How it happens in the movie:
The scene opens with Frodo and Sam, dressed in orc gear, stumbling across a desolate landscape scattered with boulders and devoid of life. Smoke billows and blows around them. They trudge along, each step a challenge. They stop to look at Barad-dûr and Mount Doom. Smoke rises from Mount Doom. Its dome is an angry red. Burning rocks litter the landscape. The Eye sweeps the landscape. Thunder rolls: lightening strikes. Dark clouds fill the sky. The hobbits climb a steep, rocky cliff. When Frodo can go no further he falls to the ground. Sam looks down on him. Frodo has difficulty breathing. His face clearly shows exhaustion. In a raspy voice he says, ‘I can’t. I can’t… I can’t manage the ring Sam. It’s… it’s… it’s such a weight to carry. It… such a weight.’ Sam takes off his helmet and says calmly as if to reassure Frodo, ‘We’re going that way. Straight as we can.’ He gestures towards Mount Doom with his sword. ‘There’s no point in carrying anything we’re not sure to need.’ The hobbits throw their orc gear over a cliff. Last of all Sam throws over his pots and pans, which hit the rocks with a loud clang. They then rest against a rock. Sam is visibly shivering. Frodo lies still. A light crosses Sam’s face; he looks up and sees a white star emerge from behind grey clouds. He says, ‘Mr. Frodo. Look. There is light and beauty up there that no shadow can touch.’ Frodo opens his eyes briefly. When Sam looks down upon his face, he appears to be asleep. His breathing is laboured and raspy. The camera pulls away from the hobbits. They are sitting under a rock outcropping. Barad-dûr is behind them; the Eye is sweeping the ground above them. Thunder rumbles in the background.

The scene switches briefly to Aragorn and company coming within sight of the Black Gate and then switches back to Frodo and Sam.

Frodo, gasping, shakily holds a water skin over his mouth. He shakes it and tosses it to the ground. Sam says, ‘Take mine. There’s a few drops left.’ Both hobbits are filthy; their eyes are red, their lips parched. Frodo gratefully finishes the water and says, ‘There will be none left for the return journey.’ Sam replies earnestly, ‘I don’t think there will be a return journey Mr. Frodo.’ Frodo looks at Sam with understanding. Sam holds out his hand. Frodo grabs it and staggers to his feet.

The scene switches briefly back to Aragorn and company. The troops are falling into line in front of the Black Gate. The scene switches back to Frodo and Sam.

Frodo is staggering and clasping onto the Ring tightly. Sam is close behind. As Frodo walks, he swipes his right arm through the air as if to ward off some danger. Eerie music plays in the background. Sam watches him with concern. Frodo falls to his knees looking dazed. With both hands, he flails at some dreadful thing that only he can see. His neck is badly chafed from the weight of the Ring pulling down the chain. He pulls himself up; his eyes open wide and are full of fear. He turns around slowly and looks directly at the Eye. Sam yells, ‘Frodo get down! Hide!’ Sam throws himself on the ground. Frodo’s eyes open wide as he looks directly into the evil Eye. A disembodied pulse beat, deep and distressing, permeates the sky. Frodo falls heavily to the ground, his eyes wide open and staring. Sam looks in Frodo’s direction and then ducks as the eye continues to sweep the area.

The scene opens with Sam crawling up the slope of Mount Doom. He reaches Frodo who has collapsed face down above and gently turns him over. Sam cradles Frodo in his arms. He turns his head and looks up at the fiery dome above. The slope of Mount Doom is scattered with volcanic rock and debris. Smoke rises from hotspots in the earth. Behind the hobbits, balls of fire catapult to the ground. Grey clouds fill the sky. Both hobbits are grimy, their lips swollen and chapped. Sam’s eyes are red. Overcome with emotion, Sam looks down at Frodo and says, ‘Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo?’ Frodo does not respond. He lies limp in Sam’s arms. Sam, near tears, continues: ‘It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields…’ Frodo looks at Sam. ‘And eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?’ Frodo, his brow furrowed, answers hoarsely, ‘No, Sam. I can’t recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass.’ Breathlessly he says, ‘I’m naked in the dark.’ Sam’s face is one of abject misery as he listens to Frodo. ‘There’s… there’s nothing. No veil between me and the wheel of fire.’ Frodo’s voice becomes increasingly desperate. His staring eyes open wide. ‘I can see him with my waking eyes.’ Sam responds resolutely to Frodo, ‘Then let us be rid of it once and for all.’ Frodo looks up at Sam with staring, fearful eyes. With great resolve Sam says, ‘C’mon Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you. Come on.’ He picks up Frodo and puts him over his shoulder holding his legs with one arm and one of Frodo’s arms with the other. With grim determination and focus on their destination, Sam takes one tentative step forward and then another and another.

Scene # 67: THE LAST MOVE
The two armies face each other in front of the Black Gate. Barad-dûr and Mount Doom are visible at a distance through the open gate. The Eye’s light shines directly upon Aragorn, and Sauron in a deep voice slowly says, ‘Aragorn.’ Aragorn steps forward while Legolas and Gandalf watch with concern. Sauron slowly whispers, ‘Elessar.’ Aragorn turns back to his troops and quietly says, ‘For Frodo.’ He turns back to the Black Gate, raises his sword, and rushes towards the enemy. Pippin and Merry shout and follow. With a great battle cry Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf, Éomer, and the other troops quickly follow. The armies clash together in a furious battle.

Scene # 68: MOUNT DOOM
The scene opens with Sam still carrying Frodo. Sam is clearly exhausted, grunting and struggling with each step. He climbs up onto a rock, and with relief says, ‘Look Mr. Frodo. A doorway. We’re almost there.’ As Sam passes by a rock ledge, he hears Gollum’s voice, ‘Clever Hobbits, to climb so high!’ Sam looks up at him stunned. Gollum pounces on them before the word, ‘high’ leaves his mouth. He pulls Frodo away from Sam, and they fall heavily rolling down the rock. Frodo attempts to scramble away, but Gollum reaches him, turns him over, and grasps his throat with both hands; he next takes one hand off Frodo’s throat and uses the other to pin Frodo’s left arm to the ground. He says venomously, ‘Mustn’t go that way. Mustn’t hurt the precious.’ Sam lies dazed on the ground. Frodo responds hoarsely, ‘You swore! You swore on the precious!’ Gollum sarcastically responds, ‘Oo, a hoo, hoo.’ Desperately Frodo says, ‘Sméagol promised!’ to which Gollum flatly answers, ‘Sméagol lied.’ Gollum, uttering ghastly sounds, chokes Frodo with both hands. Sam recovers, picks up a rock nearby and aims it at Gollum. It hits Gollum hard on the right forehead. Gollum releases his grip on Frodo’s neck and tumbles down a nearby hill. Frodo coughs. Gollum holds his head for a moment and then advances on Frodo. Sam yells and leaps on Gollum. Locked together in rage, the two of them tumble down the rocky hill.

