(Spoilers for the book/films ahead!)
Hmm. What would a Hollywood version of The Lord of the Rings book
- Audiences “won’t understand” two enemies, so Saruman and Sauron
are combined. None of this “eye” nonsense: the enemy is called Sauron
but looks like Saruman, and is played by Alan Rickman.
- Nine in the fellowship? Too many characters. Combine Merry and
Pippin. Drop Sam (“he’s just a gardener!”). Drop Boromir (“another
enemy?”). Keep Gimli as the comic relief to Aragorn, but drop Legolas
(“Spock ears?”); in fact, drop the elves altogether. So the
fellowship is Gandalf, Frodo, Merry/Pippin, Aragorn, and Gimli. Much
better, and helps save on salary too, considering the star-name cast: Aragorn is Tom Cruise, Gandalf is John Malkovich, Frodo is Haley Joel Osment, Merry/Pippin is Kieran Culkin, and Gimli is Danny DeVito.
- There’s only one film, so after Frodo receives the ring from
Bilbo, played in a cameo by Mickey Rooney, we then jump more or less
straight from the Shire to the passage through Moria (the fellowship
is explained as a voice-over). This proceeds more or less as the
book, but Gandalf does something Harry Potter to stop himself falling
after the battle with the Balrog (avoids all that awkward mystical
stuff), but is mysteriously unable to do something else Harry Potter
to catch up with the fellowship.
- The fellowship breaks up straight away film-time, with the
journey to the Falls of Rauros explained by a montage of lingering
gloomy looks at each other. The break-up is caused by an
argument round a camp fire rather than a battle. No meeting with
Galadriel, of course.
- Frodo heads to Mordor alone. He meets up with Gollum, voiced by
Robin Williams (if unavailable, Mike Myers). Crossing the Dead
Marshes, Frodo is caught in a bog and rescued by Gollum, in a
- The Merry/Pippin hybrid walks to Minas Tirith, where he
meets up with Gandalf who’d gone straight there for some reason.
No Fangorn Forest (“fighting trees?”), and no Isengard.
- Gimli and Aragorn go to Osgiliath (Frodo and Gollum don’t), where
they meet Faramir (played by Sean Connery). There’s a small skirmish
here, involving Sauron (no Nazgul), of the “You win this time, men of
Gondor, but I’ll be back… and next time I’ll bring some friends of
- Gimli, Aragorn and Faramir go to Minas Tirith, rejoin Gandalf and
Merry/Pippin, and prepare for the battle. (No Denethor: Faramir’s in
charge. No Theoden or Helm’s Deep.) Here Aragorn meets Eowyn, and
they fall in love.
- Frodo and Gollum dodge through the legs of marching orcs to reach
the stairs of Cirith Ungol. Gollum leads him deliberately to Shelob’s
lair and abandons him, and there’s a hobbit-spider fight, in which
Frodo kills Shelob before she can paralyse him. Gollum follows Frodo
secretly, and we know about it through Robin Williams ad libs.
- In the battle for Gondor, Aragorn, Gimli, Merry/Pippin and
Faramir beat the orcs, with Gandalf fighting Sauron spell-to-spell,
wheeling through the skies. On the verge of defeating Sauron, Gandalf
inadvertently blabs about Frodo and the ring. Sauron immediately
runs away, and heads for Mount Doom.
- A chase begins. Gandalf chases Sauron; Sauron rushes to find Frodo.
Frodo reaches the crack of Doom just seconds ahead of Sauron.
- There is a hand-to-hand fight between Sauron and Frodo. Frodo
uses the ring several times, with no ill-effects, to escape Sauron’s
clutches. Finally Sauron grabs him, snatches the ring, and they
topple towards the edge…
- And then Gollum jumps from the shadows onto Sauron, wrestles him
away from Frodo, and they topple over the edge into the lava,
destroying the ring.
- The mountain begins to explode. Gandalf rescues Frodo and they
fly to safety. “He saved us,” says Frodo. “Saved us all in the end.
- Big party at Minas Tirith. Aragorn marries Eowyn. Gimli catches
the bouquet. Merry/Pippin is knighted for services to Gondor.
Faramir crowns Aragorn king. Gandalf organises the fireworks. Frodo
makes an “I couldn’t have done it without you guys” speech, and emotes
about Gollum’s sacrifice with an undercurrent of God-Bless-America.
Fanfares, fireworks, celebrations, fade to black, roll credits.