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

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

Discussion
Ask a question about 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (film)'
Start a new discussion about 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (film)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 epic
Epic film
An epic is a genre of film that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale. Epics are more ambitious in scope than other film genres, and their ambitious nature helps to differentiate them from similar genres such as the period piece or adventure film...

 fantasy
Fantasy film
Fantasy films are films with fantastic themes, usually involving magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures, or exotic fantasy worlds. The genre is considered to be distinct from science fiction film and horror film, although the genres do overlap...

-drama film
Drama film
A drama film is a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, class divisions, violence against women...

 directed by Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...

 that is based on the second
The Two Towers
The Two Towers is the second volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. It is preceded by The Fellowship of the Ring and followed by The Return of the King.-Title:...

 and third volumes
The Return of the King
The Return of the King is the third and final volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, following The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.-Title:...

 of J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

's The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

. It is the concluding film in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings is an epic film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers and The Return of the King .The films were directed by Peter...

, following The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Two Towers (2002).

As Sauron
Sauron
Sauron is the primary antagonist and titular character of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.In the same work, he is revealed to be the same character as "the Necromancer" from Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit...

 launches the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

, Gandalf
Gandalf
Gandalf is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West...

 the Wizard, and Théoden
Théoden
Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears as a major supporting character in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.-Appearances:...

 King of Rohan
Rohan
Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron, their enemy . It is inhabited by the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers who are well-known for their horses and cavalry....

 rally their forces to help defend Gondor
Gondor
Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

's capital Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith , originally named Minas Anor, is a fictional city and castle in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It became the heavily fortified capital of Gondor in the second half of the Third Age...

 from the looming threat. Aragorn
Aragorn
Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. He is first introduced by the name Strider, which the hobbits continue to call him...

 finally claims the throne of Gondor and summons an army of ghosts to help him defeat Sauron. Ultimately, even with full strength of arms, they realise they cannot win; so it comes down to the Hobbit
Hobbit
Hobbits are a fictional diminutive race who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's fiction.Hobbits first appeared in the novel The Hobbit, in which the main protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, is the titular hobbit...

s, Frodo
Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

 and Sam
Samwise Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee, later known as Samwise Gardner and commonly as Sam, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Samwise is one of the chief characters in Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, in which he fills an archetypical role as the sidekick of the protagonist, Frodo...

, to bear the burden of the Ring and deal with the treachery of Gollum
Gollum
Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was introduced in the author's fantasy novel The Hobbit, and became an important supporting character in its sequel, The Lord of the Rings....

. After a long journey they finally arrive in the dangerous lands of Mordor, seeking to destroy the One Ring
One Ring
The One Ring is a fictional artifact that appears as the central plot element in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy novels. It is described in an earlier story, The Hobbit , as a magic ring of invisibility. The sequel The Lord of the Rings describes its powers as being more encompassing than...

 in the place it was created, the volcanic fires of Mount Doom
Mount Doom
Mount Doom is a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr, it is approximately high. Alternative names, in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin and Amon Amarth...

.

Released on 17 December 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King received rave reviews and became one of the greatest critical and box-office successes of all time, becoming the highest grossing film from New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema, often simply referred to as New Line, is an American film studio. It was founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne as a film distributor, later becoming an independent film studio. It became a subsidiary of Time Warner in 1996 and was merged with larger sister studio Warner...

, as well as the biggest financial success for Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 in general, until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a 2011 epic fantasy film directed by David Yates and the second of two films based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the eighth and final instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by David...

 surpassed The Return of the Kings final gross in 2011. Notably, it won all eleven
76th Academy Awards
The 76th Academy Awards ceremony honored the best films of 2003 and was broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California on ABC beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST, February 29, 2004 . The show was produced by Joe Roth and was hosted for the eighth time by comedian Billy Crystal.The...

 Academy Awards for which it was nominated, an Oscar record, and tied for largest number of awards won with Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur (1959 film)
Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

 and Titanic
Titanic (1997 film)
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Billy Zane as Rose's fiancé, Cal...

. It also won the Academy Award for Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Picture
The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

, the first and only time a fantasy film has done so. It also surpassed Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo is a 2003 American comi-drama animated film written by Andrew Stanton, directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich and produced by Pixar. It tells the story of the overly protective clownfish Marlin who, along with a regal tang called Dory , searches for his abducted son Nemo...

 to become the highest-grossing film of 2003
2003 in film
The year 2003 in film involved some significant events. Releases of sequels took place with movies like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Pokémon Heroes, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,...

.

Plot


Aragorn
Aragorn
Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. He is first introduced by the name Strider, which the hobbits continue to call him...

, Legolas
Legolas
Legolas is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. He is an Elf of the Woodland Realm and one of nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.- Literature :...

, Gimli
Gimli (Middle-earth)
Gimli is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. A Dwarf warrior, he is the son of Glóin ....

, Gandalf
Gandalf
Gandalf is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West...

, Théoden
Théoden
Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears as a major supporting character in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.-Appearances:...

, Gamling
Gamling
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Gamling is a Man of Rohan. He appears in The Two Towers, the second volume of The Lord of the Rings. An older man , he was from the Westfold....

 and Éomer
Éomer
Éomer is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in The Two Towers and The Return of the King, the second and third volumes of Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings....

 meet up with Merry
Meriadoc Brandybuck
Meriadoc Brandybuck, usually referred to as Merry, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured throughout his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings....

, Pippin
Peregrin Took
Peregrin Took, more commonly known as Pippin, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. Pippin is introduced as a Hobbit who plays a major role as one of the companions of Frodo Baggins, in his quest to destroy the One Ring.Peregrin was the only son of...

 and Treebeard
Treebeard
Treebeard is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. The eldest of the species of Ents, he is said to live in the ancient Forest of Fangorn and stands fourteen feet in height and is tree-like in appearance, with leafy hair and a rigid structure. Fangorn Forest...

 at Isengard
Isengard
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Isengard , a translation of the Sindarin Angrenost, was a large fortress. Both names mean "Iron fortress" In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Isengard , a translation of the Sindarin Angrenost, was a large fortress....

. The group returns to Edoras, where Pippin looks into a recovered palantír
Palantír
A palantír is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír A palantír (pl. palantíri) is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír A palantír (pl. palantíri) is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír...

, in which Sauron
Sauron
Sauron is the primary antagonist and titular character of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.In the same work, he is revealed to be the same character as "the Necromancer" from Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit...

 appears and invades his mind; Pippin tells him nothing regarding Frodo
Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

 and the Ring
One Ring
The One Ring is a fictional artifact that appears as the central plot element in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy novels. It is described in an earlier story, The Hobbit , as a magic ring of invisibility. The sequel The Lord of the Rings describes its powers as being more encompassing than...

