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Home > Top 10 Differences in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Books VS Films

Top 10 Differences in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Books VS Films

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One Canon To Rule Them All

Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit eighty-seven years ago, audiences have found a kinship with the world of Middle Earth. With the upcoming Warner Bros. animated film The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim directed by Kenji Kamiyama, it’s a great time to refresh fans’ memories on what happened in Tolkien’s works.

It’s not far-fetched to say that many modern audiences are more familiar with Warner Bros’ The Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson rather than the original written work. Winning numerous awards, including Oscars, and helping to influence shows like Game of Thrones, the film trilogy is worth the hype. That being said, with the upcoming release of Kamiyama’s film as well as the numerous video games coming out this year, it’s time to remember just what Tolkien said about his stories. Some of the changes made for the big screen may surprise long-devoted fans of the series.

10. The Hobbits’ Age Differences 

The first difference between the films and book series that may bother Tolkien fans is the age difference of the Hobbits. In Jackson’s trilogy, Frodo (played by Elijah Wood) is a very young man in the film but is fifty years old in the book series. Though this is, of course, in hobbit years and not human years, he still is much younger than to be expected of someone about to go on a large arduous quest to a volcano. Samwise (played by Sean Astin) is twelve years younger than Frodo according to The Fellowship of the Ring book, but is seemingly the same age as Frodo in the film. The youngest of the hobbits, Merry and Pippin (played by Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd), also seem to be the same age as Frodo and Sam in the films. Though not the most dramatic of differences between the two trilogies, it leaves fans to wonder what it would be like for the Hobbit quartet to have more staggered ages and how their maturity levels affect their choices.

9. Arwen’s Horse Chase 

Unfortunately, there are few female characters in Tolkien’s works. Arwen’s task of saving Frodo is a tense chase scene, however, it is not she who saves him in the books. Portrayed by Liv Tyler, Arwen is a love-stricken warrior in the films possessing powerful magic of healing and foresight. When Frodo is stabbed by the ringwraith, Arwen comes to the rescue on horseback and rides to Rivendell with the Nazgul hot on her tail in a pursuit that leaves the audience on the edge of their seats. Despite this amazing scene, she is one of the only female characters in the franchise. However, in the text, she is not the one who ultimately rescues Frodo. Rather, it is an elf named Glorfindel who takes Frodo to the elf kingdom. As one of the few who are confident enough to battle the Nazgul, Elrond sends him to save the ring-bearer. Nevertheless, though film fans have lost this elf character, it is nice to have another woman in the story show courage and bravery like her male counterparts.

8. Faramir’s Trust in the Ring 

Like his brother, Boromir, Faramir (portrayed by David Wenham) in The Two Towers film desires the ring for himself so that he can defend Minas Tirith against Sauron’s dark forces. He and his army kidnap Frodo and Sam while they’re on their way to Mordor so they can take the ring by force. Ultimately, Faramir does give in and allows Frodo to keep Sauron’s weapon. His near failure of composure is similar to that of his brother. This is unlike in the books where Faramir believes the Hobbits’ story and understands the dangers outright. His noble strength and will keep him from being tempted by the ring’s power which later shows that he was meant to be the future steward of Gondor rather than his brother. That being said, it seems that Peter Jackson may have wanted to emphasize the good-naturedness of hobbits by having Frodo be able to resist the ring, whereas the race of men exemplified by Boromir and Faramir are easily tempted by its power.

7. Aragorn’s Destiny

Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortensen) in the movies is portrayed as a man who is forced into great responsibility almost against his will. Despite his initial hesitance, he displays bravery in the literal face of evil. In the books, Aragorn is raised to be the future king of Gondor and doesn’t stray from the authority that is expected of him. Becoming king and defeating Sauron isn’t just a need, but it’s a desire. As the last living heir of Elendil and Isildur, Aragorn lives up to his bloodline and devotes his life to vanquishing Sauron for the last time and ultimately bringing peace to the kingdom of Gondor. In the film, his character is much more relatable as a wanderer who does not wish to accept to responsibility (and the failures) of his lineage. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Arwen bids him to accept his royalty, but he recalls his ancestor Isildur failing to destroy the ring because the same “weakness” runs through his blood. 

6. Denethor’s Confrontation with Sauron 

Denethor (portrayed by John Noble), the steward of Gondor and father of Boromir and Faramir, is widely different in the film trilogy when compared to the books. Though not one of the greatest main characters of the series, he has his moments of bravery in the books. It is not shown in the films, but Denethor has a Palantir in his possession, an orb that allows the user to communicate with others who hold one. Which he uses to confront Sauron when he threatens Gondor. Being one of the most abrupt and stubborn characters, he shows his strength and will by not falling into the temptation of power, a temptation that not even Saruman could resist. It is what Denethor learns from the orb that leads him to later prepare for war in the books. However, the film decided to simply make him a villain. A villain who eats tomatoes in the most obscene way possible.

