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Peter Jackson says JRR Tolkien stopped The Beatles 'Lord of the Rings' film

The story of The Beatles’ desire to make a Lord of the Rings film is a well-known one, and now, the man behind both The Lord of the Rings film franchise and the new Beatles documentary Get Back, Peter Jackson, has discussed the age-old tale. 

Famously, in 1968, when Jackson was only six, the author of The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien, refused the Liverpool band permission to make a big-screen adaptation of his novels. 

In a new interview with the BBC, Jackson revealed that working on Get Back gave him the opportunity to ask Paul McCartney about what truly happened to their proposed version of The Lord of the Rings.

“I’ve been scraping together little pieces of information. I’ve been interrogating Paul about it. Ringo doesn’t remember much,” Jackson said. “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 revealed that when The Beatles stayed in India at the start of 1968 for three months, O’Dell forwarded the books on to the band. Jackson then posited that he believed that John, Paul and George each got a separate instalment in the franchise to read, with Ringo missing out. However, the band loved Tolkien’s work.

Jackson explained: “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. 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.”

Legend has it that if the film got the go-ahead, each of the band members would play large roles in the film. McCartney would have been Frodo, Ringo as Sam, Lennon as Gollum and Harrison as Gandalf.

In addition to this, The Beatles wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct, who at the time was the hottest auteur around, and had just released the groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of the legend, Jackson said: “Paul couldn’t remember exactly when I spoke to him, but I believe that is the case.”

Jackson also revealed the discussions he had with McCartney about how The Beatles not doing the film changed his own life. He recalled: “Paul said, ‘Well I’m glad we didn’t do it, because you got to do yours and I liked your film.’ But I said to him, ‘Well, it’s a shame you didn’t do it, because it would have been a musical.'”

Jackson postulated: “What would The Beatles have done with a Lord of the Rings soundtrack album? That would have been 14 or 15 Beatles songs that would have been pretty incredible to listen to.”

The thought of The Beatles soundtracking The Lord of the Rings is an incredible one, and it makes us wish that Tolkien would have given the film the green light. However, Peter Jackson‘s trilogy is iconic, and it is hard to imagine popular culture without it. Still, it’s food for thought.

Watch the trailer for Get Back below.