. From this event, Gandalf deduces that Sauron is planning to attack Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith , originally named Minas Anor, is a fictional city and castle in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It became the heavily fortified capital of Gondor in the second half of the Third Age...

. Gandalf rides with Pippin to find Denethor
Denethor
Denethor II of the House of Húrin is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King, which is the third and final part of his novel The Lord of the Rings. In the novel, he is the 26th and penultimate ruling Steward of Gondor....

, the Steward of Gondor
Gondor
Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

, to whom Pippin swears his service. Gandalf urges Denethor to call Rohan
Rohan
Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron, their enemy . It is inhabited by the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers who are well-known for their horses and cavalry....

 for aid, but Denethor declines, fearing Aragorn and Gandalf plan to depose him. The Morgul army, led by the Nazgûl
Nazgûl
The Nazgûl are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium...

, drives the Gondorians out of Osgiliath. Denethor sends his son Faramir
Faramir
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Faramir is a fictional character appearing in The Lord of the Rings. He is introduced as the younger brother of Boromir of the Fellowship of the Ring and second son of Denethor II, the Steward of the realm of Gondor...

 on a suicide mission
Suicide mission
The term suicide mission commonly refers to a task which is so dangerous for the people involved that they are not expected to survive. The term is sometimes extended to, but is not limited to, suicide attacks such as kamikaze and suicide bombings, where the people involved actively commit suicide...

 to reclaim the city. Pippin lights a beacon, signaling Théoden and Aragorn to assemble the Rohirrim
Rohan
Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron, their enemy . It is inhabited by the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers who are well-known for their horses and cavalry....

 for battle.

Elrond
Elrond
Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.-Character overview:...

 informs Aragorn that Arwen
Arwen
Arwen Undómiel is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. She appears in his novel, The Lord of the Rings, usually published in three volumes. Arwen is one of the Half-elven who lived during the Third Age.-Literature:...

 did not go to the Undying Lands
Aman
-External links:*...

, and is now dying. Believing their forces to be outnumbered by Sauron's, Elrond gives Aragorn the sword Andúril
Narsil
Narsil is a fictional sword featured in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is introduced in The Lord of the Rings as having once belonged to King Elendil of the Dúnedain...

 to acquire the service of the Army of the Dead
Dead Men of Dunharrow
The Dead Men of Dunharrow are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium...

, who owe allegiance to the heir of Isildur
Isildur
Isildur is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the author's books The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

. Éowyn
Éowyn
Éowyn is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, who appears in his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings. She is a noblewoman of Rohan who describes herself as a "shieldmaiden".-Literature:...

 confesses her love for Aragorn and asks him not to go, but Aragorn reaffirms his love for Arwen and heads into battle. Accompanied by Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn ventures into the Paths of the Dead
Paths of the Dead
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Paths of the Dead were a haunted passage under the White Mountains.The Paths of the Dead started at the Dark Door at the end of the long valley of Harrowdale, beyond the Firienfeld and the forest of Dimholt, wedged in between the mountains Irensaga ,...

 and gains the loyalty of the King of the Dead and his men by brandishing Andúril, proving himself the Heir of Isildur. At Dunharrow, Théoden rides off to war, unaware that Éowyn and Merry have secretly joined his forces.

Sauron's armies lay siege to Minas Tirith, led by the Witch-king
Witch-king of Angmar
The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain among other names, is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl , the chief servants...

. Believing a grievously wounded Faramir to be dead, Denethor tries to burn his son and himself alive, but Gandalf intervenes; he saves Faramir, but Denethor commits suicide. Theoden's army appears, charging into the Orc armies and pushing them to the verge of defeat. However, the Haradrim arrive and join the Orc army, turning the tide. The Witch-king kills Théoden, only to be killed himself by Eowyn with help from Merry. On the verge of defeat, the Rohirrim is saved when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli arrive with the Army of the Dead and decimate Sauron's forces, ending the battle. Aragorn frees the Army of the Dead and their souls go to the afterlife.

Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

, Samwise Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee, later known as Samwise Gardner and commonly as Sam, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Samwise is one of the chief characters in Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, in which he fills an archetypical role as the sidekick of the protagonist, Frodo...

 and Gollum
Gollum
Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was introduced in the author's fantasy novel The Hobbit, and became an important supporting character in its sequel, The Lord of the Rings....

 travel to Minas Morgul
Minas Morgul
Minas Morgul , also known by its earlier name of Minas Ithil , is a fictional fortified city in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth...

. Sam overhears Gollum's plans to murder them and take the Ring for himself. Gollum persuades Frodo that Sam wants the Ring for himself, and Frodo angrily tells Sam to go home. A heartbroken Sam leaves, but discovers Gollum's treachery and follows after them. Gollum betrays Frodo, leaving him in the lair of the giant spider Shelob
Shelob
Shelob is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. She appears at the end of the fourth book, second volume , of The Lord of the Rings.-Literature:...

, who paralyzes Frodo; Moments later, however, Sam saves him. An Orc battalion captures Frodo and take him to Sauron's fortress. Sam rescues Frodo from the tower, and they continue the journey to Mount Doom
Mount Doom
Mount Doom is a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr, it is approximately high. Alternative names, in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin and Amon Amarth...

.

Aragorn leads his remaining men to the Black Gate of Mordor
Mordor
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor or Morhdorh was the dwelling place of Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring in the quest to...

, distracting Sauron and his forces and allowing Sam and Frodo to enter Mount Doom. Sam carries the weakened Frodo up the volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

, but Gollum attacks them. At the Crack of Doom
Mount Doom
Mount Doom is a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr, it is approximately high. Alternative names, in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin and Amon Amarth...

, Frodo succumbs to the Ring's power, refusing to destroy it. Gollum attacks Frodo and bites his finger off, seizing the Ring for himself. An enraged Frodo attacks Gollum, and they both fall over the edge. At the last second, Frodo grabs onto the ledge, leaving Gollum to fall to his death and taking the
Ring with him. Sauron is destroyed along with Mordor.

Frodo and Sam are saved from the rising lava by Eagles
Eagle (Middle-earth)
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, the eagles were immense flying birds that were sapient and could speak. Often emphatically referred to as the Great Eagles, they appear, usually and intentionally serving as agents of deus ex machina , in various parts of his legendarium,...

, led by Gandalf. In the aftermath, Aragorn is crowned King, heralding a new age of peace, and is reunited with Arwen. The four Hobbits return home to the Shire
Shire (Middle-earth)
The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in...

