Beatles wanted to do Lord of the Rings film in 1960s
March 29, 2002 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Beatles wanted to do Lord of the Rings film in 1960s John was to play Gollum; Paul would be Frodo; George would play Gandalf; and Ringo would play Sam.
posted by andrewraff (21 comments total)
Possibly this is true, but it sounds like a joke to me. Peter Jackson has been a jokester in this sort of way before. His 1996 film Forgotten Silver is a mock-documentary about a (fictional) New Zealand filmmaker, who, in the early 20th century, supposedly invented both sound film and color film long before everyone else, as well as having toiled on a DW Griffith-esque biblical epic for which he built a huge set in the middle of the jungle. The film brilliantly spoofs the tone of high-minded BBC or PBS (or the New Zealand equivalent) documentaries. It was originally shown on New Zealand TV with no indication that it was fictional, and a lot of people apparently believed it was real.
I am therefore inclined to believe that Jackson's story about the Beatles wanting to do LOTR is a hoax as well. But a good one--I especially love the idea of John as Gollum.
posted by Rebis at 6:02 PM on March 29, 2002

It's especially odd since the book only gained it's cult following in the late 1970's.
posted by bloggboy at 6:07 PM on March 29, 2002

Not according to several sites I've found, blogboy...

The notion that brainier, hipper, edgier types are into Tolkien goes way back. I realize the three books were initially published between '54 and '56, but I'm sure those who wrote in yesterday also know that the Rings cult really ignited when '60s counter-culture types began embracing the myth and metaphor of it all ("Frodo lives!"). Tolkien Online

By 1968 "The Lord of the Rings" had gained unofficial cult status among young American readers. Having been one of those young American readers, I likewise vividly remember the widespread counterculture belief that Tolkien was surely a "zoned-out, pot-smoking, acid-dropping guru."
posted by crunchland at 6:24 PM on March 29, 2002

Probably a good thing it wasn't made: may I be forgiven by the powers that be, but the Beatles were not known for making good movies.
posted by ashbury at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2002

And how. Thank God.
posted by scarabic at 6:57 PM on March 29, 2002

It's especially odd since the book only gained it's cult following in the late 1970's.

I, and everyone I knew at the time, read it in the late 60s.
posted by rodii at 7:04 PM on March 29, 2002

(Admittedly, I did first read it in D&D cultish times of the late 70's... )
posted by crunchland at 7:18 PM on March 29, 2002

wait, wait -- so a hard day's night is now a BAD FILM? true, it was no citizen kane, but it was not only cute and entertaining but also influenced many new techniques/innovations in film. help is mediocre and yellow submarine is incomprehensible, but don't lump hdn in with those two.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:18 PM on March 29, 2002

Peter Beagle wrote an interesting preface for the Ballentine
1978 edition of the 'Hobbit' (my first copy)..."He (Tolkien) is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never ivented them either: he found them a place to live, a green alternitive to each days madness here in a poisioned world. We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers-thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Lest us at last praise the colnzers of dreams". He wrote that in 1973. nice words, not too hip on all the poison jive and pirate-genralissimos. The Hobbit is about, what, well a thief. A 'Burglar' hired to help rid another thief, a big red one with a name that rings of...bad air. The Arkenstone and a ring that are 'won' say courage. I mention the Hobbit as it seems to me the whole she-bang. LOTR is an extension, a broad stroke of the longer journey.
I always felt LOTR as a part II. For JRRT choose the ring to be the focal point of all the geo-political actions of Sauron.(not info known even to Gandalf by the end of 'the hobbit') Part of me is to tired to re-re-re-re read it. Bilboism.
posted by clavdivs at 7:33 PM on March 29, 2002

I'm awfully glad this movie never got made. I can't imagine any of the Beatles inhabiting any of the characters in "LOTR." The whole idea has "campy" written all over it.

I always felt LOTR as a part II.

At the very least, it's a continuation of the same story. After the publication of the first edition of "The Hobbit," Tolkien rewrote parts of it to make Gollum more vile, to increase the Ring's evil power and thus to make what happens in "LOTR" plausible. He handled these major changes in a very clever way, i.e. that Bilbo's lies made their way into the first edition and that later editions corrected these errors.
posted by diddlegnome at 7:53 PM on March 29, 2002

This isn't new news. Other movies that were floated for the Beatles included "Up Against It" which was written by doomed playwrite Joe Orton, famously portrayed by Gary Oldham in the film Prick Up Your Ears.
posted by akmonday at 8:38 PM on March 29, 2002

I wouldn't be surprised if it's true - the Beatles had a lot of peculiar ideas for side projects around that time. Having said that, Peter Jackson is a self-confessed Beatlemaniac. In the pant-wettingly hilarious Bad Taste, the fab four (dressed in their Sargent Pepper duds) are featured in some kind of weird-ass cardboard sun shade on the front of Derek's van.
posted by RokkitNite at 3:21 AM on March 30, 2002

yellow submarine is incomprehensible

Nah, it's not. The Beatles gotta save the Pepperland from the Blue Meanies -- what could be more straightforward? It's whimsical, heady, whacky, and trippy, but it's far from incomprehensible. It's all in the mind, you know?

Yellow Submarine is a seminal work of pop art bursting with understated humor and neverending visual and verbal delights, a "cartoon masterpiece" that's "pure charm, expressed in fantastical imagery."

One of my all-time faves.
posted by muckster at 4:53 AM on March 30, 2002

"Who's the old man?"

"Paul's grandfather."

"He's so clean!"
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:26 AM on March 30, 2002

Muckster and I are as one. I love Yellow Submarine--and you haven't seen it until you've seen it on a big screen with good sound. The moment when "It's All Too Much," a song I've never had much use for otherwise, bursts onto the screen at the climax is...glorious.
posted by rodii at 9:41 AM on March 30, 2002

Well, my favourite Beatles movie is *glances round furtively* Help! *dives into foxhole*
It's ridiculous, the acting is nothing short of dreadful, the plot makes little sense, it's full of racial stereotypes that at best can be described as dated... but it's so funny. Ringo makes me crack up every time he delivers a line:
'There's more to this than meets the eye.'
Apparently, the sporadic changes of venue came about after Paul took some advice from a friend who wrote screenplays. He recommended that you think of somewhere you've never been, like the Bahamas, then begin... 'The sun is rising on a sandy white beach in the Bahamas...' They'd never been to Switzerland or Stone Henge either, apparently.
posted by RokkitNite at 3:51 PM on March 30, 2002

Wasn't John going to be in Jodorowsky's film "The Holy Mountain"?
posted by davidgentle at 10:32 PM on March 30, 2002

Its all about the soundtrack. "There probably would've been some good songs coming off the album," Jackson said of the Beatles' plan.
posted by schlyer at 5:40 PM on March 31, 2002

The quality of Beatles films may be questionable, but they sure as hell made better movies with their own material than other people did with Beatles material. I mean, just look. (If you're wondering who the Fourth Bee Gee is, it's Peter Frampton.)
posted by aaron at 8:05 PM on March 31, 2002

If we're including non-Beatles-made movies in the pantheon of badness, I have to vote for All This and World War II as the absolute worst. And I say this as a Beatles fan.
posted by yhbc at 8:16 PM on March 31, 2002

To be fair, though, Wonderwall was probably the nadir. Again, spoken as a Beatles - and George - fan.
posted by yhbc at 8:21 PM on March 31, 2002

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