The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring

The Complete List of Film Changes

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Important Note: This information was originally compiled while the Lord of the Rings films were still in production. In time it may be updated with the actual changes that were made when the films went into release.

Galadriel Prologue

Galadriel With Nenya In Prologue

Galadriel with nenya in prologue

Film: The film opens with a prologue, narrated by Galadriel, showing the forging of the rings of power and the One Ring, the Battle of Last Alliance of Elves and Men, Isildur taking the Ring from the fallen Sauron, Isildur rejecting Elrond’s demand that he destroy the Ring, Isildur’s death and losing the Ring in the Anduin, Gollum finding the Ring, which is later found by Bilbo.  (This prologue was originally to have been narrated by Frodo, until the filmmaker’s realized that the hobbit would know too much about the ring too soon in the story.)

Book: These events, most occurring some 3000 years before the main story of The Lord of the Rings, are merely discussed by the books’ characters. Galadriel’s voice-over dialog was written for the films and does not appear in Tolkien’s writing.

Prod: The story needs to relate a lot of background information, and the filmmakers decided that the prologue could do that in a quicker and more exciting way than the various conversations between characters scattered throughout Fellowship of the Ring.

Con: According to Ian McKellen, the filmmakers decided at one point to do away with the prologue because, to Sir Ian’s relief, a “prologue, with its stash of names and facts, can unnerve audiences.”

Note: Both the BBC radio production and Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaption began with a similar prologue.

Opening with Frodo Reading Book

Frodo Reading Under Tree

“sticklebacks! Where is that boy? Frodo! ”

Film: After the prologue, the Theatrical Version of the film opens with Frodo resting against a tree on the outskirts of Hobbiton and reading a book.

Book: No such scene is described.  In the first passage in which he appears, Frodo is at Bilbo’s birthday party.

Pro: This is device for getting Frodo to meet Gandalf very early in the story so that they can then give necessary plot exposition.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters which takes screen time away from scenes that Tolkien actually wrote.

Opening with Bilbo Writing Book

Bilbo Writing The Red Book Of Westmarch

“now… where to begin? Ah, yes. Concerning hobbits. ”

Film: After the prologue, the Extended Version of the film opens with Bilbo starting work on his book There And Back Again. He then proceeds to write about hobbit society.

Book: Information about hobbits is conveyed through narration. In the first passage in which Bilbo appears, he is making preparations for his party.

Pro: This is a cinematic way to introduce the audience to hobbits.

Con: These scenes require the screenwriters to invent dialogue that Tolkien did not write.

Frodo Rides in Gandalf’s Wagon

Frodo Riding In Gandalf'S Wagon

“so, how is the old rascal? I hear it’s going to be a party of special magnificence. ”

Film: As Gandalf drives his wagon of fireworks for Bilbo’s party (and singing “The Road Goes Ever On and On”) into Hobbiton, he comes across Frodo reading a book. Frodo hops aboard with him and rides to Bag End, discussing Bilbo and his upcoming party.

Book: Gandalf rides in the wagon alone, although hobbit children gleefully surround him when he gets out. The first scene between Gandalf and Frodo occurs after the Party.

Pro: This scene introduces the audience to Frodo and Gandalf more quickly, and the conversation between Gandalf and him provides important exposition about Bilbo being up to something.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters which takes screen time away from scenes that Tolkien actually wrote.

Gandalf Head Bump

Gandalf Bumps His Head

Gandalf bumps his head

Film: Gandalf bumps his head on a chandelier and then a door frame when he first enters Bag End.

Book: Tolkien does not describe such a humorous incident, for Gandalf had often been a visitor to Bag End previously.

Pro: This change give the audience a hobbit’s POV, which is one that is unfamiliar with the darker aspects of Middle-Earth and the real power of Gandalf. Giving Gandalf human frailties may also serve to quickly warm up the audience to Gandalf.

Con: Gandalf is an intelligent being of great authority and power, who has visited Bag-End many times before. This change diminishes his character.

No Tent Around Party Tree

Gandalf And Bilbo Look On The Party

“ahh! Gandalf, my old friend. This will be a night to remember! ”

Film: The party tree at Bilbo’s party remains in the open air rather than having a tent erected over it.

Book: “Tents began to go up. There was an especially large pavilion, so big that the tree that grew up in the field was right inside it.”

Pro: The tree tent is an unnecessary element that would obstruct the tree.

Con: The removal of the pavilion is an unnecessary omission.

Thanks to reader Henry for sending this one in!

Sam, Merry and Pippin at Bilbo’s Party

Go On, Sam, Ask Rosie For A Dance

“go on, sam! Ask rosie for a dance! ”

Film: Sam, Merry and Pippin appear at The Long Expected Party looking the same age as they are during the War of the Ring.

Book: Sam, Merry and Pippin would have been only 18, 19 and 11 years old, respectively, at the time of the Party, which occurred some 17 years before the War of the Ring.

Pro: The party is a convenient setting for introducing the audience to Sam, Merry and Pippin’s characters.

Con: Compressing the time between Bilbo’s party and his departure is not true to the books.

Dragon Firework Prank

Pippin And Merry Set Off Gandalf'S Fireworks

“it was your idea! ”

Film: Merry and Pippin steal one of Gandalf’s fireworks and accidentally ignite it under a tent.  When the firework bursts into a dragon shape, it swoops low over the crowd, frightening everyone, before exploding over the water.

Book: Gandalf sets off the firework himself.

Pro: This scene provides humor.

Con: The story has sufficient humor as written.  There is no need to invent additional scenes.

Bilbo Disappears without Gandalf’s Effects

Gandalf Watching Bilbo Vanish

gandalf seems as surprised as everyone else at the party when bilbo vanishes.

Film: When Bilbo puts on the Ring at the end of his birthday party farewell speech, he simply disappears without any additional special effects from Gandalf.

Book: Gandalf adds a blinding flash to make Bilbo’s disappearance seem more like a magic act rather than the effects of a magic ring.

Pro: If the scene had been filmed as it was in the book, the audience might think that it was Gandalf who makes Bilbo disappear – not the Ring.

Con: Gandalf’s flash dramatized his concern about keeping the Ring secret.

Bilbo Leaves Ring on Floor

Bilbo Leaves The Ring On Floor

bilbo about to drop the ring onto his floor.

Film: After arguing with Gandalf about whether to leave the Ring to Frodo, Bilbo drops it on the floor and departs. When Frodo arrives, Gandalf seals the Ring in an envelope and gives it to Frodo, telling him to “Keep it secret and keep it safe.”