, where Sam marries his childhood sweetheart, Rosie Cotton. A few years later, Frodo leaves Middle-earth for the Undying Lands with Gandalf, Bilbo
Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist and titular character of The Hobbit and a supporting character in The Lord of the Rings, two of the most well-known of J. R. R...

, Elrond, Celeborn
Celeborn
Celeborn is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears in The Lord of the Rings as the Elven husband of Galadriel, Lord of the Galadhrim; and co-ruler along with Galadriel of Lothlórien. He was the father of Celebrían — the wife of Elrond — and thus the...

 and Galadriel
Galadriel
Galadriel is a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, appearing in his Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

, leaving his account of their quest
Red Book of Westmarch
The Red Book of Westmarch is a fictional manuscript written by hobbits, a conceit of author J. R. R...

 to Sam.

Cast


Like the preceding films in the trilogy, The Return of the King has an ensemble cast
Ensemble cast
An ensemble cast is made up of cast members in which the principal actors and performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production. This kind of casting became more popular in television series because it allows flexibility for writers to focus on...

, and some of the cast and their respective characters include:
  • Elijah Wood
    Elijah Wood
    Elijah Jordan Wood is an American actor. He made his film debut with a minor part in Back to the Future Part II , then landed a succession of larger roles that made him a critically acclaimed child actor by age 9. He is best known for his high-profile role as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's...

     as Frodo Baggins
    Frodo Baggins
    Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

    : The Hobbit
    Hobbit
    Hobbits are a fictional diminutive race who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's fiction.Hobbits first appeared in the novel The Hobbit, in which the main protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, is the titular hobbit...

     who continues his quest to destroy the Ring, which continues to torture him.
  • Ian McKellen
    Ian McKellen
    Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

     as Gandalf the White: The Wizard
    Wizard (Middle-earth)
    In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Wizards of Middle-earth are a group of beings outwardly resembling Men but possessing much greater physical and mental power. They are also called the Istari by the Elves. The Sindarin word is Ithryn...

     who travels to aid the Men of Gondor
    Gondor
    Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

    , acting as a general at the Siege of Gondor
  • Sean Astin
    Sean Astin
    Sean Astin is an American film actor, director, voice artist, and producer better known for his film roles as Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, the title character of Rudy, and Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In television, he appeared as Lynn McGill in the fifth season of 24...

     as Samwise Gamgee
    Samwise Gamgee
    Samwise Gamgee, later known as Samwise Gardner and commonly as Sam, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Samwise is one of the chief characters in Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, in which he fills an archetypical role as the sidekick of the protagonist, Frodo...

    : Better known as Sam, he is Frodo's loyal Hobbit companion.
  • Viggo Mortensen
    Viggo Mortensen
    Viggo Peter Mortensen, Jr. is a Danish-American actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter. He made his film debut in Peter Weir's 1985 thriller Witness, and subsequently appeared in many notable films of the 1990s, including The Indian Runner , Carlito's Way , Crimson Tide , Daylight , The...

     as Aragorn
    Aragorn
    Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. He is first introduced by the name Strider, which the hobbits continue to call him...

    : Aragorn must finally face his destiny as King of Gondor
    Gondor
    Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

    .
  • Dominic Monaghan
    Dominic Monaghan
    Dominic Bernard Patrick Luke Monaghan is an English actor. He has received international attention from playing Merry in Peter Jackson's adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and for his role as Charlie Pace on the television show Lost....

     as Meriadoc Brandybuck
    Meriadoc Brandybuck
    Meriadoc Brandybuck, usually referred to as Merry, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured throughout his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings....

    : Better known as Merry, the Hobbit who becomes an esquire of Rohan
    Rohan
    Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron, their enemy . It is inhabited by the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers who are well-known for their horses and cavalry....

    .
  • Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took
    Peregrin Took
    Peregrin Took, more commonly known as Pippin, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. Pippin is introduced as a Hobbit who plays a major role as one of the companions of Frodo Baggins, in his quest to destroy the One Ring.Peregrin was the only son of...

    : Better known as Pippin, a Hobbit who looks into the palantír
    Palantír
    A palantír is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír A palantír (pl. palantíri) is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír A palantír (pl. palantíri) is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír...

     and later becomes an esquire of Gondor
    Gondor
    Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

    .
  • Orlando Bloom
    Orlando Bloom
    Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Bloom is an English actor. He had his break-through roles in 2001 as the elf-prince Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and starring in 2003 as blacksmith Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and subsequently established himself as a lead in Hollywood...

     as Legolas
    Legolas
    Legolas is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. He is an Elf of the Woodland Realm and one of nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.- Literature :...

    : An Elven prince and skilled archer; one of Aragorn's best friends.
  • John Rhys-Davies
    John Rhys-Davies
    John Rhys-Davies is a Welsh actor and voice actor. He is perhaps best known for playing the charismatic Arab excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones films and the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy...

     as Gimli
    Gimli (Middle-earth)
    Gimli is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. A Dwarf warrior, he is the son of Glóin ....

    : The warrior Dwarf
    Dwarf (Middle-earth)
    In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Dwarves are a race inhabiting the world of Arda, a fictional prehistoric Earth which includes the continent Middle-earth....

     who continues his friendly rivalry over Orc kills with Legolas. Rhys-Davies also voices Treebeard
    Treebeard
    Treebeard is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. The eldest of the species of Ents, he is said to live in the ancient Forest of Fangorn and stands fourteen feet in height and is tree-like in appearance, with leafy hair and a rigid structure. Fangorn Forest...

     the Ent
    Ent
    Ents are a race of beings in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world Middle-earth who closely resemble trees. They are similar to the talking trees in folklore around the world. Their name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for giant....

     leader.
  • Andy Serkis
    Andy Serkis
    Andrew Clement G. "Andy" Serkis is an English actor, director and author. He is popularly known for playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, for which he earned several award nominations, including the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Two Towers...

     voices and provides motion capture
    Motion capture
    Motion capture, motion tracking, or mocap are terms used to describe the process of recording movement and translating that movement on to a digital model. It is used in military, entertainment, sports, and medical applications, and for validation of computer vision and robotics...

     for Sméagol/Gollum
    Gollum
    Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was introduced in the author's fantasy novel The Hobbit, and became an important supporting character in its sequel, The Lord of the Rings....

