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January 2, 2004

RotK Commentary: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Bob Praz

Well, I know Iíve been posting often lately, but now that Iíve sat back and read all the other posts, I still have more to say. Bear with me, if you will.

First, my favourite part of ROTK was the whole climax, but in particular I loved the scene on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam asks Frodo if he remembers the Shire, and Frodo basically replies that the only thing he can still feel, remember, or see is the Ring. Then Sam picks up Frodo and carries him, as Howard Shore plays us a full, rousing version of the Grey Havens theme. In my opinion, it was the most moving and heroic scene in the whole trilogy; the dialogue was great and nearly the same as in the book, the acting was incredible, the music was beautiful, and the environment itself was epic. Other than that, I also loved Faramirís suicidal charge on Osgiliath (with Pippinís singing), and the sequence of the Beacons of Gondor.
However, if I had to choose which scenes to add or return into the movie, I would put back the Houses of Healing in order to provide a bit more of a breathing space between the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the epic climax of the Fall of Sauron. Yet most importantly, it completes the story of Eowyn and Faramir, shows us how Merry recovered and was able to fight again, shows us how Faramir recovered (which, in turn, would add more meaning to Gandalf and Pippinís role in rescuing him), and demonstrates Aragornís qualities outside of battle. Also, it would display the deadly power of the Witch-King, because even though Merry and Eowyn slew him, they grew ill afterwards. I might also add an explanation to how Denethor went mad because he looked into the Palantir, since I find that his story in the movie required much more depth. Hopefully this will all be in the EE anyhow.

In response to - , whose name makes it awkward to address him (hehe), thank you for responding to my questions on the Legolas stunts. I love Legolas as well, but I think PJ went a bit too far in some cases. I believe he did kill a Mumak in the book by shooting it in the eye, and I was expecting to see something like this in the movie, but when he instead slew it with three simultaneous arrows in the head, only to surf down its trunk ďTony HawkĒ style, I was a little disappointed by PJís taste (maybe he will explain himself on the DVD commentary). Anyhow, itís just a slight annoyance in an incredible movie. Maybe Iíll grow to like it as well once Iíve seen it a few more times, like I did with his ďshield-surfingĒ at Helmís Deep. Also, I fully agree with you that Denethorís death was unnecessary and unrealistic, and hopefully PJ will explain that too on the DVD.

Curiously, I barely realised that Gollumís fall into the fires of Mount Doom was different from the book. Although itís perhaps more ironic to have Gollum stumble and fall by himself, like in the book, the way itís played out in the movie is perhaps even more climactic, and also allows us to have that great moment where we see Gollum holding up the Ring in true happiness (the only such moment in the whole trilogy). Also, someone at TORn remarked that having Frodo reach for Samís arm at the Cracks of Doom shows how Frodo has not given up on life, and thus his departure at the Grey Havens was really to find peace with Eruís blessing, rather than because he had no desire to keep living with his pain.

Iíve now listened to the ROTK soundtrack several dozen times, and I am continuing to do so. Much like the movie, I grow to appreciate it more every time I listen to it. I love how it is both optimistic and apocalyptic, climactic and soft, as well as original and familiar.

Right, well, I think Iíve talked long enough. Although Iíve written about all the topics I can think of at the moment, I suspect Iíll be posting another long commentary ere long (such is my inevitable nature). In the mean time, Happy New Year!

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