People spend a lot of time comparing movies to their source material. Be it books, graphic novels, video games, or any other media, one of the most fertile topics on the internet is people griping about how their favorite story was butchered in the adaptation.
And perhaps one of the touchiest subjects to draw the ire of the hard-core fans is the Lord of the Rings. The interwebs are awash with posts and articles cursing the very names of the film makers for daring to tamper with perfection. But of all the many changes that Peter Jackson and his team made in the long-awaited adaptations of Tolkien’s fantasy epic, what change was the absolute worst?
Was it snubbing Tom Bombadil? Was it the expanded role of Arwen from background love interest into she-elf heroism? Was it the scouring of the scouring of the Shire? Was it neglecting to give Fatty Bolger the recognition he was due? No. The worst change of all was Frodo dismissing Sam on Cirith Ungol.
Of all the many changes from the books to the films, this one is the most in conflict with the character of the central protagonist of the story. It would be totally inconceivable for Frodo to dismiss Sam– to believe Gollum over Sam– even under the influence of The Ring.
That change cuts deep. It’s a heart-wrenching scene in the film, mostly because of how uncharacteristic it is; we can’t believe it’s happening. And that’s because it never would. It’s so out of character that book readers and movie-only fans alike end up shocked and dismayed when it happens. Reading the book, you see how utterly impossible it would have been for Frodo to dismiss Sam. These two had been through so much together, and knew they needed each other if they had any hope of fulfilling the quest. They were absolutely inseparable.
I can vaguely understand why Jackson and company would change that scene, to add drama and tension, but it’s not necessary, and it is entirely implausible of the characters.
So you can complain about the mysterious whistling man of the woods all you want. The worst change in the films was Frodo giving Sam the boot on the long climb to Shelob’s lair.