The scene switches to the furious battle in front of the Black Gate. The Nazgûl screeching swoop down over the Black Gate to the join the battle.

The scene switches back to Sam and Gollum still furiously fighting. Gollum tosses Sam away from him and manages to grab Sam’s head in both hands and smash it against a rock. Sam is dazed for a moment. Gollum bites him hard on the left shoulder. Sam yells in pain and pushes Gollum aside. Gollum lunges again. Sam draws Sting and slices Gollum just below his right ribs. Gollum screams. Sam turns, looks up, and calls out to Frodo. Frodo is running up the mountain towards the doorway; he stares up and reaches for the Ring.

The scene switches from Frodo and Sam to the battle in front of the Black Gate. A Nazgûl swoops down to attack. A moth messenger comes to Gandalf and flutters away. The cry of an eagle is heard as it strikes a Nazgûl. More eagle cries are heard. Pippin shouts excitedly, ‘Eagles. The eagles are coming!’ Five great eagles ferociously attack the Nazgûl and their Fell Beasts.

The scene switches back to Sam and Frodo. Sam frantically climbs up the mountain after Frodo. The volcano’s crater burns brightly through fiery veins that streak down its cone. Lava flows through fissures. Black smoke and ash spew into the air. Sam sees Frodo run through the doorway into Mount Doom and follows. The cavern is filled with great rumbling noises and loud crashing sounds. The ground shakes, and Sam has difficulty keeping his balance. He shouts out Frodo’s name. The smoke in front of Sam’s face dissipates and then he sees Frodo standing with his head bent at the edge of the abyss – at the very Crack of Doom, motionless. Frodo turns and looks forlornly at Sam. He says, ‘I’m here Sam.’ Sam yells at Frodo to destroy the Ring. Frodo turns away and looks at the Ring in his hand. He lifts the chain and holds the Ring over the edge of the chasm. Sam prompts Frodo, ‘Go on! Now! Throw it in the fire!’ Frodo stares at the Ring; he takes in several hurried breaths of air. He looks down at the churning lava below. He wavers. Anxiously, Sam calls out, ‘What are you waiting for? Just let it go!’ Frodo stares mesmerized at the Ring swaying back and forth on its chain. A deep throbbing heartbeat sound is heard. The Ring seems to talk to Frodo. Frodo’s eyes widen. He turns to Sam; his head is slightly bent and his eyes have a vacant, possessed look about them. He says clearly, ‘The Ring is mine.’ Frodo pulls the Ring off its chain and holds it in front of his left index finger. Sam is overcome with grief and mutters, ‘No… no.’ Frodo eases the Ring closer to his finger and smiles maliciously. He puts it on and disappears. Sam screams, ‘No.’

The scene switches back to the Black Gate. At the very moment that Frodo puts on the Ring, the Eye turns towards the doorway leading into Mount Doom. The Nazgûl turn and rush towards Mount Doom.

Bewildered and in shock, Sam sees Frodo’s footprints in the ashen dust of the cavern’s floor. He looks frantically around. Gollum suddenly appears behind Sam’s left shoulder and hits him hard on the back of the head with a rock. Sam falls to the ground unconscious. Gollum’s eyes follow Frodo’s footprints in the ash. He drops the rock and like a mad thing leaps on Frodo. Frodo, unseen, yells and fights back.

The scene switches back to the Black Gate. A huge troll attacks Aragorn who furiously fights back.

Back at the Crack of Doom, near the edge of the precipice, Gollum is swaying about and grappling with what seems to be thin air; Sam recovers briefly. Gollum grabs something with both hands bringing it to his mouth. He bites down hard pulling away. There is a crunching sound. Suddenly, with a scream of agony, Frodo reappears on his knees, cradling his bleeding hand, and yelling in pain.

The scene switches back to Aragorn’s fight with the troll. The troll hits Aragorn with such brute force that he falls headfirst to the ground, as Legolas looks on horrified.

The scene switches back to Frodo, who falls on the ground in front of Sam, holding his bleeding, injured hand. Gollum, with a look of ecstasy in his eyes, takes the Ring off Frodo’s severed finger and drops the finger to the ground. Standing upright, he holds the Ring high above his head and examines it. The Ring mesmerizes him; he takes a step back; but his eyes never leave the Ring.

The scene switches back to Aragorn who turns and sees the great troll coming straight at him. Legolas rushes to help him. He reaches for an arrow and…

The scene switches back to Gollum who ecstatically yells, ‘Yes!’ Frodo looks at him. Gollum leaps in the air smiling and again yells, ‘Yes!’ Gollum joyously gloats, ‘Precious! Precious!’ Frodo stands, his willpower restored, and walks purposefully towards Gollum. Sam looks up as Gollum repeats, ‘Precious! Precious!’ Gollum is leaping about in the air laughing with delight and oblivious to Frodo’s approach. Frodo, with teeth clenched, attacks Gollum. They fight furiously.

The scene switches back to the great troll who has now reached Aragorn. He roars loudly and pins Aragorn to the ground with his huge foot. Aragorn draws a dagger and buries it deep in the troll’s foot. Gandalf looks on.

Back at Mount Doom, Frodo and Gollum continue their struggle for possession of the Ring. Gollum bends backwards slightly over the chasm; both he and Frodo loose their footing and plunge over the edge. As Gollum falls, he smiles. His eyes fixate upon the Ring, which he holds out between two fingers. He drops the Ring into his palm and clasps both hands around it. As he continues to drop, he closes his eyes smiling. And then he hits the flowing lava. As Gollum sinks into the burning lava, he looks up at the Ring holding it aloft on his uplifted palm; his face is a mixture of surprise and sadness. Then he is gone. The Ring floats on the river of lava. Above, Frodo is dangling; he is barely hanging onto the rock with his right hand. Sam scrambles to the edge of the precipice, looks over and sees Frodo. He extends his hand and tells Frodo to give him his hand. Elven writing appears on the inside of the Ring, as it slowly begins to sink. Sam desperately yells to Frodo, ‘Take my hand!’ Frodo reaches for Sam’s hand with his bloody hand. It slips and he nearly falls. Frodo looks down into the river of fire below, and then he looks back at Sam despondently. Sam says firmly, ‘Don’t you let go. Don’t let go. Reach!’ With great effort, Frodo reaches for Sam’s hand; Sam clasps on. The Ring sinks into the lava and is gone.

