Everything you don't know about The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Everything you don't know about The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Everything you don't know about The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is available from today on Prime Video. Let's find out together some curiosities about the first chapter of the trilogy awaiting the arrival of The Rings of Power, or the "prequel" TV series to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, on Prime Video, starting tomorrow 2 September.

To subscribe to the Amazon Prime Video streaming service, also taking advantage of the 30-day trial, you can use this link. Tolkien's Legendarium has always been very difficult to deal with. A situation that even gets worse when you have to deal directly with The Lord of the Rings. In fact, although this great fantasy novel is only a small part of Tolkien's epic, it was also that part that crossed the page and landed on the screen. Therefore fans are if possible even more prepared and competent. After having explored the curiosities and background on the Peter Jackson trilogy, today we return to the written page to tell you about The Two Towers. A comparison with films will be inevitable, but necessary to understand the natural adaptation and comparison that occurs when one passes from literature to cinema.

Not three books, but six

Let's start by debunking the most widespread myth: Le Due Torri, technically speaking, is neither a stand-alone book nor a “second part”. Tolkien has always conceived his Lord of the Rings as a unicum, developed starting from The Hobbit and then expanded by elements taken from the Silmarillion, the great mythological background of his legendarium. The Professor's initial intention was in fact to publish The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion together, the former being the chronologically most recent part of history.

Tolkien was held back in this intent by the post-war contingency: already at the time of the Second World War he had encountered various inconveniences, including the lack of writing paper. Even after the conflict things had not changed: hence the decision both to publish only The Lord of the Rings, and to divide it. These would become the three parts that the whole world knows today: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

So far, all information is known even to those not accustomed to literature. There are two things unknown to those of The Lord of the Rings who only know cinema: the fact that originally there were six books and the controversy over the titles. Let's go in order: before the division desired by the publisher, Tolkien's novel had already been divided by the author into six "books". Each part therefore contains two and The Two Towers is composed of the third and fourth, respectively The Betrayal of Isengard and The Journey to Mordor. The latter are, however, unofficial titles, suggested by Tolkien in one of his letters. In the official editions, the six books have no title.

The Due Torri, from Fosso to Trombatorrione

Just open the book of Le Due Torri to immediately notice the first difference. The funeral of Boromir is in fact described immediately, while in the film it serves as a gloss to the first film. Few shots show his body being swallowed by the Rauros waterfalls together with the funeral boat.

Another difference between the book and the film of Le Due Torri lies in the way in which the two key battles of the story are narrated. Both present in the third book, an entire chapter is dedicated to that of Helm's Deep. The event, however, in the book is called the Battle of the Trombatorrione, and it is not his nephew Éomer who comes to the aid of the besieged Théoden, but Marshal Erkenbrand. He is a wise advisor to the king of Rohan, and whom Gandalf had taken on the task of tracking down. In the film, Erkenbrand was cut for two reasons. The first is the lightening of the events: the character has no further important roles after the Ditch. The second is to make the closing of the battle more epic: the arrival of Éomer takes on the further meaning (symbolic, since they are uncle and nephew) of the son who saves his father from certain death.

Another obvious difference is in the way the story of Merry, Pippin and the Ents is treated. The discovery of the two Hobbits is the same, but in the original Treebeard he spares no details about his race. This narrative device is at the origin of one of the moments of the narrative with the most poems ever. So much so that Treebeard himself introduces himself to the two Hobbits with a poem in which he lists all the races of Middle-earth. In this poem, however, the Hobbits are missing: Pippin gains the first hints of esteem for Treebeard when he completes it by creating the verse:

Hobbits half grown up / Those who live in holes (2002 Bompiani edition, p. 568)

In the following moments Treebeard continues with the details, also speaking of the fact that only the Ents of his race remained, who took care of the trees. But equally he remembers how there were also Entesse (women) who took care of the crops. He then mentions the existence of the Entini (that is, the children) and even the Entellas (the girls). They are all linguistic divertissements of Tolkien, who derived the term Ent from the Anglo-Saxon, where it has the generic meaning of "giant" (it derives from the ancient Germanic etunaz, a term from which the Scandinavian jotunn would later also derive).

Gollum, once Dìgol

Battles aside, one of the reasons why The Two Towers is memorable lies in the first appearance (second, for readers of The Hobbit) of Gollum on stage. This curious being, not evil but hopelessly corrupt, is the most controversial and fascinating character in history. Part of his charm is that even Tolkien didn't have a clear idea of ​​his nature. A doubt that, at the time of Bilbo's adventure, he also extended to the Ring.

The Professor overlooked the two issues in The Hobbit, but had to dissolve them when he decided to reinsert both of them in The Lord of the Rings. In the end he decided to give the being the name Dìgol, expanding its role and clarifying its origins as Hobbit sturoi. This is one of the three sub-races into which Tolkien divides the Hobbits in the introduction to The Lord of the Rings: the other two are the Pelopods and the Paloids.

