Return Of The King!!!!!!!

29 Dec

      Well, now that I have had several weeks to process it, and have taken a shower, I can write about the final installment in the fabulous Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy that we have all been blessed with. If you for some reason are trapped under a rock and can’t get out, and haven’t yet seen the Return of the King, then don’t read this because I will talk in great excruciating detail about the ending.
      The Return of the King is a great movie, potentially the best of the year, deserving of the best picture Oscar, etc. etc. etc. But that said, I find myself having an interesting and unexpected reaction to it. To set the scene, I should talk about the Two Towers theatrical release, which was truncated to the point where I felt that the only part they did justice to was the Ring/Frodo/Sam/Gollum storyline. Fortunately the Extended Version fixed this, but I say it because my response to the theatrical version of Return of the King is the opposite. They got everything right except the Ring/Frodo/Sam/Gollum storyline. Now, they did it well. And as I said, the movie is amazing, but I think they could have done it better, and been wiser to stay closer to the way it plays out in the book.
      The first scene that is I think the worst offender is the one where Gollum frames Sam for eating the last of the lembas bread, down to sprinkling crumbs on his cloak and accusing him of lusting after the ring. It’s a well constructed scene, and believable at first glance, but it’s not in the books, and it should never have been put into the movie. Why? Because Frodo would never tell Sam to “go home.” Aside from the fact that it’s a fairly ridiculous thing to say on the staircase thru Mordor while in the middle of the war…Frodo would never say it to Sam. And even if he did, Sam would never, ever ever leave Frodo. That’s what Sam is. He’s loyal. In Fellowship, Frodo tells Sam to stay behind, and Sam nearly drowns himself because he is so loyal to Frodo. And now they want me to believe that he’s going to leave him? Sam knows he didn’t eat all the lembas bread, and he simply attributes anything Frodo says that’s out of character (for what he thinks Frodo would say) to the Ring.
      Sam wouldn’t leave.
      The fact that Frodo tells Sam to leave, weakens his character, and tells us too soon that he is quite far gone due to the Ring. The fact that Sam actually leaves when told, weakens his character, and simply is wrong for him to do. This scene is really the only one that is glaringly wrong to me, the rest of my qualms are simply small choices the filmakers did with the pacing and the editing, all of which may change with the sure-to-be-even-better Extended Edition. How would I have made it play out??
      First of all, get rid of the lembas fight attrocity. Have some scene that strains the relationships between the four, fine, but don’t betray who Sam is, and don’t let us know that Frodo is so far gone. Use Shelob (the spider, for those who don’t know) to seperate Sam, Frodo, and Gollum. Gollum’s plan is to have her kill them, and then take the ring, so this is fine. Have Frodo attacked, wrapped in the web, and appear dead. Fine. Have Sam find him, and see that he is dead. Fine. They did all this. But then they didn’t do this: Show the scene where Sam deliberates, and finally takes the Ring from Frodo, determined to finish the quest on his own, by himself. Now CUT AWAY. Go back to Aragorn et al. Let those who don’t know or can’t figure it out actually believe that Frodo is dead. Then come back to Sam as he watches the orcs take Frodo’s body, and say that he’s alive.
      Now it’s back to the way they did it, essentially, with Frodo waking up to Sam the rescuer, and believing that all is lost. Now, in the film they didn’t show us Sam taking the Ring, and we are (I guess) meant to believe what Frodo believes: The quest has failed. They’ve taken the Ring to Sauron. It’s then supposed to be a surprise when Sam provides the Ring. This didn’t work for me. Maybe it did for others. I think the scene could be just as powerful if only Frodo believes that all has failed, and then Sam provides the Ring:
      ”Begging your pardon, but they haven’t!”
      …and NOW is when, (if you must) you have Frodo turn on Sam. He calls him a dirty thief in the books at this point, and has visions of Sam as an orc, ravaging his body and stealing his valuables. But then Sam returns the Ring to Frodo, and they are back.
      The rest is good until Mt. Doom, where once again, they change the book in I think un-necessary ways. The end result is the same, but the changes are significant I think. When Frodo is standing over the lava, it should be at least a slight shock that he decides to keep the Ring. Now, we all see it coming, it’s not a surprise or a twist that he decides to keep it. However, the character of Frodo is so good, so determined, that I have to believe, at least somewhere, that he will simply destroy the Ring, for the story to really work. That I don’t at all is another fault of the horrid “lembas fight” scene. Heck, the way the movie plays out now, I find myself waiting for him to finally say “the ring is mine” rather than waiting for him to destroy it. Like “hurry up and turn evil already so we can get on with it…” Here’s how I would do it:
      Frodo walks to the edge of Mt. Doom, and takes the Ring off his neck. He holds it out over the lava. Cut to a close up of the Ring. The Ring Theme plays. In fact, the track The End of All Things, as on the soundtrack, and as does play during this scene, still works magnificently here. We watch as the Ring slowly falls, falls, falls toward the lava. Then it stops. The choral fight between good and evil in the music plays as the Ring Theme is cut short. We hear Frodo say “’I have come,” and now cut to a wider angle that shows that Frodo has caught the Ring before it falls all the way. He continues, “but I do not choose now to do what I came to do.” Now cut to his face, as he says, “I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!” Now back to the way they have it in the film with Sam screaming “NOOOOooooo” and Frodo putting the Ring on. The rest is, tho not exactly like the book, fine for my tastes. I wish however, that in addition to the shots of Gollum fighting an invisible Frodo (which will look odd no matter what you do) they also put in some shots from Frodo’s point of view, in the Ring world of sweeping wind and blurred edges, as was so prominently featured in the first film.
      The final difference that I want to talk about is how Gollum and The Ring end up in the lava. In the book, it is all one action: Gollum bites Frodo’s finger off, gets the Ring, and falls into the lava, all at once. What I loved about this is that it upholds the truth of evil: It cannot be destroyed by good, it can only be destroyed by itself. Only evil can destroy evil. Now, Gollum isn’t evil so much as tragic, but it makes the point well enuff. In the movie, they have Frodo push Gollum in, and almost fall in himself. Now, this makes the same point, except that Frodo lives. Frodo isn’t evil, but the fact that he engaged in an evil act (essentially a murder) in order to destroy the Ring, means that evil is still extant. While this is a shame, it does work if Middle-Earth and the story of The Lord of the Rings is our pre-history since, obviously, evil still does exist.
      So that seems like a strange note to end on, but I think that this has gone on long enuff.


2 Responses to “Return Of The King!!!!!!!”

  1. squirt_at_earl January 3, 2004 at 7:29 pm #

    i think in the last scene you talk about- frodo is in fact trying to get the ring BACK from gollum- and this is how they *fall* in. i don’t think frodo had the capacity at that point to murder/do eVil. he jus wanted his damn trinket back. ya dig? i agree with all your other assesments. i haven’t read the books *yet* but the whole sam going home and frodo telling him to seemed a load of bullshit to me also.
    maybe you should write peter jackson and tell him what you think he needs to fix. 😉 i really dig the ring scene at the end- the way you thought it should be done- that would make it all so much more believable. good job jedi-juno. tee hee

    • junorhane January 4, 2004 at 8:18 pm #

      Re: hmm
      Yeah, I think you’re right with the final scene there. It’s not Frodo destroying the Ring by pushing Gollum in, it’s Frodo trying to get his Ring back, and then both of them fall. Which is, sort of, more true to the book. Either way, I like the way they did that part.

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