81 Days With Oscar And Me

Every Academy Award-Winning Movie, Back to Back, Starting With the First

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The Lord Of the Rings: The Return of the King

November 3rd, 2009 · 2 Comments · 2003, Adaptation, Bernard Hill, Color, Composer: Howard Shore, Fantasy, JRR Tolkien, LOTR: The Return of the King, New Line Cinema, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings, Viggo Mortensen

The Return of the King Where do I even begin to comment on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King?

I feel like falling to my knees and shrieking “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King surpasses even Gone With the Wind for sheer scope. Director Peter Jackon’s noggin must be the size of a Toyota to house the vision it must have taken to create this film, not to mention the two previous movies in the trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers). This is an adaption worthy of the original material, which says a lot considering the original material is J.R. R. Tolkien’s incomparable “Lord of the Rings” novels – books most consider the greatest works of fantasy ever written.

The magnitude of this movie is mind-numbing. My initial thoughts:

1. The extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kings is 250 minutes long. Two hundred and fifty minutes!!?!!??! That’s four hours and 10 minutes, which makes it the longest Best-Picture Oscar winner — beating Gone With the Wind by 12 minutes. The rule of thumb is that one page of a screenplay equals a minute on screen. So the screenplay for The Return of the King topped 250 pages. That, in itself, is practically a novel. I don’t envy the screenwriters of this film – except for their Academy Award. That I wouldn’t mind.

2. I’ve always thought the real hero of The Lord of the Rings was Sam, not Frodo. Frodo is a pussy. If not for Sam, Frodo would have given up long before entering Mordor and climbing to the top of Mount Doom.

3. New Zealand (where the trilogy was filmed) is gorgeous. I’d like to visit that country some day.

4. I love movies about sword fights and brave warriors and damsels in distress.

5. Normally, I’m not a fan of CGI-heavy movies. But CGI is necessary for movies like this because there’s no other way to re-create battle scenes of this magnitude, using types of foes that don’t even exist in real life (Orcs? Hobbits? Elves? Nazgul? Ents?).

Tolkien Books6. I still remember the first time I got my hands on Tolkien’s novels. It was in a local library. In my mind, I can even see the cover design of the books (in fact, there they are to the left), and even where they were on the book shelf. I remember trying to read the first volume, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” and thinking, “Huh? What is this dense prose?” I couldn’t get into it, even though I tried to read the novel 2-3 times. It wasn’t until 9th or 10th grade that I was able to appreciate “The Lord of the Rings” novels. To this day, I re-read the trilogy every few years. Back in my high-school years, my semi-yearly reading of Tolkien was always accompanied by treats I thought Hobbits would eat. One year, I searched high and low for a recipe to make crumpets, searched higher and lower to find crumpet rings to cook them in, bought a vat of fresh honey, sticks of fresh butter, and steeped a cup of English Breakfast Tea. There’s nothing like a warm crumpet dripping with butter and honey, topped off with a nice piping cup of tea, to make one feel positively Hobbit-like.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is an achievement in filmmaking that won’t be easy to beat and, in fact, may never be surpassed. Collectively, Peter Jackson’s trilogy of movies – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King – defy description. They are bigger, grander, more epic, more magnificent, and more astonishing than anything Hollywood ever created.

I may have to break out my crumpet recipe.

But where did I put those blasted rings?

(If you say someone probably threw them into Mount Doom, I swear I’ll slap you. I’ll track you down and I’ll slap you silly.)

The Cast (a bunch of ‘em at least)
Dominic Monaghan (1976- )……………………………Merry
Viggo Mortensen (1958- )………………………………Aragorn
Sean Bean (1959- )………………………………………..Boromir
Cate Blanchett (1969- )………………………………….Galadriel
Orlando Bloom (1977- )…………………………………Legolas
Billy Boyd (1968- )…………………………………………Pippin
Bernard Hill (1944- )……………………………………..Theoden
Andy Serkis (1964- )……………………………………..Gollum / Smeagol
Ian Holm (1931- )…………………………………………Bilbo
Ian McKellen (1939- )…………………………………….Gandalf
Sarah McLeod (1971- )…………………………………..Rosie Cotton
Sean Astin (1971- )……………………………………….Sam
Miranda Otto (1967- )……………………………………Eowyn
John Rhys-Davies (1944- )……………………………..Gimli
Liv Tyler (1977- )………………………………………….Arwen
Karl Urban (1972- )……………………………………….Eomer
Hugo Weaving (1960- )………………………………….Elrond
David Wenham (1965- )…………………………………Faramir
Elijah Wood (1981- )……………………………………..Frodo
Brad Dourif (1950- )……………………………………..Grima Wormtongue
Christopher Lee (1922- )……………………………….Saruman

Directed By
Peter Jackson, 1961-

Written By
J.R.R. Tolkien, 1892-1973 (novel “The Return of the King”)
Fran Walsh, 1959- (screenplay) &
Philippa Boyens, ?- (screenplay) &
Peter Jackson, 1961- (screenplay)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was nominated for 11 Academy Awards – and won every one of them! If memory serves, this is the first time this has happened. Here’s the list: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Editing, Best Makeup, Best Music, Original Score (Howard Shore), Best Music, Original Song, Best Picture, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson).

According to the Tolkien Wiki, …none of the ensemble cast received any acting nominations. On February 29, the film won all eleven Academy Awards, winning in every category for which it was nominated. It tied with Ben-Hur and Titanic for the most Oscars ever won by a single film, and broke the previous record for a sweep set by Gigi and The Last Emperor. The film was the first of the fantasy genre to win the Best Picture award. The film’s win was also only the second time a sequel had won the Best Picture category (the first being The Godfather Part II).

One last comment: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien himself. I can’t even imagine what kind of mind he must have had to create the vast, dense, and vivid world of Middle Earth. If you want to read about a fascinating person, I suggest you investigate the life of J.R.R. Tolkien.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Caroline

    This is the type of movie I can watch over again and never get bored and always discover some new little detail each time – one I can remember is how they re-used the exterior shot of the Rohan castle, but tried to fool us by horizonatally flipping the shot, causing the flag to blow in reverse heheh). I love all the characters (especially Andy Serkis’s Gollum), battle scenes, dialog, visuals, plot, humor. The scenes with the Steward of Gondor pigging out and then getting his comeuppance are great and I tear when the heavy-hearted characters move on to the Grey Havens. I could go on and on but buying the triology is worth it just for the DVD extras (the video games are top rate too!)

  • Bill

    Thanks for stopping by, Caroline! I agree with you. This movie is amazing. What’s even more amazing, though, is that Peter Jackson could create three movies in a row of this magnitude. I have no idea what these films cost (hundreds of millions, I would imagine). But for once I think Hollywood spent its money wisely. I haven’t yet had a Lord of the Rings marathon – watching all three extended-edition films in a row – but I’ll bet you have. Three movies at four hours at a pop makes for a solid day of movie-watching…and a few bed sores. Still, might be fun. You’ll have to tell me about it some day. :)

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