thoughts on watching ‘The Return of the King’ for the first time (feat. 😔)

“I didn’t think it would end this way.”
“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… then you see it!”
“What? Gandalf? See what?”
“White shores… and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.”
“Well, that isn’t so bad.”
“No. No, it isn’t.”

Um.

Wow.

Wasn’t actually sure that I liked ROTK during/right after I watched it, but it’s really stuck with me. I wasn’t as emotional over it as I thought I’d be (which was, oddly enough, a disappointment), BUT AT THE SAME TIME. It’s a wonderful film in an incredible trilogy. I read somewhere that the books were actually just one big book that Tolkien’s publisher split into a trilogy, and I feel like you have to watch the movies one right after another as well. You get the full impact that way. There’s a couple days coming up this summer where most of my family will be away camping and I’ll be at home…and I’m already kinda planning to do a marathon then.

Random thoughts, as always:

  • I have a question. Is Éowyn’s crush on Aragorn something that’s canon to the book? Because it just really confused me, especially because of her ending up with Faramir at the end. Like, there didn’t seem to be much point to her liking Aragorn in the first place. Besides all that, Éowyn was the boss. I’m going to have to read the books and possibly rewatch the movies to fully understand her and her motivations, but I already like her from the relatively little I know of her. Also, I’m disappointed that we only got like three tiny scenes of her and Faramir healing together and being in love. :/ Most disappointed.
  • Éowyn and Merry’s relationship is THE BEST. As is Faramir and Pippin’s.
  • I would follow Gandalf into battle any old day. I love how he knocks out Faramir’s dad (THANK you!) and sets up directing/encouraging the troops himself. So, so epic. Gandalf is one of my faves.
  • The word that comes to mind when I think of Faramir is ‘gentle’. ❤
  • Okay, but I canNOT with the Frodo/Sam storyline. I can’t even put into words how awe-inspiring and unbelievable (in a good way) I find their quest in this film. In the previous two movies, there was a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere. And even when there wasn’t that, the Ring wasn’t quite so heavy on Frodo and they weren’t in such danger of discovery. But in ROTK? It’s insane what they brave, what they go through to destroy the Ring. And then just imagine how absolutely sick and devastated Sam would feel when, at the last moment, Frodo can’t destroy the Ring. It’s all too much!!!
  • Frodo is amazing. And Sam was amazing in this one as well. AND THAT ENDING WHERE THEY SAY GOODBYE. THEY’VE COME SO FAR AND FRODO SACRIFICED HIMSELF FOR THE SHIRE AND NOW HE CAN’T GO BACK. AHHHH.
  • One thing I found ridiculous and corny was how Sauron’s eye was, like, a big searchlight. Idk why, but it just struck me as stupid and it didn’t fit with the general tone of the film (neither did those two Wilhelm Screams 😒).
  • Also, I somehow managed to be doing other stuff during many of Arwen’s scenes, so her reunion with Aragorn didn’t have the impact it should have. (In fact, I’m not totally sure what all her scenes were about, because of being distracted.) A rewatch/reading the books is definitely called for!
  • There’s other stuff too, but I’m just going to leave this post here.

What do you think of Return of the King? Where does it fall in your ranking of the three films? (I still like Fellowship the best.) Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

20 thoughts on “thoughts on watching ‘The Return of the King’ for the first time (feat. 😔)

  1. Ah, the loveliness of watching the movies all in a row. I had to wait a year in-between installments. 😉

    RotK is excellent but too long, IMO, especially in the Extended Versions. There’s a lot that could be trimmed for a better, more concise narrative.

    Arwen was dying because she had given the Evenstar to Aragorn for his protection — and it was the only thing protecting her from Sauron’s evil influence reaching into Middle-earth. Most of the elves had left, taking their mystical protection away with them, and as a result, she was weakened by the evil now flooding into all corners of the earth as Sauron grew stronger. Aragorn had to become king and challenge his enemy / make a stand for her survival; because since she had refused to go away with her kin, she would “waste away” unless evil was destroyed.

    Eowyn naturally loved Aragorn in the story — he was the first warrior she ever met that was not of her kind or her kin (and he’s just great, let’s face it), so she idolized and romanticized him in that way young girls do. And yeah, her romance with Faramir was cut way short and I’m rather cross about that, because they could have left out some of Frodo and Sam endlessly trudging toward the mountains and included their love story.

    I always cry at the end — the thought of Gandalf leaving Middle-Earth, not to mention Frodo, rips my heart out.

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    1. Thank you for explaining about Arwen! 😀 And agreed about how they could have given more space to Eowyn and Faramir’s story (though the Sam and Frodo storyline was always interesting for me).

      IT IS SO EMOTIONAL, THE ENDING.

