Monday, November 9, 2009

The Lord of The Ring - Return of the King (2003)

Title : The Lord of The Ring - Return of the King
Director : Peter Jackson
Genre : Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Cast : Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood,Sean Astin, Ian McKellen
See : Trailer

Synopsis :
In the opening scene, Sméagol and his friend Déagol are fishing near the Gladden Fields in the North of Middle Earth. Déagol is dragged into the river by a powerful catch and discovers the One Ring glinting in the river bed. He collects it and climbs out of the river. Sméagol sees him fondling it and as they both succumb to the Ring's power they begin to quarrel. Sméagol demands it saying that it's his
birthday and it should be his present. The squabble turns into a fight and Sméagol strangles his friend with his bare hands to finally prise the Ring from his clenched fist. We are then shown how Sméagol was ostracised from his community and driven away. Suffering terribly from his loneliness and shame, Sméagol takes solice in his love for the Ring as it slowly tortures his mind. His hardships in the Mountains twist his shape into that of Gollum.

As the flashback ends, we are taken back to the present where, on the outskirts of Mordor, Frodo and Sam are resting in an alcove. Sam awakes and sees that his master has not slept, the days are also growing darker the closer they get to Minas Morgul and Mordor. Gollum arrives and urges them to move on. Away in the west, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, Théoden and Éomer are riding through Fangorn to Isengard, where they meet Merry and Pippin feasting among the wreckage of Isengard. They then go and see Treebeard at the Orthanc where Saruman has been trapped. Gandalf opposes Gimli's call to kill Saruman, saying that the wizard has no power any more and will pose no further threat. As they are talking, Pippin sees the palantír amongst the flotsam and is enamoured by it, but Gandalf quickly asks it from him and hides in under his cloak.

The group then rides to Edoras, where King Théoden has prepared a feast to 'hail the victorious dead' of the Battle of the Hornburg. There Éowyn shows affection for Aragorn which Théoden notices, he tells her that he his happy for her, Aragorn being an honourable man and the architect of the victory at Helm's Deep. Gandalf also expresses to Aragorn his concerns over the quest, Aragorn tells him to trust
in what his heart tells him, that Frodo is still alive.

Gollum awakes in the night as Frodo and Sam are sleeping and goes off to one side to murmur to himself.
His evil half senses some doubt in Sméagol and insists that if he can murder once (referring to Déagol) he can do it again. Gollum then begins leading Sméagol through their plan, to deliver the hobbits into the clutches of Shelob in Cirith Ungol, after which the Ring can be reclaimed. Sam hears this and proceeds to beat Gollum for his treachery, Frodo intervenes, saying that as their guide Gollum is
necessary for their quest. Sam obliges as Gollum flashes him an evil smile while Frodo's back is turned.

That same night back in Edoras, Pippin's curiosity gets the better of him; relieving Gandalf of the palantir, he looks into it. Pippin sees a vision of a white tree in a stone courtyard set ablaze, but in doing so he is caught by Sauron and submitted to mental torture and questioning. Aragorn tries to rescue him and thus briefly exposes himself to Sauron. Pippin recovers from his ordeal and it is discovered that he did not tell Sauron anything of the Ring's whereabouts. From Pippin's vision of the
White Tree, Gandalf deduces that Sauron is now moving to attack Minas Tirith and he rides off to send warning, taking Pippin with him, lest his urge to look upon the palantir (left now in Aragorn's keeping) return again.

Leaving Rivendell on her way to the Undying Lands, Arwen has a vision of her son by Aragorn, she realises that her father lied to her about there being no chance of a future with him whom she loves.

She returns to Rivendell and convinces Elrond that she, having foresaken the life of the Eldar, cannot leave Aragorn now. She tells her father that as was declared in lore, the time to reforge Narsil has come, Narsil being the sword of Elendil that cut the Ring from Sauron's finger long ago at the end of the Second Age.

Gandalf and Pippin arrive at Minas Tirith, City of Kings, that was built out of the rock of Mindolluin.

There Pippin recognises the White Tree as they go to find the Steward Denethor. They approach him mourning over Boromir, his son. Pippin swears loyalty to him in recompense for Boromir's sacrifice.

