To shoot the sequence where Saruman is stabbed to death by Grima in the long version of “Return of the King”, the venerable actor Christopher Lee was inspired by his own memories of war.
Absent from the cinema version of The Return of the King, Saruman’s death takes the place of the outcome of Tolkien’s work, where it occurs after the destruction of the Ring, while the hobbits return home and find a Shire ravaged by the armies of the magician.
Integrated into the long version of The Lord of the Rings, this event has nevertheless been moved to the beginning of the third opus for scriptwriting reasons. In Peter Jackson’s film, it is therefore at the top of his Orthanc tower that Saruman is stabbed to death by his servant Grima.
In the audio commentary for the film, the New Zealand director recalled the filming of this sequence, and in particular a particularly puzzling exchange with Christopher Lee. To interpret Saruman’s last moments and reproduce his last breath in a realistic way, the famous British actor has indeed summoned his own memories of war:
“While rehearsing with Christopher the scene where he was stabbed, I explained to him what I wanted him to do, when he ran out of air”, tells the director. “He said to me, ‘Peter, have you ever heard the rattle a man makes when you stab him in the back?’ I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘I do. . I know what I have to do. “In wanting to know a little more, I learned that he was held in secrecy because he was an officer during the war. He went through incredible things that he did not have. the right to speak. He knows what noise the air makes when it comes out of the lungs and what growl you let out. And that’s what you hear in the movie, it’s perfectly authentic. “
A chilling anecdote to say the least, which has the merit of reminding us of the exceptional journey of Christopher lee. Before becoming a legendary comedian, the interpreter of Dracula, Scaramanga, Saruman and Count Dooku in Star Wars actually fought real battles during World War II. As you can read in our dedicated paper to his incredible record of service, he testifies indeed to having served in the Royal Air Force, in the SAS, and even to having participated in the hunt for Nazi war criminals.
Testimonies that some have criticized the actor for embellishing a little, even if his many medals are there to attest to an extraordinary journey, which has probably rubbed off on some of his characters in the cinema.
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