When the Ring disappears into the river of fire, the Eye falters. A long screeching sound fills the air. Aragorn stands as the troll drops his weapons, turns abruptly and runs off. In slow motion, Gandalf, Legolas, and Aragorn look towards the Eye. Dark clouds swirl around the Iron Crown of the tower. The tower begins to crumble and fall, as the Eye looks frantically around. Now all of those under Aragorn’s command are watching. Gandalf has tears in his eyes and a look of understanding on his face. There is a great explosion and the debris of the tower rushes foreword like a great wave. Merry joyfully calls out Frodo’s name raising his sword high. Gimli smiles. A deep whooshing sound fills the air. Behind the Black Gate, a tremendous hole opens up in the earth. It quickly grows and swallows up everything in its path. Orcs flee frantically from the scene or are swallowed up. The watch towers and the Black Gate collapse and fall into it. Mount Doom erupts with a tremendous explosion. Merry backs up with a look of shock on his face. A tear flows down Gandalf’s cheek as he contemplates Frodo and Sam’s fate. Aragorn and Gimli look on stunned. The Nazgûl fly into the flames and fall. Pippin sobs uncontrollably in grief calling out Frodo’s name.

Frodo and Sam run from the precipice. The rock is breaking up and falling into the river of fire behind them. Lava splashes up. As they run through the door, a great flow of lava follows them. Sam gives Frodo a good push over a ravine onto an adjacent rock. He follows. Fiery rocks are catapulted from the volcano. Frodo and Sam climb higher on the rock. Frodo is breathless and looks both shocked and relieved. He says, ‘It’s gone. It’s done.’ Overcome with emotion, Sam replies, ‘Yes, Mr. Frodo. It’s over now.’ Frodo smiles at Sam. The ground rumbles and shakes. They climb as high as they can on the rock as lava bubbles and splatters around them. They are now on an island of rock amid a sea of boiling lava. Frodo lies down exhausted. He closes his eyes and says softly to Sam sitting beside him, ‘I can see the Shire. The Brandywine River. Bag End. Gandalf’s fireworks. The lights in the Party Tree.’ Sam adds, ‘Rosie Cotton dancing. She had ribbons in her hair.’ Frodo looks at Sam. Sam says, ‘If ever I was to marry someone it would’ve been her.’ Sam dissolves in misery and repeats with a choked voice, ‘It would’ve been her.’ Frodo sits up and puts his arm around Sam to comfort him. Sam is sobbing so hard his whole body shakes. A tear runs down Frodo’s cheek. He touches heads with Sam and says, ‘I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee… here at the end of all things.’ The screen fades to black.

Frodo and Sam lie unconscious on the rock surrounded by lava. Three large eagles approach. Gandalf is riding on the back of the leader. The eagle that Gandalf is riding picks up Frodo in his claws and one of the others picks up Sam. Frodo, semiconscious, looks up briefly and then falls unconscious again. The screen fades to white.

Ted Nasmith – Endgame On the Mountain (detail)

How it happens in the book:
The chapter opens with Frodo and Sam in the shallow pit, which they had fallen into at the end of the previous chapter. Sam covers them both with his elven-cloak hoping that it will somehow protect them from the terror of Mordor. He hears the last of the orc troops pass through the Isenmouthe. He sips some water and urges Frodo to drink. He gives Frodo a whole wafer of the elven waybread. The hobbits sleep. Their sleep is fitful: the rocks irritate them and they shiver from the cold.

They wake to a grey morning. There is nothing on the road. To the southeast Mount Doom spews forth smoke. Sam estimates that it is ‘every step of fifty miles’ to the mountain and that it will ‘take a week, if it takes a day, with Mr. Frodo as he is.’ A dark mood envelops Sam. His usually staunch optimism turns to pessimism. He is now without hope. Sam has always planned for their journey home, but now he realizes that their provisions may get them to their goal but no further. Now it hits him: they would not be going home. Sam thinks, ‘So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started: to help Mr. Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is the job then I must do it.’ He longs to see Bywater, Rosie Cotton and her brothers, his Gaffer, and Marigold again. He does not believe that Gandalf would have sent Frodo on a journey with no hope of return. Sam gathers his strength and resolve. His face grows stern as his will hardens; excitement floods his body. He feels unstoppable in his determination to do whatever it takes to fulfil the quest. He considers his next move. Looking around he observes that the plains of Gorgoroth are not flat. Great holes pit the landscape. Fissures radiate from the largest of these holes. It would be possible to creep and hide from place to place in this dark land.

He returns to Frodo who is staring at the cloudy sky. Sam suggests that they be on their way. He asks Frodo if he is able to continue, to which Frodo replies, ‘I can manage it. I must.’ The hobbits crawl from hollow to hollow towards the foothills of the northern mountains. Neither man nor orc move across the plains of Gorgoroth. The Dark Lord is assembling his troops behind the Black Gate. Even in his own land, Sauron prefers the night. Sauron ponders how things have turned against him, and about the two spies free in his land. After several hours of stumbling and crawling, the hobbits stop. Frodo is near collapse. Sam decides to ‘trust to luck’ and go back to the road; Frodo is too consumed with his burden to care, and he has almost given up hope. The hobbits, at great risk, walk wearily along the road that leads to the Black Tower itself. Luck does not fail them. They encounter no living thing all that long day. At night, they disappear into the obscurity of Mordor. The land itself seems to sense some immense upheaval. The Captains of the West are now beyond the Cross-roads, and the fields of Imlad Morgul are burning.

Frodo and Sam continue their horrendous journey. Each day, each mile, and each step is more trying than the one before. As the hobbits’ strength weakens, Mordor’s evil increases. During the nights, Frodo and Sam cower and sleep uneasily. Occasionally they hear shouts, the tramping of feet, or the sound of a swift-moving beast. Worse than all the perils they encounter is the Power, the impending threat, which grows with each minute and each step: ‘Nearer and nearer it drew, looming blacker, like the oncoming of a wall of night at the last end of the world.’

Four days after the hobbits escape from the orcs, the Captains of the West near the ends of the living lands. All this long day Frodo does not speak, and he walks bent over. He stumbles, as if not seeing where he is going. Sam deduces that Frodo endures the greatest pain, the burden of the weight of the ring. It is not only affecting Frodo’s body but his mind as well. Concerned, Sam observes Frodo raise his left hand as if to fend off a blow or to shield his eyes from the perilous, probing Eye. At times, Frodo’s right hand grasps the Ring and then slowly, as if regaining self-control, releases it. A night of dark despair enshrouds them.