Denethor seems to be caught up in his grief and has not taken measures to fortify the city against the threat of Sauron. Meanwhile, Frodo, Sam and Gollum arrive at Minas Morgul. Wary of the enemy, they locate the Winding Stair (leading to the pass of Cirith Ungol) that lies hidden in the cliffs surrounding the accursed city. Just at that moment, the doors of the city open and the Witch-king of Angmar, leader of the Nazgûl, dispatches his immense Orc army from his lair, heralding the start of the war. This is witnessed by Gandalf and Pippin as a flash of lightning shoots up at the opening of the doors. At the urging of Gandalf, Pippin lights the first of the beacon signals to Edoras, alerting Théoden, Aragorn and the rest of the Rohirrim to ride to the weapon-take at Dunharrow and thence to Minas Tirith. As they leave Edoras, Aragorn notices that Éowyn saddles up with them and that she is girt with a sword, but she insists that she rides only to see them off and that the men have found their captain in Aragorn.

The Morgul army crosses Anduin at Osgiliath in makeshift boats and engages the Gondorian contingent (lead by Faramir) in battle. The orcs prove too strong and drive the Gondorians out of Osgiliath, Faramir and his few surviving men retreat to Minas Tirith, pursued by the Nazgûl. Gandalf, riding out to meet the retreating men, wards them off, saving Faramir. Upon his arrival, Faramir tells Gandalf of
the dangerous route Gollum is taking Frodo and Sam on, convincing Gandalf of Gollum's treachery. The hobbits, lead by Gollum, are struggling to climb the extremely steep stairs, Gollum reaches out and empathises with Frodo, saying that he understands his pain, and also poisoning him against Sam, saying that he will try and take the Ring from Frodo.

In the captured Osgiliath, the Witch-king orders his captain to "send forth all legions" and annihilate the population of Minas Tirith, saying that he himself will "break" the wizard Gandalf. Denethor, ill-pleased by Faramir's defence of Osgiliath, manipulates him into taking a doomed ride to reclaim the city. Gollum continues to play the hobbits against each other, this time by blaming Sam for eating their food provisions. Frodo, in his deluded state, is suspicious of Sam and orders him back home when Sam, trying to be helpful, offers to carry the Ring, thereby fulfilling Gollum's cunning prediction.

Faramir rides head-long into the arrows of the encamped orcs as Pippin sings for Denethor who unconcernedly eats his noon-meal. The attack is destroyed and Faramir is dragged back by his horse in a death-like coma. At the weapon-take of Dunharrow, a hooded figure slowly rides on a white horse along the winding road to the encampment in the hills. The figure reveals himself to Aragorn as Elrond. He presents Aragorn with his birthright - the newly forged Anduril, Flame of the West. He urges Aragorn to use this sword, forged from the shards of Narsil, to recall the Dead Men of Dunharrow and use their allegiance to the heir of Isildur (i.e. Aragorn) to stop the attack of the Corsairs ships from the south. Aragorn accepts this counsel and rides off that very night into the Dimholt, along with Legolas
and Gimli. As he is preparing too go, a tearful Éowyn comes to Aragorn and begs him not to go, declaring her love for him, but Aragorn, knowing now that Arwen has refused promise of Valinor, likewise refuses Éowyn's love. The next morning, Théoden rides off to war with six thousand riders, unaware that Éowyn and Merry, who were both told to remain behind by the King, are also part of his army.

