46: The Fellowship of the Ring

You know the story. Frodo and his band of companions start the journey to take the One Ring to Mordor. But is the story we saw on the big screen true to the story?

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Transcript

Note: This transcript is automatically generated. There will be mistakes, so please don’t use them for quotes. It is provided for reference use to find things better in the audio.

The movie opens with a voice over setting up the situation. There’s a total of 19 rings. These rings, Great Rings as they’re referred to in the movie, are split up rather unevenly amongst three races of Middle-earth. Men get nine, the elves get three and seven Great Rings are given to the Dwarf-Lords.

 

After this, according to the movie, these races realize too late that the Dark Lord Sauron has created yet another ring of his own. The One Ring. The master ring that controls all the others.

 

Most of this is accurate, but there’s a couple things to point out here. With the imagery in the movie, we can clearly see the elves donning their rings. One of the elves is Galadriel, who’s played by Cate Blanchett.

 

In the book, the elves didn’t wear their rings as soon as Sauron handed them over like the movie implies. Instead, they hid their rings—Rings of Power as the book calls them.

 

Not only this, but although they did wear them like the movie shows, the control that Sauron had over the rings given to the Dwarves didn’t work as he intended. The nine rings given to the race of men, though, worked. That’s why Sauron was able to turn the nine kings of men into Nazgul later on.

 

But that’s getting ahead of our story.

 

After an introduction to the rings, we see a massive battle that takes place. In this battle, according to the movie, Sauron’s army clashes with armies from both men and elves just outside the Gate of Mordor.

 

That didn’t happen. In fact, the forces of men and elves made it inside Mordor. They met Sauron’s army on the massive mountain inside Mordor, Mount Doom.

 

While the movie got the location a little off, the next part is pretty spot on. Things seem to be going really well for the men and elves. Then, just as victory is in their grasp, Sauron himself appears. In the movie, Sauron is portrayed by Sala Baker. With the power of the One Ring, Sauron lays waste to the men and elves.

 

That happened in the book, but while it might seem like the movie is starting to string together some accuracy, again it flip flops and strays from the book.

 

In the movie, when Sauron faces the founder of the Numenorean kingdom, Elendil, who’s played by Peter McKenzie, Sauron slays him and shatters his sword. Then, taking up his father’s sword, Isildur slices off all of Sauron’s fingers. The ring falls off, and Isildur picks it up to stare at it in wonder. According to the movie, that’s how Sauron is defeated. But not destroyed.

 

Isildur is played by Harry Sinclair in the film, by the way.

 

The overall gist is fairly accurate, but some of the details are quite different. Yes, Elendil was slain by Sauron. And yes, his son, Isildur, grabbed his father’s sword and swung it at Sauron. But he didn’t slice off all of his fingers. He only cut off the ring finger, leaving four fingers on one of Sauron’s hand.

 

But probably the biggest difference was when Isildur picked up the One Ring. According to the book, when Isildur did this his hand burned horrifically. Not in the movie, where we see Isildur picking it up without any problem.

 

Oh, and in the movie Sauron practically explodes after losing the ring. That didn’t happen. Instead, without the ring, Sauron decided to leave his body. Although, I guess the book doesn’t say he didn’t explode—but it also doesn’t say he does, either.

 

In the movie, after this opening scene, we’re whisked across the map of Middle-earth about 1,100 miles as the Nazgul flies to the northwest of Mordor to a little region called the Shire.

 

We follow Sir Ian McKellen’s character, the wizard Gandalf’s small cart as he arrives in the green, luscious fields of the Shire. A young Frodo, who’s played by Elijah Wood, greets Gandalf, and we quickly learn that Gandalf is arriving for Bilbo’s 111th birthday celebration.

 

In the film, Bilbo was played by Ian Holm.

 

Just like we learned from the introductory scene, the overall gist is accurate even though there’s a few details that’ve been changed.

 

Probably the biggest detail isn’t something that’s been changed so much as it’s been omitted. That is simply that both Frodo and Bilbo shared the same birthday. So not only was Gandalf in town for Bilbo’s 111th birthday celebration, but it was also Frodo’s 33rd birthday.

 

Both Bilbo and Frodo were born on September 22nd. As a quick side note, each year September 22nd is celebrated around the world as Hobbit Day.

 

But there’s a few other small details that are different. For example, Gandalf never said the line that a wizard is never late in the book. Nor did he set off fireworks in his cart to the delightful cheers of little Hobbit children like we see in the movie.