Book: Bilbo put the Ring into an envelope containing his will and left it for Frodo on the mantlepiece.

Pro: Dispensing with the will envelope eliminates a lot of unnecessary business required to getting the Ring from Bilbo to Frodo.

Con: This is an invention of the filmmakers and does not reflect Tolkien’s story.

Rosie the Barmaid

Rosie Cotton

“goodnight, sweet maiden of the golden ale! ”

Film: Rosie Cotton appears at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, working as a barmaid at The Green Dragon Inn, where Sam has developed a crush on her.

Book: Rosie does not appear until the Scouring of the Shire chapter of The Return of the King. Her occupation is never mentioned.

Pro: It establishes Sam and Rosie’s relationship: a “teaser” that foreshadows the ending.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters which takes screen time away from scenes that Tolkien actually wrote.

Panicky Gandalf

Gandalf: Is It Secret? Is It Safe?

“is it secret?! Is it safe?!

Film: After reaching the conclusion that Frodo’s ring is indeed the One Ring, Gandalf returns to Hobbiton but finds Frodo is away. He enters Bag End and waits for Frodo. When Frodo arrives home, the wizard startles him by reaching out of the darkness and grabbing Frodo by the shoulder, urgently asking, “Is it secret? Is it safe?” Gandalf looks haggard and alarmed.

Book: Gandalf knocks at Frodo’s front door and finds the hobbit at home. He puts off the discussion of the Ring until later, after a pleasant breakfast the next morning.

Pro: According to Peter Jackson, “one of the biggest problems with adapting the books – Tolkien gave his characters a fairly leisurely journey – I don’t mean the length of the journey, but rather the lack of dramatic tension, especially pre-Rivendell. For the movies, we will have to make motivations a little tighter and more urgent.”

Con: Gandalf was a being of great dignity and composure. He never appeared to be so bedraggled and panicky.

Gandalf Plans to Meet Hobbits at Bree

Gandalf Tells Frodo To Meet In Bree

“i’ll be waiting for you, at the inn of the prancing pony. ”

Film: After verifying that Frodo has the One Ring, Gandalf sends Frodo (and Sam, who is caught eves-dropping outside) to the town of Bree, where the wizard will meet with them.

Book: Gandalf did suggest that Frodo stop at The Prancing Pony if he meant to head that way, but he did not tell the hobbits that he would actually meet them there.

Pro: A pre-arranged meeting with Gandalf gives Frodo are more pressing for leaving Hobbiton, as well as a more definitive direction to set out in, especially with the Crickhollow sequences eliminated.

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

A Glimpse of Gildor

Frodo And Sam Looking At Elves Leaving Middle Earth - Deleted Scene

“sam! Wood-elves! ”

Film: As Frodo and Sam journey to Bree, they briefly spy a group of departing elves, who appear as a shimmer through the trees.

Book: The two hobbits spend the evening with Gildor and his company of elves.

Pro: A more extensive encounter with Gildor would not reveal enough new story information to justify the film time.

Con: The Gildor encounter is important because it introduces the audience to Elves.


Radagast The Absent

Gandalf Tells Frodo To Meet In Bree

“i don’t have any answers. I must see the head of my order. He is both wise and powerful. Trust me frodo, he’ll know what to do. ”

Film: When Gandalf realizes that Frodo possesses the One Ring, the wizard seeks out Saruman’s aid.

Book: Another wizard, Radagast the Brown, seeks out Gandalf to tell him that Saruman wishes to see him at Isengard.

Pro: An unnecessary scene and character is eliminated.

Con: This is a major change to Gandalf’s character, making him much more subservient to Saruman than in the books.

Gandalf at Orthanc Shown in Real-Time

Gandalf Riding To Orthanc

“the hour grows late and gandalf the grey rides to isengard seeking my counsel. ”

“The hour grows late and Gandalf the Grey rides to Isengard seeking my counsel.”Film: Gandalf’s capture by Saruman is shown in “real-time.”

Book: Gandalf merely discusses it afterwards at the Council of Elrond.

Pro: According to screenwriter Philippa Boyens, “Film allows us to be a fly on the wall and to observe these two powerful wizards.

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

Gandalf Sees Saruman’s Palantír

Palantir In Orthanc

“a palantír is a dangerous tool, saruman. ”

Film: When Gandalf is summoned to Orthanc, Saruman shows Gandalf that he has a palantír but Gandalf protests its use.

Book: Gandalf does not discover that Saruman has a palantír until Wormtongue hurls it out the window in The Two Towers.

Pro: The early introduction of the audience to the palantír better explains why Saruman sent his forces where he did later on in the story.

Con: The scene requires additional dialog written by the scriptwriters rather than by Tolkien.

Wizard Duel

Gandalf And Saruman Battle In Orthanc

“you… have elected… the way of… pain!

Film: Saruman captures Gandalf by fighting a “wizard duel” involving telekinesis, lightning, and Gandalf being slammed against the wall.

Book: No such battle is mentioned prior to Saruman imprisoning Gandalf.

Pro: Presumably this to add more action to the first half of the film, as well as to let the audience see for themselves what a formidable threat Saruman represents.

Con: A “wizard duel” smacks of cheesy fantasy films and misrepresents Tolkien’s work.

Merry and Pippin Steal Vegetables From Farmer Maggot

Hobbits In Farmer Maggot'S Field

“you’ve been into farmer maggot’s crop! ”

Film: As Frodo and Sam leave the Shire, they run into Merry and Pippin, who have stolen carrots and vegetables and are being chased by Farmer Maggot. The two vegetable thieves decide to join up with Frodo and Sam as a way of escaping Maggot’s wrath.

Book: Frodo, Sam and Pippin leave the Shire together, while Merry rides off in a wagon to set up Frodo’s home in Crickhollow. The three hobbits who are walking to Hobbiton do stop at Farmer Maggot’s farm along the way, who welcomes them and treats them to a meal. Farmer Maggot is known for growing mushrooms, which Frodo, while a young boy, stole from him. No mention is made of other hobbits stealing any of Maggot’s crops. Merry does not rejoin with the other three hobbits until Farmer Maggot drives them to the ferry, after their encounter with a Black Rider.

