This study is concerned not so much with minor changes that were done for the sake of time constraints – for example, the fact that the hobbits had a long journey by river before they reached Bree – but rather with more thematic and seemingly unnecessary changes that seem to veer away from the spirit of the book.
The depiction of the fight at Weathertop between Aragorn and the hobbits and the Nazgul is one of the sequences where the portrayal of the characters of the hobbits – especially Merry and Pippin – seems to represent them in a different light than did Tolkien. In the book, Aragorn himself starts the fire at the mountaintop. In the movie, however, Merry, Pippin and Sam foolishly start the fire because they are hungry and want to fry some tomatoes and bacon:
Pippin: Can I have some meat?
Merry: Okay. Want some tomatoes, Sam? Great tomatoes!
Frodo: (Waking up from sleep) What are you doing?
Merry: Tomatoes, sausages, nice crispy bacon.
Sam: We saved some for you, Mr. Frodo.
Frodo: Put it out, you fools! Put it out! (Begins stamping out the fire)
Pippin: Oh that’s nice! Ash on my tomatoes!
This is not the first attempt to portray Merry, Pippin and Sam as the comic relief in the movie. In earlier scenes such as the one where Pippin wants a ‘second breakfast’ but Aragorn will have none of it, the mood is at least light-hearted. In the Weathertop scene, the audience is made to believe that Merry and Pippin are gluttonous, reckless hobbits who neither know nor care about the importance of the mission they are on. Their stupidity is directly responsible for Frodo’s being stabbed by the Mordor blade carried by one of the Nazgul. This scene also highlights the nature of Frodo’s experience with the ring. ...