 

Speaking of fireworks, another thing the movie changed was when Merry, who’s played by Dominic Monaghan, and Pippin, who’s played by Billy Boyd, got into Gandalf’s fireworks and set them off.

 

That didn’t happen at all. In fact, not only did this not happen but throughout most of the film, Merry and Pippin don’t really seem to be the brightest bulb in the socket.

 

In the book, none of that slapstick style comedy happened. Instead, in the book, Merry and Pippin are pretty smart and very courageous Hobbits. Not really what we see in the movie.

 

Back in the movie, the One Ring comes into play when Bilbo slips the ring onto his finger during his birthday party. When he does, he simply disappears. Everyone gasps, and Ian McKellen’s version of Gandalf raises his eyebrows in surprise.

 

The difference in this little scene was that Gandalf added some effects to Bilbo’s disappearance. In an attempt to make it seem more like a magic trick he was doing so no one else would suspect anything, when Bilbo disappeared, Gandalf magically made a flash of smoke appear.

 

After this, in the movie, Bilbo and Gandalf have a little one-on-one chat. It takes quite a bit of persuasion, but Gandalf manages to convince Bilbo to let go of the ring.

 

While the exact words used were changed for the film, the overall gist of this is pretty accurate. All the way down to Bilbo nearly taking the ring with him, but then dropping it just before he leaves.

 

Although he didn’t drop it on the floor like we see in the movie. In the book, Bilbo put the ring in an envelope along with a will he had already prepared for Frodo. In the will, he was giving Bag End to Frodo instead of the Sackville-Bagginses. Anyway, Bilbo dropped the envelope as he says goodbye to Gandalf. The wizard, in turn, picks up the envelope and puts it on the mantel.

 

So the method was slightly different, but pretty close. The end result was the same—the One Ring was in an envelope on the mantel. Meanwhile, Bilbo has left Bag End and the Shire.

 

Although, he didn’t leave alone like the movie shows. Instead, in the book, Bilbo had a couple of Dwarves as travel companions.

 

Despite these minor differences, perhaps the biggest inaccuracy in the movie here is with the timeline. Soon after Bilbo heads off down the path to adventure, Gandalf leaves The Shire to learn more about Bilbo’s ring.

 

The movie doesn’t say how much time passes between Bilbo’s birthday and when Frodo hits the road, it doesn’t seem to be much time.

 

The only significant event, it seems, is when Gandalf heads off to learn more about Bilbo’s magic ring. In the movie, he’s going to verify that this is indeed the One Ring—Sauron’s Ring of Power.

 

When Gandalf returns from this trip, he’s convinced Bilbo has somehow found the One Ring, and, in turn, convinces Frodo to set off at once.

 

So even though the movie doesn’t say how long passed, it’s pretty safe to say this timeline is way off in the movie.

 

According to the book, the time between Bilbo’s birthday party and when Frodo set off was around 17 years. We know this because Frodo was 33 years old when Bilbo left his home at Bag End. By the time Frodo sets off from Bag End, he was almost 50.

 

This, of course, begs the question: If about 17 years had passed between the time when Gandalf tells Frodo to keep the ring secret and safe, and the time that Frodo leaves the safety of the Shire, how long could Gandalf have taken to do his research?

 

After all, the movie does show Gandalf going off and doing what appears to be quite a bit of research to ensure that Bilbo’s ring is indeed the One Ring.

 

Again, we don’t know the exact timing here, but it’s highly unlikely the events we see in the film could’ve taken 17 years. We can deduce this from simple distances, as well as a few things that the movie doesn’t show.

 

Bilbo’s birthday party was on September 22nd in the first year of the third age, or 3001. It wasn’t until March 23rd of 3018, just over 16 and a half years later, that Gandalf questioned the creature Gollum about the ring. This played a huge factor into Gandalf’s determining the origins of the ring.

 

This questioning lasted for about a week, but on March 29th, Gandalf headed back to the Shire to compare what he’d learned with Bilbo’s ring.

 

So when we see Gandalf throwing the ring in the fire and seeing the inscription that appears in the movie, that happened after Gandalf arrived back in the Shire—more specifically, Hobbiton—on April 13th. Well, technically he rolled into town late on the 12th, but he checked the ring first thing the next day.

 

Now, that timing is interesting because it gives a bit of insight into how difficult the travel was for Gandalf, even then. From March 29th to April 12th is 14 days. Two weeks.