Pro: Perhaps this is to better acquaint the audience with their characters early on in the films. According to Billy Boyd, “Merry and Pippin meet in a field way out of Hobbiton, which would be like Dom and I meeting up in Paris. But Pippin’s like, Hi, how are ya?’ when most people would be surprised or shocked. That intrigues me about the Hobbits–their ability to just let the world wash over them.” It also cuts the need for long exposition about why Merry and Pippin are joining Frodo, and dramatically propels the journey to Bree forward.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and misrepresents Merry and Pippin’s characters.

Hobbits Fall Off Cliff

Hobbits Fall Off A Cliff

“what?! That was just a detour, a shortcut. ”

Film: The hobbits tumble from a cliff, laughing, during their walk to Bree. After landing, one hobbit says, “I think I’ve broken something” — and the pulls out a broken carrot. The hobbits stop to admire some mushrooms when Frodo notices something on the path ahead and tells them to go into hiding. A Black Rider then makes an appearance.

Book: The hobbits are simply walking down the road when they hear a rider approaching and decide to hide.

Pro: A scary scene can be more effective when it is preceded by a humorous moment.

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

Black Riders Chase Hobbits to Ferry

Black Rider At Buckleberry Ferry

“right. Buckleberry ferry. Follow me. ”

Film: The Black Riders chase the hobbits to Buckleberry Ferry. Frodo jumps onto the ferry just before the Black Riders overtake them, and the Black Riders travel many miles to the next bridge to catch up with the hobbits.

Book: Frodo, Sam and Pippin see a single Black Rider standing next to his horse high up on a bank of the Brandywine River before reaching Maggot’s farm. Farmer Maggot drives the three hobbits to the ferry, and along the way meet up with Merry. When they cross the ferry, they do see a dark figure on the shore, but it does not pursue them.

Pro: According to Peter Jackson, “one of the biggest problems with adapting the books – Tolkien gave his characters a fairly leisurely journey – I don’t mean the length of the journey, but rather the lack of dramatic tension, especially pre-Rivendell. For the movies, we will have to make motivations a little tighter and more urgent.”

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters which takes screen time away from scenes that Tolkien actually wrote.

Hey Dol! Merry Dol! No Bombadillo!

Tom Bombadil - Hildebrandt Brothers

“old tom bombadil is a merry fellow! Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow! ”

Film: The hobbits journey to Crickhollow, the Old Forest (including the meeting with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry) and the Barrow Downs (including the encounter with the Barrow-wights) is eliminated.

Book: Several chapters are devoted to these encounters.

Pro: According to Peter Jackson, “The main reason is not just time or pace, but one of simple narrative focus … the Bombadil sequence has so little to do with Sauron or the Ring, it is difficult to justify the screen time. It simply doesn’t give us any vital new information. A very simplest rule of thumb that I use in movie storytelling is to try and further the story with each new scene.” According to screenwriter Philippa Boyens, “Tom Bombadil is part of several false starts to Frodo’s journey, and you cannot have things happening quite so episodically; that’s not what storytelling is all about.”

Con: The adventures in the Old Forest demonstrate how dangerous the world outside the Shire is for the hobbits. Tom Bombadil demonstrates that the Ring has its limitations, provides a lot of historical background information and, and, according to Tolkien himself, is a necessary enigmatic element. The Barrow-wight chapter is one of the story’s scariest and provides Merry with the sword he later uses to kill the Witch-King.

Note: Both the second BBC radio production and Bakshi animated versions of The Lord of the Rings also excluded the Tom Bombadil sequence. However, Michael Martinez informs me that Bombadil was included in the first BBC radio adaptation and was added to the tape distribution of the second adaptation.

It was a Dark and Stormy Bree

Peter Jackson Cameo In Fellowship

Rain fell in bree when peter jackson’s cameo was filmed

Film: The hobbits arrive in Bree on a rainy night and find the town to have a frighteningly gothic feel.

Book: It was not raining when the hobbits arrive; in fact, Merry goes out for a walk later in the evening. While Sam is intimidated by the two- and three-storied buildings, the Prancing Pony is described in the text as being a pleasant-looking house, with Merry saying that he suspects its home-like enough inside.

Pro: The rain makes Bree a more frightening place for the Hobbits and helps Strider to come across as suspicious and “foul” as he is described in the text.

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

Butterbur Doesn’t Have Letter from Gandalf

Butterbur In The  Prancing Pony

“gandalf? Gandalf? Oh yes! I remember: elderly chap, big gray beard, pointy hat… not seen him for six months. ”

Film: Barliman Butterbur, innkeeper of The Prancing Pony, has only a vague recollection of a customer named Gandalf.

Book: Butterbur and Gandalf are friends.  Once the hobbits go into their rooms, Butterbur gives them a letter from Gandalf that he forgot to mail.  In the letter, Gandalf tells the hobbits to meet him in Bree, and if he’s not there, they can trust a friend of his named Aragorn (aka Strider).

Pro: The letter would have involved too much exposition and business.

Con: Without the letter, it is unclear why the hobbits so easily trusted Strider.

Frodo Slides Instead of Sings

Frodo Slips And The Ring Falls On His Finger

“steady on, frodo! ”

Film: When Pippin reveals to the other patrons at the Prancing Pony’s bar that Frodo’s real last name is “Baggins,” Frodo rushes across the room to stop Pippin from saying more, but he trips and falls backward. The Ring flies up into the air, and as he tries to catch it, it slips onto his finger.

Book: As Pippin is relating the story of Bilbo’s birthday party to the other patrons, Frodo interrupts him by jumping atop a table and singing a song. During one enthusiastic leap as he sings “The Cow Jumped Over The Moon,” he falls to the floor, and the Ring slips onto the finger that he had in his pocket.

Pro: This change is a much quicker way of relating Frodo’s mishap.

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

Strider Drags Frodo Upstairs

Strider Grabs Frodo

“you draw far too much attention to yourself mister underhill!

Film: Strider drags Frodo into the hobbits’ room at The Prancing Pony to chastise him for putting on the Ring in the common-room.

Book: Strider chastises him in a quiet corner of the common-room first before they go to the hobbit’s room. At no point does Strider grab Frodo.

Pro: This is a quicker way to move the action from Frodo’s mishap with the Ring scene to the discussion with Strider. It also serves add more dramatic tension to the scene.

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

Strider Carries a Common Sword

Strider Asks Are You Frightened

“are you frightened? ”

Film: Strider is armed with an ordinary sword, which he uses for swordfighting. The shards of Narsil are kept on a statue in Rivendell until they are reforged into Strider’s new sword, Anduril, which is delivered to him by Elrond before he embarks on the Paths of the Dead.

Book: Strider carried the shards of Narsil with him at all times. He pulls out his broken sword at The Prancing Pony to demonstrate to Sam that he is not a threat, and it is evidence that he is the real Aragorn.

Pro: Since the film’s version of Aragorn does not wish to be king, he has no motivation for carrying the heirloom with him. According to a reader named Jersey, having Narsil remain in Elrond’s keeping until Aragorn claims it at Rivendell, also “makes the symbolic value of the sword all the more profound and powerful. And it makes the Ranger that would be king truly undergo a transformation into his regal incarnation.”

Con: Narsil was an important symbol of both Aragorn’s past and destiny, and he would have kept it with him at all times. Also, the original scene of Strider unsheathing the broken Narsil at The Prancing Pony as Tolkien wrote it was suspenseful, epic and poignant.

Sam Puts Up His Dukes

Sam Says,

“let him go, or i’ll have you longshanks! ”

Film: When the other three hobbits burst into Strider’s room, Sam raises his fists to Strider.

Book: Merry was outside taking a walk (and having an encounter with a Black Rider) when Strider first appeared in the hobbits’ room. Sam was never described as raising his fists to Strider.

Pro: Sam’s “dukes” are a visual way to increase the dramatic tension of the scene, while Merry’s encounter with the Ringwraith did not merit the screen time necessary to support it.

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

Hobbits Witness Black Riders Attacking Their Room

Strider Warns Of The Nazgul

“they are the nazgûl, ringwraiths, neither living nor dead. ”

Film: Looking through the window of Strider’s room at The Prancing Pony, he and the hobbits witness the Black Riders entering their vacated room during the night.

Book: Our heroes see only the aftermath of the attempted attack after waking up the next morning. Strider points out that the Black Riders would not attack the inn, so the would-be attacker may have actually been Bill Ferny and his accomplices.

Pro: The trick of making the audience think that the Black Riders are about to murder the hobbits will make them seem more frightening.

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

Strider Gives Elvish Swords to Hobbits

Film: Strider gives the hobbits Elvish swords at Bree.

Book: Tom Bombadil supplies the hobbits with Númenorean blades. (Merry later uses his blade to stab the Witch-King at the Battle of the Pelennor fields.)

Pro: With the Barrow wight sequence eliminated, the hobbits need another way to get their weapons.

Con: Where did Strider get the Elvish swords from? Did he carry four swords all the way from Rivendell? And what of the Númenorean spell that later makes the Witch-King vulnerable. The Dunedain kingdom of Arnor was threatened by the Witch-king. Why would the spell be on an Elvish blade?

Four Synchronized Nazgûl Confront Hobbits at Weathertop

Nazgul On Weathertop

the hobbits confront the ringwraiths at weathertop

Film: The Nazgûl stand before the hobbits at the ruins of Weathertop and draw their swords in unison. The hobbits stand close together and hold up their own swords in defense.

Book: The attack came at a down further down the hill. Two Nazgûl remain on the dell, and while three more Nazgûl advance, Merry and Pippin throw themselves to the ground in fear. When Frodo draws his own sword, two of the three advancing Nazgûl halt, but the remaining one, armed with a sword and a knife, springs forward and stabs Frodo with the knife.

Pro: Presumably, all the action is kept at Weathertop in the interests of time compression. Perhaps the filmmakers feared that if some of the Nazgûl were hindered by Frodo’s sword, they wouldn’t seem threatening enough. Similarly, if Merry and Pippin threw themselves down in fear, they would come across as too cowardly.

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

Strider Fights Nazgûl at Weathertop

Aragorn Fights Nazgul On Weathertop

aragorn sets one ringwraith on fire and crosses swords with another

Film: As the Nazgûl advance on the four hobbits, Strider throws a torch at one of the Nazgûl and sets it aflame. He then pulls out his sword (a common sword, not Narsil) and engages in a sword fight with another Nazgûl. The fight stops when Frodo puts on the Ring and the Witch-King stabs him.

Book: Strider leaps out of the darkness wielding a flaming brand after Frodo is stabbed, but he does not fight the Nazgûl.

Pro: Presumably the filmmakers wanted Strider to come across as more heroic and for the encounter at Weathertop to provide more action for the first half of the film and give Strider an opportunity to appear heroic.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien’s work. The Nazgûl did fear fire, but they were incorporeal and fear was their weapon – swordfighting misrepresents their nature.

Gandalf Contacts Gwaihir By Messenger-Moth

Gandalf Whispers To Moth On Orthanc

Gandalf whispers to moth on orthanc

Film: Gandalf sends a moth to tell Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles, to rescue him from his imprisonment atop the tower of Orthanc. Later, as Saruman confronts Gandalf atop Orthanc, the moth flies back, Gandalf jumps off the tower, and lands on Gwaihir’s back.

Book: Gwaihir is sent to Orthanc by another wizard, Radagast the Brown, to bring news to Gandalf and Saruman. Seeing Gandalf trapped on top of the tower, Gwaihir rescues him.

Pro: With no time in the picture for Radagast, this change gives some of Radagast’s “animal” powers to Gandalf. The use of the moth is a wonderful, subtle extrapolation from Gandalf’s imprisonment on Orthanc. A beautiful, simple depiction of the wizard’s “magic.” It is also featured in one of the most stunning individual shots in the whole film, a breathlessly cinematic moment that illustrates the concept of “show, don’t tell” to convey some vital understanding about the corruption of Saruman and his pursuit of power at any cost. Besides, actively seeking escape by sending out the moth to search for the eagle makes the desperation of Gandalf’s situation far more acute, than if the bird more or less just happens to be passing and decides to pick him up after some more or less idle chit chat. These arguments put forth by Jersey in several The One Ring posts

Con: All of the other animals in Tolkien’s world that interacted with people displayed a relatively high degree of sentience, which the moth apparently won’t. Also, a moth being used to help the good guys is inappropriate for the story’s mythological setting because a moth represents death, decay, and disease.

Orc Pods

Orc Cocoon

orc cocoons

Film: Saruman’s Uruk-hai army hatches from cocoons in assembly-line fashion in the caverns underneath Orthanc. The newborn Uruks are manhandled out of their pods and then flogged along by the pitmaster variety of Orcs to be examined, instructed and then outfitted with armor. The scene also conveys the relentlessly brutal means by which the evil lords acquire the “loyalty” of their warriors.

Book: Orcs reproduce “in the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar.”

