Best Book-to-Movie Change: The Fellowship of the Rings

As a long-time Tolkien fan, I have strong opinions about Peter Jackson’s movies about Middle Earth. Because I love the books so much, it’s easy to see every deviation from the books as a flaw. But Jackson did make at least one change to the story that was for the better. His ending to The Fellowship of the Ring is much more satisfying than Tolkien’s.

SPOILER ALERT: This article references plot details from both the book and movie versions of The Fellowship of the Ring.

In the book, Frodo makes himself invisible by putting on Sauron’s ring to escape from Boromir, who has just tried to take the it from him. Deciding that he must got to Mordor alone, Frodo keeps the ring on, runs through the woods without talking to anyone, and jumps in a boat.

In the movie, Frodo takes the ring back off after escaping from Boromir. As a result, he is visible when he runs into Aragorn. After the hobbit explains what he must do and why, Aragorn lets him go. This gives power to both their stories, showing Frodo’s bravery in facing a difficult journey alone and Aragorn’s strength to resist the corrupting power of the ring.

There is another meeting in the movie that isn’t in the book. As he races through the woods, Frodo has to hide from the rampaging orcs. Tucked behind a tree, he sees his friends. Merry and Pippin have found a place to hide, and they invite him to join them. But Frodo has decided. He is going on, alone. In that instant, Merry and Pippin realize his plans, and instead of trying to stop him, they bravely run out into the forest and call attention to themselves, to give Frodo more time to get away.

Both the moment with Aragorn and the moment with the hobbits make for a much stronger ending to this part of the story. We get to see the characters choosing for themselves the hard road they will follow instead of having the choice made for them. Frodo’s decision, which might only be a whim of the moment, gets tested by the offers of help he gets from Aragorn, Merry, and Pippin. We discover that his mind is made up; he doesn’t waver.

Jackson’s ending also gives us a sense of closure that the book version does not. Frodo doesn’t take leave of everyone, but that he gets to say goodbye to a few of his friends before he goes. That his friends let him go willingly and knowingly makes the parting more satisfying to the viewer.

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