Nazgûl attack the Prancing Pony and Leaving Bree – LotR Film & Book Differences, Lore explained

Nazgûl attack the Prancing Pony and Leaving Bree – LotR Film & Book Differences, Lore explained


In this series I go through the Lord of the
Rings films in the Extended Edition bit by bit and try to explain all differences and
references in detail. I also try to pronounce names as Tolkien described
it. Again the small hint towards my Discord Server
– feel free to join – and Twitch Channel. I’m streaming after this episode releases. In the last episode we stopped shortly after
the Hobbits received Gandalf’s letter from Butterbur (which is not in the film) and the
Hobbits discussing with Strider, if he can be trusted. But before we continue I want to mention the
Lord of the Rings animated film from 1978. I recently talked to a close friend (shout
outs to Treeslife) and he mentioned this unusual film, which I knew, but it wasn’t too present
in my mind anymore, but it seems it actually influenced Peter Jackson and it shows. If we jump back to episode 6, we see this
scene with the Black Rider Khamûl sniffing for the One Ring, while the Hobbits hide under
tree roots. In the book Merry is not with them and the
scene is described totally different. So it seems this scene was heavily inspired
by the animated film, where the scene exists in a very similar form too. There are many other similarities. E.g. in the audio commentary Peter Jackson
mentions that the “Proudfeet” scene (with this little joke ) was a direct homage to
Ralph Bakshi’s adaption. But there are also many differences and it
must also be considered, that both adapt the same source material and some scenes are just
straight out of the book, like Strider sitting in a dark corner inside the Prancing Pony. Which brings us back to where we stopped. Note that many parts of this episode are missing
in the film completely and can only be found in the book. Some dialogues are however referenced. Interestingly the mentioned animated film
depicts these scenes from the book in more detail. When Frodo, Sam and Pippin had red the letter
and discussed, if Strider can be trusted, we also find a great scene. Strider introduces himself and also draws
his broken sword after it, which is Narsil, quote: He stood up, and seemed suddenly to grow taller. In his eyes gleamed a light, keen and commanding. Throwing back his cloak, he laid his hand
on the hilt of a sword that had hung concealed by his side. They did not dare to move. Sam sat wide-mouthed staring at him dumbly. ‘But I am the real Strider, fortunately,’
he said, looking down at them with his face softened by a sudden smile. ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by
life or death I can save you, I will.’ This sentence was moved in the film to the
Council of Elrond. What is interesting here: Strider puts his
hand on the hilt and draws it a moment later. It’s almost like an oath and as an actual
heir from the line of the Dúnedain Kings an oath of him has meaning. It it said that those Kings could call for
Eru (which is god). E.g. once the Oathbreakers swore allegiance
to Isildur and they broke their word, so Isildur cursed them and this curse was accepted by
Eru. As a result the Oathbreaker would not beallowed
to rest in peace until their oath was fulfilled. I would not argue that supernatural elements
are going on here, but of all Men, Aragorn knows what it means to swear an oath and he
would never do it without thought or actually meaning what he says. I think this gives this scene a lot of impact. It’s not just a one liner. Tolkien manages through the depth of his lore
to put weight behind it and I think you can feel it while reading. As often said: I can fully recommend reading
these chapters. In this dialogue Strider also suggests to
take paths that only few know and to go to the Weathertop first. Gandalf would go there too, so there is potential
to meet him. After this conversation Merry rushed into
the room with Nob (one of the two Hobbits working for Mr. Butterbur, the innkeeper),
who found Frodo’s friend lying on the street. Strider asked where that was, which scared
Merry for a moment (because he was not aware of him) and he wondered who that man was. Frodo answered “a friend of Gandalf” and
that he would explain it later to him. Merry continued, that when he strolled outside
he saw something like a deeper shade among the shadows and carefully followed it. Strider complemented him having a “stout
heart”, but also calling him “foolish”. However Merry explained that it was like he
was drawn to it, which is a really interesting detail. He followed it to the last house on the road
(that is where Bill Ferny is living) and heard a whispering and hissing voice talking to
someone. The Nazgûl in the film also whisper almost
like hissing at times, which I really like (I think the first time the hissing is mentioned
is when the Black Rider speaks to Farmer Maggot in the book, but here we have it again). Merry got really frightened a tried to get
back to the inn, but something was getting close behind him and he suddenly collapsed
on the street. Two men or shapes were standing around the
unconscious hobbit, but Nob, who was sent by Butterbur with a lantern to look for Merry,
saw someone lying on the street and gave a shout, resulting in the two shapes suddenly
