Arguably one of Peter Jackson’s most controversial changes from the book to the film is the scene where Frodo commands Sam to leave his company and return to the Shire on their journey up the Stairs of Cirith Ungol. While, the entire event was moved to the third film, The Return of the King, this had little effect on the actual plot because The Lord of the Rings is one epic story split into three books for marketing purposes. In the book, Frodo and Sam are tricked by Gollum/Smeogal to travel up the Stairs of Cirith Ungol to Shelob’s Lair, where the giant spider named Shelob dwells. After reaching Shelob’s Lair Gollum sneaks away and leaves the Hobbits for Shelob to devour. Frodo and Sam are chased by the spider and Frodo is encapsulated by Shelob’s web and is poisoned by her paralyzing venom. Sam follows close behind and fends off the creature to save Frodo. However, in the movie on the journey up the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, Gollum/Smeogal takes the last piece of Lambas Bread, the Hobbit’s only food, and throws it off the cliff while the Hobbits are sleeping. Additionally, he places crumbs on Sam thus framing him as the culprit. Because of this, Frodo forces Sam to leave and return home since Frodo believes that Sam betrayed him. This is completely out of character for Frodo compared to the book; their friendship is much too strong for Frodo to even consider dismissing Sam. However, this might be due to the more powerful nature of the Ring as previously mentioned. Clearly, in the scene that Frodo is entranced by the power of the One Ring, thus clouding his judgment. The most likely cause for this change is to add drama and suspense when Frodo enters Shelob’s Lair. While the change is somewhat understandable from a film making perspective, it was an unnecessary alteration to Frodo’s character.
Although devoted fans of The Lord of the Rings books may be annoyed by changes made in the film adaptations, many of these alterations are reasonable. While the books retain their respected position in fantasy literature, the director had to be guided by his goal to produce a suspenseful and visually stunning film. The enormous popularity of the three Lord of the Rings films is ample evidence of his success in this endeavor.
EDIT: Despite what I have said in this series of posts, I would never want any second of The Lord of the Rings films to be changed in the slightest. While I there were parts in the film that could have been adapted more accurately, every change from book has a purpose, regardless of whether "purists" like or not. Peter Jackson created three perfect films that have few if any equals in the 21st Century.
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