The titular Hobbit gets the whole saga underway, finally popping his clogs at the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy aged over 131. Well, old Hobbits die hard…
Key quote ‘I need a holiday. A very long holiday.’
Trivia In 1967 Leonard Nimoy (Spock in Star Trek) recorded the trippy ‘Ballad of Bilbo Baggins’.
Chosen to carry the One Ring into Mordor because of his mawkish incorruptibility, Frodo ultimately gives one in the eye to Sauron.
Key quote ‘I will take the Ring to Mordor. Though I do not know the way.’
Trivia Despite having massive feet, Frodo falls over 39 times during the course of the LOTR trilogy.
Gandalf often saves the day, deploying an array of awesome tricks from up his wizard’s sleeve.
Key quote ‘You shall not pass!’
Trivia Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf, which was maybe a good thing. We can’t decide whether on-screen enemies ‘Schauron’ or ‘Scharuman’ could have taken him scheriouschly.
Once a Hobbit himself, emaciated cave-dwelling Gollum is (barely) living proof of the corrupting influence of the One Ring and the futility of combovers.
Key quote ‘Sneaky little Hobbitses!’
Trivia The big-screen incarnation of malnourished scrag-end Gollum was influenced by wiry-torso-flaunting rocker Iggy Pop.
Hotshot Elf archer Legolas also boasts extreme hearing, telescopic vision and no need of sleep.
Key quote ‘God help us.’
Trivia Legolas is weirdly lightfooted: capable of walking on top of snow while his companions are forced to trudge through it . This is especially important as his footwear of choice is Elven slippers.
The short version
A genial halfling is convinced by a wizard to lead a bunch of dwarves on a dragon-bashing quest. He finds a comparatively plain ring everyone seems fixated on and makes it home without getting sautéed. Sixty years later, four little men, a wizard (him again), a dwarf, a hobo, an archer and Sean Bean set out to throw said ring into a volcano, while a schizoid goblin tries to thwart them. The bad guys die. The good guys have a party.
The even shorter version
A load of walking.
36 For the six Middle-earth movies
29 For the Godfather trilogy
25 For the Star Wars franchise
Gollum says ‘precious’:
15 times in The Two Towers
17 times in The Return of the King
14 times in An Unexpected Journey
Bilbo v Frodo
In The Hobbit Bilbo walks 950 miles over 172 days
In TLOTR Frodo walks 1,800 miles over 185 days
The number of false feet worn by the Hobbits in The Fellowship of the Ring
The body count for The Return of the King – the saga’s bloodiest film to date
The number of Special-effects shots in The Battle of the Five Armies, including one where a giant eagle drops an angry bear into a violent battle between Orcs and Dwarves. Yep
The worth of Smaug’s gold (as estimated by Forbes magazine) in The Desolation of Smaug
A surprising mix of real-life critters lend their voices to the beasts of Middle-earth
Possum + Elephant seal = Orc
Horse + Walrus + Tiger = Cave troll
Donkey + Horse = Balrog
Hang on a second…
…why didn’t Frodo just drop the Ring from one of those eagles?
Tolkien himself addressed this issue in 1958 when a Hollywood screenwriter tackling the book suggested that this was a gaping plot hole. ‘Would [the screenwriter] think that he had improved the effect of a film of, say, the ascent of Everest,’ thundered Tolkien, ‘by introducing helicopters to take the climbers halfway up?’ So there.
Heights: real v fictional
6'11'' John Rhys-Davies
5'11" Ian McKellen
5'6" Elijah Wood
3'6" Frodo Baggins
5'6" Virgo Mortensen