Tonight’s movie for the marathon concluded the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I settled in for a long evening of watching this beautifully done film, as I prefer to view the extended edition version. At 4 hours and 11 minutes long, I had ample opportunity to journey through Middle-Earth with some of my all time favorite characters.
I love this final Lord of the Rings film, although all three movies together create the powerful story. The many strands, within each story, weave skillfully together to create a rich, colorful tapestry that is revealed in all its glory in the final movie. The overarching theme is good prevails over evil, light pushes back the darkness. Within the framework of that larger story, the characters stretch and grow, becoming who they were born to be. It is watching those transformations that so speaks to my heart, especially in Return of the King. The journey draws to an end, and none who began it, remains unchanged.
In ROTK, I have many favorite scenes, from the lighting of the hope beacons to the ride of the Rohirrim to the aid of Minas Tirith (which gave me goosebumps tonight, as well as tears), to the sailing of the last ship into the west. I enjoyed watching them all unfold, several times pausing to rewind so I could savor the moments again. I won’t unpack those scenes this evening. There were an amazing number of fresh insights that stood out. I’ve selected a few aha’s to share.
I really noticed the relationships tonight, and the further breaking apart of the Fellowship. Merry and Pippen are now separated, Merry staying with the Rohirrim, and Pip carried away by Gandalf to Minas Tirith in Gondor. Both grow through that separation, pledging themselves to serve with two mighty men. I love how it is Gandalf who shelters Pippen. The wizard calls Pip a “fool of a Took” and often berates him for acting without thinking. And yet during this film, a fondness grows between them, especially as the White City comes under siege. The way Gandalf calms Pippen’s fear of death provides him with a beautiful hope. “Death is just another path…to a far, green country.”
Denethor, Boromir and Faramir’s stone hearted father, reveals the root of his disdain for his younger son. He despises the line of kings, and strongly resists Aragorn taking the throne. He mocks his peace loving, level headed son with these words: “Ever you desire to appear lordly and gracious, as a king of old.” I had missed that line before, and suddenly the reason for Denethor’s dislike of Faramir was revealed to me. It is good that the actor, John Noble, went on to play a likable, absent minded character in a television series so that MY dislike of Denethor could be tempered somewhat! I was able to be sympathetic to him this evening, more than I ever have been before. Hearing Pippen (Billy Boyd) sing to the steward reminded me that Billy is singing the song “The Last Goodbye” during the credits for the final Hobbit movie. That seems so fitting, and is guaranteed to punch me, emotionally.
Aragorn is the man to watch during this film, although I dearly love the power and wisdom of Gandalf the White and the assumption of authority by Théoden, King. However, it is Aragorn who comes into his own as he finds his way at last to the throne. I feel for Éowyn, who shyly offers her heart to the would-be king. As a shield maiden of Rohan, she is captivated by a man who is confident enough to appreciate her strengths. I heard for the first time tonight how gentle he was with her heart. His love is given to an elf princess who has become mortal. He never falsely promises Éowyn his love. He does hope for her joy. “I have wished you joy since I first saw you.” That is so honoring of her. The extended edition offers a beautifully touching scene with Aragorn recognizing his ability to heal, and laying hands on her, he heals Éowyn of her pain, both physically and emotionally. She is released….to fall in love with Faramir.
A couple of other things I noticed for the first time included Gimli’s remark, “Have you learned nothing of the stubbornness of dwarves?” Oh yes, Master Dwarf, I have! And with the attack on the giant spider, Shelob, I now know that Frodo’s sword, Sting, has bit into spider flesh on two occasions.
What a grand story. It is the conclusion of all things. “And the Fellowship of the Ring, though eternally bound by friendship and love, was ended.” Aragorn and Arwen get to spend a very long life-time together, creating a new kingdom, hand in hand. Éowyn gets Faramir. Merry and Pippen remain friends forever. So do Legolas and Gimli, creating a legendary friendship never heard of before in Middle-Earth. Sam at last marries Rosie Cotton. And Bilbo and Frodo join Gandalf and the last of the Eldar, Galadriel, Celeborn and Elrond, in heading west across the sea.
It meant more to me this time, to see written on the title page of the red leather journal,
There and Back Again, A Hobbit’s Tale
By Bilbo Baggins
The Lord of the Rings
By Frodo Baggins
Very soon, this amazing 13 year journey, led by Peter Jackson, will end with the sixth film. I am grateful that I, too, accompanied Bilbo, Thorin Oakenshield and his company on their adventure, and the Fellowship on their quest. And I, who began it with them, did not remain unchanged either.