disappearing. He roused Merry and when he awoke he started
running back to the inn as fast as he could and Nob followed him. He could not explain, why he became unconscious,
but Strider called it the “Black Breath”. We will meet this term several times in the
book, but basically the breath of the Nazgûl is poisonous and makes those too close to
them unconscious. It can probably be deadly when you are longer
exposed to it. A part we rarely talked about in this series
are dreams. This is missing almost completely in the films,
but in the books dreams of e.g. Frodo are often mentioned, we will probably have a look
at them in future episodes. However in this case Merry also reports about
a bad dream and that it felt like falling into deep water. As mentioned I find it quite interesting,
that Merry seems to be drawn to the Nazgûl too. Ofc Sauron’s power and the power of the One
Ring is dominance over others. Merry being close to the Ring the whole time
could be a reason, or that Sauron’s powerful servants also have power to dominate normal
minds to some degree or both. It is more like an aura and ofc the Ringwraith’s
sheer presence caused terror to most normal people and beings. E.g. Strider says he saw how the Black Riders talked
to Harry Goatleaf (the gatekeeper), who works for Bill Ferny (the guy who is selling information
to the Nazgûl), and he was pale and shaking after talking to them. So he is under their influence through their
terror. However Strider concluded out of this, that
the riders knew everything about the Hobbits from Ferny and that they had to act carefully
now. He did not expect them to openly attack the
inn. Their power was terror and darkness and they
were not all here yet (in addition they knew that there’s still a long way to go for the
hobbits). Even in the film they were not all present
in Bree and we come to why that is in a moment. He also expected that they have influence
on Ferny and his men and use them against the Hobbits too. So he recommended to stay in this parlour,
watching the door and window, because the enemy most likely knew where the rooms of
the hobbits were by now. These hobbit rooms were also on ground level
(which the small folk prefers) and the windows faced north. I assume the direction hints at, that sun
and moon are not shining from there and the Nazgûl are most powerful and fear-inducing
in the dark. Now we come finally back to the film. There (as mentioned last episode) Strider
has a conversation with the hobbits too and introduces the Nazgûl, which happens in the
book the first time (and only briefly), when Frodo talked to Gandalf in the Shire and the
second time when he awakes in Rivendell and talks to Gandalf again. For time’s and pacing’s sake I can understand
why Peter Jackson and his team decided to present this information here though and Strider
also mentions in the book, that he knows the riders, so it makes sense too. In the film we now see the Nazgûl running
over the gate of Bree, probably killing the gatekeeper in the process. This does not happen in the books. As mentioned the gatekeeper was under their
influence anyway and just let them in. But why aren’t there 9 Nazgûl? The films do not really explain this, but
in the books there is a simple reason for this. They split up. One group guarded the roads of Bree and the
other tried to find “Baggins” in the Shire (Frodo was just gone for a few days). If you remember: a friend of Frodo named Fredegar
Bolger stayed in the Shire and pretended to be Frodo living in Crickhollow (where Frodo
moved to after selling Bag End to Lobelia so he could leave the Shire in secret, which
all does not happen in the film). The group of Nazgûl in the Shire did not
know yet, what their colleagues in Bree found out. So they attacked Frodo’s house in Crickhollow
(I mentioned in a previous episode that we would come back to this). This happens right at the beginning of the
Chapter “A Knife in the Dark”, which comes directly after the Chapter called “Strider”. And as you can imagine a quite horrible situation
for Fredegar. What is quite interesting. The book describes that Fredegar had this
feeling of fear all day. So again the presence of the Nazgûl causes
fear and terror and makes the surroundings uneasy. When it slowly became dark he opened the door
a bit and looked outside. He saw a shadow moving and the gate seemingly
opened and closed by itself without a sound, resulting in him locking the door. The approach of the Nazgûl is quite interesting. After a while there came several horses and
dark figures approached the house silently. They all positioned themselves around the
house and one at the door and waited without movement until it was dark. Then the one at the door drew his sword, knocked
and demanded to open the door “in the name of Mordor”, which seems almost a bit “polite”. They could have just rushed inside stabbing
everyone in their sleep without saying a word, like their colleagues in Bree would do it. However Fredegar would not open the door. It’s well written and the book keeps it secret
what he is doing inside. The Nazgûl at the entrance now kicks in the
door and they rush in, but suddenly in the distance they hear a horn. Fredegar was not idle inside. When he saw the shapes he ran for his life
