Brilliant Moment: The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King

*Spoilers, ye be warned…

Before reading this article, know that I am a HUGE Lord of the Rings fan. I have read all the books and seen all of the extended movies several times. Saying I love Lotr (acronym for Lord of the Rings I will be using in the rest of the article) would be downplaying my enthusiasm.

That being said, lets look at one scene that illustrates one characteristic of this movie that helped it win Best Picture and cause people to love it.

Don’t mind the huge troll hitting the door with the sledgehammer.

One thing lotr is known for is what I call ‘intimate moments’. There are several characters with motivations and screen time. Peter Jackson did a great job with telling several stories and having a good balance when telling them.

This relationship between Gandalf and Pippin is one of several that develops over the course of the films. At first Pippin drives Gandalf crazy, seemingly doing things without thinking and almost going directly against his grains, unintentionally.

This moment shows their relational progress. And the way it does it is amazing. Some context for those who have not seen the movie: they are in a castle, Minas Tirith, under siege by a huge army and are now cornered. They are the last line of defense, all hope in that moment appears lost.

Pippin realizes this and is what causes him to confide in Gandalf that this is the end. Gandalf replies with hopeful and comforting wisdom. Having died and then sent back to middle-earth, he has learned what happens after death from firsthand experience (there is legitimate lore as to why Gandalf was sent back). He helps Pippin realize that, in the midst of all this darkness and chaos, there is hope.

The way this scene is executed is phenomenal. Going back to ‘intimate moments’, the dialogue is so close it is almost at a whisper. This happens several times throughout the movies. They draw you in so close that you forget about everything else. That is why when the troll hits the door it makes you jump every time because you are so drawn in on the dialogue you forget they are in the middle of a huge battle.

The score of the movie is incredible – one of the 11 Academy Award wins. Once Gandalf starts describing taking the ‘next path’ the music starts playing with a emotional, moving tone.

The scene also illustrates one of the core messages of the movie: hope. They are at the end of the line, all of their forces have been wiped out. It is a classic fight against good and evil and throughout the whole series, evil always seems to have the upper hand. At this moment Gandalf reiterates to Pippin, and the audience, that even in death there is still hope. Saying that death is not the end, but just another path is a unique, comforting way to look at it.

From these analyzations, we can see what makes this scene special and what it is communicating to the audience. What did you think of the scene?

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