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The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

Director – Peter Jackson – 2003 – New Zealand – Cert. 12a – 201m (263m)

*****

(NB Extended Edition, in cinemas from Monday, August 10th 2020, 263m in cinemas due to extended frame rate = 252m version released on DVD 2004.)

This review of the 201m theatrical version was originally published in Third Way.

A much shorter review appeared in What’s On In London.

A pre-screening article on The Lord Of The Rings appeared in Sussed in 2001.

Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings is a labour of love by a brilliant academic obsessed by myth and language better at creating an alternate world than at story construction. Nowhere in the trilogy is this more evident than in The Return Of The King. Frodo’s trip to Mount Doom to unmake Sauron’s One Ring builds up incredibly to a climactic pivotal event running little more than a paragraph. This is followed by another hundred pages or so tying up loose ends, including a sequence in which evil wizard Saruman turns the Shire into a post-industrial dictatorship that’s trivial compared with the geographic enormity of what has gone before.

Jackson and co-writers wisely omit that sequence; indeed, in its last weeks of post-production his The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King has chopped its scenes of Saruman (Christopher Lee) at Isengard – on the grounds that it slowed down the start.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

Director – Peter Jackson – 2003 – New Zealand – Cert. 12a – 201m

*****

(NB Extended Edition, in cinemas July 2020, 252m version released on DVD 2004)

This review was originally published in What’s On In London.

A much longer review appeared in Third Way.

A pre-screening article on The Lord Of The Rings appeared in Sussed in 2001.

Peter Jackson and co-screenwriters Boyens and Walsh rise admirably to the considerable challenges posed by The Lord of the Rings’ third and last volume. Gandalf comments early on that Saruman no longer has any real power, jettisoning that evil wizard (and Christopher Lee) plus related Scouring Of The Shire plot strand to make Tolkien’s lengthy section following the Mount Doom climax more manageable

However all the book’s requisite material is here, brilliantly condensed. The Mount Doom scene itself – far too quick in Tolkien after the incredible build up preceding it – is expanded and so given the necessary dramatic weight. Liberties taken with The Paths Of The Dead likewise serve the narrative well. Jackson’s opening is as unexpected and stunning as that of The Two Towers, while his finale effectively pictures Tolkien’s closing metaphor for life after death.… Read the rest