The time has come for everyone to unite together to save Middle-Earth. Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Theoden, Gamling, and Eomer meet up with Merry, Pippin and Treebeard at Isengard. While there, Gandalf tries to get Saruman to come down from his tower. Instead, Saruman is wounded and falls from the tower to his death. The group returns to Edoras, where Pippin looks into Saruman‘s recovered palantir, in which Sauron appears and invades his mind. Luckily Pippin tells him nothing regarding Frodo and the Ring. Because of this, Gandalf concludes that Sauron is planning to attack Minas Tirith. Gandalf rides with Pippin to find Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, to whom Pippin swears his service. Gandalf urges Denethor to call Rohan for aid, but Denethor declines, fearing Aragorn and Gandalf plan to overthrow him. The Morgul army, led by the Nazgul, drives the Gondorians out of Osgiliath. Denethor sends his son Faramir on a suicide mission to reclaim the city. The mission ends up being unsuccessful. Under instruction from Gandalf, Pippin evades city guards to light the distress beacon, signaling Theoden and Aragorn to assemble the Rohirrim for battle.
Believing their forces to be outnumbered by Sauron’s, Elrond gives Aragorn the sword Anduril to acquire the service of the Army of the Dead, who owe allegiance to the heir of Isildur. Along with Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn journeys into the Paths of the Dead and gains the loyalty of the King of the Dead and his men by revealing Anduril, proving himself the heir of Isildur. At Dunharrow, Theoden rides off to war, unaware that Eowyn and Merry have secretly joined his forces.
Sauron’s armies storm to Minas Tirith, led by the Witch-king. Believing a severely wounded Faramir to be dead, Denethor attempts to burn his son and himself alive, but Gandalf intervenes and saves Faramir, but Denethor commits suicide. Just as the Gondorians are about to be defeated, the Rohirrim army arrives and counter-attacks in a massive cavalry charge led by Theoden. This shifts the tide of the battle, and the Orcs begin to retreat. However, the Haradrim arrive and join the Orc army, turning the tide. The Witch-king kills Theoden, only to be wounded by Merry and finished off by Eowyn. On the verge of defeat, the Rohirrim are saved when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli arrive with the Army of the Dead and overpower Sauron’s forces, ending the battle. Aragorn keeps his promise to the Army of the Dead by freeing them so their souls can go to the afterlife.
Meanwhile, Frodo, Sam and Gollum travel to Minas Morgul. When Sam overhears Gollum’s plans to murder him and Frodo and take the Ring for himself, Sam tries to tell Frodo to not trust Gollum. Gollum persuades Frodo that Sam wants the Ring for himself, which causes Frodo to tell Sam to go home. A heartbroken Sam leaves, but discovers Gollum’s treachery and follows after them. Gollum betrays Frodo, leaving him in the lair of the giant spider Shelob, who paralyzes Frodo before being wounded and driven away by Sam. An Orc patrol captures Frodo and takes him to Sauron’s fortress. Sam rescues Frodo from the tower right before he is about to be killed, and they continue their journey to Mount Doom.
Meanwhile, Aragorn leads his remaining men to the Black Gate of Mordor, distracting Sauron and his forces so Sam and Frodo can enter Mount Doom. Sam carries the weakened Frodo up the volcano, but before they make it to the top, Gollum attacks them. At the Crack of Doom, Frodo succumbs to the Ring’s power and refuses to destroy it. Gollum knocks out Sam and then attacks Frodo. He bites his finger off and seizes the Ring for himself. An enraged Frodo attacks Gollum, and they both fall over the edge. At the last second, Frodo grabs onto the ledge, leaving Gollum to fall into the lava, taking the Ring with him. As the Ring melts in the volcano, Sauron is destroyed and the land of Mordor collapses, taking down most of his forces.
Frodo and Sam are saved from the rising lava by Eagles, who are led by Gandalf. In the aftermath of the great war, Aragorn is crowned King, heralding a new age of peace, while the four hobbits are bowed to by all of Gondor for their courageous efforts. The four Hobbits return home to the Shire, where Sam marries his childhood sweetheart, Rosie Cotton. Four years later, Frodo leaves Middle-earth for the Undying Lands with Gandalf, Bilbo, Elrond, Celeborn, and Galadriel, leaving his account of their quest in a book to Sam.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was released on December 17th, 2003. This film like the other two was filmed in New Zealand and had an estimated budget of $94 million. It became one of the greatest box-office successes of all time, being only the second film to gross #1 billion worldwide. It was the highest-grossing film of 2003. On its opening weekend it grossed $72 million. The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, it won all of them. They include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Make-up, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing. The film also won 4 Golden Globes, including Best Picture for Drama and Best Director. In 2007, Total Film named The Return of the King the 3rd best film of the past decade.
Music is always a huge part of a film. Not only does it add noise to the scenes, it adds character to them as well. You could say that the music sets the mood for each scene that takes place, whether it be one of love, happiness, anger, or sadness. The music is the heartbeat of a film. The music for the trilogy was composed by Howard Shore. Shore watched the assembly cut of the film and had to write 7 minutes of music per day in order to keep up with the schedule. Actors Billy Boyd, Viggo Mortensen, and Liv Tyler also contributed to the film’s music. Boyd sings on screen as Faramir charges toward Osgiliath, Mortensen sings on screen as he is crowned King, and Tyler sings as Aragorn heals Ewoyn. James Galaway contributed by playing the flute as Frodo and Sam climb Mount Doom. The end title song, “Into the West,” was composed by Shore with lyrics by Fran Walsh. The lyrics were sung by Annie Lennox.
The last lines of the film are said by Frodo. They are as follows:
“And thus it was. A fourth age of middle-earth began. And the fellowship of the ring… though eternally bound by friendship and love… was ended. Thirteen months to the day since Gandalf sent us on our long journey… we found ourselves looking upon a familiar sight. We were home. How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on… when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend… some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold. Bilbo once told me his part in this tale would end… that each of us must come and go in the telling. Bilbo’s story was now over. There would be no more journeys for him… save one. My dear Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on.”
In my mind all I can think is this…it’s funny how one tiny object like a ring can shape an adventure of a lifetime.