    : The treacherous creature, once one of the River-folk (a race akin to Hobbits), who guides Frodo and Sam into Mordor. The first scene in the film portrays him in his former life as Sméagol, his murder of his relative Deagol
    Déagol
    Déagol is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. His story is related in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of three volumes comprising Tolkien's most famous novel, The Lord of the Rings, in the chapter "The Shadow of the Past"....

     for possession of the Ring, as well as his degeneration into Gollum.
  • Liv Tyler
    Liv Tyler
    Liv Rundgren Tyler is an American actress and model. She is the daughter of Aerosmith's lead singer, Steven Tyler, and Bebe Buell, model and singer. Tyler began a career in modeling at the age of 14, but after less than a year she decided to focus on acting. She made her film debut in the 1994...

     as Arwen
    Arwen
    Arwen Undómiel is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. She appears in his novel, The Lord of the Rings, usually published in three volumes. Arwen is one of the Half-elven who lived during the Third Age.-Literature:...

    , daughter of Elrond, Aragorn's lover. She gives up her immortal life for Aragorn.
  • Bernard Hill
    Bernard Hill
    Bernard Hill is a British actor of film, stage and television. In a career spanning thirty years, he is best known for playing Yosser Hughes, the troubled 'hard man' whose life is falling apart in Alan Bleasdale's groundbreaking 1980s TV drama, Boys from the Blackstuff...

     as Théoden
    Théoden
    Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears as a major supporting character in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.-Appearances:...

    : King of Rohan. After triumphing at Helm's Deep
    Battle of the Hornburg
    The Battle of the Hornburg is a fictional battle in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings. The battle pitted the forces of the Wizard Saruman against the Rohirrim under King Théoden, who had taken refuge in the mountain fortress of the Hornburg at Helm's Deep...

    , he is preparing his troops for the Battle of the Pelennor Fields
    Battle of the Pelennor Fields
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy fiction, the Battle of Pelennor Fields is the battle for the city of Minas Tirith between the forces of Gondor and its allies, and the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron...

    . He is the uncle of Éomer and Éowyn.
  • Miranda Otto
    Miranda Otto
    Miranda Otto is an Australian actress. The daughter of actors Lindsay and Barry Otto and the sister of actress Gracie Otto, she began acting at age eighteen, and has performed in a variety of independent and major studio films....

     as Éowyn
    Éowyn
    Éowyn is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, who appears in his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings. She is a noblewoman of Rohan who describes herself as a "shieldmaiden".-Literature:...

    : Théoden's niece, who wishes to prove herself in battle. She also starts to fall in love with Aragorn, who does not return her love. In the extended version, she finds love with Faramir when they are both residing in the Houses of Healing.
  • Karl Urban
    Karl Urban
    Karl-Heinz Urban is a New Zealand actor.He is known for playing Éomer in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in the 2009 film Star Trek and Julius Caesar on Xena: Warrior Princess...

     as Éomer
    Éomer
    Éomer is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in The Two Towers and The Return of the King, the second and third volumes of Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings....

    : Éowyn's brother, and Chief Marshal of the Riders of Rohan. Nephew to King Théoden.
  • David Wenham
    David Wenham
    David Wenham is an Australian actor who has appeared in movies, television series and theatre productions. He is known in Hollywood for his roles as Faramir in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Carl in Van Helsing and Dilios in 300 and Neil Fletcher in Australia...

     as Faramir
    Faramir
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Faramir is a fictional character appearing in The Lord of the Rings. He is introduced as the younger brother of Boromir of the Fellowship of the Ring and second son of Denethor II, the Steward of the realm of Gondor...

    : The head of the Gondorian Rangers
    Rangers of Ithilien
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Rangers of Ithilien, also known as the Rangers of the South and Rangers of Gondor, were an elite group of the Southern Dúnedain warriors who scouted in and guarded Ithilien...

     defending Osgiliath. Second-born son to Denethor, he seeks his father's love in vain.
  • John Noble
    John Noble
    John Noble is an Australian film and television actor, and theater director of more than 80 plays. He was born in Port Pirie, South Australia, Australia and is currently starring as scientist Walter Bishop in the J. J. Abrams television series Fringe.He made occasional appearances on the...

     as Denethor
    Denethor
    Denethor II of the House of Húrin is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King, which is the third and final part of his novel The Lord of the Rings. In the novel, he is the 26th and penultimate ruling Steward of Gondor....

    : Stewards of Gondor
    Stewards of Gondor
    The Stewards of Gondor were rulers from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium of Middle-earth.-Overview:Steward was the traditional title of a chief counsellor to one of the Kings of Gondor. The office of Arandur first came into existence during the reign of King Rómendacil I...

     and father to Faramir, as well as the slain Boromir. Due to grief over Boromir's death, and despair over Mordor's superior numbers, he falls into madness during the Siege of Gondor.
  • Hugo Weaving
    Hugo Weaving
    Hugo Wallace Weaving is a Nigerian born, English-Australian film actor and voice artist. He is best known for his roles as Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy, Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, "V" in V for Vendetta, and performances in numerous Australian character dramas.-Early...

     as Elrond
    Elrond
    Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.-Character overview:...

    : The Elven lord of Rivendell
    Rivendell
    Rivendell is an Elven outpost in Middle-earth, a fictional realm created by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was established and ruled by Elrond in the Second Age of Middle-earth...

     who must convince Aragorn to take up the throne.
  • Ian Holm
    Ian Holm
    Sir Ian Holm, CBE is an English actor known for his stage work and for many film roles. He received the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance as Lenny in The Homecoming and the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of King Lear...

     as Bilbo Baggins
    Bilbo Baggins
    Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist and titular character of The Hobbit and a supporting character in The Lord of the Rings, two of the most well-known of J. R. R...

    : Frodo's elderly uncle, who has rapidly aged after giving away the Ring.
  • Cate Blanchett
    Cate Blanchett
    Catherine Élise "Cate" Blanchett is an Australian actress. She came to international attention for her role as Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 biopic film Elizabeth, for which she won British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Golden Globe Awards, and earned her first Academy Award...

     as Galadriel
    Galadriel
    Galadriel is a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, appearing in his Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

    : Elven lady of Lórien. She is aware the time of the Elves
    Elf (Middle-earth)
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Elves are one of the races that inhabit a fictional Earth, often called Middle-earth, and set in the remote past. They appear in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings, but their complex history is described more fully in The Silmarillion...

     is at an end.
  • Marton Csokas
    Marton Csokas
    -Early life:Csokas was born in Invercargill, New Zealand. His mother, a nurse, is of Irish and Danish descent; his Hungarian-born father, also named Márton Csókás, worked as a mechanical engineer...

     as Lord Celeborn
    Celeborn
    Celeborn is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears in The Lord of the Rings as the Elven husband of Galadriel, Lord of the Galadhrim; and co-ruler along with Galadriel of Lothlórien. He was the father of Celebrían — the wife of Elrond — and thus the...

