discussed in Faramir's Refuge

Henneth Annûn: The Window on the WestHenneth Annûn: The Window on the WestFilm: After being led blindfolded to Henneth Annûn, Frodo discusses Boromir's death with Faramir.

Book: Frodo discusses Boromir's death with Faramir before being taken to the refuge.

Pro: This is a good way to combine scenes and leave more screen time for more important things.

Con: This change is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Faramir Cuts Frodo's Jerkin to Reveal Ring

Faramir uncovers the RingFaramir uncovers the RingFilm: When Sam accidentally reveals to Faramir that Frodo carries the One Ring, Faramir uses his sword to cut Frodo's jerkin clasp and reveal the Ring.

Book: Their initial encounter is far less tense: Faramir even tells Frodo NOT to show him the Ring.

Pro: This change makes the initial encounter between Faramir and Frodo more exciting.

Con: This change is in violation of Faramir's gentle nature.


Faramir Grabs Gollum's Throat

Film: Faramir puts his hand around Gollum's throat.

Book: Only Anborn, one of Faramir's men, grabs Gollum when he is captured at the forbidden pool.

Pro: This is a good instance of combining characters to give the more important characters more to do.

Con: This change is in violation of Faramir's gentle nature.


Faramir Decides To Take Frodo and the Ring Back to Daddy

Film: Upon learning that Frodo has the One Ring, he vows to take Frodo and Sam back to Minas Tirith and complete Boromir's mission.

Book: Faramir released Frodo from his refuge and gave him leave to freely travel throughout Gondor.

Pro: This makes for a more exciting encounter with Faramir.

Con: This change is in violation of Faramir's gentle nature and wastes screen time on a pointless side trip.


Gimli and Éowyn Talk Beards

Did you hear the one about the bearded lady...Did you hear the one about the bearded lady...Film: While taking refuge at Helm's Deep, Gimli and Éowyn bond by engaging in some humorous conversations, including a discussion about Dwarvish women having beards.

Book: Gimli has no discussions with Éowyn in the books.

Pro: This provides the film with much-needed lighter moments that warms the audience up to the characters.

Con: Not only is the discussion a total fabrication, the secretive Dwarves would never discuss such intimate details with non-Dwarves.


Elves at Helms Deep (EAHD)

... and Haldir leads a group of Elves to Helm's Deep... and Haldir leads a group of Elves to Helm's DeepFilm: A contingent of Lothlórien elves, led by Haldir, arrives at Helm's Deep.

Book: Legolas was the only Elf at that battle, and the only reinforcement troops to arrive were Huorns and more Rohirrim. However, Legolas did express the wish that some of his kinsmen armed with bows were there to help.

Pro: This change dramatizes Elrond's change of heart towards Aragorn and other Men.

Con: Having Elven troops assist Men in their battles during in the War of the Ring violates Tolkien's theme of the Elves fading during the Third Age.


Haldir Gets The Axe

Film: Haldir's death comes on the walls of Helm's Deep as he is struck by an Uruk-hai axe. Aragorn ends up cradling him as he passes.

Book: Haldir does not re-enter the story after the Fellowship leaves Lothlorien. Haldir's fate is not known.

Pro: Haldir's demise provides Aragorn with the motivation for taking charge of the battle.

Con: This is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Samurai Elves

Aragorn leads charge of Samurai ElvesAragorn leads charge of Samurai ElvesFilm: Elf and Uruk-hai armor will look reminiscent of that of Samurai warriors.

Book: Middle-earth was intended to represent a European mythology.

Pro: This look will help to distinguish Elven warriors from the other warriors.

Con: This look is not reflective of the world that Tolkien created.

Note: The armor was designed by famed Tolkien illustrator John Howe.


Saruman Knows the Skinny on Aragorn

Saruman reads up on Aragorn's ringSaruman reads up on Aragorn's ringFilm: Saruman speaks the line, "So, Gandalf Greyhame feels he's found the lost king of Gondor."

Book: There is no such scene in the second book showing that Saruman is aware of Aragorn's heritage.

Pro: Having Saruman more visible in the second film makes him a more interesting screen villain.

Con: The script would require additional dialog written by the filmmakers rather than by Tolkien.


Non-Tolkien Weaponry

Film: During the battle at Helm's Deep, Uruk-hai warriors have crossbows and pikes, Orcs have crossbows, and Elves have fire arrows.

Book: Crossbows or fire arrows are not mentioned anywhere.

Pro: Such weapons will make the battle scenes more interesting to watch.

Con: This change is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Legolas Rides Tall in the Saddle

Legolas' horse is equipped with a saddleLegolas' horse is equipped with a saddleFilm: Legolas rides a horse with a saddle while in Helm's Deep.

Book: When the Rohirrim gave him a horse to ride, Legolas removed the saddle because elves have no need for them.

Pro: This detail was not worth the problems of having Orlando Bloom attempt to ride saddleless with Gimli riding behind.

Con: Such details are what makes Tolkien's world so appealing.


Benihana Legolas

Legolas fights with two knives at Helm's DeepLegolas fights with two knives at Helm's DeepFilm: Legolas uses two knives and a Rohan sword in addition to his bow at the Battle of the Hornburg.

Book: Legolas was armed only with one long, white knife in addition to his bow.

Pro: This change make Legolas' battles more exciting to watch.