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  2. As expected, the books have so much more depth than the movies. If you haven’t read them, go for it.

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  3. It’s worth noting that the movies actually focus a lot more on Arwen and the love stories in general than the movies do, at least as far as I can remember (I read the books once, around the same time that The Two Towers released on VHS.) At least with Arwen, most of her story was told in the Appendixes. The books tend to focus a lot more on the lore, in ways that a mere trilogy of movies could never do.

    Also, the Return of the King book’s ending is quite different. Not in that Frodo doesn’t leave Middle Earth – in fact it gives Frodo’s departure more detail, but that the Shire is actually attacked after the defeat of Mordor. It’s a chapter that would feel anti-climactic in the context of the movie, but it actually has a very important message about war in that there’s always an aftermath.

    Although the cleaner ending works better from a movie standpoint, it was controversial among some Tolkien loyalists at the time.

    The eye is a bit weird, yes.

    Overall from a pure quality standpoint, Return of the King is the weakest in the trilogy, but it’s got some of the best individual moments, and it’s still an overall great movie with a lot of emotionally satisfying moments. The ride of the rohirrum (when the riders of Rohan join the battle) is still up there with the most epic moments in cinematic history. I’d argue that the final battle in Avengers: Endgame edges it out, but not by much.

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    1. I’d heard about the attack on the Shire in the aftermath! I think it’s a good decision on the part of Tolkein (and maybe not one that a different author, less acquainted with the realities of war, would have thought of adding). I was actually expecting ROTK to include that at the end, but I’m glad Peter Jackson didn’t after all. I think it works for the movies, where you already have so many battles. I can’t speak to how it works for the books though (yet).

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      1. Back when I read the books, I was surprised that it happened, but I thought it was really effective. But it’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t work for a movie. Maybe for a TV show adaptation, but not for a movie trilogy.

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      1. I don’t know if top is the right word, because they’re very different kinds of battles with different tones. I’m purely talking about the charge itself, and how epic they both feel.

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  4. I’m really glad you enjoyed the trilogy! It’s one of those adaptations I have to admit to liking more than the book (as good as the books are, don’t get me wrong). I can never decide who my favorite character is, but originally it was Gandalf. The whole scene with him and Pippin looking out over towards Mordor is one of my all-time favorites…

    The Fellowship is my favorite movie, too, by the way! And I’m with ya on Faramir. 😥

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    1. I’m interested to see if I like the books better than the films…or vice-versa. It will be neat to get more backstory and depth for characters I already love. (Like *coughs* Faramir 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah, extremely limited screentime for female characters seems to be A Thing (TM) in Tolkien. I know Arwen gets even less time/development in the books.

    Eowyn seems purty awesome, though, and I’m glad to know you loved her. ❤ I've seen that "I am no man" clip, and it legitimately gave me CHILLS.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s been really fun to read about your first-time experience with The Lord of the Rings, Eva! I can’t even begin to measure the influence this story has had on me since I first saw the movies as they came out (yessssssss, nearly 20 years ago…makes me feel old). As a starry-eyed kid I thought Arwen was the loveliest princess ever…but as I’ve gotten older I think Eowyn is, by far, the more interesting character. Arwen’s great-great-grandmother Luthien, on the other hand, is the Real Boss Lady of the Tolkien legendarium. She is one of the heroines of “The Silmarillion,” and the first Elf-maiden to marry a human. She does everything from defying her very unpleasant dad to standing up to Sauron himself–and THEN she convinces the archangel guarding the Houses of the Dead to allow her and her one true love to have a second chance at life. She’s amazing.

    Do you think you’ll read the books now? They are so rich and profound, while still being immensely entertaining!

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    1. Yes, I’m hoping to read the books! Currently on The Hobbit. And I’ll probably check out The Silmarillion too–sounds like it has at least one great character. 😉

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  7. YES Eowyn had a crush on Aragorn, but Faramir is so perfect for her, isn’t he? An yeah, I wish there was more of their relationship in the movie.
    YESSS FRODO AND SAM ARE AMAZING AHHHH *screams with happiness* I love these movies so much I can hardly handle it…
    Arwen barely figures much at all in the books, so the filmmakers wanted her to have more depth and screentime, so they added all the romantic scenes between her and Aragorn. I, personally, dislike most of them (’cause it’s kind of jarring to have so much romance in the midst of a huge quest), except I do really like the one at Rivendell. I also like that they assigned her the job of taking Frodo to Rivendell, instead of Glorfindel like it is in the book.

    Overall, in my opinion, the flaws in these movies are few and far between. ❤

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    1. Yeah, probably one reason I found myself distracted with other stuff during most of Arwen’s scenes is that they didn’t seem very important to the plot of the films as a whole. 😛 And I agree about there being few flaws in all three films! SO GOOD.

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