The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Director: Peter Jackson

Now, I have no memories of seeing this in the cinema, probably because I never saw it on the big screen… the end of 2003/start of 2004 when it was in cinemas was, shall we say, a bad time for me personally and healthwise, so, in spite of everything, LotR:RotK was suddenly no longer the priority it had been two years earlier… and not only did I not see it until the DVD came out, it wasn’t until three or four years after the DVD came out that I finally watched the damn thing at last. Let’s face it, that’s not too much of a surprise, cos finding the time and inclination to sit down with a four-hour film doesn’t come easily; even the shorter theatrical version was the longest of the three films, and the extended DVD version was even more of a time investment.

Entirely worth it, of course; indeed, the thing that impressed me most about watching it again tonight—my second viewing, this time from Blu-ray (and I actually watched slightly more of the battle with Shelob this time, I feel oddly proud of myself for that)—is how consistent the whole trilogy is. Each of the films is actually as good as the two others. I did notice, though, that this feels much more like a continuation of the second film than the latter did of the first film, but then again I think I always felt that way about the books as well; Fellowship has always felt like it stood slightly apart from the other two books somehow, and the same is kind of true of the films, hard to explain quite why. What a continuation, though; the Helm’s Deep setpiece in Two Towers really is just a foreshadowing of the havoc here… and I think it bears out my opinion that Jackson’s restructuring of the material paid off well; displacing Shelob from the end of book two to the middle of film three was, I think, a sound choice, and even more so was the complete casting aside of the whole “scouring of the Shire” business… I mean, I remember people complaining at the time that the film had “too many endings”, as if the original book didn’t or something… Yeah, on the whole I think it’s held up pretty well and will continue to do so in years to come.

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