“Put aside the Ranger. Become who you were born to be.” Elrond to Aragorn on the eve of battle.
The third and final installment in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, Return of the King, turns 15 years old today, on December 17th 2003.
Following on from their victory at Helm’s Deep in the previous installment, our heroes reunite with the two Hobbits they set out to rescue two installments ago. But situations arise, and with the War of the Ring now fully underway, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) must step forward and take up his birthright as King, while Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) make their way through Mordor and its surrounding lands.
It’s hard to imagine that this movie is already 15 years old – so many of the effects in this movie give the piece a sense of realism despite its fantasy setting, with the combined use of CGI as well as more practical elements such as Forced Perspective bringing a realism that enthralls the audiences and heightens the stakes.
With a certified Fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.9/10 on IMDB, and according to Wikipedia, is the 21st highest grossing movie of all time. As well as this, it was the highest grossing movie of 2003. Not bad for a movie that director Peter Jackson was apparently editing mere hours before its premiere.
That is not all the praise this movie received. Following the number of awards presented to Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, Return of the King was nominated for 11 awards including Best Picture and Best Original Score at the 76th Academy Awards. It went on to win all 11, something only two other movies have achieved (Titanic and Ben-Hur), and with none of its nominations in the acting categories.
We cannot forget the influence of the soundtrack either; Howard Shore’s blending of the now-familiar Shire and Rohan themes with the new Gondorian one, as well as vocal pieces from some of the cast (Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler, and Viggo Mortensen) completing the atmosphere that complements the atmosphere of the story. Music holds such a strong weight in Tolkien’s novels, and Shore is able to show the majesty of the world, as well as setting the new standard for fantasy cinema. It proved that high fantasy didn’t have to be tacky, but complex heartwarming tales of friendship and camaraderie.
Click on the link below to watch the trailer to the classic film: