Dan links to an AICN item in which Peter Jackson notes that the final humiliation of Sauruman and Grima Wormtongue was shot but will not be included in the theatrical release of The Return of the King; Dan correctly highlights the more troubling news that the Scouring of the Shire was cut entirely won’t appear in any release of the film.
While this cut certainly reflects the excision of the Bombadil material from the first book (both sections provide literary recapitulations of the entire plot-arc of the series, and do not contain materials that directly affect the main story), it’s a regrettable and debatable choice, potentially as misguided as the demolition of Faramir’s character inserted into the second film.
The Scouring sequence ties Tolkien’s mythos to the historical experiences of England during the industrial revolution. The professor’s quaint propagandizing for the Arts-and-Crafts aesthetic position established by the likes of Rossetti during the professor’s earliest youth is by no means something which is immune to critical analysis. Yet it’s the only section of the book in which something clearly discernible as a twentieth-century political position is outlined.
Speaking about the section from a character-development angle, it also demonstrates the extent to which both the characters of Merry and Pippin and the Shire itself have been affected by the War of the Ring, and presumably, the perception that the professor carried of the returning warriors in his own time and place.
It certainly tempers my expectations for the film. The misguided depiction of Faramir in the second film provided evidence that as expectations for the filmmakers increased they felt greater confidence in enforcing their own judgement on the materials – let’s hope that this is not merely the first of several misguided plot adjustments.
I’m going out on a limb here, but Pete, if the geeks hate it, the Oscar train ain’t arriving, mate. I know it’s too late and all, but I sure hope you heard and understood the critiques of the Faramir sequence. I’ll always be grateful to you for the experience of the first film, whatever happens, though.