    : Elven lord of Lórien.
  • Bruce Hopkins as Gamling
    Gamling
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Gamling is a Man of Rohan. He appears in The Two Towers, the second volume of The Lord of the Rings. An older man , he was from the Westfold....

    : Right-hand man of Théoden
    Théoden
    Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears as a major supporting character in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.-Appearances:...

     and a skilled member of the Royal Guard of Rohan
    Rohan
    Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron, their enemy . It is inhabited by the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers who are well-known for their horses and cavalry....

    .
  • Paul Norell
    Paul Norell
    Paul Norell is an English actor residing in Auckland, New Zealand. He is known for his portrayal as the King of the Dead in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Some of his other credits include Power Rangers S.P.D., Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary...

     as The King of the Dead
    Dead Men of Dunharrow
    The Dead Men of Dunharrow are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium...

    : The cursed leader of the Dead Men at Dunharrow, from whom Aragorn must seek help.
  • Lawrence Makoare
    Lawrence Makoare
    Lawrence Makoare is a New Zealand-born Māori actor, probably best known for his roles in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy...

     plays the Witch-king of Angmar
    Witch-king of Angmar
    The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain among other names, is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl , the chief servants...

    , the Lord of the Nazgûl
    Nazgûl
    The Nazgûl are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium...

    , he leads Mordor
    Mordor
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor or Morhdorh was the dwelling place of Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring in the quest to...

    's assault on Minas Tirith
    Minas Tirith
    Minas Tirith , originally named Minas Anor, is a fictional city and castle in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It became the heavily fortified capital of Gondor in the second half of the Third Age...

    . He also plays Gothmog
    Gothmog (Third Age)
    Gothmog is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears briefly in The Return of the King, the third volume of The Lord of the Rings as originally printed....

    , an Orc commander who is voiced by Craig Parker
    Craig Parker
    Craig Parker is a New Zealand actor who was based in the United Kingdom for some time, but now resides in New Zealand. His grandfather moved from Edinburgh, Scotland to Fiji when he was stationed during his years of service in the British Army...

    .
  • Sarah McLeod
    Sarah McLeod
    Sarah McLeod is a New Zealand movie and television series actress. Her most notable role was in the Peter Jackson movies The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as Rosie Cotton, a female hobbit who married Samwise Gamgee. Her daughter...

     as Rosie Cotton: The girl of Sam's dreams. When Sam returns to The Shire, she marries him and has a family.
  • Thomas Robins
    Thomas Robins
    Thomas Robins is a New Zealand actor who was the original host of Squirt, a children's television series. He has also played roles in two films directed by Peter Jackson.- Filmography :* Forgotten Silver - Colin McKenzie...

     as Déagol
    Déagol
    Déagol is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. His story is related in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of three volumes comprising Tolkien's most famous novel, The Lord of the Rings, in the chapter "The Shadow of the Past"....

    , Sméagol's cousin.
  • Sean Bean
    Sean Bean
    Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean is an English film and stage actor. Bean is best known for playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, previously, British Colonel Richard Sharpe in the ITV television series Sharpe...

     as Boromir
    Boromir
    Boromir is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings , and is mentioned in the last volume, The Return of the King....

    : Faramir's brother, in a flashback to his death at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and in the extended cut when Denethor has a hallucination.

The following only appear in the Extended Edition:
  • Christopher Lee
    Christopher Lee
    Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE, CStJ is an English actor and musician. Lee initially portrayed villains and became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films...

     as Saruman the White
    Saruman
    Saruman the White is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. He is leader of the Istari, wizards sent to Middle-earth in human form by the godlike Valar to challenge Sauron, the main antagonist of the tale, but later on aims at gaining...

    : A wizard, former Head of the White Council
    White Council
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the White Council is a group of Eldar Lords and Wizards of Middle-earth, formed to contest the growing power of Dol Guldur, at the request of Galadriel...

    , now trapped by Treebeard. He is seen being killed by his servant, Gríma.
  • Brad Dourif
    Brad Dourif
    Bradford Claude "Brad" Dourif is an American film and television actor who gained early fame for his portrayal of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and has since appeared in a number of memorable roles, including the voice of Chucky in the Child's Play franchise, Younger Brother in...

     as Gríma Wormtongue: Saruman's sycophantic, treacherous servant. He is shot by Legolas after stabbing Saruman.
  • Bruce Spence
    Bruce Spence
    Bruce Spence, born September 17, 1945 is an actor, having spent most of his career performing in Australia. Bruce attended Henderson High School in West Auckland....

     as The Mouth of Sauron
    Mouth of Sauron
    The Mouth of Sauron is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears in The Lord of the Rings — specifically in the chapter "The Black Gate Opens" in the third volume, The Return of the King — as the chief emissary of Sauron.He belonged to the race of the Black...

    : Sauron's ambassador at the Black Gate
    Mordor
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor or Morhdorh was the dwelling place of Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring in the quest to...

    .


There are also cameos from Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Gino Acevedo, Rick Porras and Andrew Lesnie on the Corsair ship, although all of them but Jackson only appear in the Extended Edition. Jackson also has another unofficial cameo, as Sam's hand stepping into view when he confronts Shelob. Sean Astin
Sean Astin
Sean Astin is an American film actor, director, voice artist, and producer better known for his film roles as Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, the title character of Rudy, and Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In television, he appeared as Lynn McGill in the fifth season of 24...

's daughter played Sam's daughter Elanor in the last scene of the film. Jackson's children also cameo as Gondorian extras, while Christian Rivers played a Gondorian soldier guarding the Beacon Pippin lights, and is later seen wounded. Royd Tolkien cameos as a Ranger in Osgiliath, while in the Extended Edition Howard Shore
Howard Shore
Howard Leslie Shore is a Canadian composer, notable for his film scores. He has composed the scores for over 80 films, most notably the scores for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, for which he won three Academy Awards. He is also a consistent collaborator with director David Cronenberg,...

 appears as a celebrating soldier at Edoras. Additionally, four of the designers of The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game
The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game
The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game , and often referred to by players as Lord of the Rings, is a tabletop miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop . It is based on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, and the book that inspired it, written by J. R. R...

 are featured as Rohirrim at the Pelennor. At the end of the film, during the closing credits, each cast member gets a sketched portrait morphed with the real photograph beside their name, which were sketched by Alan Lee, an idea suggested by Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

.