The Morgul forces, composed mostly of Orcs, begin the siege of Minas Tirith using the heads of caputured prisoners as catapult projectiles. Denethor sees his son and believes him to be dead, he also beholds the might of the forces marshalled against him and at this he loses control and hope, ordering the Gondorians to abandon their positions. Gandalf however, steps in and incapacitates Denethor, and then proceeds to assume control of the defence. A skirmish between Gondorian trebuchets and Mordor
catapults ensues until the Witch-king and the other Ringwraiths on their Fell Beasts attack, destroying the catapults and sowing terror among the defenders. Away in Cirith Ungol, Gollum betrays Frodo to the spider-creature Shelob, but Sam returns to fight her off. Sam believes Frodo is dead, but when Orcs from the Tower of Cirith Ungol come and investigate, Sam overhears that Frodo has only been paralysed by Shelob's stinger. In Minas Tirith, Denethor, stricken mad over his grief at having spent both his sons, prepares a funeral pyre for himself and the unconscious Faramir, unaware that the pyre will burn him alive. Gandalf and Pippin arrive in the Hallows and manage to save Faramir, but Denethor is thrown onto the pyre and as he burns to his death, he turns and sees his son stirring awake from his injuries
and exhaustion. Down in the city, the battle goes ill with the Gondorians, as Grond shatters through the gates of the city and trolls pour in. The defenders retreat to the upper levels of the city, the orcs crawl all over the streets, looting, burning and massacering the men of Gondor. But suddenly in the midst of the chaos a lone horn penetrates the air and all turn to the west and see the army of Rohan arrive at last, to the rising of the sun. The Rohirrim charge into the Orcs with great effect.

However their joy is cut short by the arrival of the forces of Harad and the immense Mûmakil. The Witch-king descends on Théoden, killing Snowmane his horse and fatally wounding the King. Seemingly in the nick of time, the Corsairs ships arrive to help the stranded Orcs, but it is Aragorn who jumps off the ship followed by the Undead Army and they completely destroy the Orcs and Mûmakil, while Éowyn and Merry kill the Witch-king. Théoden dies of his wounds and Aragorn holds the Dead Army's oath fulfilled, releasing them from their curse so that they may rest in peace.

Sam rescues Frodo from Cirith Ungol, which is mostly empty following a fight between the two factions of the Tower's Orc garrison over Frodo's mithril shirt, and they begin the long trek across Mordor to Mount Doom. Gandalf realizes that ten thousand Orcs stand between Cirith Ungol and Mount Doom, which will prevent Frodo from reaching his destination. Aragorn proposes they lead the remaining soldiers to
the Black Gate to draw the Orcs away from Frodo's path, as well as distract the Eye of Sauron. Sam carries Frodo up to Mount Doom, but Gollum arrives and attacks them, just as the Battle of the Morannon begins. At the Crack of Doom, Frodo, instead of dropping the ring into the Fire, succumbs to its power and puts it on, disappearing from sight (the act alerts Sauron, and sends the Ringwraiths racing towards Mount Doom). Gollum renders Sam unconscious then attacks Frodo, seizing his ring finger and biting it off. As Gollum rejoices at finally havng reclaimed his Precious, Frodo, still under the sway of the Ring's attraction, charges at Gollum. After a brief struggle, they both fall over the edge of the precipice. Gollum falls into the Fire with the Ring, while Frodo barely hangs on with his strength failing. Sam rescues Frodo as the Ring finally sinks into the lava and is destroyed. The Tower of
Barad-dûr collapses, Sauron's essence fades and then explodes, forever banishing his power. The Orcs, Ringwraiths and the remaining forces of Sauron are consumed in the ensuing shockwave as the earth collapses under their feet. Frodo and Sam are stranded as Mount Doom erupts. They voice their regrets at not being able to see the Shire again amidst the torrents of lava and the destruction of Barad-dur.

With the destruction of the Nazgul, Gandalf is able to call upon the Eagles to carry the hobbits to safety, they awake in Minas Tirith, reuniting with the other members of the fellowship, all of them having survived the War of the Ring.

Aragorn is crowned King of the West, heralding the new age of peace, and is reunited with Arwen. The hobbits return to the Shire, where Sam marries Rosie Cotton. Frodo, having finished writing his entry in the Red Book of Westmarch, is still suffering from the effects of the ring, having possessed it for so long. He realises that he will never have peace in Middle-earth. So he decides to go with Gandalf, Bilbo, Elrond and Galadriel to the Grey Havens. There he passes the Red Book onto Sam to record the years of his life to come, and thence the last ship to leave Middle-earth sets off, pulling slowly away from the shore and passing along the Straight Road into the Uttermost West. Pippin and Merry take their leave and Sam is left staring into the golden sunset. In the last scene, Sam is shown walking back up the lane to Bag End, where he is greeted by Rosie his wife and his children, surrounded by his family and with the rest of his life ahead of him, Sam sighs and says "Well, I'm back", then he goes inside and shuts the door as the screen fades to black.

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