 

As the crow flies, where Gandalf questioned Gollum in the swamps of Mirkwood is about 700 miles from the Shire. Of course, Gandalf didn’t travel by crow. He used his trusty steed.

 

We know from history that the world record for a horse’s speed is 55 miles per hour (mph), or about 88 kilometers per hour (kph). Typically, though, horses gallop at about 25 mph, or 40 kph.

 

While normal horses can’t go that speed the entire time, this is Gandalf’s horse. It’s worth noting, though, that Gandalf didn’t have the glorious white horse, Shadowfax yet. But still, that’s about a 12 hour trip at max speed of 55 mph, or more like 28 hours at average speed of 25 mph.

 

Obviously they didn’t go in a straight line, and we could even go so far as to say he broke that up into a couple of 14 hour days of travel. Still that’s a pretty significant difference between a couple days of travel and two weeks. So if a trip at full speed would’ve taken less than a day, or even a couple days at average gallop, and we know it took Gandalf a couple weeks to make it—that gives you an idea how difficult the road traveled was.

 

Still, even with a tough road, the movie seems to speed up the timeline a lot. The time it takes for Gandalf to do his research on the One Ring certainly doesn’t seem to be the 17 years between Bilbo and Frodo leaving Bag End as it was in the book.

 

One major difference here in the book and the movie is the whole back story of the ring. The movie doesn’t include this at all—in fact, it’s not until the third movie, The Return of the King, that we learn about the history of the One Ring. In The Fellowship of the Ring book, though, we learn about the ring’s history very early on.

 

This isn’t the only part shifted from around here in the book to later in Peter Jackson’s films. Remember that part where Frodo tells Gandalf he wishes this didn’t happen in his time? To which Gandalf says, so do all who live to see such times. All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.

 

That conversation didn’t happen as Frodo and Gandalf were taking a break in the mines of Moria like we see in the movie. Instead, it actually happened here—before Frodo ever left Bag End.

 

In the movie, as Frodo and Gandalf are talking about the ring, Sam is eves dropping when he hears of the ring and Frodo’s upcoming adventure.

 

This happened, although the movie doesn’t mention that Sam was intentionally spying on Frodo and Gandalf for some of Frodo’s friends, Merry, Pippin and another Hobbit named Fredeger.

 

Something else the movie doesn’t mention is that when Frodo left Bag End, he actually sold it to the Sackville-Bagginses. While this may not seem like a big deal to skip, it gives us more insight into Frodo’s state of mind. The movie makes it seem like Elijah Wood’s version of Frodo Baggins was heading out on an adventure—something he’d return from much the same Hobbit he was when he left.

 

You don’t sell your home when you go on an adventure, though. Since that’s exactly what Frodo did, it’s safe to say he wasn’t expecting to return from this particular adventure.

 

This is a minor difference, but in the book it wasn’t just Frodo and Sam that left Bag End. It was Frodo, Sam and Pippin who left. Then they met up with Merry later on, and the four Hobbits continued on.

 

Anyway, that’s a distinction without much of a difference. Both the movie and the book have four Hobbits leaving the Shire.

 

Meanwhile, as the Hobbits leave the Shire, in the movie we see Gandalf racing off to meet with the head of his order, Saruman. Once he gets there, it doesn’t take long for us to learn that Saruman isn’t the good guy he once was. After a powerful wizarding battle that sees Gandalf the Grey fall to the much more powerful Saruman the White, Gandalf is imprisoned.

 

None of this happened in the book. In fact, none of this came up in the book until much later when Gandalf was with the Hobbits at the Council of Elrond in Rivendell. It was there that Gandalf mentioned being imprisoned by Saruman.

 

So while it helped push the drama of the story to see the two wizards fight, all of that dialog was made up for the film.

 

For the Hobbits, though, the first stop, according to the movie, is Bree. There, they’ll meet with Gandalf. There’s a pretty big change here, too, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

 

In the book, they weren’t planning on meeting Gandalf there, but it was a place Gandalf mentioned to the Hobbits as a good place to stop if they happened to be near Bree.

 

Geographically, Bree is right along the East Road heading out of the Shire. So it’s a natural place for travelers to stop and rest their weary feet.

 

Back in the movie, before long the four Hobbits find they’re being followed. In a terrifying turn of events, Black Riders chase the Hobbits to the ferry—nearly catching them as they shove off across the river.