Pro: Apparently the concept of orcs being hatched was influenced by Tolkien critic Tom Shippey. Also, it may be that the film-makers thought that scenes of Saruman mass-producing a large, vicious army would let the audience see for themselves what a formidable threat Saruman represents.

Con: Orc “cocoons” smacks of sci-fi films such as Alien and misrepresents Tolkien’s world.


Lurtz And Saruman

saruman examines his new creation, lurtz

Film: Lurtz, an Uruk-hai bred by Saruman, leads a rebellion against Isengard’s other Orcs and defeats them. Saruman then brings Lurtz up to the tower of Orthanc, where the Uruk-hai survives exposure to direct sunlight, which normal Orcs cannot withstand. (Lurtz later joins the Uruk-hai that ambush the Fellowship at Amon Hen and personally fires the 4-5 arrows that finish off Boromir).

Book: There is no specific character named Lurtz and no such scenes of Uruk-hai at Isengard are described.

Pro: Presumably these scenes are used to show the audience what dangerous foes the Uruk-hai are, while the Lurtz character “gives a face” to the Uruk-hai.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters which takes screen time away from scenes that Tolkien actually wrote.

Stone Troll Encounter at Night

Aragorn Examines Stone Trolls

strider examines stone troll by torchlight

Film: While traveling at night (as evident by the torch), Strider and the hobbits discover the three trolls turned to stone during Bilbo’s adventures.

Book: The trolls are discovered in broad daylight. In fact, Strider admonishes the hobbits for claiming to have seen live trolls during the day, forgetting everything they know about trolls.

Pro: Since the Weathertop scenes occur at night, perhaps these scenes closely follow to facilitate time compression of the original story.

Con: Such time compression is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien’s work.

Arwen at the Ford (AATF)

Arwen Protects Frodo From The Black Riders

Arwen protects frodo from the black riders

Film: On their way to Rivendell, Strider and the hobbits encounter Arwen riding Asfaloth. Arwen realizes that Frodo will quickly sink into the wraith world if he is not quickly, so being the fastest rider of the group, she volunteers to ride ahead with Frodo to bring him to her father, Elrond, who can heal him. However, on the way to Rivendell, they are attacked by Black Riders, but Arwen manages to cross the Ford of Bruinen before the Black Riders can can seize Frodo. The Witch King calls out to her, “Give up the Halfling, She-Elf!” and Arwen replies, “If you want him, come and claim him!” Arwen is armed with a sword, but she never actually uses it against the Black Riders.

Book: Strider and the hobbits encounter an Elf lord named Glorfindel, while Arwen remains in Rivendell. Glorfindel puts Frodo on his horse when the Black Riders attack, and Asfaloth carries Frodo alone across the Ford.

Arwen And Frodo Face The Nazgul At The Ford Of Bruinen

Arwen and frodo face the nazgul at the ford of bruinen

Pro: According to screenwriter Philippa Boyens, Arwen’s horse riding scene was done as a cinematic change, to make a scene play better on screen.

Con: Having Arwen accompany Frodo during his escape from the Black Riders and defiance (“You shall have neither the Ring nor me!”) at the Ford robs Frodo of much of his bravery.

Note: In Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of The Lord of the Rings, Legolas took Glorfindel’s place.

Black Riders on Brown Horses

Black Riders On Brown Horses

Black riders on brown horses

The Black… uh, Brown… Riders!Film: The Black Riders’ horses are brown.

Book: The Black Rider’s horses are black.

Pro: Brown-colored horses may show up better on film than black ones.

Con: This is a departure from Tolkien’s descriptions.




Arwen Causes Flood at Ford (ACFAF)

Film: Once Arwen reaches the other side of the Ford with Frodo, she challenges the Black Riders to cross the Ford and try to get him. (Frodo is too weak to speak). As they enter the water, she recites then Elvish words “nîn o Hitaeglir lasto beth daer rhimmo nin Bruinen dan in ulair” (“Waters from Misty Mountains, listen to my words of might, flow torrentially for me, Bruinen, against the ringwraiths!”) , which cause the Bruinen to flood and wash the Black Riders away.

Book: As the Black Riders approach the Ford to seize him, Frodo raises his sword and defiantly say, “You shall have neither the Ring nor me.” The flood was unleashed by Elrond (with Gandalf giving the foam the shape of white horses).

Pro: This change eliminates the need for Gandalf to later explain to Frodo how the flood what caused and allows the audience to actually see it.

Con: Allowing Arwen to unleash the floods by merely reciting words de-emphasizes the power Elrond holds over Rivendell with his ring and reduces Elves to D&D spell-casting stereotypes. It also undermines the courage Frodo displays in the books.

Frodo’s Healing Shown in Real-Time

Film: Elrond heals Frodo, saying in Elvish “lasto beth nin, tolo dan na ngalad” (translation: “Frodo, hear my voice, come back to the light.”), and as Frodo beings to come back to consciousness, Elrond and Gandalf discuss his prognosis).

Book: Frodo wakens to only find Gandalf in his room in Rivendell. Gandalf tells Frodo that Elrond has been tending him the past few days.

Pro: This change eliminates the need for Gandalf to explain to Frodo how he came to be healed.

Con: This change requires the invention of new dialog by the scriptwriters, and therefore it is not reflective of Tolkien’s work..

Arwen Gives Aragorn Elvish Jewel

Arwen And Aragorn In Rivendell

arwen and aragorn share a romantic moment in rivendell

Film: A romantic interlude between Aragorn and Arwen occurs at Rivendell, where Arwen gives Aragorn an Elvish jewel called Evenstar as a keepsake.

Book: Aragorn and Arwen do meet at Rivendell, but the details of their encounter are not described. Galadriel gave Aragorn an Elvish jewel called Elessar(“the Elfstone”) in Lothlorien.

Pro: According to director Peter Jackson, “the Aragorn/Arwen romance is a lovely part of the story … but if it was filmed exactly as Tolkien wrote it, they would have maybe 10 minutes screen time together over 6 hours of film. So we have to find a way to include Arwen in more of the story, to have a chance at creating a meaningful screen romance.”

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

Elrond and Gandalf Discuss Ring Before Council

Film: Elrond tells Gandalf that the Ring can not be kept at Rivendell.

Book: No such scene is in the books.

Pro: The disagreement about what to do with the Ring provides motivation for having a Council.

Con: This change requires dialog created by the filmmakers rather than Tolkien’s own.

Council of Elrond Shortened

Gandalf Speaks At Council Of Elrond

sit down and shut up, gandalf! We want to keep this meeting brief!

