There is no doubt that The Lord Of The Rings is an epic trilogy which translates well to film. It was brought to the big screen by Peter Jackson back in the early 2000s. The Fellowship Of The Ring came first in 2001, followed by The Two Towers in 2002 and finally The Return Of The King in 2003.
All three movies were highly rated on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes as well as by cinema-goers. This is reflected in the box office takings of $2.91 billion across the three movies.
The Fellowship of the Ring was the first movie in the trilogy. It was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won 4 of them alongside a string of other awards including a BAFTA for Best Film.
With such a prestigious history you may think The Fellowship Of The Ring is above mistakes. However, you’d be wrong. All three movies were filmed back to back and out of sequence and this has led to many technical and continuity errors. From shots which expose the camera trickery and special effects to some major mistakes in the placing of props, the movie is not immune to error. There are also some big plot holes in the story that many of us gloss over.
So just how bad is it? I’ve explored the continuity errors, plot holes and technical slips to bring you 30 of the biggest mistakes in The Fellowship Of The Ring that we all overlook.
30 Filming Error: The Mysterious Tree
In the scene where the hobbits are hiding under the tree from the Ringwraith there is a clear mistake in how they appear.
Elijah Wood himself spotted this one and points it out on the DVD commentary saying “It kind of magically comes out of the tree.”
The tree has empty space on each side of it but yet the riders are visible just on the left. This leads to the Ringwraith appearing to have come from inside the tree rather than passing behind it from one side to the other.
29 Continuity: Aragorn’s Sword Is Swiped Twice
In the Amon Hen battle Aragorn loses his sword, twice. The first time is at the beginning of the fight when he is slammed backward against a tree by Lurtz and his sword is knocked out of his hand.
The scene then cuts to Lurtz throwing his shield at Aragorn.
As the action pans back you see Aragorn pinned against a tree, with his sword back in his hand, until the shield’s impact knocks it out once more.
28 Storyline - Visions Of Sauron
When Frodo takes possession of the ring he begins to see visions of Sauron almost immediately. These continue throughout the movies. They also allow Sauron to begin to sense Frodo.
So if the ring gives these visions to hobbits why did Bilbo never see anything? He wore the ring for half his life but yet no mention is made of this huge power, which is apparently very specific to Frodo.
Never is there an explanation given for why and how Frodo is so special. The entire premise of the movie revolves around him being “just a hobbit” but yet he has this very specific drama inducing power.
27 Filming Error: The Wonky Table
When Gandalf visits Bilbo in Bag End a tiny slip by Sir Ian McKellen exposes the camera trickery used to make the actors appear to be very different heights.
As Gandalf sits down he knocks the table but only the front half of it moves. This is because the line of cheeses and crockery is obscuring a gap between a small table and a normal sized one.
This trick means Gandalf appears much larger, being both closer to the camera and sitting at a much smaller table. Camera angles and scale sets were frequently used to create similar illusions.
26 Continuity: Tent Magic
At Bilbo’s party, we are shown Merry and Pippin setting off a dragon firework. They are inside a small tent which is crammed with dishes, boxes, sacks, and other miscellaneous clutter.
As the firework goes off it takes the tent with it.
You’d expect it to either scatter the tent's contents or leave them behind yet neither option happens. The tent takes off but as it does everything inside it seemingly vanishes as Merry and Pippin are the only things left.
25 Storyline – Second Breakfasts
The hobbits have a lot of problems but their ridiculous appetites should be more of an issue than they are. Beyond the jokes about second breakfasts there is no way they should be able to physically eat as much as they do.
In particular they are shown eating Lembas bread, which can fill a man’s stomach with a single crumb, like it’s a tasty snack. When they are a great deal smaller than the average man how are they putting away so much of the stuff? They should all be huge with a range of obesity related health issues.
24 Filming Error: A Car In The Background
This error is a quirky one. In the scene with Sam and Frodo in a field with a scarecrow, you could clearly see a car appear twice in the background. Despite this evidence, Peter Jackson claims to have never seen a car while the post-production team says they took it out.
The car appears on the National Geographic documentary, Beyond The Movie The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring and the music documentary on the extended DVD. However it is removed from the DVD version of the movie and instead, the visual effects cover up is just about visible if you know what to look for.
23 Continuity: Mysterious Envelope
In the sequence where Gandalf seals an envelope and hands it to Frodo for safekeeping that seal is incredibly inconsistent. There are five shots of the envelope and in every single one the seal looks slightly different.
First, you see Gandalf seal the envelope. In the next shot, he hands a slightly different looking envelope to Frodo. This is followed by Frodo examining yet another envelope after Gandalf leaves. Later when Gandalf reappears two more envelopes are seen both in the trunk and in Gandalf’s hands.
22 Storyline - Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith is the biggest plot hole for me personally. The city consists of a castle built into a mountain with nothing much else around. They are under siege and preparing for war. So how come they seem to have no issues with food or supplies?
