If we were being brave, we may posit that there is no other film adaptation in existence with a larger or more dedicated fan base than The Lord of the Rings. Even the books that led to the trilogy of the films were hugely popular in their own right. Written by J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930s and ’40s, they quickly gained a universal schoolboy following. Today, the films and books are cult phenomena, are universally popular, and are much loved.
Perhaps the characters were what attracted such interest, or perhaps it was the plotlines which followed closely the classic mythological templates of the middle ages. Then again, maybe it was the little map of Middle Earth at the front of the book that made it so magical.
But whatever the magnetic pull, and for whomever, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion were masterful strokes of fictional genius. As such, their translation to film was inevitable, coming only as a surprise to Tolkien, who by all accounts thought of his stories were nothing more than average fantasy novels.
The films from the 2000s were spectacularly successful and highly acclaimed. The three Lord of the Rings films consisted of the Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003). Directed by Peter Jackson, the series is still one of the highest-grossing series ever made.
Amid the scores of amateur papers written about the films, we’ve discovered a number of hardcore fans still with the wrong impression of the films’ meanings and hidden text. This forced us to publish our next piece refuting 15 of the false facts die-hard fans still believe.
15. The Fellowship Couldn’t Have Flown To Mordor
With eagles rescuing Sam and Frodo at the climax to Return of the King, we learn of the creatures’ willingness to bring crises to an end in unexpected ways (an example of Tolkien’s coined technique of “eucatastrophe”). But we are then tempted to ask why, with the Fellowship marching hundreds of miles to reach Mordor, did they not call upon the eagles to fly them there.
The answer is easy. The march of the Fellowship and its concern with the destruction of the One Ring was top secret. The success of the mission relied completely on the ability of the group to reach their destination unseen. If they had used the eagles, the mission would have been compromised and it’s likely that the members of the Fellowship would have been killed. Once he noticed the arrival of the eagles, Sauron would not have hesitated to send his own flying army of Nazguls into battle.
14. Sauron Isn’t The Most Evil Being In Middle Earth
If you ask most fans of the trilogy what character they considered was the villain of the story, the answer you would most likely get would be “Sauron.” This is perfectly understandable because of the films’ play on the back story and the presence of the evil eye. And, as we know, films tend toward greater success when they follow the trials of a clear villain and a protagonist.
The reason these films chose to focus more on Sauron as the villain is clear. The true threat to Middle Earth is in fact from Morgoth, but he exists only in a void and uses Sauron to subdue races. Sauron is the one whose presence is felt by those who fear him and this is what is conveyed to the audience; in the same way we fear Darth Vader as the servant of the Emperor.
13. Maiars Don’t Possesses Equivalent Power
We learn early on in our lives that each salt-dough figure cast from its little plastic mold will turn out identical. But, misguided friends, we cannot apply the same logic to living things. For instance, how many times have you wondered how different everybody looks? What’s more, Tolkien was as aware of the chaos of genetic determination as we are and he will have applied his thinking to the creation of the Maiar.
The question often heard is how can it be that Gandalf, Melian, Sauron, and the Balorg are such different beings if they are all of Maiar born? Simple, we refer you to the answer given earlier! Gandalf is fearful of Sauron’s strength, but Melian is extremely powerful and uses her strength to protect whole races of people. The Balrog too are more powerful than Gandalf, but less so than Melian, who is less powerful than Sauron. Everybody’s different.
12. Hobbits Are Strong Than We Think
Simply, this will not do. There is not a shred of truth to the assumption that Hobbits are weak or cowardly. Perhaps it’s their lack of a sense of adventure which tempts us to believe that these are creatures that prefer home comforts and minimal excitement. But let us take the energy and wanderlust of Frodo and Bilbo as cases in point; nowhere is it suggested that these two Hobbits are the exceptions to their race.
