There is no argument on earth that can talk me down from my belief that The Lord of the Rings is the best film trilogy ever made. Even more impressive that it was a book adaptation, which literally never goes well. *Cough* The Dark Tower *cough*.
Even in near-perfection though, things slip through the cracks in Peter Jackson’s fingers. Like the disappearance and re-emergence of Gandalf’s staff.
Let’s get this out of the way—it never happened in the book. The Witchking has wicked powers and all that jazz, but none of this.
Anyway, so Gandalf is going with Pippin through Minas Tirith, and in swoops the Witchking of Angmar and he stares at Gandalf and Gandalf’s staff, affectionately known as his walking stick, explodes into a million splinters that also somehow don’t nick or cut Pippin or Gandalf at all. What fortune.
But the Witchking conveniently gets called away to deal with other problems, leaving Gandalf without his staff, but perfectly safe from harm. Except for the looming foolishness of Peregrin Took, always a danger to himself and the sanctity of the world.
Fast forward to the cringey scene where everyone is in bed with Frodo, celebrating his life (or what’s left of it, since he sucks). Gandalf is holding his staff. The exact same one that the Witchking literally exploded like a microwaved Jello cup.
If you read the books, you know the story of Gandalf’s staff. He lost it to the Balrog, went through Lorien and got a new one as his new self. Fresh kicks, fresh cloak, fresh walking stick. So the easy way out of this argument is, “well, he passed through Lorien and got a new staff.”
Fine. Okay. But have you seen the intricate head on that staff? How the hell would they make it identical to the one that popped.
More importantly, and as mentioned, the Witchking never pops Gandalf’s staff (that sounds vaguely dirty, doesn’t it?) in the books. So why did Peter Jackson willfully add this scene and then grossly neglect it later on? My guess—Slick Petey Jackson wanted to leave a greasy smear across Middle Earth. And don’t fight me on that, I’m tired.
Josh Sippie: I’m the Director of Publishing Guidance at Gotham Writers. My work has appeared in McSweeney’s, I have an ongoing Fiction series (about Yoda!) at Hobart and a forthcoming humor column at Points in Case.