5. Boromir and Lurtz 

One of the most heartbreaking deaths of the franchise occurs when Boromir (played by Sean Bean) is slain at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. When the fellowship is separated in Amon Hen, the lionhearted warrior of Gondor protects hobbits Pippin and Merry against an orc army. Though he is killed in both the books and films, as Boromir fights off the horde, an original character created by Peter Jackson deals the final blow. The Uruk-Hai leader Lurtz, slays Boromir with a volley of arrows into the warrior’s chest. In the books, however, his death is not witnessed by the reader. It is not until The Two Towers book that Aragorn finds Boromir’s arrow-ridden body among the many bodies of orcs. Although the death scene is more concise in the books, this has actually led many fans to prefer the big-screen version of the scene.

4. The Elves’ Sympathy

In the three films, the race of Elves are a bit of a confusing bunch. Few of them want to help, but the bulk of them want to leave Middle-Earth’s borders behind to sail back to Valinor. Elrond (portrayed by Hugo Weaving) and Galadriel (portrayed by Cate Blanchett) are two of the major elf leaders who especially wish to leave before Sauron can take over. Yet, in the books, elves hold more responsibility over the land they had immigrated to and let the fellowship know that they will be taking part in protecting part of the land from Sauron’s army. In general, the elves’ compassion towards the other races of Middle-Earth is nearly nonexistent in the films. Elrond and Legolas choose more peaceful relationships with the races of men and dwarves (despite a very rough history) in the books. And though Aragorn and Arwen have a heartstring-pulling subplot in the films, it is not as dramatic as the books. Elrond is concerned for his daughter, but he sees Aragorn as family and agrees to the relationship (almost) immediately. In conclusion, the books describe much more of the elves’ compassion than in the films.

3. The Assault of Minas Tirith

When fans of the film series talk about their favorite parts of the trilogy, many will express their love for the battle scenes. The long Battle of Minas Tirith is a masterclass of warfare cinematography. However, the assault of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King does not exactly occur in the same way as in the books. Denethor, the steward of Gondor, is shown in the films to be in denial of Sauron’s power and ignorant of the destruction of his kingdom out of fear. After the death of Boromir, he is uncaring of his people. Though Denethor still has a bad rap in the books, his story differs so much from the movie, Tolkien made it so he is the most-favored steward of Gondor by the people. Within the text, Denethor is well-prepared for the battle. Refusing to play with Gandalf’s hidden agenda, he confronts the white wizard and calls him out on knowing information that others should know. All in all, the steward is a much more “kingly” and responsible figure in the books. 

2. Frodo and Sam’s Bromance 

One of the greatest relationships of the series is that of Frodo Baggins and his gardener, Samwise Gamgee. Forced onto the quest together, they form a bond comparable to soldiers in the face of unbearable odds. In Return of the King, one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the trilogy occurs when Frodo chooses to side with Gollum over Sam when hiking to Mount Doom. Despite all the companionship and devotion Sam proves to Frodo, he is told to leave the mission when Gollum lies about him eating all of their rations. All of the commotion, of course, occurs because Gollum just wants to isolate Frodo for himself. Though the sequence pulls at the audience’s heartstrings, it’s an event that never occurs in the book. Frodo and Samwise remain loyal to each other and struggle to trust anyone else with their quest. The only separation between them in the book happens once deep in Shelob’s lair. 

1. Sauron’s Death 

Some of the changes on this list are smaller than others. However, it’s just plain shocking that the very first sequence of the first film plays the story out incorrectly. Especially since it involves the very being that the entire franchise is about. During the prologue of Fellowship of the Ring, Isildur (played by Harry Sinclair) is shown smiting Sauron in an epic slow-motion scene and picking up the one ring from his crumpled body. When in fact, Gil-Galad, Elrond, Elendil, and Cirdan were all present during the fight with Sauron, and after Narsil is shattered and Elendil killed, Isildur cuts Sauron’s finger off which unarms the dark lord enough to make a killing blow in the book series. Though a seemingly unimportant detail from the story, the one ring is the strongest weapon in Middle Earth and its’ story of constantly being passed down between ring-bearers is an odd one to change. The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy as well as the book series can be streamed on Amazon Prime now. 

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Official Movieclips Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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