In fact, Hobbits have repeatedly shown signs of loyalty, heroism, and ferocity. In a sequence omitted from the films, the Hobbits, returning from Mordor, discover that a tribe of humans has occupied their land. At the ensuing battle (talked about in The Return of the King) the Hobbits fight the humans with great courage, killing 70 of them and chasing them from their land.
11. The Ring Can Be Ignored
To make the films more effective, the writers and director had to take some liberties with elements of the original books. This tack is most plainly seen in the way the One Ring is perceived; in the movies it has a hypnotic effect on those who come into contact with it. Even Gandalf, the most powerful member of the Fellowship errs against its possession for fear it will corrupt him against his will.
But although we cannot deny the lethal pulling power of the Ring it certainly didn’t affect everyone in the same way. Some of those who held it for a time were in fact quite able to give it away. In The Fellowship of the Ring, for example, Samwise carries the ring for Frodo, but is able to give it back to him without too much trouble; so too does Faramir seem unaffected by the Ring.
10. Not All Elves Look The Same
Long before Tolkien had put pen to paper, people were talking about elves. European folklore and epic poetry from the Middle Ages talks about the creatures in detail. Their characteristics seem to have been etched on the collective psyche, in much the same way as the characteristics of Dracula and werewolves have. In consequence, most fans believe that all elves are blonde haired with pointed ears.
Although there is a general sense from the films that elves look the same, this is not the case from the books. Arwen and Elrond have black hair, for instance, while others have silver hair, and although we find Galadriel with silver and blonde hair, she is only one of very few who are similar in looks. Tolkien didn’t state that all elves had blonde hair, but it’s likely that his own thoughts about elves stemmed from his extended research of ancient Germanic and Scandinavian tribes.
9. Samwise’s Importance Is Underrated
Most fans believe that the Hobbit Samwise Gamgee (Frodo Baggins’s best friend) adds little to the story. However, Sam is in fact Frodo’s closest and most loyal companion and the most dependable member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Admittedly, these virtuous traits may come and go, but in the end, Sam turns out to be Frodo’s savior and plays a sizeable role in destroying the Ring. After Frodo is caught by Shelob, Sam takes the ring from him (an act of self-sacrifice) and continues the journey with it in his possession. When he realizes Frodo survived the attack, he hands the Ring back to him, with the understanding that Frodo needs its magic more than him.
8. Elves Can’t Just Decide To Be Mortal
There is a general consensus among the fans of the trilogy that all elves — not just Arwen and Lúthien — can forgo their immortality whenever they want to. True, if we only use the example of Arwen (who gives up her immortality to be with Aragorn in the midst of their romance in Rivendell) as a generalized view of elves, we would be led to thinking that this was the case— that all elves could become mortal if they choose to be.
However, giving up immortality is not that easy, even for Arwen. There must be both good reasons for doing so and a human lineage before such a thing could happen. Arwen was devastated by the death of her parents Beren and Lúthien and this is taken into account when she approaches Ainu Mandos with her request. This, in combination with her human heritage, causes Mandos to grant her wish.
7. The War Isn’t Confined To One Battlefield
The time restrained and the way the movies are filmed have us thinking there was only one war (the War of the Ring). Simply, the focus of the direction does not allow us to see the other wars being fought at the same time. What’s more, except of a flashback to Isildur’s war, every battle takes place from the moment Frodo gets the Ring.
In truth, there were lots of other wars being fought around the same time. The books spoke of the power of Sauron and his armies taking forceful command of every corner of Middle Earth with countless lands and millions of people annexed in the aftermath of battle after battle. In a brief sentence, Gandalf mentions other areas such as Mirkwood engaged in war, but any other details are left out.
6. The End Of The One Ring Does Not Brings Peace
There’s a popular belief that the last battle of the War of the Ring drew an end to all conflict in Middle Earth and also rid it of its overlords. That may have been the case in the films (possibly for reasons of audience fulfillment), but the plot in the books takes us from the end of the war to an equally unhappy Shire where Sauron continues to reap revenge for the destruction of the Ring.
