Friday, August 9, 2013


(December 2003, U.S.)

Saving the best for last doesn't always work for me. It didn't work with the original STAR WARS trilogy, it didn't work with BACK TO THE FUTURE, it didn't work with INDIANA JONES, nor has it worked with countless other movie sagas. Somehow, though, Peter Jackson has made it work for the final chapter of the LORD OF THE RINGS saga. Not only is this final volume in true epic form for its action and suspense, but the emotional character development comes full throttle and we're left with a journey that has taken three years and nearly nine hours of film time to complete. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saw it, too, because they finally gave the big one to THE RETURN OF THE KING.

And so now, as Sauron launches the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth, Gandalf the Wizard and Théoden King of Rohan rally their forces to help defend Gondor's capital Minas Tirith from the looming threat. Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortensen, just in case you forgot) finally claims the throne of Gondor and, with the aid of Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf summons the army of the Dead (a particularly awesome visual battle sequence, I might add) to help him defeat Sauron. Take a look at a sample of these visuals...

Ultimately, though, even with the full strength of arms, they realize they cannot win; so it comes down to the mighty hero Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, to bear the burden of the Ring and deal with the treachery of Gollum who seeks the Ring (his "precious") for himself. After the long and tireless journey they finally arrive in the dangerous lands of Mordor, seeking to destroy the "One Ring to Rule Them All" in the place where it was first created, the volcanic fires of Mount Doom. And of course, just when we think that Frodo and Sam are probably going to die after having saved Middle-Earth, they're rescuied from the rising lava by Eagles, led by Gandalf. In the aftermath, Aragorn is crowned King, heralding a new age of peace, and marries Arwen (Liv Tyler) while the four hero hobbits are bowed to by all of Gondor for their miraculous and courageous efforts. In an epilogue that I find very touching, the four Hobbits return home to the Shire, where Sam marries his childhood sweetheart and four years later, Frodo leaves Middle-earth for the Undying Lands, leaving his account of their awesome quest to Sam to write down.

(by the way, people, I'll be the first to confess that sometimes I have to look a lot of this shit up because I'm just not enough of a fantasy movie geek to have all these facts and characters memorized!)

THE RETURN OF THE KING is visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful and moving conclusion to the great trilogy. I point direct example to the emotional sequences, particularly at the end when four hobbits who have shared so much adventure and friendship are forced to say goodbye to each other at the end when Frodo leaves the Shire. As a grown man, I'm not particularly touched too often by sadness and emotions on screen, but I'll be damned if I didn't get just a little chocked up watching such an emotional and tearful goodbye. Yes, they're just little Hobbits, but they clearly love each other so much, and it's just...just...(sniffle, sniffle).

Well, having just completed what seemed like endless hours of LORD OF THE RINGS, you'd think I was ready to hang up the fantasy genre for a while due to a cinematic burnout of the subject. Not so! Now I'm ready to rent THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012) and torture myself just a little more. Sorry I won't be able to tell you what I thought of it. I passed the letter 'H' some time ago.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING won the Oscar for Best Picture of 2003. It was the first time a film had ever taken that high honor since THE GODFATHER-PART II (1974).

Favorite line or dialogue:

Sam: "Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields...and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?"
Frodo: "No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food...nor the sound of water...nor the touch of grass. I'm...naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil...between me...and the wheel of fire! I can see him...with my waking eyes! '
Sam: "Then let us be rid of it...once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you...but I can carry YOU!"

True friendship is a special thing, indeed!

1 comment:

  1. Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.

    Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... And then you see it.

    Pippin: What? Gandalf?... See what?

    Gandalf: White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

    Pippin: [smiling] Well, that isn't so bad.

    Gandalf: [softly] No... No it isn't.