Comparison with the source material


The film contains major scenes that occurred in the middle portion of the novel, The Two Towers, but were not included in the film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, such as Shelob and the palantír subplot, due to Jackson realigning the timeline as described in the book's Appendices, but not in the main prose. Saruman
Saruman
Saruman the White is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. He is leader of the Istari, wizards sent to Middle-earth in human form by the godlike Valar to challenge Sauron, the main antagonist of the tale, but later on aims at gaining...

's murder by Gríma (seen only in the Extended Edition) is moved into the Isengard visit due to the cutting of the Scouring of the Shire
The Scouring of the Shire
"The Scouring of the Shire" is a chapter from the epic fantasy novel The Return of the King, part of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien...

. In the film, Saruman drops the palantír, whereas in the book Gríma throws it at the Fellowship, unaware of its value. While the parting of Gandalf from Théoden's company in "The Two Towers" occurs hastily at Dol Baran with the appearance of a Nazgûl on a winged steed, here he leaves from Edoras after the entire company arrives there to recuperate after the Battle of Helm's Deep
Battle of the Hornburg
The Battle of the Hornburg is a fictional battle in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings. The battle pitted the forces of the Wizard Saruman against the Rohirrim under King Théoden, who had taken refuge in the mountain fortress of the Hornburg at Helm's Deep...

.

The muster of Gondor is absent from the film, and the major captains and generals, including Imrahil
Imrahil
Imrahil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in Return of the King as the twenty-second Prince of Dol Amroth.-Biography:...

 and the Knights of Dol Amroth
Dol Amroth
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Dol Amroth was a hill along the coast of Gondor, on a peninsula on the Bay of Belfalas; and also the city that grew up there, mainly in the Third Age as the seat of the principality of the same name. The Prince of Dol Amroth was one of the principal subjects of...

, are not present.

Denethor
Denethor
Denethor II of the House of Húrin is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King, which is the third and final part of his novel The Lord of the Rings. In the novel, he is the 26th and penultimate ruling Steward of Gondor....

, the Steward of Gondor, was a more tragic character in the book. The film only focuses on his overwhelming grief over the death of Boromir
Boromir
Boromir is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings , and is mentioned in the last volume, The Return of the King....

 as to ignore Sauron's threat (in the book he already lights the beacons), and is driven over the edge by Faramir's
Faramir
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Faramir is a fictional character appearing in The Lord of the Rings. He is introduced as the younger brother of Boromir of the Fellowship of the Ring and second son of Denethor II, the Steward of the realm of Gondor...

 injury. The film only hints at his use of the palantír which drives him mad, information revealed in the Pyre scene, which is more violent than the book. Jackson also has Denethor jump off the Citadel in addition to burning himself on the Pyre, one of the earliest changes.

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
Battle of the Pelennor Fields
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy fiction, the Battle of Pelennor Fields is the battle for the city of Minas Tirith between the forces of Gondor and its allies, and the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron...

 is altered: Faramir never goes on a suicide mission, and the conflict is a simplification of the siege of Osgiliath. With generals such as Forlong and Imrahil
Imrahil
Imrahil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in Return of the King as the twenty-second Prince of Dol Amroth.-Biography:...

 absent, Gandalf commands the defense of Minas Tirith due to Denethor's despair. While Denethor gives command to Gandalf in the book, in this film Gandalf forcibly takes control as Denethor tells the men to flee rather than fight. The Orcs also never get into the city in the book. The Witch-king enters and stands off against Gandalf before the Rohirrim arrive, but in the film Orcs invade the city after Grond breaks the Gate. The confrontation takes place while Gandalf journeys to save Faramir in the Extended Edition, during which Gandalf has his staff broken in the film (but not in the book). A subplot in which the Rohirrim are aided by the primitive Drúedain
Drúedain
The Drúedain are a fictional race of Men which were counted amongst the Edain, who made their way into Beleriand in the First Age, and were friendly to the Elves. They are part of the Middle-earth legendarium, created by J. R. R. Tolkien....

 into entering the besieged Gondor is also excised. The Red Arrow
Red Arrow (Middle-earth)
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, the Red Arrow was a way Gondor summoned its allies in time of need.Its flights were black and its barbs were made of steel, and it took its name from a mark of red painted on the arrow's tip, standing for blood to show the situation was...

 brought by a messenger from Gondor to ask for aid is absent. Éowyn's presence on the battlefield is unknown to the reader until she takes off her helmet, but in the film the audience is aware, as it would have been difficult to have Miranda Otto
Miranda Otto
Miranda Otto is an Australian actress. The daughter of actors Lindsay and Barry Otto and the sister of actress Gracie Otto, she began acting at age eighteen, and has performed in a variety of independent and major studio films....

 playing a man. When hope seems lost, Gandalf comforts Pippin with a description of the Undying Lands, which is a descriptive passage in the book's final chapter. The film depicts the Army of the Dead
Dead Men of Dunharrow
The Dead Men of Dunharrow are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium...

 fighting in the Battle, whereas in the book they are released from service prior to this, after helping Aragorn defeat the Corsairs of Umbar
Corsairs of Umbar
The Corsairs of Umbar were a fleet of Men of Umbar in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, allied to Sauron in his war against Gondor.-Literature:...

 at the port city of Pelargir in Lebennin; Aragorn's reinforcements are merely more Gondorians, and the Dúnedain
Dúnedain
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Dúnedain were a race of Men descended from the Númenóreans who survived the sinking of their island kingdom and came to Eriador in Middle-earth, led by Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anárion...

, Aragorn's people (the rangers of the North
Rangers of the North
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Rangers of the North, also known as the Dúnedain of the North, were the descendants of the Dúnedain from the lost kingdom of Arnor...

). An unstoppable and invulnerable force, the Dead wipe out Sauron's forces. The film also cuts out several supporting characters, such as: Halbarad
Halbarad
Halbarad is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.Halbarad was a Ranger of the North. He was the second in command of the Dúnedain behind Aragorn and also the leader of the Grey Company. Halbarad was among the Rangers who guarded the Shire. He said of the Hobbits "A...

, a friend of Aragorn's, who helps lead the Dúnedain, Beregond
Beregond and Bergil
Beregond and Bergil are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, appearing in The Return of the King. Beregond is the first Captain of the White Company; the guard of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien; and previously, a member of the Third Company of the Guard of the Citadel...

, a member of the Citadel Guard of Gondor, whom Pippin befriends, and Elladan and Elrohir
Elladan and Elrohir
Elladan and Elrohir are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, the sons of Elrond Half-elven and Celebrían and older brothers of Arwen.-Literature:...