Con: This change is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Legolas on Surf-Shield (LOSS)

... and hangs ten without missing a shot!... and hangs ten without missing a shot!The Boy Guy hops on a shield...The Boy Guy hops on a shield...Film: Legolas stands on a discarded shield and surfs down a stairway while firing arrows at Battle of the Hornburg.

Book: Tolkien is silent about that particular Elvish battle maneuver.

Pro: This change make Legolas' battles more exciting to watch.

Con: This change is silly and cheesy.


Gimli and Legolas Don't Make Post-War Travel Plans

Film: Legolas and Gimli don't make any plans about where to go after Sauron is defeated.

Book: Legolas agrees to go with Gimli to see the Glittering Caves if Gimli will accompany him to Fangorn Forest after Sauron is defeated.

Pro: This scene is unnecessary to the story.

Con: Removing this scene takes away some of the nuances of Tolkien's story.


Sins of the Brother

Faramir, we hardly knew yeFaramir, we hardly knew yeFilm: Faramir decides to bring Frodo, Sam, and Gollum back to his father in Gondor. When they reach Osgiliath, Faramir attempts to take the Ring from Frodo. In a pivotal moment during the fight against the Orcs (which we never really see), Sam screams at Faramir about how Boromir got corrupted, tried to take the Ring from Frodo, and eventually died. Faramir has a change of heart and decides to let the Hobbits go. This decision does not come without consequences as a captain of Faramir's men tells Faramir that if he does not bring Frodo and the Ring to his father he will be punished by death. Faramir contemplates a decision and tells his men and the Hobbits that he sacrifices his life to Frodo and his mission.

Book: There are no such scenes in the books.

Pro: Faramir can not come across as being nobler than Aragorn, who is portrayed as being more unsure than he is in the books.

Con: This is a perversion of Faramir's character.



Frodo Confronts Ringwraith

Film: Frodo, under control of the ring, is summoned to the top of a structure in Osgiliath where a Ringwraith flying a fell beast tries to snatch the Ring from Frodo's grasp. The Ringwraith is shot by arrows from the men of Gondor and Frodo is taken down the steps by Samwise.

Book: There are no such scenes in the books.

Pro: This addition gives Faramir reason for deciding that the Ring is too dangerous to keep.

Con: This is a total fabrication of the filmmakers.


Ents Storming of Isengard Shown in Real Time

Film: The Ents storming of Isengard is shown.

Book: This event is merely discussed by Merry and Pippin, albeit in great detail.

Pro: It is more interesting to show events rather than have characters talk about them.

Con: The script would require additional dialog and scenes written by the filmmakers rather than by Tolkien.


Merry and Pippin Visit Isengard Storeroom in Real-Time

Merry and Pippin in Isengard storeroomMerry and Pippin in Isengard storeroomFilm: Merry and Pippin are seen in the storerooms of Isengard, enjoying the food.

Book: Gandalf, Théoden and company come upon Merry and Pippin in Isengard, after they have pilfered Saruman's storerooms.

Pro: It is more interesting to show events rather than have characters talk about them.

Con: The script would require additional dialog and scenes written by the filmmakers rather than by Tolkien.


The Sewers of Osgiliath

Film: Once Faramir is persuaded to let Frodo, Sam and Gollum continue their journey to Mordor, he leads them to the old sewers where they can pass underneath the patrolling Orcs.

Book: There are no such scenes in the books.

Pro: The sewers are a creepy environment.

Con: The trip to Osgiliath is an unnecessary sidetrip taking screen time away from actual scenes from the book.


Voice of Saruman Sequence Appears in Third Film

Film: After the Battle of Helm's Deep only ten minutes remains in the film.

Book: The Battle of Helm's Deep occurs about one-third way into the book.

Pro: Not enough time is left after the Battle of Helm's Deep to get everyone to Orthanc and still have the Voice of Saruman Sequence.

Con: Too much time is being devoted to scenes that aren't in the story.


Shelob Appears in Third Film

Film: The film ends with Frodo and Sam leaving Faramir's refuge and heading to Cirith Ungol, while Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and the Rangers/Elves about to enter the Paths of the Dead.

Book: The second book ends with the spider Shelob poisoning Frodo, Sam stabbing said Shelob, and the poisoned Frodo being captured by orcs.

Pro: According to Peter Jackson, "''If we started Return of the King after Shelob - the way the books do - there'd be very little for Frodo and Sam to do," It also allows the time frames of the separated characters to more closely match each other.

Con: Frodo being stabbed by Shelob and taken prisoner by the orcs was the perfect cliffhanger on which to end the second film.


Second Part Ends with Gollum Deciding to Sick Shelob on Frodo and Sam

Film: The very last scene, which takes us into the credits on a very weary note, is a sequence with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum drudging towards Mordor once again. As they headed into the wild, Gollum goes into his schizophrenic split personality mode once again. He argues with himself about killing the Hobbits and taking the ring. His Smeagol side was against it, while his Gollum side struggled for control. In the end, his Gollum side wins, and convinces his Smeagol side to allows "her" to kill the Hobbits..

Book: The last scene is Sam realizing that Frodo, who was stung by Shelob and then taken by the Orcs of Cirith Ungol, is not dead after all.

Pro: Ending the movie on a very unstable note was pure genius. References to "her" pay a bit of homage to the book readers and give way for an outstanding intro sequence in the next film.

Con: Tolkien's ending was perfection.


Go to The Return of the King >>


The Complete List of Film Changes

The Hobbit The Lord of the Rings


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