The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Reviews
Firstly, this is a review of the final third installment of the The Lord of The Rings trilogy. If you have not seen both The Fellowship of The Ring and The Two Towers, stop right now and go watch those, then come back and read this review. The Return of The King is not only a masterpiece but a historical landmark in the world of filmmaking. The Film was accredited with eleven Oscars, tying it with Titanic as the film with the Most Academy Awards for any film in history. Any typical fantasy depicting the theme of "the greater good" has historically been plagued with coming off as hoaky or cringeworthy at best. This story has earned its place as one of the greatest allegories of greater good vs evil because of the various scenes showing mankind's struggle between good and evil. Remember, this is a story that follows imperfect people pushing for the greater good.
At the conclusion of the previous film we came to understand the overall theme in this story, that "there is some good in this world.... and it's worth fighting for." This is important to keep in mind, because in the final film, shit is going to get out of hand. This is the first film where we meet Denethor, the Steward of The Kingdom of Gondor as well as Boromir and Faramir's Father. Denethor is a tragic character. Although he has good intentions, Denethor is unable to cope with the loss of his eldest son, Boromir. Being stricken with bitter grief and resentment, Denethor sends Faramir to a grim unnecessary and unwinnable battle. When he sees that Gondor is surrounded by enemies and that Rohan has not come to their aide, Denethor bellows to his people "Flee for your lives!" In the end, his fate is sealed when he abandons all hope completely.
Then comes King Denethor's foil, King Theoden. Theoden and the Rohirrim look on the ensuing battle, there is a seemingly endless number of orcs in the valley below. Initially you can feel the shock and terror by the expressions of characters when they first see the great host. King Theoden imparts his courage to the Rohirrim as they exclaim "Death!" to their enemies. So as to say, "We know this is where we die. Not only do we accept it. We will embrace it. We will not die in fear, we will fight until our last breath goes out like a candle in the wind." King Theoden, however is slain in battle by the Witch-King. Even though he failed to make it through the battle alive, he died with an air of contentment. He was worthy of remembrance and died with honor and glory. His final words show his readiness to die, "I go now to my Fathers. In whose mighty company I shall not feel ashamed." These two characters contrast each other, showing us that holding onto hope can mean the difference between a miserable or a fulfilled life.
Life and Death is one of the most compelling themes that this Movie serves to its viewers. There comes a point to where Pippin and Gandalf are awaiting the enemies to break down the gate where they're at. It's quiet. Pippin tearfully says, "I didn't think it would end this way." But Gandalf, having experienced death himself is able to comfort the little Hobbit. He explains, that death is a path that everyone must experience but the journey doesn't end there. There will come a moment when we will see "white shores and beyond. A far green country under a swift sunrise." Pippin is relieved and smiles, saying "Well, that doesn't sound so bad." Gandalf's beautiful words motivate us to embrace death simply as the next great journey.
The absolute best moment of this entire trilogy comes when Frodo and Sam are climbing Mount Doom and Frodo's body has gotten so fatigued that he can't go on any longer. Sam tries to comfort him with memories of home. Frodo is so broken at this point that he reveals he doesn't recall the taste of food, the feel of grass on his feet or even the feel of the wind on his face. Sam is the very embodiment of goodness here. He cries "Then let us be rid of it! Come on Mr. Frodo! I can't carry it for you! But I can carry you!" Sam throws Frodo over his shoulder and carries him up the mountain. But even the best of moments can fail as moments later Frodo would betray Sam. As Frodo contemplates throwing the ring into the fire, his will is finally broken and he succumbs to the Ring. After everything that has been sacrificed for this cause, Frodo chooses to keep the ring for himself.
In conclusion, this film is more than meets the eye. Historically it has become the very movie that officially launched "nerd" culture into the mainstream. This is the least hoaky or phony film that I am aware of. The way it was written, shot, directed, composed and acted has made a lasting effect on audiences around the world and on myself. The resulting effect on me has been the deep desire to be faithful and hold onto hope of the good in life. In the end, this film has earned its place among the greatest films in history and absolutely earned every single last award it won.