 

While the Black Riders did show up in the book at this point, the chase was hyped up quite a bit for the film. It wasn’t until the Hobbits were part way across the river when they looked back at the dock they’d just left and noticed an odd bundle. That’s when they realized it was a Black Rider.

 

Although the Hobbits almost certainly didn’t know the full extent of who the Black Riders were, just like the movie shows, they knew they didn’t want to get caught by them.

 

The river we see the four Hobbits cross on the ferry in the movie is the Brandywine River. We know this because, well, the geography of Middle-earth, but also because after Frodo asks where the nearest crossing is, the reply comes back: the Brandywine Bridge.

 

The next scene where we see the Hobbits in the movie is when they’re in Bree.

 

So a little bit ago, I mentioned there was a big difference between the book and the movie right around here. It’s actually a huge chunk of the book that was completely omitted from the movie.

 

To add a bit of context here, the Hobbits are traveling from The Shire in the far west of Middle-earth, to the east. Just to the east of the Brandywine River is a huge forest called The Old Forest.

 

It was in here that the four Hobbits ran into a living tree named Old Man Willow. The Hobbits were ensnared by Old Man Willow, and their trip likely would’ve been cut short if it weren’t for a character named Tom Bombadil. Tom rescued the Hobbits from Old Man Willow and gave the Hobbits food and shelter in his home, which is in the thick of The Old Forest.

 

None of this is in the movie, and it’s probably one of the biggest gripes many people had with the film when it was released. Tom was such a loveable character in the book, so if this is the first time you’re hearing his name, you’d be doing yourself a favor to go back and read The Fellowship of the Ring to learn more about this part of the story.

 

When you do, you’ll also get to read about the Hobbits’ trip to Freddy Bolger’s house at Crickhollow and the zombie-like wraith creatures called Barrow-wights that they encounter in the Barrow Downs.

 

Although, it’s worth mentioning that one of the Hobbits Ian Holms’ version of Bilbo says “hello” to in the movie’s depiction of Bilbo’s birthday party at the beginning of the movie is Freddy Bolger.

 

Anyway, back in the movie, when the Hobbits arrive in Bree it seems to be a very scary place. Oh, and we even get to see the director, Peter Jackson, munching on a carrot for a brief moment!

 

That’s not what it was really like. According to the book, it was a nice enough evening that Merry decided to take a stroll in the town after they arrived.

 

Once they’re in Bree, as you can probably guess, there’s a number of differences between the movie and the book.

 

One of the changes was when Pippin says Frodo’s real last name, Baggins, and Frodo rushes over to try to silence him. As he does, in the movie, he slips and falls. The ring flies into the air, sliding precariously well onto Frodo’s finger—making him disappear.

 

In the book, Pippin was recounting the tale of Bilbo’s birthday to the patrons of the Prancing Pony. As he does, Frodo jumped up on a table and started singing a song.

 

As a side note, there’s a lot more songs in the book than in the movie.

 

Anyway, one of the songs Frodo sings is “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.” As he was mimicking the cow jumping over said moon, Frodo slipped and his finger slipped into his pocket and into the ring.

 

Another difference occurs later that evening when the ranger known as Strider helps the Hobbits hide from the Black Riders. In the movie, Strider is looking through the window as the Black Riders stab empty beds.

 

In the book, there was an attack but the Hobbits didn’t know about it until the next morning. And it was never clearly the Black Riders, because according to Strider the Black Riders wouldn’t attack the inn.

 

Probably the biggest change the movie made was with the shards of Narsil. In the movie, we don’t see these until Sean Bean’s character, Boromir, cuts himself on the shards in Rivendell much later.

 

While the movie correctly mentions the shards are the remains of the sword that Isildur used to cut the hand of Sauron, in the book, though, Strider carried the shards with him at all times. He showed these to Sam to prove he was Aragorn, and was someone they could trust.

 

But a more prominent reason why the Hobbits trusted Strider was because of a letter from Gandalf. In the movie, the bartender at the Prancing Pony is a man named Butterbur, who’s played by David Weatherley. Well, we don’t really learn that in the movie, but that was the characters’ name in the book.

 

In the movie, when the Hobbits ask about Gandalf, Butterbur appears to only vaguely remember who the wizard is. In the book, though, Butterbur and Gandalf are friends, and anticipating the Hobbits might stop by Bree, Gandalf had written a letter for the Hobbits and had it delivered to Butterbur.

