Renowned author and “Father” of fantasy J. R. R. Tolkien is the mastermind behind the high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His skill as a writer mixed with his brilliant imagination has brought us one of the greatest stories ever told. However, he didn’t just write a great story; he created a world we all know as Middle Earth. What’s also quite impressive is how the LOTR has stood the test of time. The first book came out nearly fifty years before Peter Jackson attempted to bring Tolkien’s work to life. A lot of people said it would be impossible; they said a story like that can’t be put on film, but Jackson managed to pull it off - and he did a pretty good job too, considering the hurdles he had to jump to make it all happen.
Three films, just over nine hours combined (if you don’t count the extended editions). That’s quite the feat to pull off, not to mention the pressure of recreating one of the most beloved fantasy stories of all time. With great actors, breathtaking visuals and an exceptional soundtrack, it’s easy to see all the hard work and dedication put in to the making of these three films.
This brings us to our list: ten mistakes you missed in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. With respect, nothing's perfect and when a movie as good as LOTR comes out, fans tend to re-watch them over and over, during which mistakes can be found. In no way is this list to be seen as a ridicule of the trilogy but rather a fun list of instances most fans didn’t catch the first time.
10 Lightweight Props
Everybody remembers the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandalf stands his ground against the infamous Balrog in the Mines of Moria. He lifts his staff and sends it crashing down with the famous line “You shall not pass!” Well, this mistake happens in the scene just before that.
Shortly after the Fellowship enter the Mines, Pippin’s clumsiness gives away their location, leaving them all face to face with a cave troll. During the fight, Frodo is impaled with a giant spear, but luckily he is wearing a Mithril vest under his shirt, which is a lightweight silver chain mail with extreme strength. The rest of the Fellowship aren’t aware of this and fear their ring bearer has died. Aragorn heads over to see if Frodo is still alive: this is where the mistake can be seen. As Aragorn crawls over, he nudges a giant bolder that wobbles, taking the viewer out of the illusion that they really are in a Dwarven mine.
9 Crew at the Black Gate
Let’s face it: being caught in the middle of a war between Orcs and Man doesn’t sound to inviting. Nonetheless, a few crew members from Return of the King saw things a little different. In the scene near the end of the third film, where the Orcs are closing in on Aragorn and his men in front of the Black Gate, a few crew members can be seen among the charging Orcs; one is even wearing a hat. Clearly these modern-day civilians don’t belong in the scene, although it is quite hard to spot them so it’s not like their presence ruins the shot.
8 Lembas Bread Crumbs
No one can forget the scene where Gollum stealthily plants Lembas bread crumbs on Sam’s cloak, so he can insinuate the “fat hobbit” finished off the rest of their food. If you watch carefully, you will notice that the crumbs tend to disappear and reappear during Frodo’s ill-willed decision to send Sam home. This mistake is quite obvious and could have easily been avoided, yet it doesn’t take away from the intensity of the scene and is a minor hiccup that is easily forgiven. Crumbs or no crumbs, this scene is memorable for all fans.
7 Missing Ring and Necklace
This mistake also takes place with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum. In the third movie, Gollum leads Sam and Frodo up a hidden path called Cirtith Ungol, which leads to the secret stairs. Once they are high enough, Gollum says, "Clever Hobbits, to climb so high!" and leaps onto Frodo. During this deceitful attack, Gollum wrestles Frodo onto his back, during which Frodo’s shirt is wide open at the chest revealing that his necklace and ring are gone. In the next shot (which is a close up), Gollum proceeds to choke Frodo, who is now wearing the necklace with the One Ring.
6 Gandalf’s Spear
In the second half of the third film, Pippin rushes to warn Gandalf of Denethor's plan to burn both himself and his son Faramir alive. Gandalf takes charge of the situation and makes haste all the way to the throne room, where he finds Denethor standing atop a pyre of wood soaked in oil. Before Denethor’s menacing plan is kindled, Gandalf grabs one of the guard’s spears and charges Denethor.
The mistake here is hard to catch, but if you watch closely, when Gandalf grabs the spear, he is holding it upside-down, which seems counterproductive considering his current situation. However, in the next shot, his spear is now right-side up. Now he is the white wizard, so spinning around a spear in a split second doesn’t seem imposable, but that’s just an excuse to overlook the mistake.
5 Merry and Pippin Shenanigans
Everybody loves Merry and Pippin: they're funny, loyal, and brave. However, they do let their curiosity get the best of them sometimes. In the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo is hosting a party for his one hundred and eleventh birthday. Naturally, Gandalf attends the event, bringing fireworks with him for the festivities. This bring us back to Merry and Pippin.
During the party, both Merry and Pippin get a little antsy waiting for the fireworks, so they decide to take it upon themselves to start the show. Once they find the fireworks, they pick the biggest one and set it off inside a tent which is full of dishes, food, tables and barrels.
The mistake isn’t that they chose to set it off in a tent full of things; it’s the fact that when the firework takes off and brings the tent with it, the once full tent is completely empty: no dishes, no tables, no food - just Merry and Pippin.
4 Frodo’s Scar
This is a mistake that shouldn’t have been overlooked. In the second half of Return of the King, Frodo has a scar on his lower right cheek close to his chin. The mistake here isn’t the scar itself, but rather the placement. Frodo’s scar changes places and size multiple times throughout the rest of the film. It even appears on his left cheek in flipped shots, most notably during Sam’s heroic climb to the top of Mount Doom. This is one mistake that, when realized, kind of seems careless, but Sam makes up for it with his courageous quote “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”
If any mistake on this list belongs in a Monty Python skit, it would have to be this one. During the scene where Eomer meets with Aragorn and his companions, he gifts them with a few horses for their journey. After he hands off the horses, he mounts his own horse. When doing so, his sword slowly slips out of his sheath and falls on the ground. As the leader of a small army, you would assume such a soldier could pull of a simple task such as mounting a horse without losing his sword, as he will surely need it.
2 The Mysterious Car
One of the more famous LOTR movie mistakes takes place during the first quarter of The Fellowship of the Ring. After Frodo is presented with the grueling task of becoming the next ring bearer, he and Sam begin their adventure. Shortly after their departure, Sam stops and says "If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been."
The shot then zooms out, giving a beautiful scenic shot of the rolling hills behind them; if you look in the far right hand corner, however, a car can be seen driving down the dirt road. Now clearly cars didn’t exist in Middle Earth, which is why Peter Jackson edited out the car for the DVD version of the movie, so unless you spotted the car in the theatrical version, you're out of luck. However, the dirt cloud made by the passing car can still be seen. So if you want to see the ghost car, watch for the mysterious gust of dirt appear behind the two hobbits.
1 A Painful Shot
This isn’t your conventional movie mistake, but we're pretty sure this actor's mishap wasn’t intentional. While filming the scene in which Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli find the band of Uruk-hai that had captured Merry and Pippin, they are halted by a pile of burnt corpses. In hopes that Merry and Pippin aren’t among the charred remains, they search the pile and find one of the hobbit’s belts.
This woeful find results in Aragorn kicking one of the fallen helmets in a burst of rage and sorrow. Yet what most people don’t know is that Peter Jackson told Viggo Mortensen to try and kick the helmet towards the camera for a good shot, which after a few takes resulted in Viggo breaking two of his toes. What’s even more intriguing is that the shot where he broke his toes was the one used in the movie; Peter thought the scream of pain was so authentic it would add to the effect of Aragorn’s sorrow.
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