Okay, so once the ring is destroyed and the ground collapses, you have Merry chanting:

"Frodo! Frodo!"

Then the camera angle points toward the mountain and you see lava erupt out the top of the volcano and Gandalf has a worried look that Frodo is killed. Then the scene switches over to Sam and Frodo who … are still in the mountain! As a matter of fact the platform they are on is only half the height of the mountain yet it just erupted out the top?

So how does the volcano erupt out of the top of the mountain before it erupts out the side (which it does 10 seconds later)? I am guessing just a movie mistake?

  • It may be the case that when the scene switches to Sam and Frodo, we're going back in time a bit; i.e the eruption that Gandalf/etc see actually happened after Frodo and Sam had gotten out, despite being shown before it in the movie.
    – user8719
    Dec 23, 2014 at 11:55
  • 1
    That's one of the major issues with movies. People associate with frame/scene changes as sequential when there are certain things that happen at the same exact time even if it's a shot later in the movie. For instance, The Army of the West appearing at the black gate is happening at the same exact time as Frodo and Sam walking into Mordor, although you see the army show up after Frodo and Sam actually get into Mordor.
    – Robert
    Dec 23, 2014 at 13:39
  • 1
    As Darth Satan mentioned in his comment and answer. The volcano doesn't erupt until right after Frodo and Sam get out of the volcano. The scene showing Golum falling into the volcano and the ring being destroyed is happening while Frodo and Sam are running away. Merry yelling Frodo! Frodo! is happening at the same exact time when the ring touches the magma. It's a POV shot. Another perfect example of this is Farimir meets Sam, Frodo, and Golum in The Two Towers, yet tells Gandalf that it's only been two days since they left.
    – Robert
    Dec 23, 2014 at 13:45

2 Answers 2


This doesn't happen in the movie.

If we re-watch the scenes in question, we see that first of all Gollum falls into the Crack and pulls Frodo with him, then a number of things happen at the same time:

  • Gollum dies
  • The Ring is destroyed (which takes a few seconds longer)
  • Sam pulls Frodo out

Then we cut over to Sauron being "destroyed", and - over an extended sequence - the Barad-dur falling, the Orc army scattering and the volcano erupting.

After this we cut back to Frodo and Sam escaping from the Crack of Doom, and it's obvious that this is taking place almost immediately after Sam pulled Frodo out; we can see the eruption beginning in the background of this scene too.

Mount Doom

Later on, at the start the "End of all Things" scene, we get to see the early parts of the eruption after Frodo and Sam had gotten out.


It's particularly notable in this scene that the top part of the cone is still largely intact, whereas in the preceding scene it had already been mostly destroyed by the eruption (which is noticeably more violent too).

Nazgul Destroyed

So what should be obvious is that we're not being shown a strictly linear sequence of events, but are instead jumping back a little in time to pick up the story of Frodo and Sam again, before the time at which the eruption occurs.

  • Dammit, now I want to watch the movie again after digging out these scenes!
    – user8719
    Dec 23, 2014 at 14:17

The "platform" Frodo and Sam were on was known as "The Chambers of Fire" (Sammath Naur), maintained by Sauron himself for his own occult reasons (an active volcano is a heck of a source of raw energy; maybe Sauron needed to tap into it from time to time). The problem you note isn't addressed anywhere, but it's possible that some leftover remnant of Sauron's power was still protecting it when Mt. Doom erupted, saving the hobbits long enough for them to get out. But that's just my own speculation.

LOTR, Return of the King, Book VI, Ch. 3 Mt. Doom:

He looked back, and then he looked up; and he was amazed to see how far his last effort had brought him. The Mountain standing ominous and alone had looked taller than it was. Sam saw now that it was less lofty than the high passes of the Ephel Dúath which he and Frodo had scaled. The confused and tumbled shoulders of its great base rose for maybe three thousand feet above the plain, and above them was reared half as high again its tall central cone, like a vast oast or chimney capped with a jagged crater. But already Sam was more than half way up the base, and the plain of Gorgoroth was dim below him, wrapped in fume and shadow. As he looked up he would have given a shout, if his parched throat had allowed him; for amid the rugged humps and shoulders above him he saw plainly a path or road. It climbed like a rising girdle from the west and wound snakelike about the Mountain, until before it went round out of view it reached the foot of the cone upon its eastern side.
Sam could not see the course immediately above him, where it was lowest, for a steep slope went up from where he stood; but he guessed that if he could only struggle on just a little way further up, they would strike this path. A gleam of hope returned to him. They might conquer the Mountain yet. ‘Why, it might have been put there a-purpose!’ he said to himself. ‘If it wasn’t there, I’d have to say I was beaten in the end.’
The path was not put there for the purposes of Sam. He did not know it, but he was looking at Sauron’s Road from Barad-dûr to the Sammath Naur, the Chambers of Fire. Out from the Dark Tower’s huge western gate it came over a deep abyss by a vast bridge of iron, and then passing into the plain it ran for a league between two smoking chasms, and so reached a long sloping causeway that led up on to the Mountain’s eastern side. Thence, turning and encircling all its wide girth from south to north, it climbed at last, high in the upper cone, but still far from the reeking summit, to a dark entrance that gazed back east straight to the Window of the Eye in Sauron’s shadow-mantled fortress. Often blocked or destroyed by the tumults of the Mountain’s furnaces, always that road was repaired and cleared again by the labours of countless orcs.

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