, the twin sons of Elrond who deliver Aragorn's banner and accompany him to the Pelennor Fields. Elladan and Elrohir are replaced by Elrond in the film, instead delivering Andúril, and then returning to Rivendell. The film also altered the circumstances of Théoden's death; his death speech, in which he names Éomer the new king in the book, is trimmed and delivered to Éowyn instead, with an earlier scene in the Extended Edition even implying that she is next in line for the throne. Théoden's rallying cries before the initial charge are in fact spoken by Éomer in the book upon his realisation that Éowyn is also apparently dead.

In the film Aragorn leads the entire remaining force of Rohan and Gondor's men to the Black Gate without incident. In the book tactics are discussed, forces divide and fight smaller skirmishes in Anórien and Ithilien
Ithilien
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, Ithilien is a region and fiefdom of Gondor.Ithilien, or "Moon-land," is the easternmost province of Gondor, the only part of Gondor across the Great River Anduin lying between the river and the Mountains of Shadow , subdivided by the stream of...

 before the army (only a fraction of the full remaining strength of the nations of men) reach the Morannon.

The romance that develops between Éowyn and Faramir during their recoveries in the Houses of Healing is also largely cut, presumably to keep the focus on Aragorn and Arwen
The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen is a story written by the English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It can be found in Appendix A of Tolkien's most famous book, The Lord of the Rings. It takes place in the Third Age of the author's fictional universe, Middle-earth...

; the subplot is only briefly referenced in the Extended Edition with a scene where the two hold hands.

Sam and Frodo's major rift in their friendship, due to Gollum's machinations, never takes place in the book, but was added by the writers in believing that it added drama and more complexity to the character of Frodo. Frodo enters Shelob's lair alone in the film, whereas in the book he and Sam entered together. This was done to make the scene more horrific with Frodo being alone, and Sam's rescue at the last minute more dramatic. Also, in the film we do not know that Sam has the Ring until he gives it back to Frodo, whereas in the book the reader knows that Sam has the Ring. Gollum's fall into the lava of Mount Doom was also rewritten for the film, as the writers felt Tolkien's original idea (Gollum simply slips and falls off) was anti-climactic. Originally, an even greater deviation was planned: Frodo would heroically push Gollum over the ledge to destroy him and the Ring, but the production team eventually realised that it looked more like Frodo murdering Gollum. As a result, they had Frodo and Gollum struggle for possession of the Ring and both slip over the edge by accident.

Also absent from the film are the other major attacks by Sauron on various regions of Middle-earth, referenced only briefly in the main text of The Return of the King, and expanded upon in the Appendices; the invasion of Rohan by the orcs of Moria
Moria (Middle-earth)
In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, Moria was the name given by the Eldar to an enormous underground complex in north-western Middle-earth, comprising a vast network of tunnels, chambers, mines and huge halls or 'mansions', that ran under and ultimately through the Misty Mountains...

, the attacks on Lothlórien and the Woodland Realm
Mirkwood
Mirkwood is a name used for two distinct fictional forests in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. In the First Age, the highlands of Dorthonion north of Beleriand were known as Mirkwood after falling under Morgoth's control. During the Third Age, the large forest in Rhovanion, east of the Anduin in ...

 of Thranduil
Thranduil
Thranduil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is a supporting character in The Hobbit, and is referenced briefly in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.-In literature:...

 by the forces of Dol Guldur
Dol Guldur
Dol Guldur was Sauron's stronghold in Mirkwood in the fictional world of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. It is first mentioned in The Hobbit. The hill itself, rocky and barren, was the highest point in the southwestern part of the forest. Before Sauron's occupation it was called Amon Lanc...

, and the attack on Dale and the Lonely Mountain
Lonely Mountain
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, the Lonely Mountain is a mountain in the northeast of Rhovanion. It is also the source of the Celduin river.- Origins of the Kingdom Under the Mountain :...

 by a force of Easterlings
Easterlings
In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, "Easterling" and "Easterlings" were generic terms for Men who lived in the east of Middle-earth, who mostly fought under Morgoth and Sauron, not directly but rather on behalf of their own High Lord....

.

There are several changes in the Battle of the Black Gate: Merry is not present there in the book, Pippin does not kill a troll as he does in the novel, the eagles fight and defeat some of the mounted Nazgûl (while Frodo putting on the One Ring distracted the Nazgûl, who raced away to Mount Doom in the book before a confrontation could occur), and Aragorn kills the Mouth of Sauron
Mouth of Sauron
The Mouth of Sauron is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears in The Lord of the Rings — specifically in the chapter "The Black Gate Opens" in the third volume, The Return of the King — as the chief emissary of Sauron.He belonged to the race of the Black...

 in the extended edition of the film but not in the book. There was an even larger change planned: Sauron himself would come out in physical form to battle Aragorn, who would only be saved by the destruction of the Ring. Jackson eventually realised it ignored the point of Aragorn's true bravery in distracting Sauron's army against overwhelming odds, and a computer generated Troll was placed over footage of Sauron in the finished film. The ending is streamlined so as not to include the Scouring of the Shire
The Scouring of the Shire
"The Scouring of the Shire" is a chapter from the epic fantasy novel The Return of the King, part of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien...

, which was always seen by the screenwriters as anti-climactic. It is referenced, though, in Frodo's vision of the future in Galadriel
Galadriel
Galadriel is a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, appearing in his Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

's mirror in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Production


The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is unusual in that it is, to date, the only one whose separate instalments were written and then shot simultaneously (excluding pick up shoots). Jackson found The Return of the King the easiest of the films to make, because it contained the climax of the story, unlike the other two films. The Return of the King was originally the second of two planned films under Miramax
Miramax Films
Miramax Films is an American entertainment company known for distributing independent and foreign films. For its first 14 years the company was privately owned by its founders, Bob and Harvey Weinstein...

 from January 1997 to August 1998, and more or less in its finished structure as the first film was to end with The Two Towers Battle of Helm's Deep. Filming took place under multiple units across New Zealand, between 11 October 1999 and 22 December 2000, with pick up shoots for six weeks in 2003 before the film's release.

Design


Middle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

 as envisioned by Jackson was primarily designed by Alan Lee and John Howe, former Tolkien illustrators, and created by Weta Workshop
Weta Workshop
Weta Workshop is a special effects and prop company based in Miramar, New Zealand, producing effects for television and film.Founded in 1987 by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger as RT Effects, Weta Workshop has produced creatures and makeup effects for the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys...

, who handled all the trilogy's weapons, armour, miniatures, prosthetics and creatures, as well as the Art Department which built the sets. Richard Taylor headed Weta, while Grant Major and Dan Hennah organised the planning and building respectively.

