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Chen G.

Mar 21 2019, 11:25pm

Post #1 of 11 (4294 views)
How THE RETURN OF THE KING Brings Us Home Can't Post


I'm not a fan of video essays, but I found this one to be quite informative and heartfelt. After so many video essayists (Lindsay Ellis, Chris Hartwell, io9) puzzlingly putting The Fellowship of the Ring as the best of the six (insinuating that the series had only downhill to go hence), it was so refreshing to find someone who - like me - was most touched and excited by The Return of the King.

Of this subject, I've said elsewhere:

Another element - which in most film series today seems overlooked - is The Return of The King's sense of finality. For all its multiple endings, you can't ever envision a film set after the Return of the King. No Episode VII here; no "Phase 4", no "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - the Return of the King brings genuine finality to its story.

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Mar 21 2019, 11:28pm)

Mari D.

Mar 25 2019, 9:43pm

Post #2 of 11 (4157 views)
Interesting points ... [In reply to] Can't Post

... I watched all three of his videos, and I think he makes good points about, establishing the fellowship, then in the second movie intertwining plot strands, and in the last delivering what was promised. I think this last aspect wouldn't work for me as well as it does if the movies didn't deliver a sense of vastness and epicness. But because they do, the movies work for me. Somehow, if something is epic enough and feels real enough, I don't mind if it fulfills rather than subverts my expectations.

(I also like him focusing in on the melancholy of the ending. Me, personally, I never thought that there were too many endings ;-), rather I agree that they wrap everything up well.)

... non-native English speaker. If you reply to one of my posts feel free to help me improve by quoting + correcting the quote in CAPITAL letters :-)

Thanks everyone for your kind answers to my many questions! It's a delight for me to read them.

(This post was edited by Mari D. on Mar 25 2019, 9:48pm)

Chen G.

Mar 25 2019, 10:19pm

Post #3 of 11 (4144 views)
Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post

The job of the concluding film is an impossible one, really. By the time the film's climax comes around, it need to resolve not only what has transpired in the running time that immediately preceded that climax (a difficult enough of a task) but that of the previous films.

I don't think I've ever seen a final installment that was entirely satisfying, in the way that Return of the King is. The Dark Knight rises doesn't quite do it, War for the Planet of the Apes doesn't either, Return of the Jedi very nearly misses the mark altogether, Godfather Part III, too.

By comparison, The Return of the King has to conclude more - being situated at the end of a significantly longer and more sprawling narrative - and tell quite a singificant part of the storytelling itself, with a large chunk of The Two Towers and flashbacks to events during Fellowship's prologue filling up the film. That it didn't collpase under its own weight alone is a wonder. But that it was so satisfying, both internally and as the cap of a trilogy? that's a genuine miracle.

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Mar 25 2019, 10:22pm)


Apr 10 2019, 3:28pm

Post #4 of 11 (3234 views)
....in the last delivering what was promised [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, yeah. It sure delivered what was promised. Even more ncoherence and the complete abandonment of Tolkien's themes and characters in favor of Action! and Rule of Kewl silliness.

Here's an excellent essay on how ROTK-M delivered on what had been promised in TTT-M:


Chen G.

Apr 10 2019, 3:56pm

Post #5 of 11 (3228 views)
It absolutely has a theme [In reply to] Can't Post

It is the most thematically focused of the three. It focuses on the theme of friendship, which is very much from Tolkien. The action is just there to help propel that theme higher and further.

It opens with the tragic, failed friendship of Smeagol and Deagol, and cutting from it to the friendship of Frodo and Sam. It begins in earnst with the parting of best-friends Merry and Pippin.

It resolves the tension of those two sets of relationships first by having Pippin retrieve Merry from the battlefield, and having Sam rescuing Frodo, and later again when Sam carries Frodo up the hill and finally in their own friendship ending with the two friends tragically parted.

You couldn't ask for a better exploration of a theme in a movie.

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Apr 10 2019, 4:02pm)


Apr 10 2019, 4:04pm

Post #6 of 11 (3223 views)
Meanwhile [In reply to] Can't Post

completely abandoning the friendship of Aragorn and Eomer, subverting the Frodo-Sam hyperfriendship with the "Sam go home" nonsense, ditching the Faramir-Eowyn friendship-LTR, and of course losing the collective 'friendship' of the Shire-hobbits by ditching the Scouring completely.

Oh, and Elrond becoming a sour old antagonistic a-hole rather than Aragorn's loving foster-father. (Gawd, the whole complex of Arwen-is-dying, Anduril, and the complete mishandling of the Dead is such and incoherent mess it's worth a thread on its own).

Chen G.

Apr 10 2019, 4:08pm

Post #7 of 11 (3220 views)
Naturally [In reply to] Can't Post

While the themes are at the heart of the story, you can't infuse your film with all the intricate themes of the book. So the Aragorn/Eomer friendship was sidelined. Its a perfectly reasonable case of prioritization. Ditto the Scouring of the Shire. It simply couldn't ever work for the movie.

The idea that Frodo and Sam's friendship has a low-point, in the form of Frodo sending Sam away, is a) perfectly consistent with its portrayal in The Two Towers, where Frodo has two outbursts aimed at Sam, the latter of which sees him pointing a sword at his comrade and b) is the only thing that gives the high-points of their friendship any value.


Apr 10 2019, 4:19pm

Post #8 of 11 (3216 views)
Uh-huh. [In reply to] Can't Post

"b) is the only thing that gives the high-points of their friendship any value. "

So you're saying that, as Tolkien wrote it, the high points of their friendship had no value, and it was only by virtue of PBJ's "improvement" that Tolkien's story could be made to work?

"portrayal in The Two Towers, where Frodo has two outbursts aimed at Sam, the latter of which sees him pointing a sword at his comrade"

Both again PBJ inventions, since subtlety is a word they can't even spell much less comprehend.


Apr 10 2019, 6:22pm

Post #9 of 11 (3216 views)
I remember that essay. A rant for the ages. [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome back, solicitr. This board has been pretty somnolent lately, save for the fun photo captioning game. Your visit reminds me of the massive flame wars, banning, trolling, and purist/non-purist bloodshed that were what this board was all about back in the good old days, when the New Line films were so, so brand new. I have to admit, I've given away the passion with which I used to engage in the debates - I don't suppose I've watched the films now in quite a number of years.

I imagine we will re-experience the agony and the ecstasy of Tolkien film fandom soon enough, as the Amazon series trundles into sight, though probably on that board rather than this one.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Apr 10 2019, 6:32pm

Post #10 of 11 (3210 views)
Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, squire. I pretty much bailed during the Hobbit films epoch, since there was pretty much no way I could even control my temper the things were so awful.


Apr 10 2019, 8:21pm

Post #11 of 11 (3199 views)
It would be delightful... [In reply to] Can't Post

... if these caption contests had their own forum. I sometimes inadvertently ignore whole topics on the movie boards because of unfair assumptions of what's being discussed, given how prevalent the caption threads have been of late.


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