It’s a Combo!!
“This day we fight! By all that you hold dear, on this good earth, I bid you stand men of the west!”–Aragorn
Out of all three of the movies, I’d have to say that The Return of the King was my favorite. We went to see it five times when it was in the theaters and we wasted no time in purchasing it when it came out on DVD. Once again, they had done an excellent job in following the books and making the last movie a big success.
The Return of the King picks up right where The Two Towers left off. Frodo, Sam and Gollum continue their journey towards the cross-roads while the rest of the fellowship are reunited at Isengard. Now, the extended version of the film covers the Voice of Saruman. If you haven’t seen the extended version, then I’d suggest you get it!! 😉 You get to see several things that were in the book that they couldn’t include in the movie for sake of time.
The Voice of Saruman was very well done in the extended version. My personal favorite part was when Gandalf breaks Saruman’s staff. However, even in the extended portion they made some changes. They didn’t have time, even in the extended version, to have the parts when Saruman went and invaded the Shire by the time the hobbits returned home after their journey and their task was completed. In the extended film Saruman and Wormtongue are both killed in Isengard and that is the end of it.
Pippin and the palantir was changed up a bit as well. In the book, Pippin gets curious on the journey back to Edoras and he never actually sets foot in the city of Edoras. Gandalf takes him off right away to Gondor. In the movie they changed that up a bit. Details that were in the book wouldn’t work in the movie. It’s always easier to mix a few things and it doesn’t destroy the whole story.
Frodo and Sam’s journey to Cirith Ungol contained a few added scenes. As Frodo comes closer to Mordor you can see the change that is coming over him. He is weaker and the ring grows heavy on its chain round Frodo’s neck. Frodo becomes even more possessive of it, and Gollum also sees his master’s weakness and plots against Frodo so that he might find a way to get his precious ring back.
Aragorn’s return to Gondor is inevitable of course, but we see quite a change in him since the first movie when he was reluctant to set foot in his country. He has made a vow to Boromir that he would not let the White City fall or his people fail, but we also see that it’s not just his promise that he wants to fulfill. He has a new desire that is all his own to return to Gondor and see the city returned to its former glory. He is ready to return as the new king of Gondor, to take his place on the throne. But there is a battle to be fought first. Gondor is under siege by Mordor’s armies and Aragorn must tread on dangerous ground to bring forth an army of his own.
Arwen is journeying to the undying lands where she will never see Aragorn again. Her love for him will be no more then memory when she reaches those lands. But on her journey she is given a vision of what the future holds. And in this vision she sees her and Aragorn’s son. Turning back she returns to Rivendell where she finds her father and where she discovers that her decision to return could very well result in her death. Her choice to live a mortal life has it’s price and as long as the ring survives Arwen’s life fades.
Elrond re-forges the sword of Elendil and brings it to Aragorn in the camp of the Rohirrim. When Eowyn discovers that Aragorn is going to leave them she is confused and hurt that he would abandon their army. Aragorn then tells her that he can’t love her the way she thinks she loves him.
Eowyn still has a desire to follow the men into battle. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli have left them to go seek out an army in the mountain. She has been told that she will return to Edoras and the people are to obey her in the king’s stead. But Eowyn has no desire to return to the city as she’s always done. So she dons armor and takes along with her Merry Brandybuck, who was also told to return to the city instead of going into the heat of battle.
Now, in the book Merry didn’t know at first that the person carrying him to the battle was Eowyn. In the book she called herself Dernhelm. Merry is so pleased that there is a soldier light enough that he too could ride upon the same horse and he doesn’t question it. It isn’t until later that he realizes that Dernhelm is really Eowyn. In the movie Merry knows immediately that the person who has snatched him from the ground onto the back of her horse is Eowyn. Like several other small parts, they didn’t have time for the fake name. It was easier for Merry just to know right away.
In the city of Minas Tirith, Pippin has sworn fealty to Gondor and to the Steward, Denethor, Boromir and Faramir’s father. Overwhelmingly grieved by Boromir’s death, Denethor makes it clear to Faramir that he wishes the brothers’ places had been switched. That Faramir had been the one who died, not his brother. Distressed by his father’s lack of love, Faramir rides out to Osgiliath, which has been overrun by the orcs of Mordor. He returns terribly wounded, but alive.
However, Denethor at this point as lost his mind and believes that his line has ended, that Faramir too has perished. One of my most favorite parts in the movie is when Gandalf hits Denethor in the face with his staff and then rallies the men of Gondor to the wall to fight for their city.
