Christopher Lee’s Disappointment and Boycott of the Lord of the Rings Adaptation
Christopher Lee, Disappointed with this Adaptation, Boycotts the Preview
In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Saruman, the powerful mage, meets his defeat in the second film: The Two Towers. Treebeard and his army of Ents conquer Saruman’s empire. However, the actual death scene of Saruman was intended to be shown at the start of the third part, the Return of the King. Surprisingly, when the final cut of the film was presented to the team in 2003, Christopher Lee, the actor playing Saruman, discovered that his character’s death scene was missing.
Christopher Lee, disappointed with this adaptation, explains that the scene of his character’s death was of utmost importance to him. He was so dissatisfied with the omission that he decided not to attend the preview screening of the film. It’s worth noting that Lee was a devoted fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work and had even met the author in his younger years. He believed it was crucial for the film adaptation to stay true to the original literary works. Therefore, the absence of Saruman in the third film was a personal insult to him, especially since the cut scene differed from the one described in the book.
Peter Jackson’s Justification for this Decision
At the time, director Peter Jackson explained his reasons for excluding Saruman’s death scene from the final cut of the film. According to Jackson, the scene lasted 7 minutes and couldn’t be fit into the second film after the conclusion of the Helm’s Deep battle. In the scene, Saruman is stabbed in the back by Grima, a secondary antagonist, on top of a tower. However, in the book, Saruman is killed by Grima in the Hobbits’ land after he has taken control of it. This leads to a final battle to reclaim the Shire. The scene at the top of the tower had little connection to the events of the third film but primarily belonged to those of the second film. Therefore, it would have felt artificial to include it in the editing of the last film. Perhaps if Saruman’s death had aligned with Tolkien’s version, occurring in the land of the Hobbits, Christopher Lee could have seen himself in The Return of the King.