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Feature: The Return of the King

The Final Conflict

Illuminating

The War of the Ring will reach its climax this Christmas... We take a look ahead at what’s in store as The Lord of the Rings concludes…

The long wait is almost over. Not the long, long wait for the final chapter of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, of course, but the first teaser trailer is almost upon us. So what do we have to look forward to?

When we left the scattered Fellowship at the end of The Two Towers, Gandalf and his companions had won the Battle of Helm’s Deep, defeating Saruman’s Uruk-Hai with the aid of an Elf army and Eomer’s exiled Riders of Rohan. But as Gandalf knows, the war for Middle-earth has only just begun… What he doesn’t know is that, thanks to Merry and Pippin, Saruman is besieged in his Orthanc fortress by the Ents of Fangorn forest. The danger from the North is apparently over, but the greater threat of Sauron remains, as his armies converge on Gondor. Only the destruction of the Ring can save the day…

Meanwhile, Boromir’s brother Faramir has relented in his plan to take Frodo and the Ring back to Gondor, and released his captives, allowing Frodo, Sam and their treacherous guide Gollum to set out once more towards Mordor and Mount Doom. As the Ring’s influence over Frodo grows stronger and stronger, they draw closer and closer to the Stairs of Cirith-Ungol, where Gollum has decided to let ‘Her’ take care of his divided loyalties…

Those who’ve read The Return of the King know what’s to come, but for the benefit of movie-goers who’d prefer to stay spoiler-free, we’ll keep any mention of specific plot points for the sidebars. But anyone with an eye for a good, action-packed plot will be able to guess the broad strokes. Gandalf and his forces will have little time to recover their strength before joining the battle to save Minas Tirith from Sauron’s forces, where Aragorn’s return to claim his crown will cause tensions with those who’ve ruled the city for centuries: the Stewards. Just as The Fellowship of the Ring turned the spotlight on the Elves of Rivendell and Lothlorien, and The Two Towers highlighted King Théoden and the kingdom of Rohan, the heart of the third film will be the city of Minas Tirith and its ruler, Faramir and Boromir’s father Denethor. As Gandalf warns Pippin: “Be careful of your words, Master Peregrin. Théoden is a kindly old man. Denethor is of another sort, proud and subtle, a man of greater lineage and power, though he is not called king.”

As the battle reaches its longest day, the Ringbearers are drawing closer and closer to Mount Doom, where their decision will shape the future of Middle-earth. Then, once the battle’s lost or won, the survivors must go their separate ways, returning home changed by their experiences, sometimes finding that their homes have also been changed in the most terrible ways. And as we all know from the Bond films, a charismatic supervillain will always manage to escape, to wreak vengeance on those who destroyed his schemes in the final reel (and I bet that’s the first time Tolkien’s ever been compared with Ian Fleming!).

by Diane McGinn

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Starburst #299

Photo © New Line Cinema
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #299
June 2003
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