LOTR: The Return of The King

I admire the The Return of the King for its technical execution and artistic achievement. There’s no denying that it’s a very well done movie. Grand and epic it is, but the epic scale leaves me cold.

Peter Jackson has done the best he can with the material, I suppose. In The Fellowship of the Ring I was impressed with his use of extreme closeups to balance the majestic landscapes, to keep us focused on the individual. Epic and personal stories were woven together, involving the audience in the struggles of the fellowship and providing an urgency, an immediacy to the action. But in The Return of the King, as Gandalf, says “The board is set; the players are in motion.” And each player falls into place according to destiny. The inevitability dulls any emotion. All the character development occurred in the first two movies, and this last one maintains the mood of a grand finale. As it goes on for 200 minutes, it rather begs the curtain to fall.

Even evil lacks the focused presence afforded in a character like Darth Vader. The doom, gloom and dread provide that pervasive Cold War it’s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it hopelessness, but it isn’t enough to rally the audience to heroic battle. Evil attacks as mindlessly as machines, relentless and soulless, without personality. And without villains, without the Adolf Hitlers, Osama bin Ladens, and Saddam Husseins, how can we have heroes? The heroic actions of the individual muffled by the general chaos and confusion of great battles. Regardless of the visual cleverness of the effects, I was not part of the action any more than any single character seemed a part of the action. Watching these great battles was like watching a very good video game playing itself. There is no one to care for and our love is wasted, spent on shadows and dreams.

The only characters facing a true struggle of self-determination are Sam Gamgee and Gollum. Sam is there for a personal, not epic, reason: the loyalty to his friend, Frodo. When his loyalty is doubted, and his friend casts him aside, then Sam’s faith in himself and all he’s believed and fought for is tested. Gollum, is the richest character of all, providing far more depth and conflict of emotion than any of the human actors in the film.

One Response to “LOTR: The Return of The King”

  1. cmb Responds:

    The Return of the King finishes the movie epic well but I can’t help but wonder what is in the extended version. Too bad I’ll have to wait anywhere from six to eight months from now to find out. Will Peter Jackson show us how Eomer takes the banner of Rohan from the dying king and discovers that his sister had fallen as well? Will he show Frodo curse Gollum, which ultimately causes Gollum’s death? Will we get to see the battle for the shire and the end of Saruman? None of these things made the production release but are of some importance to the story.
    The ROK is the shortest book of the trilogy and had enough action to keep it going without changing it as much as it has been for this movie. A well done over all for Mr. Jackson and company and I look forward to the additional material and the explanation of his choices on the DVD commentary.
    A technical problem I had with the movie that is becoming more and more prevalent in newer movies is the blurred action scenes. I know the blurring is supposed to impart speed to the action but I find it unnecessary. Since my eyesight is fading anyway it bothers me that directors wish to aggravate my sense of going blind.
    An Academy Award for special effects and acting for Gollum. His role was the most consistent and accurate of the characters portrayed in the three movies.
    There were more players in the epic then just the few depicted in the movie and their stories are fleshed out in the book and the appendix. Adding them to the movie might have given the show a more personal feel but I donít see how they could have done it under six hours. I highly recommend the books to anyone wanting, as Paul Harvey says, ìthe rest of the story.ÅE

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