The Patriot Resource - The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings Insights: Books vs. Films
Hobbiton to Bree

Gandalf leaves the day after Bilbo and Frodo's birthday party to research the origins of the Ring. The story then moves forward SEVENTEEN years later. Gandalf has visited several times, but during his first visit in nine years, he advises Frodo to prepare to leave in a few months. Frodo celebrates his fiftieth birthday and then gives Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses. He has come up with a cover story of moving back to Buckland, where he is originally from, to allow him to quietly leave The Shire without causing a stir until well after he is gone. Sam is going with him with the cover of being his servant after Gandalf caught him spying on them.

Frodo, Sam and Merry Brandybuck walk across The Shire. They have a couple of encounters with Black Riders, meet some Elves and have dinner at Farmer Maggot's before reaching Buckland. Once there, his friends Merry, Pippin Took and Fatty Bolger reveal that they knew of his plans to leave The Shire. Merry and Pippin insist on going with he and Sam. They decide to take a "shortcut" through the Old Forest. Once there, they encounter malicious feeling trees and an old willow that tries to drown them. They are saved by Tom Bombadil and then he saves them again in the Barrow Downs.

Much of the material that is found in the travels from Hobbiton to Bree do not play a role later on in the story and are easily parted with. The book lengthens the time from the dual birthday party to Frodo's departure from The Shire, but the film treatment lets the main story get going quicker. Farmer Maggot and the Elves are given nods in the theatrical cut for the former and the extended cut for the latter. The only change that the time shortening has is that Frodo's reunion with Bilbo at Rivendell is only months later, rather than a more emotional years later.

It is interesting that Peter Jackson chose to add a scene with Merry and Pippin up to mischief at the birthday party and then again up to no good when they basically just get thrown into joining Frodo's adventure. Even the scene at the Green Dragon does little to develop Merry and Pippin. It takes away the depth of their characters, which takes some time for the films to overcome.

The films leave out everything from Buckleberry Ferry to the Hobbits' arrival at Bree. Peter Jackson himself pointed out that the events could still have happened, but the films just skipped over them. Only two minor things even come out of that entire chunk of story. The malicious trees that seem alive set up the tree-herding Ents in Fangorn Forest. Peter Jackson has Merry recount this information when he and Pippin meet Treebeard in The Two Towers. The Hobbits also get the weapons that they use through out the story at the Barrow Downs. The rest of the material with Tom Bombadil has no impact on the overall story.

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