Frodo sits with his head between his knees, his arms are limp on the ground, and his hands twitch. Sam watches Frodo but cannot think of any words to say. Sam is weary and fearful, but he still has some strength left. Without lembas, the hobbits would have perished long ago. The waybread of the Elves has an unforeseen virtue. It does not satisfy the desire for food, but it does nourish the body, feed the will, and promote stamina and mastery of the body beyond that of mortal man. When only the waybread is relied upon, its effectiveness increases. The hobbits must now turn due south towards the mountain. To reach Mount Doom they must cross ‘a wide region of fuming, barren, ash-ridden land.’ Sam murmurs, ‘Water, water!’ He has denied himself; his tongue is thick in his parched mouth. His water bottle is only half full, and they still have several days to travel. Sam had found some stale water the day before, but he sees no hope of finding more now. Sam drowses; his mind fills with terrifying sounds and images. From time to time, he wakes with a jolt only to find a black emptiness around him. On one occasion, he believes that he sees pale eyes that flicker and quickly disappear. That dreadful night passes slowly.

The daylight is dim, obscured by the murky airs emitted from the mountain. And, ‘from the Dark Tower there crept the veils of Shadow that Sauron wove about himself.’ Frodo is not moving. Sam knows that he must persuade Frodo to make another effort. He strokes Frodo’s brow and whispers in his ear, ‘Wake up, Master! Time for another start.’ Frodo gets up abruptly, looks at the desert and the fiery mountain beyond, and shudders saying, ‘I can’t manage it, Sam,’ he said. ‘It is such a weight to carry, such a weight.’ Sam feels pity for Frodo and answers, ‘Then let me carry it a bit for you, Master. You know I would, and gladly, as long as I have any strength.’ Sam knows that this is a useless suggestion and possibly even dangerous. Frodo’s eyes light up; he reacts immediately, ‘Stand away! Don’t touch me! It is mine, I say. Be off!’ And then just as quickly his tone changes. He says sadly, ‘No, no, Sam. But you must understand. It is my burden, and no one else can bear it. It is too late now, Sam dear. You can’t help me in that way again. I am almost in its power now. I could not give it up, and if you tried to take it I should go mad.’ Sam says that he understands and suggests that they lighten their load. He points towards Mount Doom and says, ‘We’re going that way now, as straight as we can make it.’

Frodo comments that they will not need much where they are going and at the end nothing. He picks up his orc-shield and his helmet and tosses them aside. He then pulls off the elven cloak, undoes the belt he is wearing and lets it fall to the ground along with the sheathed sword. He tears off shreds of the black cloak and throws them away. Frodo remarks, ‘There, I’ll be an orc no more, and I’ll bear no weapon fair or foul. Let them take me, if they will!’ Sam also discards his orc-gear. He empties his pack. His eyes fill with tears at the thought of parting with his cooking-gear. He asks Frodo if he remembers the piece of rabbit that day in Captain Faramir’s land – the day they saw the oliphaunt. Frodo answers, ‘No, I am afraid not, Sam. At least, I know that such things happened, but I cannot see them. No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark. Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades.’ Sam kisses Frodo’s hand reassuring him that the sooner that they are rid of the Ring the sooner they can rest. Sam collects the things that they had discarded not wanting to leave them for other eyes to see. He remembers how Gollum had picked up Frodo’s cast off orc-mail and does not want the same thing to happen with a sword: ‘His hands are bad enough when empty. And he isn’t going to mess with my pans!’ Sam carries the gear to a gaping fissure and throws it in. The sound of his precious pots and pans as they fall is ‘like a death-knell to his heart.’

Sam cuts off a bit of the elven-rope, which Frodo uses to tie the elven-cloak close around his waist. He puts the rest of the rope inside his pack along with the remainder of the waybread and his water bottle. Sting hangs near his belt and the phial of Galadriel and her gift to him are near his breast in his tunic pocket. The hobbits turn towards Mount Doom thinking only of completing the task. They no longer try to conceal themselves. In this shadowy land, and of all the Dark Lord’s minions, only the Nazgûl are capable of warning him of intruders, but the Nazgûl are far away following the Captains of the West. And the Dark Tower’s thought is with them.

Perhaps because of a lighter load, Frodo seems to have more strength. The hobbits make good progress that day, but as the dim light fades, Frodo stoops and begins to stagger. When at last they stop for the night, Frodo tells Sam that he is thirsty. Sam gives Frodo a sip of water while Sam goes without; only one more precious sip remains. Sam’s thoughts turn to memories of water: every water source he has seen intrudes in his thoughts tormenting him. Unable to sleep, Sam holds a debate with himself. He thinks that in one more day they will reach their destination. He berates himself arguing that Frodo cannot go on like this and neither can he. Sam argues back that he can go on. He asks himself what he will do when he gets to the mountain saying that Frodo will be incapable of doing anything for himself. It occurs to him that he cannot answer this question. He is only vaguely aware that the Ring must be thrown into ‘The Cracks of Doom.’ Frodo might know where that is but Sam does not. He tells himself that he should give up – he will never make it to the top anyway. To that thought Sam replies, ‘I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind. And I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart. So stop arguing!’

Then Sam feels a tremor beneath his feet. The mountain is restless. The final part of the hobbits’ long journey to Orodruin is upon them. It is more excruciating than Sam believes he can bear. He is in pain, and his mouth is so dry that he can no longer swallow even a morsel of food. The sky is dark not only from the smoke emitted by the mountain but also because a storm appears to be brewing. The fumes in the air make it difficult and painful to breathe, and the hobbits become dizzy. Again and again, they stumble and fall. Regardless, their wills remain strong and they struggle on.

They reach the feet of the mountain by nightfall. Frodo collapses with a gasp. Sam, now unburdened with indecision and thoughts of despair, knows that only death will shake his determination to see things through to the end. He knows that ‘all the hazards and perils were now drawing together to a point: the next day would be a day of doom, the day of final effort or disaster, the last gasp.’ On this night time seems endless. In the black of night, Sam reaches out for Frodo’s hand. It is cold and trembling. Frodo is shivering. Concerned, and with no blanket with which to cover Frodo, Sam lies close to him to warm his body. Sleep overcomes him.

On the last day of their quest, Sam struggles to his feet and attempts to wake Frodo. Frodo groans and with an immense effort stands up only to fall down upon his knees. He looks up at Mount Doom and starts to crawl forward on his hands. Sam is moved to tears, but they come not from his dry, burning eyes but rather from his heart. He mutters the promise he had recently made to himself, ‘I said I’d carry him, if it broke my back, and I will!’ He cries, ‘Come, Mr. Frodo! I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get!’ Frodo holds on loosely to Sam’s neck, as Sam grips Frodo’s legs tightly under his arms. Sam staggers to his feet and is surprised to discover that Frodo is not as heavy as he had anticipated. Sam takes a deep breath and begins the ascent up the reviled mountain. He intends to climb as high as he can before his strength and will forsake him. He labours on and on, and up and up, zigzagging to lessen the slope. He crawls on his belly with Frodo still on his back until he can endure no more. Then he puts Frodo gently down.