 

In the letter, Gandalf told the Hobbits that they could trust Aragorn. Then, after seeing the shards of Narsil to verify that the ranger known as Strider was in fact Aragorn, the Hobbits trusted him.

 

And yes, Strider was one of the fake names Aragorn went by in the book.

 

Back in the movie, after leaving Bree, the Hobbits are beset on by the Black Riders when they reach an old watch tower that Aragorn refers to as Amon Sûl.

 

It’s here in the movie, that the Black Riders get the jump on the Hobbits. Although in the movie, the four Hobbits are at the top of Amon Sûl when it happens.

 

Oh, as a quick side note, the movie correctly mentions the Black Riders are Nazgûl. Although the movie doesn’t mention another name for Amon Sûl is Weathertop.

 

Anyway, while the Hobbits were attacked by the Nazgûl at Amon Sûl, it happened a little differently than the way the movie depicts.

 

It was further down the hill, not at the top like the movie shows. Two of the Nazgûl stayed at the bottom of Amon Sûl, probably so as to cut off any escape for the Hobbits. Three of them advanced on the Hobbits. When Frodo drew his sword, two of the Nazgûl drew back. That’s when one of them, armed with both a knife and a sword and not just a sword like the movie shows, lunged forward and stabbed Frodo with the knife.

 

After this, in the movie, Aragorn shows up and fights off the Nazgûl. It’s pretty heroic, and while Aragorn did show up with a flame after Frodo was stabbed, he didn’t have to fight off the Nazgûl. They fled without a sword fight.

 

Regardless, the result is the same. Frodo was stabbed and in bad shape.

 

The film cuts away briefly to show Saruman in Isengard. He’s ordering orcs to chop down the trees and start building something. These scenes are probably some of the more eye-opening of what many have considered a hidden message behind the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

 

You see, J.R.R. Tolkien was a soldier during the horrific trench warfare of The Great War—World War I. He saw first-hand the devastation of nature, replaced by the industrial complexes of man. While he never admitted there was a parallel between nature being destroyed and replaced by machinery in Isengard, that’s a few dots many people have connected.

 

Anyway, it’s during this time that we see Saruman hatch something new. In the mud, a new type of creature arises.

 

The book didn’t have these creatures emerging from the mud. But the creatures did exist. They’re called Uruk-hai, and they’re some of the more brutal creatures in all of Middle-earth.

 

It’s probably worth noting that there wasn’t a main Uruk-hai leader like the filmmakers made with the character of Lurtz. He’s the big, bad Uruk-hai that we see quite a bit of. It seems the filmmakers wanted to characterize the Uruk-hai as a whole, so they did that with Lurtz.

 

Lurtz is played by Lawrence Makoare.

 

Around here, in the movie, we also see Gandalf. He escapes Saruman’s capture by commanding a moth, which flies off. Later, we see Gandalf hop a ride on a huge eagle. The eagle saves him from Saruman’s tower and while the movie doesn’t show them landing, it’s safe to assume that’s how the movie’s version has Gandalf arriving at Rivendell.

 

That’s not what happened.

 

The movie doesn’t mention the eagle’s name, but his name was Gwaihir, and he was the Lord of the Eagles. It wasn’t a moth under Gandalf’s command that summoned Gwaihir. Instead, it was another wizard, Radagast the Brown, that sent Gwaihir to Isengard with a message for both Gandalf and Saruman.

 

Radagast is a character that’s not in any of The Lord of the Rings movies. But we do see him in The Hobbit movies, where he’s played by Sylvester McCoy. In the books, Radagast has a special power over animals, which is why he’s able to somewhat control Gwaihir.

 

I say somewhat, because in the books the eagles are fickle creatures. They’re not really fond of being messengers or doing the bidding of others, so the fact that Radagast used them to deliver a message must’ve meant the message was one of great importance.

 

But the message was never delivered. Before he landed, Gwaihir saw Gandalf trapped on top of the tower and rescued him.

 

The eagles might’ve been fickle creatures, but they weren’t evil.

 

In the movie, back with the Hobbits, Aragorn rushes to try to get an injured Frodo to the house of Elrond in Rivendell, for help. Sam mentions that’s six days away—there’s no way they’ll make it!

 

So let’s do some quick math here to compare.

 

Amon Sûl is about 248 miles, or 399 kilometers, from Rivendell.

 

There’s 24 hours in a day, six days, that’s 144 hours.

