Did you know that in the late 1960s, the famous Beatles almost starred in a film adaptation of “Lord of the Rings”? Back to this funny missed rendezvous in Middle-earth.
For the whole world, The Lord of the Rings on the big screen, it is Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen or even Ian McKellen … But did you know that long before the trilogy signed Peter Jackson, another adaptation of the work by JRR Tolkien could have been created starring … the Beatles? Back to this funny missed meeting in Middle-earth.
We are at the end of the Sixties. After having been on the bill of the musical films A Hard Day’s Night (Four boys in the wind) and Help !, the Beatles have a crazy dream: to play in an adaptation of Lord of the Rings by Tolkien with Stanley Kubrick, just that, at the helm of this ambitious project. The Fab Four, then at the height of their glory, even have an idea of the cast: Paul McCartney would be Frodo, Ringo Starr would play Sam, George Harrison would play Gandalf and John Lennon would slip into the guise of … Gollum!
The Beatles will face a major concern in their quest to wander in Middle-earth since Tolkien himself refused to see the quartet take over his work, Kubrick or not Kubrick behind the camera. Tim Gray, journalist for the site Variety, declared in 2015 : “It’s not clear if Tolkien just realized the Beatles didn’t fit into an epic fantasy universe, or if he had a more personal issue with their music.“
In any event, British musicians will therefore fail to secure the rights to the Lord of the Rings, which will finally be acquired in 1969 by United Artists studios for a version of John Booorman … which itself will not see the light of day! A Boorman who, for the record, will use elements of his Lord of The Rings for the film Excalibur.
After these failed attempts to adapt The Lord of the Rings on the big screen, it was not until 1978 that a project finally materialized in the form of an animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi. Then many more years for a live version with the famous Peter Jackson trilogy, unveiled in cinema between 2001 and 2003.
The Beatles, for their part, if they will not go to Middle-earth, will nevertheless experience other adventures on screen with the musical TV movie Magical Mystery Tour (1967), the animated film Yellow Submarine (1968) and the documentary Let It Be (1970). Today, the cult group is the subject of a documentary series on Disney +, entitled Get Back and directed by … Peter Jackson! The circle is complete.
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