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The Return of The King

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It was one minute past midnight, one last time. I knew The Return of The King would be a great movie, and it is. The only question in my mind was, “How great?”

Return is not as good as The Two Towers, my favorite Rings movie, but it is a magnificent, moving film, that will not disappoint, and taken together the Rings movies are certainly the greatest movie trilogy ever made, and rank among the greatest achievements in film history.

The Rings movies contain not a shred of decadence or Jewish propaganda. Although the films depart from Tolkien’s books in countless ways, many of them improvements, some of them needless, a few of them flaws, they remain true to Tolkien’s racial vision. This is astonishing, for director Peter Jackson surely must have felt great pressure from the culture at large, and probably directly from the Jews who produced and distributed the Rings, to turn the films into more multiracial propaganda, like the dreadful animated versions.

Tolkien’s Middle Earth is Europe, a realm of many peoples, all of whom are described in the books as White and portrayed as such in the films. Middle Earth is threatened by the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron, who dwells in the Near East, in the land of Mordor. Sauron wishes to exterminate the White peoples of Middle Earth. His tools are his orcs, hideous creatures created through the forced miscegenation of elves (who are portrayed as extremely tall, fair, Nordic White people) and goblins. His allies are Southrons and Easterlings, who are portrayed as non-Whites. The analogies to the present situation of the White race, the Jewish enemy, and his non-White tools are obvious.

Sauron’s greatest tool is the Ring of Power, which he forged in the heart of the volcano, Mount Doom, and into which he invested his malice, his lust for power, indeed his very life force. So when his connection to the Ring was severed, he was all but destroyed. The Ring of Power symbolizes the danger we all face when we invest ourselves too much into external things that we can lose. This is a danger in all times and places, but much more so in the possessive materialist culture of the modern-day West. More specifically, the Ring of Power symbolizes modernity: the subjugation and degradation of nature and man through the complex of science, technology, industry, and materialism. Tolkien, a true reactionary who preferred a pre-industrial, agrarian society, thought they could never be used wisely and thus must be cast away. The whole point of Rings trilogy is to defeat the Dark Lord by destroying the Ring.

The weakness of Middle Earth is the fact that its peoples are divided and distrustful. More than three thousand years before, they united against the threat of Mordor and Sauron was defeated. The linchpin of the alliance was the high king of Gondor. Gondor is very much like ancient Rome: an advanced civilization built on a colossal scale and influenced by the Atlantis-like sea-kings of Numenor. In its decadence, it is very much like Byzantium or the Rome of the German Emperors of the Middle Ages. Tolkien specifically mentions that not enough children are being born, and the population of Gondor is in decline.

Unfortunately, Isildur, the last high king, who defeated Sauron, was seduced, betrayed, and killed by the power of the Ring. The throne of Gondor stands empty. Gondor is instead ruled by a hereditary house of Stewards, much like the Marshals of the Palace of Merovingian France. The present Steward, Denethor, is played by John Noble. But there is an heir to the throne: Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen, who claims his throne after reuniting the peoples of Middle Earth and defeating Sauron’s armies. My favorite scene is when Aragorn urges his armies – and us — to “stand, men of the West!”

There are many other powerful scenes in Return: the lighting of the beacons of Gondor, a riveting sequence where Pippin serenades Denethor at his table while the cavalry of Gondor charges to its doom, Minas Morgul and the muster of its armies, Aragorn’s meeting with a spectral army in the heart of the haunted mountain the Dwimorberg, the deaths of King Theoden and the Witch King of Angmar. The collapse of Sauron’s tower of Barad-dur reminded me enough of the World Trade Center that I wonder if there is an intentional message there. If so, Professor Tolkien would probably have approved.

Other scenes were not as well done. I wish there had been more poetry and drama to the reforging of the sword Narsil, which cut the Ring for Sauron’s hand three thousand years before, and its presentation to Aragorn. The siege of Gondor was well done, but the battle of the Pelennor Fields lacked the dramatic pacing that made the battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers so compelling. The Pelennor battle happened so fast that it just seemed unreal. The coronation of Aragorn was somehow less moving on screen than in the book. Sam and Frodo were really too close to the soldiers marching from Minas Morgul to avoid detection. Did not one of them look six feet up and to the right? Maybe they should have used their elven cloaks. Did the orcs crossing the river to the Western shore of Osgiliath really expect to surprise the enemy by paddling quietly — when they were carrying torches? Denethor’s death irritated me. I can believe in magic Rings and Dark Lords, but I can’t believe that a man on fire would jog half a mile just to plummet to his death from the most dramatic spot in the city. The same is true of Gollum’s demise. Would a body sink into molten rock like that while a metal ring would float? Better to have cut directly from Gollum falling in infantile ecstasies to the ring glowing on the surface of the lava stream. I was also irritated by the extra conflict scenes added between Gollum, Sam, and Frodo. They added nothing to the characterization and spoiled the pacing of the Shelob sequence, which consequently lacked suspense and drama.

Many things were cut from the book. Some I did not miss. The Prince of Dol Amroth was a cipher with a swan banner and a grand name. Gorbag and Shagrat went on so long I wanted to kill them myself. The houses of healing were not necessary since we saw in the first movie that Aragorn could heal. There really were too many Minnesota good-byes. The romance of Eowyn and Faramir will probably show up in the extended version. They both deserve that happy ending. I was sad that Jackson did not include the scene where Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron in the palantir (a crystal ball that lets one see far-off things). That could have been most poetic. So too Denethor’s corruption by communing with the Dark Lord through another palantir. (Interesting that the main tool of the Dark Lord’s power turn out, in effect, to be television, which literally means “far-seer.”) Perhaps the palantirs too will show up in the extended version. I was very sad that Tolkien’s chapter on “The Scouring of the Shire” was omitted, and I don’t see how it could be added back into the extended version. It brings closure to the stories of Saruman and Wormtonge and shows the truth of Frodo’s vision of the Shire in the mirror of Galadriel. One minor disappointment was the absence of the evocative phrase “elder kindred,” used by Gandalf to describe himself and the elves, who at the end of the movie depart for the lands of the West along with Frodo and Bilbo, leaving men to make their own destinies.

All these quibbles must, however, be kept in perspective. Never have I anticipated a movie more than The Return of the King, and given the greatness of The Two Towers the bar was very high indeed. As I left the theater, I sighed inwardly, “Well, it’s over.” I had my first introduction, the beginning of what is sure to be a long love affair. But then I realized, “No, it is not over. There is still The Hobbit.” And yes, Peter Jackson is interested in making the film.

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One Comment

  1. Vlad Katonic
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I too greatly missed the Scouring of the Shire…It brings the ultimate conclusion to a misuse/dependence on technology, but maybe the movie would have been too long? I wouldn’t have minded myself, of course

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