4. Subtle book references

gandalf sleeping

We've gone over a few neat book references already, but there are way too many to count. They're usually nestled in little moments that last just a few seconds. Above you can see Gandalf "sleeping" with his eyes wide open. This is actually briefly mentioned in Tolkien's text.

Driven by some impulse that he did not understand, Pippin walked softly to where Gandalf lay. He looked down at him. The wizard seemed asleep, but with lids not fully closed: there was a glitter of eyes under his long lashes. Pippin stepped back hastily. But Gandalf made no sign; and drawn forward once more, half against his will, the hobbit crept up again from behind the wizard's head.

PJ and crew seem pretty fond of oblique references to the books. There's a funny exchange midway through the Two Towers that is played for laughs, but has real basis in the lore.

dwarf men women

We're led to believe that Aragorn is joking, but he's not. In Middle-earth, dwarven women really do have beards. This is implied in Tolkien's appendices, which state that they are "in appearance" much like the males, which would imply said facial hair.

It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. 

Indeed, if you're quick enough you can spot a few female dwarves in the Hobbit films. 

Some of the references are a little more overt, though still relatively obscure to the average viewer. 

shortcut for mushrooms

This exchange probably got a chuckle out of fans, who know that "A Shortcut for Mushrooms" is the name of a chapter in The Lord of the Rings text. 

Whenever the films veer off too far from the source material, these kinds of winks and nods bring it back a little. They're the filmmakers' way of saying "Look, it's a movie, so we have to change some things. But that doesn't mean we don't want to be faithful." No other quote encapsulates this more than this scene during Return of the King, when Sam and Frodo desperately try to survive the battle at Osgiliath. 

by rights we shouldnt even be here

Sam is right, they shouldn't be there. In the books, Frodo and Sam aren't in Osgiliath at the time of the battle. Whether this was intentional on the part of the screenwriters is unclear, but even if they didn't do this on purpose, they should probably take credit.  


3. The pun-filled dwarves of The Hobbit movies

hobbit dwarves

It's easy to forget now, but the dwarves originally didn't really have much in the ways of personality. Apart from a couple exceptions like Thorin, the book depicts the gang as this mass of names, hobbling along from place to place on the mine cart ride to Smaugtown. The challenge of bringing those dwarves to life is reportedly what drove Peter Jackson away from adapting the book for so long. Before Jackson decided that he really did want to take back the reigns, Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro was set to helm just a pair of Hobbit movies. Though he was not really involved in the project, it seems as though some of Del Toro's designs may have made it to the final product

In an interview, Del Toro admitted that he was punning it up when it came to the character designs for the dwarves. "Thorin" was to have a "thorny" helmet, just because the words sound similar. That didn't pan out, of course, but that didn't stop fans over at TheOneRing from making some very convincing observations regarding other possible punnage involving the remaining dwarves. 

oin hobbit

In the film, the dwarf Oin is depicted as having a hearing problem. This could very well be because the Mexican-born Del Toro is using a linguistic pun. See, "Oin" sounds a lot like the Spanish word "oyen," which means "they hear." This would explain the earhorn Oin has on his person at all times.

Then there's Ori.

ori hobbit

We mentioned Ori and his skeleton a bit earlier, but he might very well have his own pun name.  Some speculate that Del Toro pulled from the Spanish word "orar" or to pray, which explains why Ori looks a bit like a monk. 


Bifur is probably the strongest case for the yet-confirmed pun details. While there are some that take this to mean "bi-fur" as in "two furs" and point to the twin colors of his hair, others refer to the word "bifurcated" which literally means "split in two." That would also explain the axe blade in Bifur's forehead. 


2. Meaningful mistakes

mistakes lotr

No one can blame them. The Lord of the Rings movies were made on an unprecedented scale with so much stuff going on, so a few flubs here and there are bound to make through the editing stage. It's not really fun to poke at things that are only visible via zoomed-in freeze frame, but the best kinds of "movie mistakes" give an insight onto how the movie was made.

One small tidbit you won't ever be able to unsee after this involves the clasps that hold together the Fellowship's elven cloaks. These leaf-shaped brooches flip around from time to time, sometimes flipping back within seconds. This probably isn't a costuming gaffe as much as it is evidence that this particlar shot was mirrored.

That's not the only wardrobe malfunction.

mistakes lotr

At certain points during the films, you can spot the filthy hobbitses filthy prosthetic feet -- or as humans call them, shoes. No one expects Elijah Wood to walk in the snow barefoot, but it's still interesting to get a peek at the solution they came up with for that problem. 

Maybe the most famous flubs of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy might be considered a myth. It occurs in the first film, when Sam and Frodo are about to go further from home than they've ever gone before.   

See that glint of light in the background, on the horizon and above the smoke? That's what many people claim is a car driving by. It's supported by a moving trail of dust in the next shot. They scrubbed out the windshield glare for the home release, but it managed to make it onto an Academy screener that was sent out to voters. So of course it got leaked onto the internet.