 

That’d mean Aragorn and the Hobbits would have to travel about 1.7 miles per hour to get there in six days. Easily doable, right? Well, that’s six days if they’re traveling 24 hours a day.

 

That’s why this is tough to do anything but estimate. Remember Frodo is critically wounded, so that’ll slow them down. But they’re tough little Hobbits, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say they can travel for a solid eight hours per day.

 

The movie claims it’s six days away, so 48 into 248, and that’d mean they’d have to travel a little over five miles per hour. Or about eight kilometers per hour.

 

That sounds doable, right?

 

To get some context here, Usain Bolt is considered by many to be the fastest man alive—maybe ever—with a total of 28 medals, including 11 World Championships and 8 Olympic gold medals.

 

Usain Bolt’s fastest speed was 27.44 miles per hour, or just over 44 kilometers per hour!

 

Perhaps it’s a bit silly to compare the traveling speed of one man, three healthy Hobbits and one injured Hobbit with the fastest man in the world, though. Generally speaking, the average walking speed for the average person is roughly 2.8 miles per hour, or about 4.5 kilometers per hour.

 

Can that one man, three healthy Hobbits and one injured Hobbit do a measly five miles per hour? Eh, probably not. So it would seem that Sean Astin’s version of Sam has a reason to disbelieve the trip ahead is possible.

 

Fortunately, in the movie, they don’t have to walk all the way to Rivendell. They happen across Arwen, who’s played by Aerosmith’s lead singer’s daughter, Liv Tyler. Or, more accurately, Arwen happens across them in the movie. With haste, Arwen carries Frodo on her horse as they race for Rivendell.

 

Along the way, according to the movie, Arwen is swarmed by the Black Riders. They almost get Frodo a couple times, and then for some reason Arwen decides to stop running in the middle of a shallow stream. As the Black Riders advance Arwen mutters something to the river, which responds by rising. Then, a sudden wave comes and, with horses made of water in the wave, come crashing down on the Black Riders, washing them away.

 

Oh, and as a side note, in the movie Arwen seems to be very heroic when one of the Black Riders approaches and gravels out a command to give up the Halfling.

 

Arwen’s reply was very heroic, as she taunts the Nazgûl: “If you want him, come and claim him!”

 

Simply put, that didn’t happen.

 

The actual story according to the book was very different. Let’s start with Arwen. She wasn’t there. Instead, Aragorn and the Hobbits happened upon an Elf-lord named Glorfindel. But it wasn’t Glorfindel who carried Frodo to Rivendell. When the Black Riders were closing in, Glorfindel put Frodo on his horse, Asfaloth, alone. So it was Frodo on the horse alone who raced across the river.

 

In the book, Frodo was the heroic sounding one who defied the Black Riders. He declared to the Black Riders that they shall have neither the ring nor him!

 

Then, the wave of water we saw in the movie happened. It was Elrond, though, who was in Rivendell, but unleashed a flood that washed away the Black Riders. The shape of the horses were added by Gandalf for a bit of magical flare.

 

Hey, he’s a wizard. He does things in style.

 

In the movie, the next scene we see is when Frodo awakens in Rivendell. Gandalf is sitting by his bedside and tells him it’s 10:00 in the morning on October the 24th.

 

That timing is right! On October 24th is when the book says Frodo awoke in Rivendell, apparently recovered from his wound. Not fully recovered, the movie is correct when it says he’d never fully recover, but in a much better state.

 

It’s here in the movie that Gandalf and Elrond have a somewhat lengthy discussion about the One Ring. After a lot of explanations that are helpful to the viewer, Elrond explains that the Ring can’t stay in Rivendell. So they have to decide what to do with it. While the movie doesn’t come out and say it, the implication here is that this is the reason to have a Council to discuss what to do with the Ring.

 

Simply put, that whole scene never happened in the book. Gandalf and Elrond both knew the only way to finish the quest was to destroy the Ring. The only way to destroy the Ring was to throw it into the same fires that forged it—in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor. So there wasn’t any sort of thought that the Ring would stay in Rivendell.

 

In the movie, this is when the Council of Elrond is convened.

 

If I may interject a personal note here, the Council of Elrond is a part of the film that I’ve heard a lot of people complain about as being long and boring.

 

In the book, it’s much longer. And again with my personal note, but it’s awesome.

 

Remember it’s here, in the book, that Gandalf explains his capture by Saruman. He also goes on for a long time about past events and we learn a ton. Some are the things the movie shows Gandalf and Elrond talking about earlier, but there’s a lot more that the movie doesn’t show.

