I’m starting to see my fellow Tolkien fans ramping up the discussion and pre-commiseration about how we’re all expecting The Battle of the Five Armies to turn us into blubbering messes, ’cause yeah, we know who’s going to not be surviving the battle. Because AUGH.
I have every expectation that I’ll be an absolute wreck by the time the credits roll on this new film. How do I know? Not only because I’ve read the book repeatedly and know what’s coming, but ALSO because I’ve seen Richard Armitage bring such gravitas and nobility to the role of Thorin that I just KNOW I’m going to sob at Thorin’s eventual fate. And now that Fili and Kili have won my heart, ditto. The Battle of Five Armies in the book, short as it is (all the action takes place over a scant small number of pages), really has only enough time to pack a general punch. And since the dwarves in the book are all very broadly sketched characters anyway, it’s harder to have more than a general ‘well, that’s sad’ reaction to their deaths. The dwarves in the book are pretty interchangeable and mostly distinguishable by the colors of their hoods and what instruments they play (details which mostly evaporate once you’re past the first chapter, too).
But in the movies, now, we’ve had time to bond with these characters. And when you throw this together with Howard Shore’s musical direction AND the previous track record that the Lord of the Rings movies established with me–yeah. I’ll be bawling by the time the credits roll on this.
Here now, in honor of that, is a roundup of the moments in the Lord of the Rings trilogy that move me to tears, even now, a decade after those movies came out.
Fellowship of the Ring:
- Gandalf falling into the abyss in Moria–and the anguished reactions from the rest of the Fellowship as they flee, particularly Frodo’s scream.
- Boromir to Aragorn in Lothlorien: “Have you ever been called home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?”
- Boromir’s entire death scene, from the point where he roars into battle with the stream of oncoming orcs to where he gasps his last words to Aragorn: “My brother… my captain… my king.”
- Sam wading out after Frodo even though he can’t fucking swim: “I made a promise, Mr. Frodo! A promise! ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee!’ And I don’t mean to!”
The Two Towers:
- Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas reuniting with Gandalf.
- Gandalf breaking the spell on Théoden, and the look of joy on the king’s face as he sees Éowyn beside him.
- When Haldir dies at the Battle of Helm’s Deep.
- Smeagol’s temporary victory over Gollum in Gollum’s pointy little head. Makes you want to hug him. ALSO, Gollum’s reaction to Faramir’s men catching him at the pool, and how his realizing Frodo has betrayed him shatters that temporary Smeagol victory.
- Théoden at the battle: “Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountain, like wind in the meadow. The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow. How did it come to this?”
- More Théoden at the battle: “Let this be the hour when we draw swords together. Fell deeds awake. Now for wrath, now for ruin, and the red dawn. Forth, Eorlingas!”
- The shining, radiant glory of Gandalf leading Éomer and the Rohirrim down the hill to save the day.
Return of the King:
- Faramir’s last desperate assault on Osgiliath, trying to win it back for Gondor and do SOMETHING to make his father love him, while Billy Boyd sings over the action.
- Théoden’s death at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
- Again, Sam: “I can’t carry it for you, Mr. Frodo–but I can carry you!”
- And Sam and Frodo, on the burning slopes of Mount Doom: “If ever I were to marry someone, Mr. Frodo, it would have been her!” And, “I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things.”
(And oh hell, Elijah Wood’s FACE through pretty much this entire movie. The man is a master of the You Have Not Only Run Over My Puppy, You Have Dismembered It AND Set It on Fire face.)
- Frodo: “We set out to save the Shire, Sam. And it has been saved… but not for me.”
- The entire scene with Frodo and Bilbo departing on the ship for the West.
- And “Into the West”. OH GOD. Really, this whole movie starts me crying about halfway through, and by the time Annie Lennox starts singing over the credits, I’m wrecked. Lennox is just there to finish me off. But OH GOD that song. It’s why I can’t listen to the Return of the King soundtrack very often.
How about you, my fellow Tolkien nerds? What are the bits of these movies that slay you?