In the book Denethor’s madness was also caused because he had possession of a palantir and had been in contact with Sauron. Though he didn’t join forces with Sauron as Saruman had, he was still poisoned by the dark lord of Mordor and it drove him mad.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli find the City of the Dead and Aragorn wields the sword of Elendil, called Anduril, for the first time. Now in the books Anduril was remade in The Fellowship of the Ring. There had been no doubts from the very beginning in the books that Aragorn would return to his country and reclaim the throne of Gondor. But in the movies they had Aragorn doubt himself and his strength. He feared the weakness of men. He feared that he would be too weak, as his ancestor was, and fall prey to the ring of power.
Another of the most important parts of both book and movie was Shelob’s Lair. Shelob’s Lair took place in The Two Towers, the book. They didn’t have time for all that in the movie, so they switched it over to The Return of the King. Another change that was made was when Frodo sent Sam home. That didn’t happen in the book, but it was yet another opportunity to show how weak Frodo’s mind was, how he could be so easily persuaded by Gollum that his very best friend, the one who had helped him through so much on this perilous journey, was his real enemy.
Shelob’s Lair is the home of the great spider. Gollum knows that she would like the treat he’s bringing her. Hobbits would probably be very tasty, after all. What he didn’t expect was Frodo to bring forth the Light of Elendil, the gift Galadriel had given him during their journey through Loth Lorien in The Fellowship. That along with Bilbo’s sword, Sting, help Frodo to escape the Lair. In the movie he is then attacked by Gollum and Frodo throws him over a cliff. That was changed from the book. In the book Gollum just disappeared after Shelob’s Lair and we do not hear from him again until the scene on the mountain.
Shelob, however, wasn’t finished with the litlte hobbit who invaded her home. Sneaking up on Frodo she stabs him with her stinger and then starts wrapping him up in her web. That is when Sam returns, carrying the Light of Elendil and Sting. He battles the spider and wins, sending the creature back into her lair to tend her wounds. Believing Frodo to be dead Sam takes the ring and hides when he hears the orcs coming.
But then he soon discovers that his master isn’t dead after all and now Sam must save Frodo once again from the clutches of the enemy.
This review could go on and on with every little detail. The battles that took place, the army of the dead that Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli show up with in Gondor, Theoden’s death and Eowyn’s victory over the Witch King. But that would make for an extremely long review and would probably bore all of you! 😉
I will mention that Eowyn’s heartache over Aragorn is soon healed when she meets Faramir, who, thanks to Pippin and Gandalf, escaped a fiery death from his crazy father. In the extended version of the movie you will find a couple of very satisfying scenes of the Houses of Healing in Gondor and one scene when Eowyn watches the armies marching off to Mordor and Faramir approaches and comforts her, taking her hand.
A friend of mine had said after seeing the movie for the first time that they didn’t have nearly enough parts with Eowyn and Faramir to really indicate that they had fallen in love. I always hoped she’d seen the extended version, I’m sure it would have made her very happy. 😉
Aragorn leads the army to Mordor. Now, here is where the extended version gave us another glimpse into the book. The Mouth of Sauron comes out of the gate to speak with them. Not only does he try to negotiate with them, but he shows them something. He shows them Frodo’s mithril shirt and makes them believe that it’s all over, that Sauron has the ring and their deaths are very near. But Aragorn does not lose hope, he refuses to lose hope, and they still fight, believing that Frodo is still alive and on his way up the mountain.
The Return of the King was an incredible finale. I’ve heard people say that the symbolism of Aragorn’s return to the throne reminds them of Christ. I see that too, but I still hold to my first opinion. Christ came and sacrificed himself for the world. Sam sacrificed so much to save Middle Earth when he didn’t have too. He could’ve returned to the Shire when he had the chance, he could’ve turned his back on it all, but he didn’t. His love for his friends, for the world, caused him to keep going. And Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom, practically all the way to the door. Christ carries our burdens away from us because of His death on the cross. He took all our sins upon Himself and was the ultimate sacrifice.
The end of The Return of the King always makes me cry. Frodo’s decision at the very end and Sam’s reaction makes tears gather in my eyes. When I found out that the man who played Sam, Sean Astin, was Patty Duke’s son, I knew where he got his talent. 😉
The Return of the King was the best one yet, in my opinion. And I am so looking forward to when they make The Hobbit!! Peter Jackson is going to direct that as well and I know that it’s going to be great! 🙂
Coming Soon: ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’…Look for my review of A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers, soon!!