But to answer your questions: the “Scouring of the Shire” sequence is not going to be in RotK. Jackson said it “didn’t work for a movie,” and FWIW, I think that’s a good decision. I am assuming the ring’s end is the same as in the book–if not, I hope Jackson has a new identity ready, because Salman Rushdie would have nothing on him if he remade the ending in the way you’re intimating.
Desslock already wrote some stuff about “the West,” which you might be able to find by doing a search of this board.
Short Version - The world was once flat - the immortal gods lived in the a range of mountains across the sea to the West. When a crime was committed by the elves in their return to Middle-Earth - The central continent, the gods changed the world and cut off access to the West, “curving the world” instead. With one exception, those elves considered to be “High Elves”, meaning ones who had lived in the West before the god’s actions are still able to reach it. They sail in ships from the western shore of Middle Earth and their boats are able to sail to Valinor - the home of the gods. When they tire of living forever in the mortal lands they take ship back to the land of the gods - they are still alive and immortal when this happens.
Sorry, but that’s pretty screwed up. Tolkein’s world was indeed flat, but it became curved as a result of the Numenorean’s attack on Valinor near the end of the Second Age. The Valar (who are angels, not gods) called upon Eru (who is God) and he englobed the earth, destroying Numenor and removing access to Valinor in the process. All Elves–not just high elves, but all of them–can sail the “Straight Road” to Valinor, but until the end of the Third Age, when Frodo/Bilbo/Sam/Gimli also go, no one else could.
I wondered about a changed movie ending after reading the book too - there’s probably still an old thread here with a little discussion of it.
On the one hand, it’s extremely unlikely it’s going to happen. Leaving things out in order to stay under 3 hours is mostly forgivable, but most other changes are not received well at all. As I recall, there was a small uproar over perceived changes to how the Balrog got Gandalf in the first movie (partly revisiting the book & movie to determine if the spirit of the book was in fact changed).
On the other hand, I found the ending surprisingly disappointing. I was hoping that someone would play a more deliberate and active role in destroying the ring. Gollum’s involvement had plenty of foreshadowing, but “he steals it back, then trips” was pretty anticlimactic to me. It may as well have been Sauron gets the ring back, but then a giant eagle drops him & the ring in the fires. “Frodo, I sense that Gollum still has a part to play in this quest. Or, if you do get sick of him and dump him, untie your shoes before you enter Mt Doom.”
So while I think I’d like to see an alternate ending, I think I’m in a very, very small minority. There are lots of people who like the ending just the way it is, and probably some who feel it is a little unsatisfying, but wouldn’t want to see such an important part of a great story changed for any reason.
The ring will fall with Gollum. How they portray it is another story. From the book I got the feeling tha Gollum sorta was the anti martyr (?) unintentinoally saving the world… its kind of realistic in that bad things (chewing Frodo’s finger off!) sometimes turn out good! Is it fate or accident? Who knows…
As I understood it, Gollum personifies the morale of the story: being good (= letting Gollum live and bring him along) always pays off, even in unexpected ways, and being bad leads to self-destruction. I thought it was quite clever how Tolkien combined the two “lessons” into one scene.
The ending still is an enigma because Frodo gave in and Gollum gave in as well. Its really Sam who endures… but the Ring is the cause of the corruption of Frodo and Smeagol. Good does win out in the end (at what cost?), but Tolkiem implicity says that evil (written in the time of Nazism/WW2) unbeknownst, can onsidiously tempt its way to even the most goodhearted like Frodo. I guess the book is about the loss of innocence than about the triumph over Evil… which it is about as well, but I get more of losing things in the trilogy, especially with almost all the major characters haeding west at the very end.
Kind of weird how Peter Jackson kind of does the same thing in Frighteners at the end, when the mom is condemned to hell for choosing evil… wait a minute thats another topic…
I’d like to see Jackson borrow the ending from another of his earlier films, namely Bad Taste. Gollum could swallow the ring, and then Frodo could pull out his trusty chainsaw, jump in the air Matrix-style, burrow his way down through Gollum’s torso from the the head, and procure the Precious the hard way. First option of punchline as he exits: “Now that’s the one true ring!”
The ring has to be restored to Gollum, because Bilbo obtained it unfairly in “The Hobbit”. Gollum/Smeagol pines for his lost, uhm, humanity almost as much as he pines for the ring, and he is at the mercy of unconscious forces, so it is not entirely an “accident” that sends him into Mt. Doom.