Film: The Council of Elrond is much shorter than it is in the books and is more about making a decision about what to do with the Ring rather than providing background exposition. Gandalf is mostly silent during the Council.

Book: Gandalf speaks for pages and pages about past events.

Pro: Presumably this was done in the interests of time compression and to spread out the dialog among more characters.

Con: Parceling out backstory dialog among the other characters require additional dialog written by the scriptwriters rather than by Tolkien.

Note: Both the BBC radio production and Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation greatly shortened this sequence.

Aragorn Dresses Up for Council

Aragorn At Council Of Elrond

Aragorn at council of elrond

Film: Aragorn appears in clean, new clothes at the Council of Elrond.

Book: “In a corner, alone Strider was sitting, clad in his old travel-worn clothes again.”

Pro: If the Hall of Fire scenes (where Aragorn appears dressed in bright Elven mail) are omitted, then it is necessary to have Aragorn dress well in this scene to illustrate his true, high lineage.

Con: This is an unnecessary change from Tolkien’s story.

The Ring on a Plinth (ROAP)

The Ring On A Plinth

The ring on a plinth

Film: Members of the Council of Elrond sit in a circle surrounding the One Ring on its plinth.

Book: Frodo keeps the One Ring hidden under his shirt until bidden to briefly show it to the Council.

Pro: Perhaps the filmmakers felt that if the Ring were physically separated from Frodo, his agreeing to be Ringbearer on the quest would have more impact than it would if the audience saw Frodo sitting throughout the Council meeting with the Ring suspended about his neck. Also, having all of these heroic characters sit around the Ring at a distance is a visually symbolic of the Ring’s power and of the problem the Council is trying to solve.

Con: Having Frodo voluntarily give up the Ring and leave it on the plinth exposed to anyone who might be tempted to use it actually diminishes the audiences’ sense of the Ring’s power. And as a dramatic centerpiece, it lacks subtlety.

Boromir’s Dream Cut

Film: Boromir’s dream about seeking “the sword that was broken” is eliminated from the films.

Book: The dream is Boromir’s reason for coming to Rivendell, and Aragorn takes it as a sign that the time has finally come for Isildur’s heir to reclaim the throne.

Pro: Presumably the dream was eliminated to leave more time for other scenes.

Con: Removing the dream eliminates Boromir’s reason for being at the Council of Elrond as well as Aragorn’s realization that the time was approaching for Isildur’s heir to reclaim the throne.

Gimli Attempts to Destroy the Ring

Gimli Attempts To Destroy The Ring

Gimli attempts to destroy the ring

Film: Gimli attempts to destroy the Ring by striking it with his ax as it lies on the plinth at the Council of Elrond.

Book: Gimli makes no attempt to destroy or damage the Ring anywhere in the story.

Pro: Presumably this is to visually portray Gandalf’s line from the books that not even the great hammers of the Dwarves could destroy the Ring – as well as to depict Gimli as a man of action.

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

Legolas Stands Up For Aragorn

Legolas: He Is Aragorn, Son Of Arathorn And You Owe Him Your Allegiance

“he is aragorn, son of arathorn and you owe him your allegiance! ”

Film: When Boromir asks Aragorn who he is and what he has to do with Minas Tirith, Legolas stands up and tells Boromir that Aragorn is Isildur’s heir, to whom Boromir should owe his allegiance. However, Aragorn says, “Havo dad, Legolas” (“sit down, Legolas”).

Book: Elrond tells Boromir of Aragorn’s heritage, and elsewhere in the book, Aragorn is always proud to proclaim (or have proclaimed) that he is Isildur’s heir.

Pro: The filmmakers wish to portray Aragorn as someone who is suspicious of authority — even his own — perhaps to underscore the realization that power corrupts.

Con: Aragorn’s primary motivation in the books is to reclaim what was lost to his family, and to win the hand of Arwen by becoming king of both Arnor and Gondor. Having him be so blase about his heritage robs him of his driving force. Also, it is not Legolas’ place to stand up for Aragorn.

Where’s Bilbo?

The Council Of Elrond

The council of elrond… but where’s bilbo?

Film: Bilbo does not attend the Council of Elrond.

Book: Bilbo attends with Council, telling the story of how he came by the Ring. He also offers to take it to Mordor, but Gandalf tells him that his involvement with the matter has ended.

Pro: Presumably the filmmakers thought that Bilbo being present at the Council would require unnecessary and redundant exposition.

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

Thanks to reader RockyMars for bringing this to my attention!

Sam, Merry and Pippin Burst into Council

Pippin And Merry Eavesdropping

Pippin and merry eavesdropping

Film: Sam, who was watching the proceedings of the Council of Elrond from behind bushes beyond the porchs, bursts in and demands to accompany Frodo on his quest. Then Merry and Pippin run in from their hiding place in a corridor and make the same demand.

Book: Sam is present at the Council from its start. Merry and Pippin do not attend the Council at all, and they do not request to become the final two members of the Fellowship until many days later.

Pro: Presumably the later meeting with Elrond was incorporated into the Council scene to leave more time for other scenes.

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

Fellowship Members Volunteer to Join Frodo

The Fellowship At The Council Of Elrond

the fellowship is chosen at the council of elrond

Film: During the Council of Elrond, Frodo steps up to volunteer himself to carry it to Mount Doom, the only place the Ring can be unmade. Gandalf agrees to join him, saying “I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins, as long as it is yours to bear.” Then Aragorn speaks up, “I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and if by life or dead I can save you, I will. You have my sword.” Legolas offers his bow and Gimili offers his axe. Boromir also agrees, saying, “You carry the fate of all of us, little one.” The bushes rustle and three hobbit-eavesdroppers come running into the circle, Sam in front. Sam declares he will follow Frodo no matter what, and Merry and Pippin squeal that they would have to be locked up to be kept away. Elrond smiles and declares “so be it, nine walkers to balance the nine Riders. Boromir mutters something like “if it’s the will of the council.” Elrond then declares the group “the Fellowship of the Ring.”

Book: Elrond chose the members of the Fellowship some weeks after the Council was held. Aragorn said “I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and if by life or dead I can save you, I will” when he first met the hobbits in Bree.

Pro: Presumably the later meeting with Elrond was incorporated into the Council scene to leave more time for other scenes.

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

Ruins in Hollin

Fellowship Passes By The Ruins Of Hollin

Fellowship passes by the ruins of hollin

Film: The Fellowship passes by ruins during their journey through Hollin.

Book: Such ruins are not mentioned in the book.

