LOTR: Why no "Scouring of the Shire"?

TBS’s run of LOTR this weekend motivated me to break out the DVDs and I was once again astonished and saddened by the omission of the “Scouring of the Shire” from ROTK. The omission has been discussed in many a thread, but I could not find a reason why… the jump from Mt. Doom to the joyous hobbit reunion to Aragorn’s “kinging” to sharing a beer in the Shire just killed me.

I did not yet listen to the director’s commentary, so sorry if I am asking a question for which the answer is readily available, but has there ever been a reason give for omitting this part and shortening the ending? Why is it not in the EE?

It would have thrown off the pacing too much. The series has been working for 9 hours toward the climactic destruction of the One Ring and Sauron; it wouldn’t have made sense to then spend another 20 minutes on a brand new subplot starring a secondary villain. Even as it is, lots of reviewers complained that the movie’s ending was too long.

The most obvious reason is that it’s a rather large letdown to go from Beating the Big Bad Guy to Running some Ruffians Out of Town. Furthermore, many people already complained about how long the movie went on after the defeat of Sauron; putting in the Scouring would have lengthened it even more.

Because it doesn’t work in movie form. You have the big conflict, the final win and it is denouement time. To try and introduce another (and much smaller) level of conflict to a movie that was already quite long would not have worked for theater audiences. People already complained about how long it took to end the movie after Mt Doom.

That said, I think that the scouring is critical to the book, it’s major themes, and character development, it just doesn’t translate well to the screen.

Because Peter Jackson didn’t remotely care about faithfulness to the book and felt that he could change anything he wanted to.

I always imagined that we had gotten a glimpse of it via Galadriel’s pool in FOTR.
They showed a burning shire run amuck with baddies.

Are you saying that the Scouring could have been integrated into the movie, but Jackson just didn’t know how to do it effectively? If so, I’d be interested to hear your ideas. (I’m not interested in hearing a blanket “the movies suck because they don’t follow the book verbatim.”)

I read a rundown of what was cut from the theatrical release of the LOTR movies Either Newsweek or Entertainment Weekly). Some were mentioned as having been cut from the movie, but that they would be on the DVD. For the scouring, it said, “Jackson always hated this part of the book. Don’t look for it on the DVD.”

I agree with Jackson. Same for Bombadil.

Pity, though. I would have liked to see Saruman and Wormtongue put in their final appearance. I also was sad they cut that ubercool scene at Orthance, where Saruman tries his silver-tongued persuasion on King Theoden and then gets punked out by Gandalf. Watching Saruman’s staff split up the middle (OUCH!) at a mere word from Gandalf would have been well worth the extra runtime.

Yup, same here. I love the books as much as anyone but it would not have worked cinematically.

I never cared for the Scouring myself. I know the point Tolkien was trying to make, but I thought there would have been a better way to make it…for instance, the Hobbits coming back to find that orcs had come through the Shire and razed it, and having to set about rebuilding. That would have been a somber ending that brought home the fact that no part of the world was untouched by the war. But the whole business with “Sharky” (what an incredibly campy, lame, jerk-you-out-of-your-suspension-of-disbelief name that was) and the anticlimactic battle was a bad end to the story.

I have listened to Jackson’s commentary on the Extended Edition.

He explains that **of course ** he wanted to put the chapter in (Wendell, what are you basing your allegation on? - Jackson is a huge Tolkien fan) but:

  • unlike a book, the cinema audience cannot reread a few pages when they feel like it, so the plotline has to make sense
  • there were a number of endings to tie up (Aragorn marrying Arwen; Scouring of the Shire; departures from the Grey Havens; Sam courting + marrying Rosie; Frodo realising he has to go overseas himself; Sam saying “I’m back”)

As Autumn Almanac, athelas (that name sounds familiar :slight_smile: ) and flight have said, the Scouring sadly would take up too much time and devalue the power of Sauron’s fall.
Even in the Extended Edition (which is well worth getting in my opinion!)

Hampshire is also right - Galadriel’s Pool does show the Scouring.

He’s Mister Heartbreak.

Look, you don’t like the movies-we get it already. Must you always do this in EVERY thread about the Peter Jackson films? It’s not true, and it’s deliberately inflammatory.


As for me, count me with those who say it wouldn’t have worked in cinema form-slowed the pacing, been too much of a let down, etc. I don’t believe you can ever make a movie adaption 100 percent identical to a novel-they are different and mediums, and there are always things that are going to have to be changed.

The name Sharkey comes from the Orcish Sharku (with a circumflex over the u) meaning ‘old man’.

Tolkien took enormous trouble over his names - it’s not his fault if for example ‘Jaws’ spoilt the impact decades later…

The Scouring could have worked in a differently movie version, but I agree that it couldn’t have worked in Jackson’s version. It really would have thrown the pacing off.

The problem is that it is a big part of the heart and soul of the story. The heroes return home to their quaint little home and find it doesn’t exist anymore: they’ve grown, and its been corrupted, so they can only make it anew. And Frodo can’t share in it regardless.

The chapter on the Scouring of the Shire was not in the movies because the movies didn’t really attempt to deal with the growth of the hobbits aspect of the books. The chapter is vital to the story in the books, because it shows exactly what the hobbits learn while away on their travels. This gives you a sense of how hobbits will be potentially different in the Fourth Age. But none of that growth of the hobbits aspect ever was in the film. Instead, you get Merry and Pippen treated like comic sidekicks, etc.

When you add the fact that movie audiences generally prefer short denouments, it wasn’t surprising at all. I’d have been much more surprised to see it happen, though I must admit watching Christopher Lee’s Saruman get it in the back with a knife would have been fun. :slight_smile:

One small twist between the plots of the book and movie versions makes it inappropriate in the movie.

In the book, the Ring corrupts Saruman – like many another, his lust for power overcomes his wisdom, and he “commits treason against the Valar” to set himself up as supreme, in place of Sauron.

In the movie (like the books, the movie sequence should be seen as a single tripartite whole), Sauron corrupts Saruman, enticing him over to the Dark Side, so to speak. Hence the fall of Orthanc is not the destruction of a separate menace (except that of course it proves not to be) but a foreshadowing of the fall of Barad-Dur.

Then, too, the important characterization detail of the growth in responsibility of Merry and Pippin is omitted from the movie, allowing them to function (which was a true-to-book role as well) as foils for the tragic Frodo and the assorted High and Mighty Figures with whom they come in contact. Hence their coming into their own in the Scouring was never foreshadowed.

PJ took liberties with the story as told in the book. But as anyone who’s reviewed Christopher Tolkien’s edited versions of his father’s unpublished work realizes, Middle-Earth was a work in progress throughout Tolkien’s life. Jackson did not produce a travesty, but a variant retelling of the story, with details omitted and altered. With Tolkien’s taste for medieval literature, where the retelling by different authors of Arthurian, Rolandian, Alexandrian and other legend cycles was a commonplace, one can only presume he was smiling down on a fairly true-to-book adaptation for the large screen. (His comments on the abortive Forrest J. Ackerman adaptation in the Letters are instructive on his views about what a LOTR movie ought to be.)


Or shut the *** up.