The air at this higher altitude is easier to breath. Frodo thanks Sam and asks how much further they have to go. Sam admits that he does not know because he does not know where they are going. He looks down and is amazed at how far they have come. They are now about half way up the base of Mount Doom. Sam, looking up, spots a road winding around the mountain and disappearing around its eastern side. He has renewed hope that they might yet triumph over the mountain. He does not know that this particular road is Sauron’s road from Barad-dûr to the Sammath Naur, the Chambers of Fire. It runs from the Dark Tower’s huge western gate to a dark entrance in direct view of the Window of the Eye in Barad-dûr.

Sam wonders how he can reach the path, as he lies next to Frodo to ease his aching back. Suddenly, he feels an urgency to push on, as if he is being called; Frodo seems to feel it too, and gasps, ‘I’ll crawl Sam.’ The hobbits push on until they come to the road. Frodo scrambles up onto the road and slowly, as if he is driven by some power beyond his control, turns towards the east. Swirling clouds disperse Sauron’s shadows briefly, and Frodo looks upon the topmost tower of Barad-dûr. For a moment, he sees the movement of the Eye as its piercing flame of light penetrates northward. Shadows again enshroud the terrible sight. The Eye is turned towards the Captains of the West, and it is ready to strike. Frodo’s glimpse at the Eye has a devastating effect on him. He falls heavily to the ground as if mortally wounded, his hand groping for the chain around his neck.

Frodo whispers to Sam, ‘Help me, Sam! Help me, Sam! Hold my hand! I can’t stop it.’ Sam gently puts Frodo’s hands together, palm to palm, kisses them, and holds them between his own. He lifts Frodo onto his back holding Frodo’s hands to his own breast; Frodo’s legs dangle behind. He lumbers up the road. In many places, the road has crumbled away or has large cracks in it. He follows it east for some time and then turns sharply west. At the bend, it cuts through a cliff of old volcanic rock. As Sam turns the bend, he sees something fall from the cliff. A sudden weight sends him crashing to the ground. He hears Gollum’s venomous voice, ‘Wicked masster! Wicked masster cheats us; cheats Sméagol, gollum. He musstn’t go that way. He musstn’t hurt Preciouss. Give it to Sméagol, yess, give it to us! Give it to uss!’ Sam jumps up drawing his sword, but it is useless. Frodo and Gollum are engaged in a furious battle. Gollum is frantically grabbing at the chain and the Ring around Frodo’s neck. At this point, any attempt to take the Ring is perhaps the only thing that can stir Frodo’s heart and will to action. Sam marvels at Frodo’s strength. Gollum’s has not come through his recent journey unscathed. He is a ‘lean, starved, haggard thing, all bones and tight-drawn sallow skin. A wild light flamed in his eyes, but his malice was no longer matched by his old griping strength.’ Frodo throws Gollum off him and stands up clasping the Ring. Gasping he says, ‘Down, down! Down you creeping thing, and out of my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot betray me or slay me now.’ Then Sam saw: A crouching shape, scarcely more than the shadow of a living thing, a creature now wholly ruined and defeated, yet filled with a hideous lust and rage; and before it stood stern, untouchable now by pity, a figure robed in white, but at its breast it held a wheel of fire. Out of the fire there spoke a commanding voice. ‘Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.’

With his eyes filled with both terror and desire, Gollum backs up. Sam’s vision passes, and he now sees Frodo standing, gasping for breath, and clutching the Ring. Gollum sits at Frodo’s feet. Sam, wielding his sword, shouts at Frodo to go and says that he will take care of Gollum. Frodo looks at Sam with a faraway look in his eyes. He says farewell, turns, and walks away slowly up the path. Sam jumps at Gollum prepared to fight, but Gollum falls on the ground whimpering. He weeps and begs Sam not to hurt him, ‘Don’t kill us. Don’t hurt us with nassty cruel steel! Let us live, yes, live just a little longer. Lost lost! We’re lost. And when Precious goes we’ll die, yes, die into the dust.’ Sam feels it would be just to kill Gollum, but he cannot bring himself to do it. He himself has worn the Ring, and now he feels pity for Gollum who is enslaved by it and will not be able to find peace or relief as long as he lives. Sam angrily curses Gollum telling him to be off and threatening to hurt him if he does not go. Gollum turns and flees down the path, as Sam aims a kick at him. Suddenly Sam’s mind turns to Frodo. He looks up the road but cannot see him. He hurries up the path after him. Behind Sam, and unknown to him, Gollum turns back and slinks along behind him moving stealthily among the rocks.

Sam climbs on until he comes to a dark door in the Mountain’s side, the door of the Sammath Naur. He looks inside. It is dark and hot. A deep rumbling sound resonates in the air. Sam calls out for Frodo, but there is no answer. His heart beats quickly with fear. And then, he quickly walks through the door, followed by a shadow.

Once inside, Sam finds it impossible to see. In desperation, he takes out Galadriel’s phial, but it remains pale and cold in his hand. He is now at the heart of the Sauron’s realm where all powers but his are restrained. Sam takes a few tentative steps. Suddenly a flash of red hits the black roof. Sam stands inside a long cave or a tunnel chiselled into the fiery Mountain’s cone. Just ahead, a great fissure severs the floor and walls of the cave; from it, the red glare flares up, sputters, and dies. From below there is the sound ‘as of great engines throbbing and labouring.’ Again, the light flashes and Sam spots Frodo standing on the brink of the chasm, still as a statue, a silhouette against the red glare. Sam calls out to him. Frodo stirs. In an uncharacteristic, clear, powerful voice that can be heard above the din of Mount Doom, Frodo says, ‘I have come. But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!’ Frodo puts on the Ring and vanishes.

Before Sam can again call out to Frodo, he is struck hard on the back from behind, falls down, and hits his head on the rocky floor. He blacks out.

As Frodo claims ownership of the Ring, the Power in Barad-dûr is stunned, and the Tower trembles from its base to its crown. The Dark Lord is suddenly alert to Frodo, his Eye pierces the door of the Sammath Naur and, ‘the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash, and all the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare.’ Sauron’s wrath is all consuming and his fear palpable. He is wholly focused now on of his own deadly peril: From all his policies and webs of fear and treachery, from all his stratagems and wars his mind shook free; and throughout his realm a tremor ran, his slaves quailed, and his armies halted, and his captains suddenly steerless, bereft of will, wavered and despaired. In desperation, he summons the Nazgûl, who fly at an astonishing speed, southwards to Mount Doom.

