There are few movie franchises as iconic as Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series. As beloved as the films are, they suffer from a certain number of inconsistencies that have baffled fans for years. One such inconsistency occurs during a scene in which Merry and Pippin have been captured by the Orcs, who debate over whether they should eat the little hobbits right on the spot.
An argument leads to the Orc Ugluk cutting off another orc’s head, declaring, “Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!” Stephen Ure, who played the Orc Grishnakh, who first proposed eating the hobbits, admitted in an interview with Thrillist that while the scene has garnered an immense following within the LOTR fandom and through internet memes, the word “menu” makes no sense in the context of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.
“There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t really make sense. Of course they wouldn’t know what a menu was. You’re not going to start debating the writing, because maybe then they are going to run away and rewrite it and then you are going to be sitting there in all that stuff. Really, at the end of the day, you just want it to be over and get out of that stuff. I had no idea that this scene had become so famous. There’s a lot of clunky things in there. It’s Philippa Boyens. She puts all this stuff in there that doesn’t make sense. She was taken on board because she was the Tolkien expert. I can tell the lines that Philippa wrote. Like in the third film where I’m playing Gorbag, and when I finally come up from the big orc fight that starts over the Mithril vest, and I’m going to kill Elijah [Wood as Frodo], and say, “I’m going to bleed you like a stuck pig.”
Of course, it is not entirely outside the realm of possibility that Orcs would have heard of the word “menu” at some point, and understood what it meant. Despite being portrayed as savages who are barely more coherent than animals, the orcs of Middle-Earth have their own history, their own social structure, and their own reasons for taking part in the War of the Rings on Sauron’s behalf. Jed Brophy, who played the Orcs Snaga in the films, explained how he crafted a meaningful persona for his character with the help of Peter Jackson.
“There was a general discussion with Peter about how they’ve been twisted. Originally, they were elves. They were hoodwinked mostly by Melkor and chemically changed or changed through black magic or whatever. They probably don’t have a lot of the remnants of that left in them. Their agenda is to try and find food wherever possible. The whole tongue thing [I did] was that the teeth were quite sharp and I was trying that out and Peter saw me doing the tongue and said, “That’s cool. He’s a bit like a lizard.” So I went, “Okay, that’s a great template.” You always look for a hook in any kind of creature that you’re playing. With Snaga, it was just he just wants any kind of incidental food or scraps of clothing they can find. They are kind of scavengers really but also opportunists. They are totally beaten down by their overlord and any kind of joy they can find for themselves, they will find. The cockney thing just came out of that there are various English dialects in Middle Earth and this was an idea that Peter and Fran came up with that they were more Cockney.”
We will be seeing Orcs once again in Amazon’s upcoming adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work that is set to take place centuries before Frodo Baggins came across the One Ring of Power. Perhaps the show will do a better job of showing the Orcs as people with understandable motivations rather than an army of evil minions.
Produced by Amazon Studios, The Lord of the Rings stars Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Maxim Baldry, Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Thusitha Jayasundera, Fabian McCallum, Simon Merrells, Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, and Sara Zwangobani. The series is expected to premiere on Amazon Prime Video in 2021. This news originated at Thrillist.com.
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