JRR Tolkien, famed author of The Lord of the Rings, wasn’t one for Beatlemania. At least, he wasn’t keen on the English pop band turning his novels into a fantasy movie, and prevented it from happening.
This titbit has emerged from The Beatles: Get Back, a new documentary miniseries on Disney Plus. Peter Jackson, director of Get Back, tells the BBC he’d been “scraping together” what happened while making the TV series, in order to get some clarity. “What I understand is that Denis O’Dell, who was their Apple film producer, who produced The Magic Christian, had the idea of doing Lord of The Rings,” Jackson says. “When they [The Beatles] went to Rishikesh and stayed in India, it was about three months with the Maharishi at the beginning of 1968, he sent the books to The Beatles.”
The idea didn’t get far with Tolkien, who shut it down as soon as he was able. “Ultimately, they couldn’t get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn’t like the idea of a pop group doing his story. So it got nixed by him,” Jackson explains. “They tried to do it. There’s no doubt about it. For a moment in time they were seriously contemplating doing that at the beginning of 1968.”
There’s an ironic connection here since Jackson directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the early 2000s. The man who did what The Beatles couldn’t, now making a Disney Plus show about them.
Rumour has it Stanley Kubrick would have directed, with McCartney as Frodo, Starr as Sam, Harrison as Gandalf, and Lennon as Gollum. Jackson believes this all to be true, with it also being planned as a musical. What could’ve been!
The Beatles made three comedy movies in the ’60s – A Hard Day’s Night, Help, and Magical Mystery Tour. This new series looks at the recording of their final album, Let It Be, and their subsequent breakup.
Three feature-length episodes will be released on Disney Plus from November 25 through November 27. A new Lord of the Rings series is in the works from Amazon, with season 2 already confirmed, and filming in the UK next year.