 

In the movie, it’s here at the Council of Elrond that we’re introduced to a few new characters. Some of the prominent characters are Sean Bean’s version of Boromir, who we mentioned earlier when we learned about the shards of Narsil, along with Gimli and Legolas.

 

Gimli is played by John Rhys-Davies while Legolas is played by Orlando Bloom.

 

Oh, and in the book, Bilbo attends the Council. In the movie, he’s not there.

 

As with many of the other portions of the movie, there’s a few things here that don’t match up with the book. For example, in the book Boromir had a dream about the shards of Narsil.

 

In the dream, according to the book, Boromir couldn’t really understand much. It was confusing, but in the dream the name Imladris was mentioned. Imladris is another name for Rivendell, so Boromir felt the need to travel to Rivendell to see if he could find out more about the dream.

 

Boromir didn’t know the exact location of Rivendell, though. He left from Minas Tirith and it took him 110 days to find it. That was the whole reason Boromir came to Rivendell in the book; he was called into the Council because he was there, not because he traveled across the lands just for the meeting.

 

Another inaccuracy in the film happens when the Dwarf, Gimli, swings his axe at the One Ring in the middle of the Council.

 

That’s wrong.

 

First, the One Ring wasn’t sitting in the middle of the Council. Frodo kept it hidden away in his pocket until he was asked to show it to the Council. When he did, it was for a brief moment before he stowed it back in his pocket.

 

So you can probably guess if the Ring was in Frodo’s pocket, Gimli didn’t swing his axe at Frodo’s pocket in an attempt to destroy it. In fact, Gimli didn’t make any sort of attempts to destroy the Ring at all. It would seem this was done in the film just so Elrond could reinforce that the Ring couldn’t be destroyed by any other means than by casting it into the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor.

 

As the Council is coming to an end in the movie, the Fellowship of the Ring is being formed. It includes Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli and Legolas.

 

The movie is sort of correct here; those characters were a part of the Fellowship. But they weren’t all chosen at the Council like this.

 

In the movie, Sean Astin’s version of Sam jumps out from behind a bush to declare that he’s going wherever Frodo goes. Soon after, Merry and Pippin burst from their hiding spots.

 

That’s not how it happened. In the book, Sam was in the Council from the beginning while Merry and Pippin didn’t show up at all. It wasn’t until a few days later that Merry and Pippin asked to join.

 

Anyway, the end result is correct. The Fellowship of the Ring consisted of nine members. There were the Hobbits, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin. Then there was Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf, Gandalf the Grey, and from the race of Men, Aragorn and Boromir.

 

These nine set off from Rivendell bound for Mordor.

 

There’s a brief voice over from Ian McKellen’s version of Gandalf that explains their course is to stay west of the Misty Mountains until they hit the Gap of Rohan. Then, it’s east to Mordor.

 

That geography is correct, and if you haven’t yet I’d highly recommend checking out a map of Middle-earth to see the path they took. Rivendell is tucked away between the Trollshaws and the Misty Mountains. Far to the south is the Gap of Rohan, which is a break in the Misty Mountains.

 

Isengard is near the Gap of Rohan, as is Helm’s Deep and just on the other side to the north, Fangorn Forest.

 

Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. I’ll put a link to a map of Middle-earth in the show notes so you can see where everything is located.

 

In the movie, Gimli suggests passing through the Mines of Moria instead of going all the way south to the Gap of Rohan. Gandalf dismisses this, suggesting that’s a more perilous route.

 

Which, of course, in true Hollywood fashion, means that’s the route they’ll end up taking. This happens in the movie after Saruman casts a spell that causes a terrible storm in the Misty Mountains and forces the Fellowship to turn back.

 

This is all fairly accurate, but the book never mentions that it was Saruman who caused the storm. Boromir wondered if it might be the work of the enemy, but there’s not really any suggestion it was a magically-induced storm.

 

But the result is the same. The Fellowship ended up having to travel through the Mines of Moria.

 

It’s here in the movie while they’re trying to figure out how to get into Moria that the entire Fellowship gets attacked by some sort of kraken-like creature in the waters. It grasps Frodo, nearly dragging him under the cold, black waters.

 

This was the Watcher in the Water, and while the attack did happen, in the book, it only took Sam slashing a tentacle with his knife to get the Watcher to release Frodo.

