With The Hobbit! Episode 3: The Revenge of the Smaug limping drunkenly into theaters next week, it's finally time to bid an exhausted farewell to the fever dream that has been Peter Jackson's contractually obligated second run in Middle-earth. So this seems like as good a time as any to inject a little fucking life into that franchise and explain to you how the Lord of the Rings movies were almost crazy different.
See, Jackson wasn't the first person to try to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's work -- a few others got damn close. And most of those movies would've been fucking insane. For example, we have ...
5The One Starring The Beatles (and Directed by Stanley Kubrick)
Movie casting's a tough call: sometimes a weird choice like Heath Ledger as The Joker turns out to be amazing, and sometimes a seemingly dead-on choice like Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi ends up just boring. So I'm not going to sit here and say that I have some kind of superpower when it comes to anticipating how movies would've worked out, and I don't want to overstate things, but Paul McCartney almost played Frodo Baggins, and that would've been the greatest goddamn thing to ever happen to this planet.
In the 1960s, The Beatles approached a young, barely known filmmaker named Stanley Kubrick (The Fucking Shining, 2001: A Space Fucking Odyssey, Full Fucking Metal Fucking Jacket) to see if he wanted to do a film version of Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. In addition to Paul as Frodo, John would've played Gollum, George was going to be Gandalf, and Ringo would've been Samwise Freaking Gamgee.
The craziest part of this is that every Beatles movie is basically an extended music video, meaning that The Beatles likely almost turned Lord of the Rings into a rock opera. Think Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, only with a Balrog.
Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Instead, all we got is these dorks' version, which is -- ugh -- fine.
On top of that, the whole thing would've been directed by one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live. This just raises so many questions. Would Harrison have worn a fake beard, or would he have just grown his own out? What ridiculous special effects would they have used to make Paul and Ringo short enough to be hobbits? What about all the murder, guys? And, perhaps most pressing of all, how would the notoriously fastidious directing of Stanley "Screams at Shelley Duvall Until She Has a Nervous Breakdown" Kubrick have clashed with the notoriously stoned-all-the-time acting style of the Fab Four? Follow-up question: can we invent time travel so we can go back and make this happen?
4The Sadomasochistic Soft-Porn Version Directed by John Boorman
John Boorman is an English director best known for Deliverance and Zardoz and ya know what? I'm not even going to say it's weird to go from those two flicks to Lord of the Rings. After all, Jackson's last movie before New Line hired him to do Fellowship was The Frighteners, a comedy/horror/drama/romance in which Michael J. Fox battles ghost Jake Busey, and just before that he did Heavenly Creatures, a true story about teenage murderers. So I'm not gonna say having Boorman direct would've automatically made this movie crazy. The script might have, though.
See, basically everything that ended up being part of Boorman's Excalibur was originally developed for Lord of the Rings -- and it's freaking nuts. For example, there's a part where Aragorn, Boromir, and teenage-ghost-Arwen all make out with their swords and each other. Then there's the sex scene between Frodo and Galadriel, which happens right before he stares into her mirror. Hey, I just discovered a new euphemism!
New Line Cinema
I also discovered that it's very easy to find Elijah Wood's O-Face.
The scene where they find their way into Moria is also different: in the story we know, Frodo (Gandalf in the books) realizes that "speak 'friend' and enter" is the "eats shoots and leaves" of Middle-earth, and the door magically opens when they speak the Elvish word for "friend." In Boorman's version, Gandalf wraps Gimli in a burlap sack and beats him until he remembers. That's not Lord of the Rings, that's the porno I'm surreptitiously downloading while I write this.