Sam stands up dazed. Blood from his injured head drips into his eyes. He shuffles forward and is shocked to see Gollum madly fighting an invisible foe. Gollum, hisses, swings back and forth, falls to the ground, gets up and attacks again and again. The fire below awakens. The cave fills with red light and intense heat. Gollum’s long fingers pull something towards his mouth, his teeth flash, and he bites. Frodo cries out in pain. He is on his knees at the edge of the chasm. Gollum is now dancing about oblivious to all but the Ring in his possession. He holds up the Ring still encircling Frodo’s severed finger. The Ring shines brightly as if it is made of living fire. Beside himself with joy, Gollum cries out, ‘Precious, precious, precious! My Precious! O my Precious!’ He lifts his eyes to admire his long sought after treasure, steps back, teeters on the edge of the abyss, and falls shrieking into its fiery depths. He howls, ‘Precious’ one last time and is gone.

The moutain throbs and shakes amid a great roar of turbulent sound. Sam rushes over to Frodo, picks him up, and carries him to the door. Sam stands briefly frozen at the entrance to the Sammath Naur as a vision of horror envelops him. He sees swirling clouds and in them great towers, battlements, courts, dungeons, prisons, and gates. Then he sees them fall, crumble and break amid sliding mountains and smoke. Sam hears a rumble, which rises to a deafening roar; the plain of Gorgoroth cracks and Orodruin lurches. Fire flows from its summit. Thunder booms and lightening strikes. Black rain falls. Through the rain come the Nazgûl, ‘shooting like flaming bolts.’ Caught in the ruin around them, they shrivel, and burn out.

Frodo says, ‘Well, this is the end, Sam Gamgee.’ He is pale and exhausted, but he is Frodo Baggins of the Shire once again. There is peace in his eyes. His burden is gone. Sam falls on his knees and for a moment feels great joy. His master is alive; he is himself again; he is free from his terrible burden. Then Sam sees Frodo’s bleeding hand and laments that he has nothing with which to bind Frodo’s hand. He says he would have given Gollum a whole hand in place of Frodo’s finger. He adds, ‘But he’s gone now beyond recall, gone for ever.’

Frodo answers, ‘Yes, but do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.’

Differences at a glance:

Scene # 63: THE LAND OF SHADOW (as it pertains to MOUNT DOOM in the book)
This scene contains a few details from the book version of The Land of Shadow and overlaps the book chapter, Mount Doom.
In the movie:
The journey through the plain of Gorgoroth seems relatively short, as does the time it takes to get to the base of Mount Doom (although the distance is more evident in the Special Extended Edition of the movie).
Frodo is motivated to go on simply by Sam’s encouragement and by lightening his load.
Sam and Frodo throw their orc gear over a cliff.
Sam throws away his backpack and his pots as well.
Frodo wears his regular travelling clothes.
The hobbits drink from water skins.
Frodo’s neck is badly chafed from the weight of the Ring pulling down on the chain.
The Eye focuses directly on Frodo and seems to probe him and pin him to the ground.
Neither Sam nor Frodo see any other living thing… yet.
In the book:
Sam estimates that from the shallow pit in which they fell it is approximately 50 miles across the plain of Gorgoroth to Mount Doom, and that it will take at least a week to cross.
Sam motivates Frodo to continue by offering to carry the Ring for him.
On the fifth day after leaving the orcs, the hobbits toss aside all of the orc things that they have except for Frodo’s clothing.
Sam discards the articles in a fissure along with his beloved pots and pans. Sam keeps his backpack.
Frodo wears the leather tunic and the long hairy breeches that Sam found in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. He also wears Sam’s elven-cloak tied with elven rope.
The hobbits drink water from Sam’s water bottle. Frodo’s bottle was broken earlier.
The chain around Frodo’s neck does not seem to have a chafing effect.
Frodo sees a flicker of the Eye briefly through the clouds on their last day, as it points north towards the Captains of the West. He falls heavily to the ground, and his hand is drawn to the Ring.
Sam believes that he sees pale eyes flicker on one dark night. Then they disappear.

In the movie:
Sam cradles Frodo in his arms and asks him if he remembers the Shire.
Frodo is limp in Sam’s arms when he responds. His response is close to the book version but slightly shorter, and the tone is much more desperate.
After Frodo and Sam’s dialogue on the slope, Sam says, ‘Then let us be rid of it once and for all. I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.’ He lifts Frodo up, putting him headfirst over his shoulder. He holds one of Frodo’s arms with one of his arms and Frodo’s legs (or leg) with the other.
In the book:
The thought of throwing his cooking-gear away prompts Sam to ask Frodo if he remembers the rabbit he had cooked in Ithilien.
Frodo has just tossed away his orc-gear, ripped the black orc cape off his body, and assertively pronounced that he will no longer be an orc. Frodo is on his feet when he responds to Sam’s question, and he walks from morning until nightfall on this day.
Sam carries Frodo three times in this chapter:
1. On the last day, Frodo staggers to his feet only to fall onto his knees. He starts to crawl towards the mountain. Sam, broken hearted at seeing his master in this state, says, ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.’ Sam piggybacks Frodo until he is so exhausted he is actually crawling on his belly with Frodo on his back.
2. After Frodo sees a flicker of the Eye briefly through the clouds on their last day, as it points north towards the Captains of the West. He falls heavily to the ground, and his hand is drawn to the Ring. Sam lifts Frodo onto his back and holds Frodo’s hands with his own to his breast letting Frodo’s legs dangle behind.
3. After Gollum bites off Frodo’s finger, Sam carries Frodo to the doorway.

Scene # 68: MOUNT DOOM
In the movie:
The hobbits journey through natural volcanic terrain to the doorway of Mount Doom.
When Gollum pounces on them, Sam is temporarily dazed and unable to get up.
Gollum pins Frodo to the ground choking him first with both hands and then with his left hand while pinning down Frodo’s left arm with his right hand. He seems more intent on murdering Frodo before taking back the Ring.
Sam throws a rock at Gollum, which hits him hard on the forehead and forces him to release Frodo.
Gollum advances on Frodo again, as Frodo lies on the ground coughing.
Sam leaps on Gollum and furiously fights with him.
Sam slashes Gollum across the lower ribs (upper abdomen).
Sam says nothing and turns his back on Gollum before going after Frodo.
Frodo says nothing when leaves and runs up towards the doorway.
In the book:
The hobbits walk along Sauron’s Road from Barad-dûr to the Sammath Naur.
When Gollum pounces on them, Sam gets up immediately and draws his sword but can do nothing.
Gollum tears at Frodo in an attempt to get the Ring.
Frodo furiously fights back, which surprises both Sam and Gollum.
Frodo throws Gollum off and gasps, ‘Down, down! Down you creeping thing, and out of my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot betray me or slay me now.’
Gollum cowers at Frodo’s feet. Sam envisions Frodo robed in white and holding a wheel of fire. From it comes a commanding voice which says, ‘Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.’
Gollum backs away.
Frodo says, ‘Farewell’ to Sam and walks erect up the path to the doorway.
Gollum begs Sam not to kill him; Sam cannot bring himself to strike such a pitiful thing and tells Gollum to go away.
Gollum runs off, but stops and follows shortly after Sam tells him to go away.

