Q. Asking as a fan of the books and the movies, I have a question for you: can you think of a way the Scouring could have still been kept without it feeling like the movie was dragging even more?
Sure. Make it a more hobbit-centric movie. Set up the movie emotionally so that we remember that the reason the hobbits are exposing themselves utterly unhobbitlike to danger is to save the Shire
. Instead of fond memories of the Shire, they worry
about the Shire. They're doing this for the Shire
. So the Shire becomes much more important than Gondor.
So when they get home and the Shire is in trouble, it is worse
than having hordes of orcs outside Minas Tirith. Minas Tirith is just a human
city. But now the Shire is in trouble.
I once wrote an adaptation of The Odyssey
. (You can read the first five pages in my first book, in the Appendix.) The odd thing about The Odyssey
is that the last adventure is just Odysseus dealing with a bunch of humans. He's knocked off a Kyklops, dallied with a witch, been imprisoned by a nymph, endured shipwreck, had his men eaten by cannibals ... and now all he's facing are a bunch of suitors for Penelope's hand. They're not even soldiers, these guys -- they skipped the war.
But the humans are in his
house, and they are threatening his family
. The family he's been struggling to get home to. And, by the way, they are his subjects
. So it is all much more personal and emotional. He can run away from Polyphemos. All the previous threats he can deal with in one of a hundred ways -- and he is a man of many tricks. The suitors, though, he can't run from.
Remember, it's not how important things are. It's how important things are to the main character
. That's why we can watch a love story set in wartime and not think, "Who the hell cares whether these two kids get together? Hitler's trying to conquer the world!" So if you know you're ending with the Scouring of the Shire, make us feel that the Shire is the thing Frodo most cares about. Which it already is -- you just have to make us feel that.