19

I watched the extended cut of the movie and can’t seem to figure out why the director put that quote in there. Is this a hidden joke or a slip up that made it into the movie?

  • 4
    So this is a film-specific question? – Mat Cauthon May 21 '17 at 5:52
  • 6
    Side question: How do Uruk-hai know what a menu is? – Engineer Toast May 22 '17 at 16:01
  • 3
    Could just be tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TranslationConvention. For all we know, they're talking in the Black Tongue of Mordor. – J A Terroba May 22 '17 at 19:27
  • Out of universe, Peter Jackson's early movies were particularly... meat-based, like Meet the Feebles and Bad Taste. Wikpedia specifically has a splatter phase heading for him. I wonder if its an obscure reference to his film history. – Criggie May 23 '17 at 8:51
  • In Google's site of lost youtubes, Christopher Tolkien explains that 'Meat is back on the menu' was in fact the name of a famous piece of orcish sculpture on display in the Barad-dur art gallery. Being an officer, the Uruk-hai commander had visited the gallery many times on dates and noticed the dead orc looked exactly the same. He exasperatedly warned the squad who, having been through this drill many times, immediately destroyed the evidence before Sauron could think they were trying to plagurise his collection which would have cast doubt on its authenticity, lowering its value. – user100501 May 17 '18 at 22:32
41

tl;dr: It's just a funny* line of PJ's.

* Your funny mileage may vary.


From an in-universe perspective, I agree with Himarm's answer.

From an out-of-universe point of view, we can add that the line, together with the whole dismemberment scene, comes from an idea of Peter Jackson's.

Quoting from the production and post-production comment track in The Two Towers - Special Extended Edition:

@27:43

Mark Ordesky (executive producer): This is just a classic Peter Jackson kind of beat coming up. The idea that these Orks and Uruk-hai are arguing about the two little hobbits and they are just going to completely clobber each other any minute now ... it's a real throwback to Peter early movies

Later on, they talk about this specific line:

@29:13

Rick Porras (co-producer): I was always curious if some of the more "Tolkien" fans like Christian Rivers had taken umbrage to the use of such a modern term as "menu"

Christian Rivers (previz supervisor): I'm not gonna query the script writers. My only issue is that for an Uruk-hai to say that, that means ... that suggests that he lives in a society where (a) he has a menu, and (b) that menu is selective enough to have food taken off it and put back on again

  • As English is not my first language, my transcript of the comment track could be imprecise. Feel free to suggest amendments or to directly edit the answer! – lfurini May 21 '17 at 16:14
  • 9
    The Uruk-hai might not be expected to understand about restaurants and menus, but pretty nearly every member of the audience knows about those things. LOTR, especially the movie version, is meant to be entertaining. Having characters speak and act like people your audience could possibly encounter in real life gives the entertainment score a big boost. – Solomon Slow May 21 '17 at 18:03
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    The various orcs are speaking the common speech (Westron), which implies they might also have some of the idioms of that (human) language. We know Saruman enjoys fine food and drink (such as the hobbits had after the ents attack Orthanc) and Saruman clearly does travel when the need arises, so he could easily be familiar with a list of dishes available at a fine inn (and that particular items might be taken off it according to availability). The Uruks might well have heard Saruman specifically use a phrase that would translate to something like that in English. – Glen_b May 22 '17 at 2:25
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    It's true that orcs probably don't frequent restaurants... However, putting these two orc/Uruk-hai "raiding parties" aside, my recollection of the books is that many groups of orcs (especially the ones amassing in Mordor) travel in the equivalent of military units, and it's plausible that they have, to some extent, a "catering corps". Thus, a phrase like "what's on the menu" (in the sense of "what are they serving today", rather than a long list of choices) could well exist. – TripeHound May 22 '17 at 8:09
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    @Glen_b Exactly! The Orc speech as rendered in the movie is a translation into idiomatic Modern English, which would reasonably include phrases like "on the menu". This is an age-old debate over approaches to translation. Otherwise, we can get into the debate over "meat" (archaic) meaning "food of any kind" - which gets confusing because they are contrasting it with "bread", which is also "meat"... (as are maggots, of course) :-) – SusanW May 22 '17 at 10:16
53

The orcs from the White Tower had just started a fight/finished killing the orcs from Mordor (Morgul) so they mean they are going to eat the dead orcs.