In the movie:
The cavern is dim but radiates with red light and smoke from the volcano.
Sam does not have a pocket in his shirt.
Sam prompts and pleads with Frodo to throw the Ring into the fire.
Frodo hesitates and displays great inner turmoil concerning the Ring.
Frodo says loudly, ‘The Ring is mine.’
Frodo has a sinister grin on his face when he puts on the Ring.
Sam cries out, ‘No!’
Gollum hits Sam with a rock on the back of the head. Sam falls, hits his head on the rock floor and looses consciousnesses briefly.
Gollum bites off Frodo’s left index finger.
Gollum takes the Ring off Frodo’s finger, drops the finger on the ground before holding the Ring aloft.
Gollum and Frodo fight for possession of the Ring and they both topple over the edge.
Gollum holds the Ring in ecstasy as he falls. He neither speaks nor shrieks.
Sam pulls Frodo up from the rock ledge he is hanging from.
In the book:
Initially the cavern is dark: Sam sees nothing, and then he sees red flares.
Sam takes the phial of Galadriel out of his pocket, but it gives no light.
Sam only has time to cry out, ‘Master!’ before Frodo speaks and puts on the Ring.
Frodo does not hesitate claiming the Ring as his own (not in Sam’s presence anyway).
Frodo says in a voice that echoes loudly, ‘I have come. But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!’
Tolkien does not specifically describe Frodo’s facial expression.
Sam gasps but he does not have time to cry out.
Gollum strikes Sam violently in the back. Sam’s legs give out and he hits his head on the rock floor losing consciousness briefly.
Gollum bites off Frodo’s third finger on his right hand (mentioned in the next chapter, The Field of Cormallen).
Gollum holds the Ring aloft with Frodo’s finger still thrust inside of it. He does not remove the Ring from Frodo’s finger.
Only Gollum topples over the edge.
Gollum falls with a shriek. He wails, ‘Precious!’ one last time and is gone.

In the movie:
Sam helps Frodo and they run out the doorway as the precipice breaks up behind them.
Frodo leaps onto a rocky cliff (with a little help) followed by Sam.
Sam is overcome with emotion (stress and relief) that the Ring is gone.
They climb as high up as they can and sit while they await their fate.
Frodo discusses the Shire; Sam discusses Rosie Cotton.
Frodo says, ‘I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee… here at the end of all things.’
Sam weeps and Frodo has a tear streaming down his cheek.
The hobbits are (or so it seems) unconscious when Gandalf and the eagles rescue them.
In the book:
Sam runs to Frodo, picks him up and carries him to the doorway.
The hobbits remain of the threshold of the Sammath Naur for some time.
Sam has a vision of the destruction of Sauron’s realm at the doorway.
Sam is filled with great joy that Frodo is himself again.
The hobbits discuss Gollum; Frodo says, ‘But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him!
Frodo says, ‘I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.’
From Chapter 4, The Field of Cormallen:
Frodo and Sam walk down the road to the foot of Mount Doom.
They stop on a low ashen hill and can go no further. They are standing.
Sam talks about the great story they have been in and wonders how it will be told.
The hobbits do not weep. Sam does not entirely give up hope even at the end.
Gwaihir the Windlord picks up Gandalf; he does not necessarily put Gandalf on his back. (My thought: perhaps this is why three eagles go to the rescue) Consider this statement: ‘Light as a swan’s feather in my claw you are.’ ~ Gwaihir the Windlord, In The White Rider, Chapter 5, The Two Towers
Gwaihir witnesses Frodo and Sam fall down.

The scenes in between, # 67: THE LAST MOVE; # 69: THE EAGLES ARE COMING; and Scene # 71: SAURON DEFEATED
Scene # 67: The Last Move does not happen in the book.
In the movie:
Merry is an active participant in the battle at The Black Gate.
The troops are fighting on foot including the main characters.
Gandalf is an active participant in the battle.
Aragorn initiates the battle.
A moth heralds the coming of the Eagles.
Pippin calls out, ‘The Eagles are coming!’
Five eagles descend on the battle. Altogether there may be six eagles if the eagle that attacks first is counted separately.
Aragorn fights a troll.
The troll carries a sword and an enormous mace.
Gandalf shows both relief and sadness, as he realizes that the Ring has been destroyed. He says nothing to the troops.
Gandalf, Aragorn and the others watch as the Sauron’s tower falls and Mount Doom explodes.
In the book:
Merry is recovering in the Houses of Healing.
Many of the troops are on horseback including the main characters.
Gandalf stands high on one of two hills with Aragorn. He does not fight.
Aragorn holds the banner of the tree and stars. There seems to be no direct evidence that he actually fights.
The enemy initiates the battle.
The trolls carry heavy hammers.
Pippin fights a hill-troll. This is Pippin’s opportunity to ‘earn great honour.’
Gandalf senses the coming of the Eagles and turns.
Gandalf cries out, ‘The Eagles are coming!’ Pippin hears Gandalf shout this just before he loses consciousness after fighting the hill-troll (a chief).
Long lines of eagles come, following Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother.
The eagles swoop down on the Nazgûl but do not seem to make contact, as the Nazgûl at that moment turn towards Mount Doom.
Gandalf says authoritatively, ‘Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.’ And, ‘The realm of Sauron is ended! The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.’
Gandalf, Aragorn, and the others watch as the Towers of the Teeth, the rampart, and the Black Gate are destroyed. They do not see the destruction of Barad-dûr itself. It is a great distance from the Black Gate.
They see a ‘huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky,’ which ‘stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away…’

John Howe – The End of the Third Age (detail)

Why the changes from book to movie (focus on Mount Doom):
The changes in these scenes are a result of:
Peter Jackson’s desire to follow the story chronologically
To increase the dramatic tension
To have more focus on this pivotal chapter at the cost of heavily editing others because it is the natural climax of the story
Artistic license
Pacing and time restrictions
Peter never liked the idea of Gollum jumping for joy and then accidentally falling into the lava. He felt strongly that Frodo had to be some part of it.
The pivotal Crack of Doom scene was shot three ways:
Frodo murdering Gollum by basically just shoving Gollum into the lava
The book version: Gollum dancing around and accidentally falling into the lava
The version that is shown in the movie
Weta Visual Effects Supervisor, Joe Letteri, comments on Gollum’s last moments:
‘… we needed to allow Gollum the moment of the lava sort of engulfing him and for the pain to be more of his realization of the betrayal whether than the physical pain of the lava…’ ‘He realizes that it (the Ring) has betrayed him to his death.’
Philippa Boyens on the decision to have Frodo fall off the edge with Gollum:
‘We needed Frodo to go over the edge. We needed him to go. And the reason we wanted him to go over the edge is because we felt one the most important dramatic moments is not just the death of Gollum, and then Sam saying: “Come on, Mr. Frodo. We’ve got to get out of here.” It’s got to be: ‘Don’t you let go.” And to make that a tough choice for Frodo. We needed to give him the other choice, which was to let go and end it all. And you can’t do that by having him stay there and not get up. You needed to have him dangling over the edge.’