out of the backdoor, shouting: “Awake! Fear! Fire! Foes! Awake!” The Hobbits living in Buckland got alarmed
and used the Horn-call of Buckland, which haven’t been used in 100 years. The last time it was used in the Fell Winter,
when white wolves crossed the frozen Brandywine River. It’s interesting to see, that the Shire and
Buckland has an infrastructure for emergencies like this, which makes perfectly sense. Also Buckland had a gate and guards. The Nazgûl broke through it, when they left
the Shire. I assume this is referenced, with the Ringwraiths
breaking the Bree gate in the film (it’s described that they run down the gate and guards in
the book). The Black Riders now also knew that the house
in Crickhollow was empty and the Ring was gone. The book mentions three Nazgûl in the Shire,
so six could be in Bree at most (I could image that some would still watch the roads) and
ofc Fredegar Bolger survived. I also think this shows how brave he was for
pretending to be Frodo, drawing the attention of some Nazgûl to him. Strider mentions that one reason why they
might not have attacked the Prancing Pony openly, was that they were not all present. In Bree we see four Black Riders in the film,
but why they are not all there is not explained (as mentioned: the Crickhollow part is missing
in the adaption completely, but the film also indicates, that they probably split up too). Now in the book Strider and Nob got the luggage
of the Hobbits and Nob also had a brilliant idea. He placed some bolsters and clothes in the
beds of their intended bedrooms to make some nice hobbit imitations. Nob seems like a really smart hobbit, but
does not get the credit for this idea in the film, where he does not appear. When I saw The Fellowship of the Ring for
the first time I assumed it was Strider’s idea. And as predicted by Strider and Nob, the Nazgûl
fell for it. They sneaked in at night and stabbed the pillows. The films do this really well with a little
film trick, that plays with space and time, which is really difficult to do in a book,
which is also the reason why it is “less” spectacular there. In the book the Hobbits just slept in the
parlour, Frodo had bad dreams of wind and hoofs. When they woke up and checked the bedrooms
the other morning, they found the windows forcefully opened and the bolsters and pillows
slashed, but nobody even heard a sound. Butterbur could not sleep and even though
the presence of terror could be felt at night, nobody heard or saw anything and Butterbur
was shocked the next morning by these events. The film presents this very differently, but
it makes a lot of sense in my opinion. While reading, the thought is terrifying that
the Black Riders can just move in and out unseen and unheard, devastating a whole bed
room. In film this would probably not be as impressive. So Peter Jackson and his team went for a more
visual approach and cut the scenes with the sleeping hobbits together with the scenes,
where the Nazgûl are sneaking into the room, preparing to stab them. So it looks like the room the Ringwariths
are in and the room of the sleeping hobbits are the same. I really like this shot from under the bed. It generates “suspense” and keeps the
illusion as long as possible. When the wraiths stab into the beds, you even
see the hobbits waking up in shock. Ofc you notice, that something is not right,
but you are curious how it’s resolved. I think it’s really well done. Interestingly the animated film from 1978
has a very similar approach, so it potentially inspired Jackson. There are also some other little details. E.g. we see Butterbur awake and in terror
(as mentioned he can’t sleep in the book too). The Nazgûl just pass by and he can only hide. He knows, he can’t do anything. He is powerless. The presence of terror and this “Gothic”
movie feeling is also well transported here. The Ringwraiths seem to almost ghostly fly
through the room (they shot their movement in a higher frame rate for this look). And even though we see their metallic shoes
with spurs, which should be very loud, they almost make no sound. So their movement and steps look powerful,
but the sound design (and volume) is a bit of a contrast to it, which gives the Wraiths
this ghostly feel. Something is wrong with them – a bit uncanny. They could just be a bunch of dudes in black
robes, but with these heavy metallic and sharp elements they are actually scary. Really great design and camerawork. A difference is, that their eyes do not shine
(at least the witchking’s) and we only see darkness in their hood, but I think this works
pretty well. The glowing red eyes are probably a bit overused,
even in the early 2000s. Another small difference: the original bedroom
of the Hobbits in the film is not on the ground level, but in the first floor I assume. Ofc Hobbits usually live in hobbit holes and
don’t have high houses, so they feel more comfortable on the ground level. Butterbur pointed out, that he has some extra
rooms for the small folk, to fit their tastes. They also have round windows, which is also
different. In the film it also looks a bit like Strider
and the hobbits were not in the same building – another difference. Watching the films you can also learn a lot
about how you can work with spaces and creating illusions of space in film. Not just in this scene, but also inside the
