This is my attempt to describe how I think the Scouring could have been portrayed on film... The Scouring's inclusion, of course, would mean that several other minor elements in the first two movies would also be different - in particular, Galadriel's gift to Samwise should have been the canonical blessed box of earth... and the vision in Galadriel's mirror would also be different, or at least explained differently.
But I've not bothered to write *those* changes -- even though their specifics might have influenced the scripting of this, with use of flashbacks and the like. Also this is still clumsy and/or corny at spots (e.g. the dream-or-nightmare line). But I won't use more time to fiddle with it than I already have - that job should have gone to someone being paid for it -- but he, alas, chickened out of the challenge of adapting the Scouring to film. :-)
This treatment begins with the scene where Sam and Frodo are surrounded by the lava.
(While on the outcrop, instead of Rosie, Sam is suddenly reminded of Galadriel when he sees the phial of Galadriel start glowing for them again.)
SAM: (voice fading, he's obviously exhausted from both the task and the volcanic fumes) Galadriel... I'm sorry we didn't get to thank her again for the light... or for my own gift... she told me that my garden would be the fairest of them all, if I used it. Now I'll never get the chance to see it happen...
FRODO: So it is... Hopes fail... Darkness comes. But I'm glad to have you with me, Sam, here at the end of all things...
(They fall unconscious, eagles come, etc, etc... Aragorn's coronation -hopefully a slightly better version thereof, with Aragorn sounding less as a politician - and then the scene turns to night in Minas Tirith. Frodo staring over the city. It's unclear how much time has passed but a young white tree, all in bloom, is now in place of the old one.)
(Gandalf walks behind him.)
GANDALF: Beautiful, isn't it?
FRODO: This is why we fought, isn't it? Now not only day, but night also shall be blessed, and all its fear pass away.
(his gaze shifts northwestwards - and his expression changes to something difficult to decipher, part worried, part puzzled, part prophetic)
FRODO: Gandalf -- the Shire. We should go back to the Shire.
GANDALF: Yes... Yes. I also think that you should.
(Frodo's head snaps to Gandalf's direction)
GANDALF: (explaining) My task is done, Frodo. You hobbits don't really need me any more to set things right. You also are among the Great now.
(Frodo's expression turns resigned.)
FRODO: We will miss you, Gandalf.
GANDALF: If... the burden proves too much, seek for me at the havens, two years from now, in the Autumn.
(Scenes of travel with ponies... retracing their steps -- Ford, Bree, Brandywine)
FRODO V.O: Thirteen months after leaving the Shire, we find ourselves returning to it. For Sam, Merry, Pippin, it's like waking up from a dream.
(the camera shifts from the aforementioned hobbits to Frodo himself)
FRODO V.O: For me, it's as if I'm slowly sliding in one. Into a dream....
(Evening -- the hobbits ride over a hill -- and then pause, gasping. Instead of the tree-shaded road they'd expected, there's a scene of devastation. Trees cut, left to rot by the wayside -- holes dug up meaninglessly.)
FRODO V.O.: Or a nightmare.
SAM: Who would do such a thing? These trees shouldn't have been cut at all. And leaving them here to rot! What has happened to the Shire?
FRODO: (whisper) Saruman...
MERRY: We will find out.
(Merry and Pippin ride out in different directions)
(Sunset. We see them return.)
MERRY: Ruffians. Dozens of Big Folk from abroad. They came some months ago, started stealing food, ordering people around.
PIPPIN: They lock people up who don't obey. There have been killings too. [to Frodo] What will we do?
(Frodo doesn't respond)
MERRY: Let us raise the Shire!
SAM: [nods] Raise the Shire. If I know anything, one spark is all that's needed to set it all ablaze. [grimly] They have underestimated hobbits.
(We see all four of them ride down.)
(Deep night, in the middle of a street)
(Merry brings a horn to his lips and blows. Meanwhile Pippin bangs loudly on a tinpot with a large spoon.
PIPPIN: WAKE UP! WAKE UP ALL!
(Doors opening everywhere, hobbits coming out in their nightgowns. Among them ROSIE.)
OLD MAN: What's all this racket?!
ROSIE: It's Sam! Sam and the rest of them! I knew he'd be back!
OLD MAN: (snorts) Never did like that boy.
(Sam notices her and gives a shy smile. She waves back enthusiastically. He coughs and turns away.)
SAM: Okay, listen up people! We know you can't be liking what's been happening to the Shire. So... um... (finishing somewhat lamely)... let's do something about it?
(Frodo smiles somewhat melancholically at that. He closes his eyes.)
(When he opens them again, it's a different scene -- we are reinforcing the theme of Frodo not being entirely awake/aware)
(Noon. Frodo stands on top of a hill. Next to him, Sam. In the road infront of them two ruffians shoving and generally ill-treating an old hobbit woman who tries to fend them off with her umbrella.)
FRODO V.O. : We thought we had left war behind us, for ever.
(Suddenly a rock hits one of the ruffians on the back. As he groans and turns, the second rock hits the other one on the shoulder. The scene turning to the hobbits, we see Sam picking up a third rock with a grim smile.)
FRODO: (matter-of-factly) You will let this woman in peace, and then you and all your friends will leave the Shire, for ever. Do that and you will live.
1st RUFFIAN : Oh, you will pay for those words, lad.