From the Commentaries:
– Peter Jackson comments that the slope that Sean and Elijah climb is actually quite dangerous, even though it doesn’t look so. Sean Astin and Elijah Wood had to wear safety wires that were later painted out of the scene.
– The scene with Sam cradling Frodo is another of Peter’s favourite shots.
– Philippa Boyens recalls how after they had seen Sean and Elijah’s scene, ‘I Can’t Carry It, But I Can Carry You’, they had sent the actors a fax that looked like a very formal memo saying, ‘You made us cry.’
– The scene mentioned above is one of Elijah Wood’s audition scenes.
– Sean Astin says of this scene, ‘For me and my life as an actor, this was the most significant dramatic work of my life. It was where I… it was a sacred moment on that volcano…’ Elijah Wood agrees.
– Tears were streaming down Peter’s face during the scene mentioned above.
– Philippa Boyens says, ‘Yah and we wanted that little Sméagol moment, “Sméagol promised, Sméagol lied,” to show that everyone who’d been sucked in by how nice Sméagol was had misunderstood the true nature of his character.’
– Andy Serkis squeezed Elijah’s throat so hard in their fight scene on the mountain that the blood vessels in Elijah’s face broke. Andy was very realistic and scary.
– Peter says that he had always wanted to see the image of Gollum on top of Frodo’s invisible shoulders.
– Andy Serkis was determined to have Gollum stand on his two feet rather than on all fours when he finally obtained the Ring. He actually refused to do this elsewhere because he wanted to show how the Ring empowered his character, Gollum.
– Andy Serkis actually bites down on a carrot to achieve the crunching sound we hear when Gollum bites off Frodo’s finger.
– In the destruction of Sauron’s realm, Peter had always envisioned something biblical, not only in size and scale but also in how events were portrayed – ‘like some apocalyptic vision.’
– Peter wanted the fade to black shot to give the idea that perhaps it was the end.
This John Howe painting inspired the shot of Frodo and Sam on the rock surrounded by lava with the three eagles flying into the background.

– Frodo has a rather nasty scratch on the left cheek when Sam is cradling him. Earlier (and later) he has a similar scratch on his right cheek but none on his left.
– When Aragorn and the others charge the enemy, they are on foot. Where did the horses go???
– At the Black Gate, the enemy completely encircles Aragorn and his forces. Yet, when they charge, a vast empty space can be seen behind them. The land is flat and the mountains visible in the background, but there seems to be no enemy there.
– Shortly after Gollum pulls Frodo to the ground and Frodo is facedown on the ground, one of Frodo’s suspenders pops off and the button falls to ground. The suspenders are magically in place after that.
– When Gollum flips Frodo over, Frodo has no chain (or Ring) around his neck. Later the Ring is back.
– For what Frodo has been through with his fight with Gollum, his shirt is remarkably neat and tucked in while he is coughing. Later it is all messed up again.
– In the scene where Aragorn says, ‘For Frodo,’ Gimli is clearly not John Rhys-Davies.

My overall view of the film version of the Mount Doom sequences in the movie:
If I had not read the book version, I would most likely have been satisfied with Peter Jackson’s version of events. For the most part, I think these scenes were well done (the Mount Doom scenes not the intervening ones). As a bookie; however, I would have liked to see Frodo stand up against Gollum; Gollum beg for his life; and Sam send Gollum away unscathed out of pity. It is Sam’s pity that spared Gollum’s life and ultimately allowed the next events to unfold. I don’t think that this was made clear in the movie. I think that it’s rather sad Gollum’s role in the destruction of the Ring is never mentioned again in the movie. As villainous as Gollum was throughout the movie, without him the Ring would not have been destroyed.

Although I understand the reasoning behind Frodo going over the edge of the precipice and agree that it works well in the film, I found it somewhat unrealistic. Frodo goes over the edge front first; it’s hard for me to believe that he could turn himself around and latch onto the rock so close to the top. As to his life and death choice, I strongly believe that that was out of his hands. The choice was made for him… but this, of course, is just my opinion.

I would also much rather have seen Gandalf as a more authoritative figure and calling out ‘Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.’ And ‘The realm of Sauron is ended! The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.’ Gandalf furiously fighting alongside men does not exemplify who Gandalf is – a Maiar and an Istari.

The Lord of the Rings, Edition – Published by HarperCollinsPublishers, 1991
The Return of the King, Special Extended Version

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Related Information
Related Books vs. Movies Articles:
- 6.01. The Tower of Cirith Ungol by Morwinyoniel
- 6.02. The Land of Shadow by RubySandybanks
- Samwise Gamgee by Rosearialelven

Interesting Links:
Our Gallery has has screencaps of the theatrical version, as well as the extended edition.

A transcript of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Return of the King' can be found in our Film Fun & Facts section.

A summary of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Return of the King' can be found in Elrond's Library.

Some articles that are related to this sequence:
- The Middle-earth Section of Elrond's Library has articles about The One Ring, The Eagles of Manwë, Sauron and Gandalf.

Forum threads related to this sequence:
- You can discuss this sequence in detail in ROTK Sequence by Sequence #12: The End of All Things and ROTK EE Sequence by Sequence #8: Frodo and Sam Extras in the Movies Forum.
You can discuss the impact of this scene in the Changes in Frodo thread, also in the Movies Forum.
There are also threads about The Eagles and Mount Doom.
- In the Books Forum you can find articles about The Eagles, Would Sam have killed Frodo?, The Destruction of the One Ring and The End.
- The Book Club discusses this chapter here.

Take a look at how some artists saw this part in the book:
- Mount Doom by Pauline Baynes
- Orordruin by Ivar Allen
- Frodo, Sam and Gollum On the Slopes of Mount Doom by Alan Lee
- The Way Up by Miss Daisy
- Frodo with the One Ring by John Howe
- Mount Doom by Paul Gregory
- The Cracks of Mount Doom by Tim Kirk
- Frodo at the Cracks of Mount Doom by Alan Lee
- Gollum Falls by Rankin & Bass
- The Eagles of Manwe Arrive by Whelan
- On Mount Doom by John Howe
- The Eagles are Coming by Ted Nasmith

Preview the One Ring theme here.

Looking for something more creative - you may find it here: