Even if you've never seen The Lord Of The Rings, you'll likely know the oddly iconic "Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!" line shouted by an orc in the second movie. One of the most iconic moments of the trilogy, and today, we finally got an explanation for why this bizarre line made it into the final cut.
Ok, so, Peter Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings series is not and was never going to be a wholly faithful reproduction of J. R. R. Tolkien's original work. It's over 1,100 pages long in total and it isn't feasible to include every single detail into an adaptation that uses a different medium. There's going to be a little wiggle room, creatively speaking. Whether you omit certain parts or extend other parts, or condense these parts into one cohesive part, you've got to stick close to the story while directing something that is (mostly) entertaining to watch for eleven hours of a viewer's time. As a result, you get a collection of moments in The Lord Of The Rings that have tickled us, and one of these is the fact that orcs from a fantasy land far, far away might have an appreciation of modern restaurants.
In The Two Towers, the orcs and the Uruk-Hai clash over the prospect of eating Merry and Pippin, with the former feeling particularly peckish and the latter under the strict command of Saruman. One orc sneaks up on the two Hobbits, but meets a swift end at the sudden slice of an Uruk-Hai sword. "Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!" announces the warrior, and the creatures begin tearing apart the body for food. A darkly comic line, but it opens up a whole quandary to discuss. How do orcs know what that is? A menu is what's available to order at a restaurant. Do orcs have restaurants? Seems a little far fetched. Or is it? If there are orc warriors, then it checks out that there would also be orc farmers, butchers, chefs, waiters, cleaning staff, and so on. Are there orc carveries? What about Greggs? Pizza Hut? Pret a Manger?
You catch my drift. It's a line that is completely out of place, and actor Stephen Ure has at long last explained how the iconic shout came to be. "There's a lot of stuff that doesn't really make sense. Of course, they wouldn't know what a menu was," said Ure, who played Grishnakh in the movies, in an interview with Thrillist. "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."
If he had to guess, he'd say it was the work of screenwriter Phillippa Boynes. "She puts all this stuff in there that doesn't make sense," he continued. "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.'"
"There is that modern vernacular that slips into [the script]," added Jed Brophy, the actor who played Snaga. "I never thought about that until you mentioned it. I guess when you look at Bilbo Baggins and the types of food he eats. They do talk about banquets, especially in Hobbiton. So 'menu' [could] be a common phrase. The Uruk-hai are orcs bred with humans, so who knows where that language comes from, really?" Not the original books, that's for certain, but without this curious creative choice there'd be one less meme in the world. The darkest timeline, truly.
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