Prancing Pony. There are small visual hints, that induce
an impression of how big the room must be, even though it’s never fully shown. I assume this is also very important, because
of the illusion of scale between Men and Hobbits. And even if a perspective would not fit after
a closer analysis, it does not attract attention while watching the film. E.g. if you look at the bed in this scene,
the angle here is actually impossible. There should be a wall where the camera is,
but it’s such a beautiful shot and it actually shows the size of the room. It’s also digitally put together. However now Strider explains what the Nazgûl
are, while watching them through the window. It cuts to Nazgûl riding through the area
and then to Strider and the Hobbits leaving Bree into the wilds in secret early in the
morning. In the book that is extremely different. Butterbur and the hobbits noticed next morning,
that someone opened the stable doors during the night and their ponies and all other horses
were gone. A disaster for everyone. Strider wanted to walk anyway, because he
planed to not use the direct way to Rivendell, taking large detours through the wild instead,
where the Nazgûl on horses could not follow. But he was not sure if they could carry enough
supplies for the journey, without at least one pony. So Butterbur send Bob to look, if someone
had a pony for sale. Ofc this delayed the hobbits massively, they
wanted to leave early in the morning and this is not happen now. When Bob returned, he only found one person,
willing to sell his pony. Bill Ferny. It was a poor half-starved creature and he
wanted 12 silver pennies for it, which was three times what it was actually worth. Butterbur was an honest man and paid for the
pony and also offered Merry (who organised their original five ones) a compensation of
18 silver pennies. So 30 in total, which is obviously quite a
bit of money and described as a big financial blow for Butterbur, who was considered relatively
wealthy. This brings us to two interesting points:
Bill Ferny was greedy and actually helped the Hobbits, out of pure greed, maximising
his profit (the hobbits speculated, if his pony would somehow betray them, but Strider
explained that every animal would be happy to be away from Ferny). So he did not care about Sauron’s plans, just
made business with the Nazgûl. Interestingly his pony, which also has the
name Bill, helped the Hobbits to reach Rivendell, diminishing the chances of the Ringwraiths
to some degree. And second, this is actually one of the few
instances, where Tolkien mentions money in his world. Interesting money is rarely mentioned in his
writings, but it exists. And this scene actually puts a value to the
currency used in Bree-land and probably surroundings. Twelve silver pennies were 3 times the value
of an “old” pony. My knowledge on ponies and their prices is
not really existent, but ofc a pony was very useful in this society, so there must be demand
for it. Still in Bree not many ponies were used, so
maybe more a thing of the surroundings villages and farm land. I also ask myself what kind of coins silver
pennies could be. Once for the settling of the Shire the Bree
Hobbits made a deal with King Argeleb II (I think I explained this in episode 2), who
ruled over the leftover Kingdom of Arnor called Arthedain (the other leftover Kingdom Cardolan
should be destroyed around this time, so Arthedain was all that was left of Arnor). In this deal the Hobbits had to e.g. maintain
certain important bridges. So I would assume they used coins of Arnor,
Arthedain or Cardolan in this region. But all this was over 1300 to 1400 years before
the events of LotR, so I can imagine their currency changed during all this time, however
after Arthedain was ultimately defeated by Angmar and the Witchking about 1100 years
before Frodo left the Shire, there was no ruling king in this region anymore. Only the Dúnedain Rangers and they are quite
unpopular in Bree during the events of the Lord of the Rings and most people don’t even
know their past anymore. So maybe the residents of this region coined
a new currency at some point or used the one of Gondor and called it differently. However the ponies and horses were except
for one not stolen. Someone just opened the stable door and drove
them away. They were later found in the surrounding Bree-land. A question would be if they ran there by themselves
and somehow got over the hedge and dike or finding another way out of Bree or if Harry
Goatleaf opened the gate for them to escape at night. Maybe it was exactly this the Nazgûl wanted
from the gatekeeper. The action was definitely planned. Merry’s five ponies went to the Barrows to
find Fatty Lumpkin, the pony of Tom Bombadil. Very smart animals. The ponies found their friend and Tom later
sent them back to Butterbur, when he heard what happened in Bree and to the innkeeper. With this Butterbur got 5 good ponies for
30 silver pennies you could say, which is probably an OK-ish deal. At least much better than nothing. What happened to the one horse that was stolen
I don’t know. I assume Bill Ferny or his men probably took
it for themselves. Maybe for the squint-eyed southerner, who
hid in Bill’s house. And because the strange fellow vanished suddenly