In fact, after The Return of the King, there are countless other skirmishes and insurrections led by the Dark Lord that the Hobbits face. For instance, when they return to the Shire after battle, they find it overrun by forces allied to Sauron and are forced to engage the occupiers once more. Yet, for film audiences lacking in attention, a happy ending comes much earlier, and we are given the impression that peace has been achieved without too much trouble.
5. It’s Possible To Journey To Valinor
Think ‘Heaven’, ‘Nirvana,’ or ‘Jannah’. The words are synonymous with a paradise that we will supposedly reach after we die. Valinor could be added to that list. It has been likened to a heaven with a difference because, although it is home to gods of Middle Earth, we are unlikely to know how to get there. Some posit that Tolkien based his Valinor on the idea of the mythical land of Hy Brasil which can apparently be seen from the coast of Ireland, but only for one day in every seven years.
It was to Valinor that Frodo and Bilbo set off toward the end of the story of the Return of the King. The prospect of such a long and arduous journey was buoyed by the knowledge that Valinor welcomed mortals who had been bearers of the Rings. How did they get there? Legolas built them a boat.
4. Losing The Ring Doesn’t Cause Instant Aging
It would seem the films have given us the impression that losing the Ring after being in possession of it makes the Ring bearer rapidly age. The concept is proved most prominently in the case of Bilbo Baggins who, on losing the Ring, ages fast over the course of the films. And although the subject of his age is touched upon only once in the first film (when we learn he is 111) it is clear that he is aging.
Is he actually aging faster than normal? We think not, because the belief that losing the Ring will age you is false. Taking Gollum as an example, although his body and mind were contorted by the length of time he had the Ring, he had been without it for 60 years by the time of his death. When he does die, his age is recorded as being almost 600.
3. Aragorn Is Older Than You Think
It is a common-held belief that the last Chieftain of the Dúnedain Aragorn was middle-aged. Most fans have suggested he was in his late 30s or early 40s, but they aren’t even close. One of the causes of the misconception is that the movies portray him as a man not especially long-lived. But on the basis of research carried out by some avid fans, the truth is now told — Aragorn is 60 years old at the time of the movies and lives to be 210.
His longevity is due to the fact that he is a Númenórean. Númenóreans were descendants of the Edain of the First Age, the Edain being an ancient race of people who were given the island of Elenna to have as their home. Most Númenóreans were known to have lived for around 350 years with their monarchy living for over 400 years.
2. Faramir Is Actually Honorable
In The Two Towers, we find Faramir imprisoning Frodo and Sam and interrogating Gollum. Learning of the power of the Ring, Faramir decides to take ring-bearer Frodo forcibly to Minas Tirith. But when they arrive at Osgiliath, Faramir encounters the true evil of the Ring, has a change of heart, and releases his captives. His motivation for travelling to Minas Tirith, we are told, stemmed only from his desire to impress his father.
This portrayal of Faramir as a rather muddled individual is in contrast to the character found in the books. Here, he was not corrupt, nor greedy, nor was he the victim of an overbearing father. The Faramir of the written word is said to have helped Hobbits and was a loyal ally to the Fellowship during their quest. In fact, it has been said that Tolkien himself likened his own character to Faramir’s.
1. Sauron Isn’t Just A Giant Eye
This is a widespread falsehood and owes its presence to the movies. One of the most recognizable memes from the trilogy is the large flaming eye of Sauron hovering above Mordor. But this is only symbolic of the all-seeing essence of the Dark Lord and the way by which he gauges the progress of the Fellowship. The eye of Sauron is nothing more than a movie trope (Eye of Doom) and has been used in countless other movies such as Jurassic Park (remember the T-Rex eye looking through the car window at Lex Murphy).
According to Tolkien, Sauron was a physical being until the Ring was destroyed. However, a description of his true appearance is noticeably lacking from both the books and the movies, leaving audiences to speculate about him existing only in spirit form. The eye of Sauron was a way to bring the unseen enemy closer to the action.
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