Pro: This is simply “set decoration” that adds visual interest to the landscape and gives the audience a sense of Middle-earth’s past civilizations and ages.

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

Note: Thanks to reader Henry for pointing this out!

Boromir Holds Ring

Frodo Drops The Ring In The Snow

Frodo drops the ring in the snow

Film: While Frodo is crossing the snows of Caradhras, he falls and the Ring chain slips off of his neck. Boromir picks it up the Ring by its chain and says, “It is a strange fate that we suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing&such; a little thing.” Aragorn then tells Boromir to give the Ring back to Frodo, which he does.

Book: Boromir catches only a glimpse of the Ring during the Council of Elrond but never actually sees it again, much less holds it. He does not utter the quoted line until he attempts to seize the Ring from Frodo at Amon Hen.

Boromir Picks Up The Ring

Boromir picks up the ring

Pro: This additional scene helps to build in the audience’s mind Boromir’s growing desire for the Ring throughout the Fellowship’s journey.

Con: If Frodo was wearing the Ring on its chain around his neck and under his garments, it could not have slipped off as easily as this scene implies – nor would Frodo willingly give it to Boromir. For that matter, Boromir would not willingly give it back to Frodo once he had it in his grasp.

Saruman Causes Snowstorm

Saruman Creates Caradhras Snowstorm

Saruman calls forth caradhras snowstorm….

Film: Saruman causes the snowstorm encountered by the Fellowship as they cross Caradhras. Gandalf tries to fight the power that Saruman has called and is once again defeated. Gandalf finally agrees to Aragorn’s suggestion that they take the route through Moria.

Book: Boromir wonders if the snowstorm “is a contrivance of the Enemy” [Sauron] but the book does not even suggest that it might be caused by Saruman not does Gandalf use any special powers to fight the snowstorm other than to magically ignite a piece of wood. They do decide to go to Moria instead, but all along, it was Gandalf who suggested Moria and Aragorn pushing for the Caradhras route.

Caradhras Snowstorm

and gives gandalf a cold reception on caradhra

Pro: Having Saruman cause the snowstorm gives him a greater presence as a threat in the film.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not reflect what Tolkien wrote.

Warg Attack Cut

Film: The Fellowship is not attacked by wargs after their failed attempt to cross Caradhras.

Book: The warg attack ends all hesitation about taking the route through Moria.

Pro: Eliminating this scene leaves screen time available for more important scenes.

Con: The warg attack is an important scene because it demonstrates the dangers the Fellowship had to face before being willing to enter Moria.

Entire Fellowship Battles Watcher

Watcher In The Water Grabs Frodo

The watcher in the water grabs frodo

Film: All the members of the Fellowship battle the Watcher in the Water when it grabs Frodo at the gates of Moria.

Book: Only Sam slashes at a tentacle with his knife before the watcher frees Frodo.

Pro: Having the entire fight the Watcher makes the scene more exciting.

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

Frodo Solves the Riddle in the Gates of Moria

The Fellowship At The Gates Of Moria

gandalf examines the gates of moria

Film: Frodo walks up, and -as if thinking out loud- says “Speak, friend, and enter” then turning to Gandalf he asks “What is the elvish word for friend?” “Mellon” -answers Gandalf- thus opening the door.

Book: Gandalf sits with his head bowed “Either in despair or in anxious thought” and then suddenly stands up, laughing and crying “I have it.” He stands in front of the door and in a clear voice says “Mellon”. Then he explained that the translation could have been “Say friend, and enter”, rather than “Speak, friend, and enter.”

Pro: It allows Frodo to become an activate part of the Fellowship, and strengthens the bond between him and Gandalf.

Con: Gandalf’s role as the wise wizard is diminished by the musings of a Hobbit.

Moria Guard Room Scene Compressed

Pippin Examines Skeleton In Moria

Pippin examines skeleton in moria…

Film: As Gandalf reads the journal in Balin’s tomb, Pippin accidentally knocks the dwarf skull down a well. Next, the skeleton to which it is attached collapses and falls down the well, also dragging down a chain and bucket. The noise is incredible. Gandalf hisses, “Fool of a Took.” The Fellowship then hears the sound of drums. Boromir takes a peek out the door and is nearly struck by an arrow from a party of attacking Orcs.

Book: Pippin purposefully drops a rock into a well at a guard room where the Fellowship slept after their first march in Moria. They then hear what sounds like a hammer tapping in the distance. Gandalf assigns Pippin the first watch “as a reward,” but kindly relieves him an hour later. The Orc attack comes does not come until the Fellowship arrives at Balin’s Tomb one or two days later.

Skeleton Falls Down Well In Moria

…knocking the skeleton down a well. fool of a took!

Pro: Combining the guard room scene with the Balin’s Tomb scene leaves more screen time for other material.

Con: The original scene as Tolkien wrote is one of the fans’ favorite scenes in the book and as such, should not be altered.

Aragorn Fights with Bow in Moria

Aragorn In Moria

aragorn uses a bow against orcs at balin’s tomb

Film: Aragorn is armed with a bow as well as a sword in both Balin’s Tomb and Helm’s Deep.

Book: Aragorn is never described anywhere in the story as using a weapon other than his sword, Anduril (unless you count the flaming brands at Weathertop).

Pro: Arming Aragorn with a bow gives him more versatility in combat scenes. Also, when he unsheathes Anduril, he symbolically transforms from Strider to Aragorn.

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

Cave Troll Fight Sequence

Sam Confronts Moria Cave Troll

sam dives under moria cave troll

Film: A cave troll wielding a hammer and chain bursts into the battle at Balin’s Tomb. The troll swings a huge chain at Legolas, who fires arrows at his spine, and knocks Aragorn aside as it stalks Frodo. The troll picks up a polearm and slams it into Frodo’s chest. Merry and Pippin then jump on the troll’s back while Aragorn stabs it with it’s own polearm, but it is Legolas who actually kills it with two arrows fired into its mouth. The Fellowship then tends to Frodo and discover his mithril coat.

Book: The cave troll manages to get its foot into the door, but Frodo drives it off by stabbing Sting into its toe. As the Fellowship flee from Balin’s Tomb, an orc chieftain bursts in, knocking aside Boromir and escaping a swing from Aragorn’s sword. Sam manages to take a swipe at the orc chieftain, but that doesn’t prevent it from hurling its polearm into Frodo’s side. Aragorn then cleaves the orc’s head in two. (Tolkien makes no mention of Merry or Pippin participating in any of the battle). The Fellowship does not learn of Frodo’s mithril coat until tending to him outside of Moria.

