Movies That Might Have Been – The Beatles Do The Lord of the Rings

Gary Collinson ponders the fate of The Lord of the Rings had the stars aligned differently in Movies That Might Have Been…

What We Got…

Fans of J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings were surely satisfied with Peter Jackson’s Award-winning trilogy, which remained pretty much faithful to the sacred source text and adopted the book’s three-part structure of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Jackson and his special effects house Weta Digitial brought Middle-Earth to life with state of the art visual techniques and a near-perfect cast that included Elijah Wood (Frodo), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Sean Astin (Sam), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Hugo Weaving (Elrond) and Liv Tyler (Arwen), along with the splendid motion capture work of Andy Serkis as Gollum.

Released in three installments between 2001 – 2003, The Lord of the Rings delighted audiences and critics alike on its way to a world-wide gross of almost $3 billion and a place as one of the most popular film franchises of all time. The series sparked a resurgance in the big-budget fantasy genre along with a host of prestigious awards, while anticipation for the oft-delayed prequel The Hobbit continues to grow by the day.

What Might Have Been…

Back in the mid-1960s when discussing possible projects for their three picture deal with United Artists, John Lennon was lobbying his fellow band-mates in The Beatles to bring The Lord of the Rings to the screen. His proposal would have seen Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as hobbits Frodo and Sam, with George Harrison as Gandalf (he certainly looked the part) and Lennon taking on the role of Gollum. Unfortunately – and perhaps rather unsurprisingly – the former Oxford University professor wasn’t too keen on letting The Beatles loose on his baby and nixed the idea, holding onto the film rights until 1969 by which time a Beatles adaptation was a tad unlikely.

So, how would a Beatles take on The Lord of the Rings have gone down? When you consider their output around that time (the utterly bizarre Yellow Submarine, for example) and the amount of mind-altering substances that would have no doubt inspired the look and feel of the picture, you can only begin to imagine how surreal this could have turned out. It would certainly have been an experience and, as Peter Jackson commented back in 2002 when hearing the news direct from McCartney himself, “there probably would’ve been some good songs coming off the album.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the possibilities for the soundtrack to The Beatles Do The Lord of The Rings

Across the Middle-Earth
Dragons in the Sky with Nazgûl
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Gamgee
Good Mordor, Good Mordor
I Am the Warg-rus
Lady Galadriel
The Ballad of Sam and Frodo
The Continuing Story of Tom Bombadil
The Eye on the Hill
When I’m Eleventy-One

Have we missed out then?

There’s no doubting the quality of Jackson’s trilogy, which has to be one of the most definitive adaptations of just about anything ever, but thirty-odd years is more than enough time for a reboot. The Beatles version of The Lord of the Rings would likely have been a ‘loose’ adaptation at best, but certainly a moneymaker in its day and something that I’m sure a lot of people would love to have seen come to fruition. Let’s face it – it certainly couldn’t have been any worse than Ralph Bakshi’s animated effort from 1978.

Alas, it just wasn’t to be so if you want to see the Fab Four larking about on ring-centric adventures then you’ll just have to make do with Help! I’m afraid.

Any thoughts on how you think this would have worked out? Any more song titles?? Feel free to leave your comments…

Gary Collinson

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00463848424576787196 Trevor

    Help! (1965), directed by Richard Lester (The Three Musketeers), was the Beatles tip-of-the-hat to The Lord of the Rings. In the feature, Ringo (appropriately chosen) accidentally possesses a ceremonial ring which sees him pursued in a James Bond-like fashion by a cult, two mad scientists, and the London police. In recognition of The Fab Four's cinematic effort, they received a 1966 Grammy

  • http://wheresfrodotoday.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_archive.html HB Potlood

    Some years ago I decided to follow the books day by day and illustrate them with my dream cast of the Beatles version of Lotr. Only I had the four them play the four Hobbits. <br /><br />http://wheresfrodotoday.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_archive.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18168467177380824337 flickeringmyth

    HB – some nice illustrations on your site!

  • http://wheresfrodotoday.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_archive.html HB Potlood

    Thank you, flickeringmyths. I must admit I got kinda lazy towards the end of it. Maybe I&#39;ll do it all over again in colour someday and make it look better.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10486748164297386924 Turkman182

    Here&#39;s a pretty cool article that talks about the never-happened Beatle movies like this one: http://www.movieretriever.com/blog/428/the-beatle-movies-that-never-happened/0

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00463848424576787196 Trevor

    Help! (1965), directed by Richard Lester (The Three Musketeers), was the Beatles tip-of-the-hat to The Lord of the Rings. In the feature, Ringo (appropriately chosen) accidentally possesses a ceremonial ring which sees him pursued in a James Bond-like fashion by a cult, two mad scientists, and the London police. In recognition of The Fab Four&#39;s cinematic effort, they received a 1966 Grammy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10486748164297386924 Turkman182

    Here&#39;s a pretty cool article that talks about the never-happened Beatle movies like this one: http://www.movieretriever.com/blog/428/the-beatle-movies-that-never-happened/0