With the release of The Beatles: Get Back – a Beatles docuseries directed by Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings – we have returned to talk about the time that in the late sixties, when Jackson was still a child, the Beatles set out to make a film about Lord of the Rings, the book. Then nothing came of it and it didn’t even come close, but the Beatles made plans about it: they thought for example of Stanley Kubrick for directing and also of who would do whom. Recently, Jackson spoke again as a guest of Stephen Colbert, agreeing with the division of roles that the Beatles thought about half a century ago:
“Obviously Paul is Frodo, and Sam obviously is Ringo. John is Gollum, isn’t he? They assigned the parts themselves and assigned the right ones. George was perfect to play Gandalf: the mystic, the magician ».
The fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings, written by JRR Tolkien, came out in three volumes between 1954 and 1955. When John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were still in their teens and still had to become the Beatles.
While those four boys were busy with music, others thought that those books could become cinema. It seems that Walt Disney was among the first to take an interest in it, and after complicated events in the late 1960s, the production company United Artists (founded among others by Charlie Chaplin and DW Griffith) managed to convince the always very reluctant Tolkien to sell her the necessary rights. to make a film based on his stories. It is thought that United Artists paid around $ 250,000, equivalent to nearly $ 2 million today, and that the agreement stipulated that Tolkien would be entitled to 7.5 percent of any revenues generated by the film: the idea was to make it. only one, about three hours long.
As Jackson told a BBC – who in his docuseries asked Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr some questions on the matter – the Beatles discovered The Lord of the Rings around the same time, during their 1968 retreat in India. “I put together little bits of information, asking Paul things, because Ringo doesn’t remember much,” Jackson said, “and from what I understand it was Denis O ‘ Dell, their producer at Apple Records, to have the idea of making that movie with them. “
O’Dell, by the way, produced the film in 1969 The incredible adventures of Mr. Grand with the billion-dollar complex and the scam thing, con Peter Sellers e Ringo Starr.
Knowing that they would have time to read in India, O’Dell sent them the books: Jackson said he sent “one to John, one to Paul and one George,” leaving Ringo without. Jackson says that the Beatles became passionate about those events and really thought of making a film about it, playing the protagonists: “they tried, no doubt, for a moment at the beginning of that 1968 they were seriously contemplating the possibility of doing it”.
McCartney and Starr should have been the two hobbits Frodo and Sam, Lennon should have played Gollum and Harrison should have been the wizard Gandalf. In the past there were versions that, at first, Lennon wanted to play Gandalf or Frodo but turned to Gollum instead, and still others that Twiggy was thought of for the role of the noble elf Galadriel.
It seems that Kubrick, fresh from the direction of 2001: A Space Odyssey, was informed that the Beatles wanted him as a director, but refused, deeming the film impossible to make. Someone also thought of David Lean and Michelangelo Antonioni. Given the performers, it is very likely that the film would have been a musical.
– Read also: Because Kubrick is Kubrick
In theory, and with a little patience, it wouldn’t have been too difficult either to get the rights from United Artists or at least to collaborate with them, since there was an agreement between the production company and the Beatles to make three films and they had been made. two, both successful: A Hard Day’s Night e Help!, which unlike the song of the same name in Italy became Help! and whose plot also revolves around a powerful and apparently indestructible ring.
It matters little, however, because in the end nothing came of it: according to certain versions of the story, which have already been around for years, because the Beatles weren’t very convinced; according to what Jackson recently said, “because they couldn’t get permission from Tolkien, who didn’t like a pop group making a film about his story.”
As Jackson’s recent docuseries recount, the Beatles did something else, breaking up in 1970, three years before Tolkien’s death. The three films on the Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring, The two towers e The return of the king – Jackson made them instead. They came out between 2001 and 2003, cost about $ 300 million and, together, grossed more than a billion. They were nominated for 30 Oscars and won 17.
– Read also: The Dune that does not exist