Pro: These changes are a more visually interesting and exciting than what Tolkien wrote (witness Bakshi’s more faithful but ponderous depiction of this scene).

Con: These changes are an invention of the scriptwriters and do not represent Tolkien’s work.

Spider Orcs

Orcs Climbing Walls In Moria

spider orcs climb down pillars in the second hall of moria

Film: As the Fellowship flees through the Second Hall of Old Moria, a number of orcs climb spider-like down the pillars headfirst.

Book: Tolkien never described Orcs as having arachnoid abilities.

Pro: These changes are a more visually interesting and exciting than what Tolkien wrote.

Con: These changes are an invention of the scriptwriters and do not represent Tolkien’s work.

Moria Orcs Surround Fellowship

Orcs Surround Fellowship In Moria

Orcs surround fellowship in moria

Moria orcs surround FellowshipFilm: As the Fellowship flees through the Second Hall of Old Moria, thousands of orcs spring out from out of every direction to surround the Fellowship. However, the Orcs then flee in panic when the Balrog appears.

Book: A large fissure filled with fire separates the Fellowship from the orcs in the Second Hall. Some cave trolls attempt to lay down large stone slabs to bridge the fissure, but all the enemies suddenly crowd away (perhaps in fear) as the Balrog arrives.

Pro: These changes are a more visually interesting and exciting than what Tolkien wrote.

Con: These changes are an invention of the scriptwriters and do not represent Tolkien’s work.

The Gimli Beard Saving Maneuver (GBSM)

Not The Beard Gimli

“not the beard! ”

Film: When the Balrog first appears, the Fellowship attempts to escape it by running down a flight of steps. However, there is a chasm at the bottom of the steps, and the Fellowship jumps across it. Boromir carries Merry and Pippin when he jumps. Someone offers to throw Gimli and he growls at them, “Nobody tosses a dwarf!” Gimli attempts to jump across but is saved from falling into the fissure by Legolas grabbing onto his beard. Legolas shoots his bow at orcs who are raining spears and arrows down upon them. The stairway collapses into the chasm just as Aragorn carries Frodo down the steps on their way to the Bridge of Khazad-dum.

Book: There is no such collapsing stair and jumping across chasm scene.

Pro: These changes are a more visually interesting and exciting than what Tolkien wrote.

Con: These changes are an invention of the scriptwriters and do not represent Tolkien’s work.

Frodo Sees Shire’s Destruction in Galadriel’s Mirror

Frodo Invited To Look At Mirror Of Galadriel

frodo alone is invited by galadriel to look into her mirror…

Film: Frodo is awakened in the night by the passing of Galadriel. He follows her to the Mirror of Galadriel, looks in, and sees the destruction of the Shire.

Book: Frodo and Sam are walking through the woods of Lothlorien when Galadriel beckons them to the Mirror. Sam looks first, and he is the one who sees the Shire’s destruction.

Pro: Having Frodo alone with Galadriel and seeing the Shire’s destruction himself makes the scene more dramatic and Frodo’s trial more poignant.

The Scouring Of The Shire

… and sees a vision of the shire’s destruction

Con: This is a needless change to the story.

Frodo Holds Out Ring to Galadriel

Frodo Holds Out Ring To Galadriel

frodo removes ring and offers it to galadriel

Film: Frodo removes the Ring and chain from his neck and hands it out to Galadriel.

Book: Frodo says to Galadriel, “I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.” However, nowhere does the text say that Frodo even shows her the Ring.

Pro: This is a reasonable action to accompany Frodo’s words.

Con: This action goes beyond what Tolkien intended.

Galadriel’s Swan Dinghy

Galadriel'S Swan Boat

Galadriel’s swan boat

Film: Galadriel rides in a small, dinghy-sized swan boat.

Book: Galadriel and Celeborn rode in a swan ship “of great size” steered by two Elves with black paddles.

Pro: A larger ship would have overpowered the Lothlórien setting.

Con: The small swan boat looks like it’s from an amusement park ride.

Aragorn Battles Uruk-hai at Amon Hen

Frodo &Amp; Aragorn

the ring is tearing the fellowship apart

Film: After his encounter with Boromir atop the ruins of Amon Hen, Frodo meets Aragorn at the base of the ruins and tells him that he has decided to leave the Fellowship because the Ring is working its evil on them. Aragorn reluctantly agrees, but then hundreds of Saruman’s Uruk-hai attack. Aragorn tells Frodo to run and fights off several the Uruk-hai. However, dozens more arrive, forcing Aragorn to run off. (At some point, Aragorn beheads Lurtz, the Uruk-hai leader who kills Boromir.) Merry and Pippin also see Frodo leaving. They sacrifice themselves to help him get away from the orcs that are hunting him. They stand and shout at the orcs and lead them off.
Book: Frodo doesn’t meet any other members of the Fellowship between his encounter with Boromir and leaving with Sam in the boat – nor does he witness the Uruk-hai attack. Aragorn does not encounter any of the Uruk-hai, arriving at the scene of the attack only after it is all over and the surviving Uruk-hai have escaped with Merry and Pippin.

Orcs Converge On Aragorn On Amon Hen

Orcs converge on aragorn at the seat of seeing


Pro: It is necessary for Frodo to talk to Aragorn about his decision to leave so that the audience is aware of Frodo’s thoughts, that are expressed only as narrative in the books. Also, having the other Fellowship members aware of his decision prevents unnecessary screentime of Fellowship members worrying about what happened to Frodo.

Aragorn Battles Orcs On Amon Hen

aragorn battles uruk-hai at amon hen


Con: Frodo would not knowingly leave his friends in danger like this.

Lurtz Kills Boromir in Real-Time

Lurtz Takes Aim At Boromir

Lurtz takes aim at boromir

Film: Boromir’s defense of the hobbits and subsequent death at Amon Hen is shown at the end of the film version of FOTR in “real time.” He is shot with several arrows by Lurtz, the leader of the Uruk-hai band.

Book: Boromir’s death is discussed at the beginning of The Two Towers, but we are not given a first-hand account of the battle.

Pro: New Line wants/needs something to button the first film with that doesn’t come off as a minor skirmish compared to the events in Moria and on the outskirts of Lothlorien. Structurally, it would be very unsatisfying to audiences who must be engaged enough to wait for an entire year to continue the saga. Readers of the book don’t have to stop after FOTR for a whole year.

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