(He takes a threatening step towards him -- and then steps back. We see first Merry and Pippin and then dozen of other hobbits appearing behind Frodo and Sam, some of them carrying bows, others with pitchforks, rocks and the like.)
FRODO V.O.: We had thought we had protected Shire from all evil and all violence.
(The second Ruffian, who looks half-Orkish --and not altogether sane --, stares wildly at them and then pulls out a huge knife and with a snarl makes to attack the hobbits. He falls back dead with an arrow in his throat.)
(Frodo looks at the dead ruffian with a look of horror and disgust.)
FRODO V.O. : We were wrong.
(And the hobbits charge.)
(Brief scenes of battle throughout the Shire. Larger groups of ruffians, with swords these ones, surrounded by hobbits. Doors breaking down, imprisoned hobbits released. In each scene there's at least one of Merry, Pippin or Sam in the lead)
FRODO: (not drawing sword even as he stands in the middle of battle) Don't hurt the ones who surrender! Don't hurt them!
RANDOM HOBBIT: They deserve it!
FRODO: Even so!
(Different scene, in front of Bag End, from the wounds, scratches and exhausted looks on many Hobbit's faces, obviously after a big battle. All four Hobbit protagonists in the middle of a larger group)
HOBBIT: (out of breath, looks from one to the other, unsure whom to address) We've found their boss, and his chief lackey.
SAM: (Looks at Frodo, who says nothing, then: ) Bring them forward.
(Hobbits part to reveal Saruman and Wormtongue crouching behind him)
SARUMAN: Well, well, well. We meet again, my dear hobbits. A toothless snake you thought me to be, didn't you? This snake however knew your friend Treebeard's hidden weakness -- his dislike to see living things imprisoned. You thought you'd spend time celebrating after you tore down my house? I thought to go before you and tear down yours. Just a small sample of what you gave me.
(murmurs of "kill him! kill him! he's a murderer" from the hobbits around him. Some of them raise their bows)
SARUMAN: Kill me! If you think you are enough! But if my blood stains the Shire, then it shall wither and never heal! I have already dealt it such a blow that only your grandchildren will ever see it again as it once was!
FRODO: (looking more awake than he has ever since the destruction of the ring) Saruman, you lie. You have no power left to harm us in life or death. But I don't want you dead. Your cure is beyond us, but I will still see you go, in hope that you may one day find it. Leave, Saruman, and never return!
SARUMAN: (surprised whisper to himself) You have grown, halfling. Grown both wise and cruel. (louder) Don't expect me to wish you long life and health. You will have neither.
(with a mocking bow, he makes to depart, Grima shuffling behind him).
FRODO: Grima! I know no harm you've done us. You are free to stay here for a while, and heal, and then go in peace wherever you want.
(Grima obviously hesitates.)
SARUMAN: No harm? No harm? And when he sneaks out at night, it's only to gaze
at the stars. But I see none of you asking what happened to your Mayor, your
dear old Mayor. Didn't find him in the Lockholes, did you? (beat)
Grima killed him. And buried him I hope, though he's been very hungry lately. No. Grima isn't *really* nice. Better to leave him with me.
GRIMA: You told me to do it!
SARUMAN: And you always do what Saruman says, Worm, don't you? Now he says: follow! (Saruman, turning, hits Wormtongue in the face with either a stick or his foot, whatever looks best)
(Grima falls down -- and then he pulls out his dagger - with a snarl he's on Saruman's throat, slicing it all the way through, and then as Saruman falls, surprised -- and the dagger is still in Grima's hands -- arrows hit Grima and he too falls down dead. Mist, etc, rises over Saruman's body as in the book, then wind blows and it's scattered)
SAM: The last strike of the war -- to fall on Bag End's footstep. Who would have thought of it.
PIPPIN: This is the end. Finally.
SAM: The end? How will the Shire ever heal from this?
(Sam staring at the devastation of the Shire, in despair -- then a thought. He pulls out Galadriel's gift. A hopeful expression on his face.)
FRODO V.O.: Sam has discovered that Shire's wounds healed faster than we had ever expected....
(The camera swivels around Sam, and with the end of the 360 degree turn we understand some time has passed through Sam's different clothes and so forth -- and the Shire now is filled with young trees blossoming everywhere. Make the scene reminiscent of the one where Sam is tempted with the vision of Mordor as a garden -- except in this case the vision is real)
SAM: (in awe) Twenty years' growth in one. Thank you, my Lady.
FRODO V.O.: And I have discovered that some wounds never heal at all.
(we see Frodo, feverish, in the bed, as if struggling from some nightmare -- then he suddenly sits up, deathly pale, his eyes as vacant as when he was under control of the ring)
FRODO: It is gone! It is gone forever, and everything is dark!...
(Frodo in his desk. Sam walks in)
SAM: Mr. Frodo.
FRODO: Mayor Samwise!
SAM: Now, Mr. Frodo, don't call me that. You've finished your book!
FRODO: Not quite, Sam. There are a few pages left. Sam... can you leave Rosie and Elanor for a few weeks? There's one last journey I'd like you to share with me.
SAM: I could manage, Mr. Frodo.
[....And then follow up with the Grey Havens, roughly in the same way the movie does. But again of course, better scripted. For starters I'd add the bit where Frodo foretells Sam will be mayor as long as he will like. :-) ]
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Last updated: 2 Jan 2004