They have no visible means of collecting food.
It looks like it would be the easiest city in the world to starve out. The rulers having banquets and everyone running around the place being mildly concerned just doesn’t add up. External events and location should add up to one starving and desperate city.
21 Filming Error: The Staff Power Cable
Back when The Fellowship Of The Ring was filmed using cables for powering anything and everything was the norm and Gandalf’s staff was no exception. It was powered by a long black cable which can sometimes be seen sneaking out of his robes.
One of the most noticeable instances of this is when the Fellowship are entering the secret door to Moria. As Gandalf leads the way inside you can see the trailing power cord moving behind him. A short while later it is visible again as Gandalf climbs the stairs with Legolas.
20 Continuity: The Changing Wagon
As Gandalf and Frodo ride towards Bag End the wagon they are riding in houses a couple of continuity errors. First is the scarf which goes from hanging on the lantern to vanishing. It then repeats this several times as the scene plays out.
The other error is with Gandalf’s staff. At the beginning of the scene, it is by Frodo’s shoulder. As the movie cuts to a shot from behind it has moved to the back of the wagon. Other items in the wagon also change position.
19 Storyline - The Boats
During The Fellowship Of The Ring, we are shown that the Ringwraiths don’t like water. After chasing Arwen they turn away when she rides into the river. Although they can ride into shallow waters they appear to have no desire to go deeper.
So why don’t the Fellowship use more boats?
They are shown with boats so why don’t they hop into the Brandywine River, head west until they meet the ocean and then sail down the coast, all the way to Gondor. Surely that would have helped a great deal?
18 Filming Error: Horse Swap
In the sequence where Arwen races to the Ford of Bruinen to escape she rides at least two very different horses.
One horse is grey with white and black hairs and the other a completely different grey that is white with red hairs. Horse lovers also point out that they have totally different muscling and hind-end conformations.
The most noticeable way to spot it is by looking at the horse's neck as the first horse has a much thinner neck than the other.
17 Continuity: Missing Pony
Close to the beginning of the Fellowship’s journey we see them all resting on Hollin’s hilltop. While there the camera shows Bill the Pony clearly tethered in the background while the other’s rest.
Suddenly Saruman’s spying crows descend and the Fellowship quickly hides.
However, as we see the hillside Bill the pony is nowhere to be seen. Who hid him? No one is shown moving him and he’s not visible anywhere near the others. He has simply vanished.
16 Storyline - Galadriel Glosses Over The Truth
Galadriel’s epic monologue at the start of the movie is a fantastic introduction. Dramatic, intriguing and well written it sets out the tale of the rings really well. Except it’s inaccurate.
Galadriel clearly had a bit of a memory blank when she started talking about the One Ring which “passed out of all knowledge”.
It was in fact well known about, despite being lost. Several of the Elves, including Galadriel herself, were, in fact, alive during the defeat of Sauron. Maybe being so old is having an effect on her memory.
15 Filming Error: Visible Stunt Wires
As you would expect many scenes in the movie required stunt wires, especially fight scenes. This is always a risk as stunt wires can be difficult to hide. One instance where they seemed to just completely fail in this task is the fight at Orthanc.
This is one mistake you don’t even have to look hard for.
In one of the wide overhead shots, you can see Saruman flying backward towards the doors, a clear trick in need of stunt wires. As he moves a very obvious wire tugs Christopher Lee’s robes taut, visibly pulling at them.
14 Continuity: Balin’s Tomb Errors
The scene in Balin’s tomb is very emotional but also packed with continuity errors, suggesting a reshoot or large gap between different shots being filmed.
The most obvious mistake is with Gimli. In one shot he is resting his head on the tomb and in the next wider shot he is much further away, making such a move impossible from that position.
In the background, there is a rock with some skeletal remains next to it. This also swaps sides as the sequence progresses, supporting the reshoot theory.
13 Storyline – Faramir Is Not Himself
In the movie trilogy, Faramir’s character was changed by Peter Jackson. Not only did he add in a scene to show Faramir be tempted by the ring like everyone else but he also added the entire Osgiliath sequence.
The events in Osgiliath were added to delay Frodo and Sam getting to Cirith Ungol, as this was moved to the second movie.
Jackson also stated that he wanted to really demonstrate the ring’s power and he felt that the march to Osgiliath helped with this.
12 Filming Error: Legolas Changes Outfits
Around 45 minutes into the movie there is a part where Haldir says “Welcome Legolas, son of Thranduil”. This was one of the first scenes filmed and Legolas’ outfit is different to the one worn in scenes both before and after it.
There are also some minor changes to Gimili’s hair and beard.
According to the commentary on the extended DVD, this is because after filming the first few scenes they decided the costumes weren’t working and changed them. However, they didn’t go back and refilm the odd snippets with the old costume.
