“I dislike equally any pull towards ‘scientification’”: Even Tolkien Can Never Accept How One Lord of the Rings Magical Item Was Atrociously Exaggerated

J.R.R. Tolkien was very much against the exaggeration of lembas in big-screen movies.

j.r.r. tolkien, lord of the rings
credit: wikimedia commons/The Hydrophilian

SUMMARY

  • J.R.R. Tolkien was unhappy with the Lord of the Rings script written Morton Grady Zimmerman.
  • The author slammed the screenwriter for over-exaggerating the true purpose of lembas.
  • Christopher Tolkien, son of the author, hated Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films.
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It was 1957 when screenwriter Morton Grady Zimmerman approached J.R.R. Tolkien on the subject of creating an animated film out of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The famed British author expressed all of his sentiments and criticisms about the script in a series of letters.

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jrr tolkien bbc
J.R.R. Tolkien via BBC

It turns out, he was not fond of the interpretation of his books in the said script. He also accused Zimmerman of never reading the books, only skimming through them, and composing the screenplay based on the fragments he remembered from the novels.

J.R.R. Tolkien Lambasted Morton Grady Zimmerman’s Animated Film Script Of The Lord Of The Rings

A post from The Tolkien Wiki Community generously shared an excerpt of Letter 210 that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about the proposed animated movie. One of the trivial but very intriguing observations he made was about the lembas.

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Lembas, ‘waybread’, is called a ‘food concentrate’. As I have shown I dislike strongly any pulling of my tale towards the style and feature of ‘contes des fées’, or French fairy stories. I dislike equally any pull towards ‘scientification’, of which this expression is an example. Both modes are alien to my story.”

orlando bloom legolas lembas
Orlando Bloom’s Legolas holding lembas

From this statement alone, readers would immediately have a grasp of how angry Tolkien was upon the treatment of the lembas. He continued:

We are not exploring the Moon or any other more improbable region. No analysis in any laboratory would discover chemical properties of lembas that made it superior to other cakes of wheat meal.”

He also noted that in the book, lembas has two functions. It serves as a “device for making credible the long marches with little provision.” Still, it has a greater significance in the story, which can be categorized as the religious kind. Tolkien pointed out how he “cannot find that Z has made any particular use of lembas even as a device.”

The exaggeration of the lembas in the proposed script was something that Tolkien was very against. Unfortunately, Peter Jackson ignored this in his live-action films. In a deleted scene from The Lord of the Rings movie, Orlando Bloom’s Legolas quipped, “One small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man.”

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This was precisely what the author criticized in Zimmerman’s warped script. It dismissed the true purpose of the lembas, and instead, the filmmaker made it sound quite fancy like it’s some sort of a fairy food.

Christopher Tolkien Hated Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

the lord of the rings poster
Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien was not the only one left dissatisfied with the treatment of the books. His son, Christopher Tolkien, surprisingly hated Peter Jackson’s films. He told Le Monde in 2012 (via Decent Films):

They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25, and it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

It seems like both the Tolkiens were never happy with how The Lord of the Rings movies were translated into the big screen.

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Regardless, fans loved the trilogy, and it emerged as one of the timeless, fan-favorite films of all time. The Lord of the Rings is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

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Written by Ariane Cruz

Articles Published: 2015

Ariane Cruz, Senior Content Writer. She has been contributing articles for FandomWire since 2021, mostly covering stories about geek pop culture. With a degree in Communication Arts, she has an in-depth knowledge of print and broadcast journalism. Her other works can also be seen on Screen Rant and CBR.