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January 13, 2003

Triumph of the Two Towers

Hello people! It is I , Swynwr. I haven't posted here in quite a while, since I've been busy at university. But having seen The Two Towers twice now, I felt compelled to communicate my enthusiasm for what is, in my mind, yet another magnificent cinematic achievement. I can honestly say that never before in my life have I been so thoroughly captivated while watching a film. You can always tell that a film has something special when the length of its running time goes unnoticed, and it leaves you wanting more. From the film's breathtaking, unexpected and dazzlingly imaginative opening to its beckoning, hopeful yet foreboding ending, I was engrossed. The first time I saw it I was so overwhelmed that I staggered out of the cinema in a stunned state, vowing to return soon in order to catch details, images and words which had passed me by during the whirling spectacle of my opening-night viewing. The film as a whole was marvellous, yet if I were to comment on every single aspect and scene I would surely faint over my keypad. So I'll just discuss the parts which have stuck with me. Forgive me for not starting a new paragraph as I should, but in the strange confines of tolkienmovies article-writing that particular technique eludes me, and whenever I try it my cursor keeps disappearing! The first thing I must comment upon, apart from the amazing, breakneck excitement of the film's beginning, is Gollum! He was amazing! Andy Serkis' vocalisation was brilliantly ethereal; perfectly capturing the insanity, pathos, hatred and endearingly sweet moments of this d, damaged character in every sticky gurgle and nasal whine. Physically, he was not only utterly believable but fascinatingly so. Gollum's wonderfully expressive face and agile, monkey-like movements had me hypnotized. These too, I believe, were CG achievements guided by Serkis' own physical interpretation of the character. However, the most winning quality of Smeagol is his emotional impact. I wept in sympathy at his displays of mental anguish and his dance of glee when he mistakenly believed that he had overcome his inner demon. I also relished Brad Dourif's deeply creepy, menacing portrayal of Grima Wormtongue. It was fantastic to hear the audience shift uncomfortably in their seats at his every oily entrance! With his dark robes, lunar countenance, murky eyes and raspy whisperings, his was an excellent portrayal of a cowardly, duplicitous, intelligent villain, crumpled by bitterness and resentment. Treebeard and the Ents added to the film's triumph, the former character magnificently voiced by the versatile John Rhys-Davies, and the sequences involving the Entmoot and the attack on Isengard were simply magical. To see the guardians of the forest overcome the industry of Saruman was so deeply moving. Then of course, comes the exultant return of Gandalf! The sense of relief and joy when he unmasked himself from behind his blinding radiance was overwhelming. From then on, I saw Gandalf as the true herald of hope in the film; a conquering, enigmatic saint, a martyrized hero who is now truly a heavenly presence among the earthly forces of good. When he reappeared on the hillside at dawn to help the fighters to a sweeping victory at the end of the battle of Helm's Deep, he was a shining saviour, and I just wanted to cheer at the sight of him mounted upon Shadowfax, with staff aloft, haloed by brilliant sunlight. Bravo, Sir Ian! The Battle of Helm's Deep itself must surely go down in cinematic history as one of, if not THE, most stupendous portrayal of a battle on film. I could go on and on, but I'm going to end by saying that this film was a tour de force which refreshed and developed my concept of the cultures, landscapes and struggles of Middle-Earth; introducing the audience to great new characters as well as beloved old friends, and expanding upon the rich diversity of this story and the threat posed to all by the grim, enveloping power of the ring. It segued from the first film with ease, continuing the distinctive, stylish flavour but offering Middle-Earth afresh, allowing TTT to stand very much on its own as a film with its own unique enchantment as well as belonging to a greater whole. Well guys and gals, we're already two-thirds of the way through the trilogy. Kudos, congratulations and thanks to PJ, his cast and crew for another wonderful gift, and may it receive the success that it clearly deserves. I'm already looking forward to TROTK, although I don't want to wish the next year away!

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