11 Continuity: Confusing Hobbits
In the scene at the Prancing Pony in Bree, there is some confusion with Merry and Pippin and just who is getting the drinks in. First, we see Merry go and buy a drink and come back with it. Pippin then leaves to get a drink for himself.
The action then cuts to Sam and Frodo talking about a man watching them. When the shot cuts back to the table it is Pippin who is sat there and Merry is nowhere to be seen.
10 Storyline - Rapid Aging
When Bilbo surrenders the ring he is said to be 111 years old, although he appears around 50 or so. The reason for this is said to be that the ring is responsible, with it being credited for keeping Bilbo youthful.
As the movies continue this all falls apart as Bilbo begins to age rapidly.
While this in itself is not an issue Gollum complicates things. Gollum wore the ring for far longer than Bilbo, and has been without it for even longer than that. However, despite Gollum being ringless he does not seem to age at all during the movies, appearing to be spritely and youthful in physique.
9 Filming Error: Fake Hobbit
Arwen being chased by the Ringwraiths is a scene which is incredibly well done but really doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Not only are there issues with the horse but there’s a very obvious imposter.
As she races towards, and eventually into the river, you can very clearly see the fake hobbit on her horse. The fake hobbit is supposed to represent the injured Frodo as he rides with her. However, the illusion is shattered when it bounces up and down on the horse like a rubber band.
8 Continuity: Moving Logs
In the scene at Amon Hen where Boromir is carrying logs there are obvious continuity errors concerning the logs number and position. Boromir carries some logs which change number and pattern.
Either someone made a mistake or Sean Bean likes to juggle logs off camera.
When you first see him talking to Frodo they are in one configuration. The camera cuts away from him and when it comes back just before he throws the logs on the ground there are a different number and the positions have changed as well.
7 Storyline – The Eagles
A list of Lord Of The Rings plot holes wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the eagles. The question of why the Eagles were not used to fly the ring all the way to Mordor predates the movies.
There are a few reasons stated as to why this wouldn’t work but I’ve yet to see a convincing argument. While it may be argued that they aren’t servants or want to sit this whole thing out neither really holds up.
They turn up at the final battle ready for war, so why didn’t they intervene earlier and then the whole sending hobbits to walk miles and miles thing could have been avoided.
6 Filming Error: Hobbit Stockings
The Hobbits not only have big hairy feet but they also never wear shoes. Obviously, this could cause issues for the actors during filming. To protect the actors' feet from both the prosthetics and the cold stockings were used.
During the scenes were Frodo is rolling down the snow covered hill and Boromir picks up the ring you can clearly see the stockings. They were vital for this section of filming as it took place in real snow.
They also had some other hobbit feet issues when in the Midgewater Marshes you can see a part of Pippins foot rip off as he falls in.
5 Continuity: The Buttoned Vest
Around thirty minutes into the film, there is a fight between Frodo and a Troll. As he is attacked the buttons on his vest are closed. However, when Aragorn rolls him over to check on his health they are open.
The vest remains open until the next scene where the company is surrounded.
It then closes as the swap is made to Frodo’s scale double. As they begin to move the vest has two buttons closed and is then shown buttoned again.
4 Storyline - Speedy Elves
Elves are naturally more agile and speedy than other characters in the movie, however, they are not as speedy as portrayed. During the movies, especially in later parts, they appear to almost teleport across the land.
The movie makes great pains to portray the Fellowship moving at a realistic pace, slowly across the land. Somehow though this gets forgotten when it comes to the elves. The most obvious example is actually in The Two Towers when they just suddenly arrive in Helm’s Deep before the orcs with no explanation.
3 Filming Error: Scale Doubles
Amon Hen is the scene of a great battle, but one not without its errors in production. While Boromir tries to protect Merry and Pippin we see a close-up of Pippin running towards and Uruk. As the action jumps from a close-up Pippin’s face to a wide shot you can very obviously notice the scale doubles used in that shot.
The back of the Uruk Pippin is jumping onto also looks very different, with both the clothes and amount of visible dirt different in the following shots.
2 Continuity: Desk Clutter
There is a scene which takes place in Bag End where Gandalf pulls Samwise in through a window and throws him on the desk before he questions him. As the scene plays out and Gandalf asks questions the camera switches between Gandalf and Sam’s perspectives.
Whenever Sam is shown in shot the arrangement of clutter on the desk and floor vary. In some shots, you see a wooden box and book on the floor and in others, it is a book or paper.
1 Storyline – A Women's Place
Although Peter Jackson’s addition of female characters was mostly under fire during The Hobbit trilogy there is evidence of it right through the Lord Of The Rings trilogy as well. In the original novels, no mention is made of women for the most part. Those who do make it in play a much lesser role than Jackson offers on the big screen.
This addition splits fans between those who want to see women represented on screen and those who feel the material should be more faithfully adapted. This one is a plot difference which will no doubt continue to be debated for years to come.