after this event, everyone was pretty sure, that he was behind it. When Butterbur talked to the other southerners,
they revealed, that they didn’t even know the squint-eyed guy and nobody could actually
remember, when he joined their party. This is again a very interesting detail. It also makes this guy even more mysterious,
than he already is, esp. from the perspective of the people of Bree. Also with the gatekeeper working for Bill
Ferny and the Ringwraiths he could leave unseen at night when ever he wanted. He won’t be caught. Maybe the stolen horse was also part of setting
a wrong track. So people assumed he stole one horse and was
gone with it, so nobody would search Bill Ferny’s house, because he was seen with Bill
in the Prancing Pony. In the Shire there would be the Shirriffs
probably investigating. Nothing like this seems to exist for Bree
(or at least it’s not mentioned in the aftermath), which again shows how anachronistic the Shire
is. With all this trouble Strider and the Hobbits
were delayed for hours, but at least they could have a good breakfast, which Merry appreciated
in the book (the film also reference this later, but there it’s Pippin asking for 2nd
breakfast). Now they had a pony for their supplies and
said good bye to Nob, Bob and Butterbur. Interestingly Butterbur did not trust Strider
a day before and also expressed this to the hobbits in presence of the Ranger, who gave
him a harsh response, but it seems Aragorn still likes him, just not being talked down
to. So there was some tension, but ofc both are
still allies of Gandalf and Butterbur learnt that too. So when Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin and Strider
left, the whole town was curious what was going on. People came to the streets and windows to
see them leave, some even followed them a bit down the road. The recent events just made people so curious. The magically vanishing and reappearing Shire
Hobbit in the inn (and visitors from the Shire were also seldom seen in Bree at that time),
working together with this mysterious Ranger guy called “Strider” (who was also not
very popular in Bree) and then the raid of the inn and the stable incident at at once. It’s basically an inverted parade you could
say, which is quite ironic considering, that they are on the most import mission of the
Third Age. This is ofc not in the film, but I really
like the idea. The good guys leave Bree and everyone is watching
angrily, because they don’t understand what is going on and (you could say) are ill-informed. They also get some comments on their way out,
but Strider can usually stop them with just a look. While leaving and passing Bill Ferny’s house
(at the end of the Road), he was watching them leave over the hedge of his house, giving
them some “trash talk” on their way. In the film we find a small reference to this. Ferny calls Strider “Longshanks”. Sam does so too in the film, when he kicks
in the door to Strider’s room in the Prancing Pony. An interesting potential reference: Longshanks
was also the nickname of King Edward I, so it also has something very fitting for Aragorn,
beyond the fact that Bree-landers usually had shorter legs compared to Dúnedain. Sam also gives Ferny some fitting answers
and in addition throws an apple after him, hitting him in the face and calls it “a
waste of a good apple”. A funny little scene. I think Pippin getting hit by an apple could
be a reference to it. He got the apples as a present from Nob and
Bob. Frodo also briefly sees the squint-eyed southerner
through the window of Bill Ferny’s house, who seem to look like a half-goblin according
to Frodo. We probably come to this again when we reach
the Two Towers book. And so the four Hobbits and Strider leave
Bree for the Weathertop and then Rivendell. They have to stay on the road for some time,
until they are unseen and can leave the road into the wilds, but this is a topic for next
episode. Thank you for watching. This was a long episode. I did not expect to still have so much to
say about Bree, which also delayed this episode a bit, but we can now move on to the Weathertop. I also want to hint at the Discord server
of my channel, you find the link in the description and in the pinned post. To get a “cosmetic” role on the server,
I wrote several little riddles and if you solve a specific one and send me the answer
as private message (to not spoil it for others) you can chose a house or faction of Elves,
Men, Dwarves, Hobbits and Mordor, depending on what riddle you solved. A fun little game, if you are interested. I still need to write 2 more riddles though. I will also stream on Twitch for some hours
shortly after this videos is uploaded. You know where to find the link. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I really liked writing it. If so and you want to support my channel feel
free to press the like button, check my other content and leave a comment. Maybe you know what happened to the stolen
horse. I could not remember or find it, but let me
know. In case you want to subscribe too, consider
pressing the annoying bell. Next video could be a normal lore video outside
this series again. Even though Tokyo Game Show just ended and
it could also be a gaming related video. I haven’t decided yet. But ofc there will be more Tolkien related
lore videos in the future. Again thank you for watching and good bye.