Later, however, he changed the name of the character to the one we all know today, that is Sméagol; his first name (adapted to Déagol) went to his faithful friend and the first victim of greed arising from the One Ring. And given Tolkien's Catholic beliefs, it doesn't take long to associate the murder of Déagol as a reference to the biblical episode of Cain and Abel.

Contrary to his tragic narrative background, Tolkien's initial intentions were to turn Gollum into a positive character. In the first drafts of the future second chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf says that Gollum was happy to give the Ring to Bilbo. Indeed, the riddle challenge we see in The Hobbit was a sure win situation for him. If Bilbo had lost, Gollum would have eaten him; if Bilbo had won, Gollum would have freed himself from the torment that the Ring gave him.

Gandalf narrates all this to Hobbit Bingo Baggins, a "provisional" version of Frodo. Although Gollum's basic role has not changed, curiously at one point Tolkien had even toyed with the idea of ​​letting him find a "second Ring". The author would then have discarded all these ideas in favor of the sequence of events as we read it today.

Samvise Gamgee and the Ring

In the book of The Two Towers, after having recounted the Battle of the Trumpeter and the destruction of Isengard by the Ent (the latter not described directly), Tolkien rewinds time and resumes narrating about Frodo and Sam. The two, in the same days, meet Gollum and cross the Dead Marshes. They then arrive at Shelob's Lair, unaware that they are about to be trapped. The hostile giant spider is in fact an omnipresent topos in Tolkien's works, which in this way literally exorcizes one of his most ancestral fears. In fact, he suffered from arachnophobia, derived from a childhood trauma. Still a child and born in South Africa, the author was stung by a tarantula while he was in the garden of his house.

The story of Shelob on film was moved to The Return of the King, where instead the end of the Battle of Helm's Deep and the first hints of Gollum's plan to betray Frodo and Sam acted as gloss. This different order of events leads us to what is probably the most obvious difference between books and films.

It is an event between The Two Towers and The Return of the King: Frodo is captured by the spider Shelob and saved by Sam Gamgee. The good Hobbit, believing his master dead, after crying for him decides to carry on his mission by taking the Ring from him. The literary Two Towers ends thus, with Sam learning indirectly from the Orcs that Frodo is alive and that they will take him prisoner to Cirith Ungol.

Tolkien would resume narrate Sam's release of Frodo only much later in The Return of the King. Before that he would have exhausted both the siege of Minas Tirith and the last heroic stand of Aragorn and his army in front of the Black Gate. Clearly in the films the detail that Sam had taken the Ring is kept under wraps for reasons of cinematic suspense. What also the films do not show is how, even in the short time in which he wears it, the Ring tries to corrupt Sam himself.

"His thoughts turned to the Ring, but he did not find it no comfort, only fear and danger. As soon as he spotted Mount Doom burning in the distance, Sam had noticed a change in his burden. As he approached the immense furnaces where, in the abyss of time, he had been modeled and forged, the Power of the Ring increased, and it became heavier and heavier: only a powerful willpower could have tamed it. " (2002 Bompiani edition, p. 1077)

For a day and a night, the good Gamgee is in fact tempted with renewed strength by the jewel. A strength that comes from having realized that he is now very close to his master Sauron. Tolkien does not spare himself to describe the temptations of the Ring itself, portraying them as "imaginative madness". Sam sees himself as Samvise the Strong, the Hero of the Era who, raising his sword of fire to the sky, summoned armies that destroyed Barad-Dûr. A vision that continued with the unlikely transformation of the valley of Gorgoroth into a lush orchard.

One last detail: another effect of the Ring on Sam is like make him feel oppressed by an inexplicable big black shadow. This description may have been visually cited in the third film. Here Sam, going up by Cirith Ungol, scares some Orcs from around a corner by roaring and casting a gigantic shadow.

Conclusion: the value of the little ones

Sam would have been able to resist this only because he was motivated by the desire to free Frodo from his captivity. The Calculation of the Years of The Lord of the Rings (Appendix B) in fact tells us that Sam was the Bearer of the Ring from March 13 to 14, 3019 of the Third Era. From this Appendix it is also known that in those same days Minas Tirith is besieged. The next day (March 15, 3019) Théoden would arrive, starting the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. It was probably this contemporaneity that prompted Peter Jackson and his collaborators to move the Cirith Ungol story to the third film.

From undefined roles to the effort in pairing distant parallel events, the gestation of Le Due Torri suffered from the problems of any "central episode". And this happened on paper as well as on film. So much so that Tolkien himself had initially thought of turning towards a more "positive" and "fairytale" conception. Only then would he change his mind, in order to set the stage for the great conclusion. A victory of the Good where the light breaks through the misfortune in the darkest moment.

And in some ways, perhaps it is better that it went like this. Not so much because of the "doubts" about Déagol's introduction, but rather because the discovery of a "second Ring" by Gollum would have made Frodo's enterprise lose all its narrative importance. This second example belittled both the component of greed and the most important theme of the story, which came out only in the revision phase. This theme was like having to win a war that the little ones and the last did not want, and that above all there is redemption for them too.

If you want to compare yourself with Tolkien's original work in the new Italian translation, here you will find The Two Towers!

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