 

Although the movie correctly shows Sam’s horse as being one named Bill. But Sam didn’t calmly let Bill go like the movie shows. When the Watcher in the Water attacked, Bill got scared and he fled.

 

So a slight differences there.

 

In the movie, when the Fellowship enters Moria, they’ve walked into a tomb. It’s no longer the Dwarven stronghold it once was.

 

That’s accurate, although the events we see inside of Moria in the film are a bit different than the book.

 

One of those differences was something we already talked about. Remember that part where Frodo tells Gandalf he wishes this didn’t happen in his time? To which Gandalf says, so do all who live to see such times.

 

As we learned earlier, that happened a while ago in the book.

 

Another difference happened in Balin’s tomb. In the movie, it’s while Gandalf is reading the account of what happened to Moria from an old, dusty book that appears to be Balin’s journal when Pippin accidentally knocks a skull down a nearby well.

 

Then, an even worse fate as the skull is attached to an entire skeleton, chains and a bucket that follows. The noise awakens the sound of drums—orcs! Ian McKellen’s version of Gandalf scolds Billy Boyd’s version of Pippin.

 

“Fool of a Took,” Gandalf says, referencing Pippin’s last name.

 

That’s not how it happened. Actually, it was almost completely opposite.

 

Gandalf didn’t scold Pippin. Pippin dropped a rock down the well on purpose, but it wasn’t in Balin’s tomb. After this noise, they did hear what sounded like something tapping in the distance. Was it drums? Hard to tell. Gandalf offered Pippin the first watch as a reward, not as a punishment.

 

It wasn’t until a couple days later when the Fellowship reached Balin’s tomb that they were attacked by orcs.

 

In the movie, when the attack happens, there’s a massive cave troll along with a horde of orcs that attack. The movie focuses on the cave troll as the main villain as it chases Frodo around Balin’s tomb.

 

Again, that’s not accurate.

 

There was a cave troll, but it barely managed to get its foot in the door when Frodo stabbed his sword, Sting, into the troll’s foot. It jumped back, and the Fellowship fled Balin’s tomb. There was an orc chieftain who fought the Fellowship, though. But instead of Legolas killing the cave troll with an arrow to the throat like we see in the film, it was Aragorn killing the orc chieftain by chopping its head in two.

 

After this scene, in the movie, the orcs flee when they hear something coming. It’s dark in Moria. Then, a light comes from the distance. Ian McKellen’s Gandalf closes his eyes. Then, slowly, they open. It’s a Balrog. A demon of the ancient world.

 

Run!

 

This happened. Although, the book had the appearance of the Balrog be a little different. It was a break in the stone that orcs were trying to bridge to get to the Fellowship when the Balrog appeared.

 

Oh, and the scene where Orlando Bloom’s version of Legolas grabs Gimli by the beard? That didn’t happen.

 

But Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog did. Well, except for the whole “You shall not pass!” phrase.

 

Instead, Gandalf said something more to the effect of, “You cannot pass!”

 

Close. But different.

 

After finding their way out of Moria, in the movie, the Fellowship gets caught up with elves. Among these are Cate Blanchett’s character, Galadriel.

 

This happened, although there’s a few differences here, too. There’s a moment, in the movie, when Frodo looks into the Mirror of Galadriel and sees the Shire being destroyed by fire. In the book, both Frodo and Sam were walking in the woods when Galadriel led them to the mirror. It was Sam who looked first and saw these events, not Frodo.

 

Another change the filmmakers made was when Elijah Wood’s version of Frodo took the One Ring off his necklace and hands it to Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel.

 

In the book, Frodo offered the Ring to Galadriel, because it was too great for him to bear, but he never actually took the Ring out and handed it to her. It was words, only.

 

After the Fellowship leaves the Galadriel’s care, tragedy strikes in the movie when Sean Bean’s version of Boromir dies at the hand of the Uruk-hai captain, Lurtz.

 

This moment in the film is extremely sad, but it’s played up quite a bit for the movie. In the books, Boromir’s death was something that didn’t happen until the beginning of the next book, The Two Towers. We don’t know the specifics of what happened, but the filmmakers did a pretty good job of trying to keep the gist of the story in place here.

 

After Boromir dies, in the film, is where Frodo leaves the Fellowship. He heads off with Sam to Mordor, while the rest of the Fellowship tries to distract the hordes from Mordor.

 

That happened, but with the end of the movie comes the end of our tale today because this is where book ends as well.

 

We’ll continue the story…some day.

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