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27 thoughts on “Nazgûl attack the Prancing Pony and Leaving Bree – LotR Film & Book Differences, Lore explained”

  • New episode. It got quite long, which led to the delay and it feels like I'm talking faster than usual ^^ I hope you like it. Also check my discord: https://discord.gg/SPW68vh and I'm now live on Twitch (it'll take some minutes till it starts): https://twitch.tv/thephilosophersgames

    Mistakes:

  • The map you use for the Shire and Buckland is flawed. Buckland should be east of the Brandywine, between the river and the Old Forest. The Hedge and the Old Forest should be farther away, about 20 miles away from the Brandywine.

  • Wonderful, very well done. Wheathertop … here we come.
    You would be surprised how many of us keep an eye on our notifications for new videos for this set. Right now view numbers may be good, but in over the very long term I would expect them to reach great heights, and for them to become the primary video descriptor of film/book canon.

  • Bree seems really popular among the book and movie fans alike. There could certainly be a TV series centered around Bree, how it copes as a settlement after the fall of the last kingdom of Arnor.

  • Hi there! Love your channel and videos. Great work. Keep it up. I read somewhere (I forget where) the theory that it was Bill Ferny and the Southerner who raided the Prancing Pony. Not that I'm convinced. And the Southerner and BF were initially working for Saruman.

  • I've read the books multiple times since the first time (1970) and I've also viewed the P.J. (extended) films multiple times — and I admit that my recollection is often confused about what the differences were between the two! But even P.J. admitted he was getting foggy about what he and Fran and Philippa wrote/added/resequenced vs. the original source material, so I don't feel so stupid. In any event, I really appreciate this series because it helps me remember which is which….and how wonderful both the books and the films are. Gratitude to you, TPG.

  • Tolkien's appreciation, respect and affection for horses (and ponies) was apparent in the books. I understand he trained them for WWI. But, anyway, he knew equines well and gave them extremely important roles. I'm gratified that the movies did as much as they could to reflect that!

  • I would guess most of the coins in Shire and Bree come from the dwarves of Blue Mountains, west of Shire. They regularly travel through Shire and they would need to buy food and pipeweed from somewhere 🙂

  • Another great episode, with some charming details. Particularly the travails of some of our minor characters like Fatty Bolger and those heroic horses! Boy does old Bill have a big adventure in store for him! Your scripts are getting better and better man, truly the only channel I've felt deserved a subscription to that infection of a bell

  • Hello ThePhilosophersGames I lost you bro.I wonder if you could make a video about shapeshifting of Sauron in all his time line?

  • Please never stop this series ever. This is peak nerd content, and I love every second of it.
    Seriously, I get so excited every time I see one come out. Thank you think you!