Orc saying “looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys”

It’s funny because right before that, the orc that was just killed wants to eat the hobbits.

                                  MAÚHUR
                     I'm starving. We ain't 'ad nothin' but 
                     maggoty bread for three stinkin' days!


                                 SNAGA
                     Yeah. Why can’t we have some meat? [His 
                     eyes rest on the hobbits.] What about 
                     them? They’re fresh.

                                 UGLÚK
                     They are not for eating!

                                 GRISHNÁKH
                     What about their legs? They don't need 
                     those. Ooh… They look tasty!

                                 UGLÚK
                     [Shoves at the Orcs] Get back, scum!


                     [The other Orcs are getting restless.]


                                 MORDOR ORC
                     Carve them up!

                                 SNAGA
                     [Moves towards the hobbits with his 
                     blade drawn] Just a mouth full.

                                 UGLÚK
                     No!

                     [Pippin and Merry recoil in fright. 
                     Uglúk jumps on the Orc and cuts off 
                     his head, which bounces off the hobbit's 
                     shoulders.]

                                 UGLÚK
                     Looks like meat’s back on the menu, 
                     boys!!

                     [The Uruk-hai and Orcs cheer and started 
                     tearing into the fresh meat, intestines 
                     flying, taking their eyes off the hobbits 
                     for a while.]
  • 18
    Don't forget the line right before this which sets the tone for the orcs being famished and embittered. "I'm starving. We aint ate nothing but maggoty bread for three stinking days!" [throws away chunk of bread] – RichS May 21 '17 at 16:39
  • @RichS thanks dunno how i forgot that line – Himarm May 21 '17 at 23:40
6

Uruk: "I'm starving. We ain't had nothing but maggoty bread for three stinking days!"

Snaga: "Yeah! Why can't we have some meat?"

[The orc rests his eyes on the hobbits.]

The quote was made because the orcs had not eaten any meat whatsoever for the past few days. So back on the menu would mean that the orcs had the opportunity to eat meat again.

1

It could just be as simple as the fact that they were tavelling and all they could carry in terms of food supplied was bread. Remeber they had just come back of a "failed" raid to try and capture Frodo and the ring and they had to move fast so meat was probably a luxury. I agree with the argument that the memu reference should have been excluded as argued above but in my opinion the idea that was created was they wanted proper food.

  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Can you provide any sources for your answer? It is recommended that you support your answer with as much evidence to show proof your answer is valid and not just an assumption you've made. – Edlothiad May 22 '17 at 9:42
0

To be honest, I think that the fact that orcs have some idea/concept of a menu and even the fact that they can associate certain foods as being "put back on the menu" clearly suggests that there is some element of modern human culture that is known to the orcs. This can have multiple explanations. Either the orcs aren't actually as primitive as we would all think and in reality do in fact have some basic knowledge of dinning. Or, due to the war on men/elves and other advanced species, the tactics of "knowing thy enemy" has enabled the orcs to have some sort of concept of dinning due to their vast knowledge on the other races that has been gathered by gaining intelligence as it is known that the forces of Morgoth and Sauron did in fact have many spies and agents. This Intel could've ended up being engraved into their own orcish culture (as it is known that among orc society there are those who tend to food e.g. meats from local beasts that is prepared as meals).

However, it could just be that the orcs have just used the mainstream common tongue to exaggerate how they now have what they craved, meaty flesh. By exclaiming "Meats back on the menu!" clearly shows that the orcs are very excited about having their new favorite meal back as a choice, because it is rather obvious that the moldy bread they were given as rations is still an option for them to eat. These new choices of both meat or bread has created a sort of menu for the orcs, and with their knowledge of what a menu is, the uruk has exclaimed that meat is now finally back on their menu/back as a choice.

  • 1
    Hello and welcome to SFF! The first paragraph seems largely tangential to the question at hand and if there is an answer in there I can't see it. However, your second paragraph has some nice reasoning, albeit common sense/informed speculation rather than backed up from sources/evidence. Don't forget to register your account and take the tour if you haven't already! – TheLethalCarrot May 16 '18 at 10:06

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