Martin Scorsese Helped Push Peter Jackson To Finish Filming The Lord Of The Rings

Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy will go down in history as one of the best fantasy film adaptations of all time. It has everything from elves, orcs, and hobbits to talking trees, giant eagles, and one seriously scary gold ring (I mean, can you imagine if that thing was a wedding band?). Fans of the films still debate over Legolas and Aragorn, think the battle for Helm's Deep is one of the greatest onscreen battles of all time, and cry every time Aragorn says, "My friends, you bow to no one." It is one of the best epic tales ever written, and Jackson definitely did it justice turning it into films. 

Obviously, with the whole elf/dwarf/wizard thing, "The Lord of the Rings" is classified as fantasy, and because of that, you may never expect the films to have any connection to movies more rooted in the real world. Especially if that real world is one full of mobsters looking to take a little trip to the desert to solve their biggest problems. However, it turns out that Jackson, during some of his more stressful moments filming "The Lord of the Rings," found unlikely inspiration in the films of mobster auteur Martin Scorsese. 

An unlikely source of inspiration

When you think of mobsters, you do not necessarily think of elves (even if that would be an excellent premise for a movie). But if you're Peter Jackson, elves can get made, too. For Jackson, making "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was no small feat. During an interview with The Director's Guild of America, he talked about the long months spent shooting. "We had an 18-month shoot, [and] I got so exhausted and when that happens your brain stops sparking and your imagination stops fizzing the way you'd like it to," he explains. This is definitely problematic when you are trying to create an epic that requires a lot of creative energy. So to combat the mental fatigue, Jackson turned to none other than Martin Scorsese.

"I've always been completely into genre directors: Stuart Gordon, George Romero, Sam Raimi," he told the DGA, but it was Scorsese that helped give Jackson the energy to carry on. "I got to a point where, on my day off, I'd put on a DVD of 'Goodfellas' or 'Casino' and say, 'Okay, I know what I've got to try and do now,'" he said. The films helped focus his mind and inspired him to bring his A-game to "The Lord of the Rings." "I couldn't do it as good as Scorsese," continued Jackson, "But [his films] inspired and re-energized me, telling me what my job is: to come up with interesting ways to shoot scenes, interesting camera moves, and interesting ways to show the performance." 

Frodo Baggins, a made Hobbit

But what if Martin Scorsese's films and the Mafia arc in general are not that far removed from "The Lord of the Rings"? If you're watching "Casino" or "Goodfellas," you have the good guys and the bad guys. Typically, both sides have beef with one another and consist of a hierarchy that allows them to function successfully. The two gangs are at war with one another, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure their positions and power are known and understood. Sounds a little bit like "The Lord of the Rings," right?

If we think of Sauron and Gandalf as Mafia bosses overseeing everything, then there are clearly two sides to the war in Middle-earth. Sauron wants the Ring for power. Gandalf wants the Ring to destroy it and return peace to the land. Obvious One Ring/Mafia pinky ring comparisons aside, the two men are clearly in charge of a whole host of underlings they direct and have do their bidding. For Sauron, his right-hand man or underboss would be Saruman, in charge of creating an Uruk-hai army designed specifically to do Sauron's bidding. Gandalf's right-hand man would be Aragorn, Gondor's rightful king and heir. Together, the two of them direct and control the actions of the side fighting for good to ensure that Frodo and Sam — soldiers who are made men given the task of taking the Ring on foot to Mordor — make it to their destination unscathed.

Obviously, "The Lord of the Rings" is far more medieval than that of a Scorsese film. No one in "Casino" is getting whacked with a Morgul blade. But there is still a lot of death, scheming, and desire for power, leaving one to wonder if maybe Jackson was more inspired by his repetitive watching of Scorsese's filmography than it may seem on the surface.