The city of Minas Tirith, glimpsed briefly in both the previous two films is seen fully in this film, and with it the Gondorian civilization. The enormous soundstage was built at Dry Creek Quarry, outside Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

, from the Helm's Deep
Helm's Deep
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings, Helm's Deep was a large valley in the north-western Ered Nimrais .The valley was described as being blocked over its entire width by the natural series of hills called Helm's Dike and behind that lay the fortress of Aglarond or the Hornburg, at the...

 set. That set's gate became Minas Tirith's second, while the Hornburg exterior became that of the Extended Edition's scene where Gandalf confronts the Witch-king. New structures included the 8m tall Gate, with broken and unbroken versions, with a working opening and closing mechanism, with its engravings inspired by the Baptistry of San Giovanni. There were also four levels of streets with heraldic motifs for every house, as inspired by Siena
Siena
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...

.

There was also the Citadel, the exterior of which was in the Stone Street Studios backlot, using forced perspective
Forced perspective
Forced perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It is used primarily in photography, filmmaking and architecture...

. It contains the withered White Tree
White Tree of Gondor
In J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy universe of Middle-earth, the White Tree of Gondor stood as a symbol of Gondor in the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith....

, built from polystyrene by Brian Massey and the Greens Department with real branches, influenced by ancient and gnarled Lebanese olive trees. The interior was within a 3 story former factory in Wellington, and colour wise is influenced by Charlemagne's Chapel, with a throne for Denethor carved from stone and polystyrene statues of past Kings. The Gondorian armour is designed to represent an evolution from the Númenóreans
Númenor
Númenor is a fictional place in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. It was a huge island located in the Sundering Seas to the west of Middle-earth, the main setting of Tolkien's writings, and was known to be the greatest realm of Men...

 of the first film's prologue, with a simplified sea bird motif. 16th century Italian and German armour served as inspiration, while civilians wear silver and blacks as designed by Ngila Dickson, continuing an ancient/medieval Mediterranean Basin
Mediterranean Basin
In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

 look.

Minas Morgul, the Staircase and Tower of Cirith Ungol as well as Shelob's Lair were designed by Howe, with the Morgul road using forced perspective into a bluescreened miniature. Howe's design of Minas Morgul was inspired from the experience of having a Wisdom tooth
Wisdom tooth
A wisdom tooth, in humans, is any of the usually four third molars. Wisdom teeth usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, but it is possible to have fewer , or more, in which case they are called supernumerary teeth...

 pulled out: in the same way, the Orcs have put their twisted designs on to a former Gondorian city. Cirith Ungol was based on Tolkien's design, but when Richard Taylor felt it as "boring", it was redesigned with more tipping angles. The interior set, like Minas Tirith, was built as a few multiple levels that numerous camera takes would suggest a larger structure.

The third film introduces the enormous spider Shelob
Shelob
Shelob is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. She appears at the end of the fourth book, second volume , of The Lord of the Rings.-Literature:...

. Shelob was designed in 1999, with the body based on a tunnelweb spider
Porrhothele antipodiana
The black tunnelweb spider, Porrhothele antipodiana, is a spider found throughout much of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands in bush and gardens. Males are often found indoors during spring and summer when they leave their burrows to find mates. When found inside, they are typically near a source...

 and the head with numerous growths selected by Peter Jackson's children from one of many sculpts. Jackson himself took great joy in planning the sequence, being an arachnophobe
Arachnophobia
Arachnophobia or arachnephobia is a specific phobia, the fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions. It is a manifestation of zoophobia, among the most common of all phobias. The reactions of arachnophobics often seem irrational to others...

 himself. Shelob's Lair was inspired by sandstone and sculpted from the existing Caverns of Isengard set.

The Return of the King also brings into focus the Dead Men of Dunharrow and the evil Haradrim from the south of Middle-earth, men who ride the mûmakil. The Dead Men have a Celtic influence, as well as lines and symmetry to reflect their morbid state, while their underground city is influenced by Petra
Petra
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited...

. The Haradrim were highly influenced by African culture, until Philippa Boyens expressed concern over the possibility of offensiveness, so the finished characters instead bear influence from Kiribati
Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

, in terms of weaving armour from bamboo, and the Aztecs, in use of jewellery. Also built was a single dead mûmak. Other minor cultures include the Corsairs, with an exotic, swarthy look, and the Grey Havens, Elven structures adapted to stone, with influence from J. M. W. Turner
J. M. W. Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner RA was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting...

 paintings.

Principal photography


The Return of the King was shot during 2000, though Sean Astin's coverage from Gollum's attempt to separate Frodo and Sam was filmed on 24 November 1999, when floods in Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains....

 interrupted the focus on The Fellowship of the Ring. Some of the earliest scenes shot for the film were in fact the last. Hobbiton, home of the Hobbits, was shot in January 2000 with early scenes from The Fellowship of the Ring, with the exterior shot at a Matamata
Matamata
Matamata is a rural Waikato town in New Zealand with a population of around 12,000 . It is located near the base of the Kaimai Ranges, and is a thriving farming area known for Thoroughbred horse breeding and training pursuits...

 farm, while interior scenes shot at Stone Street Studios in Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

, shared with the Grey Havens sequence. Due to the high emotions of filming the scene, the cast were in despair when they were required to shoot it three times, due to a continuity flaw in Sean Astin
Sean Astin
Sean Astin is an American film actor, director, voice artist, and producer better known for his film roles as Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, the title character of Rudy, and Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In television, he appeared as Lynn McGill in the fifth season of 24...

's costume, and then negatives producing out-of-focus reels. Also shared with the previous films was the Rivendell interior in May.

The Battle of the Black Gate was filmed in April at the Rangipo Desert
Rangipo Desert
Rangipo Desert is a barren desert-like environment in New Zealand, located in the Ruapehu District on the North Island Volcanic Plateau; to the east of the three active peaks of Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu, and to the west of the Kaimanawa Range.The Rangipo Desert receives...

, a former minefield. New Zealand soldiers were hired as extras while guides were on the look out for unexploded mines. Also a cause for concern were Monaghan and Boyd's scale doubles during a charge sequence. In the meantime, Wood, Astin and Serkis filmed at Mount Ruapehu
Mount Ruapehu
Mount Ruapehu, or just Ruapehu, is an active stratovolcano at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand. It is 23 kilometres northeast of Ohakune and 40 kilometres southwest of the southern shore of Lake Taupo, within Tongariro National Park...

 for the Mount Doom exteriors. In particular, they spent two hours shooting Sam lifting Frodo on to his back with cross-camera coverage
Camera coverage
Camera coverage, in filmmaking and video production, is the amount of footage shot and different camera angles used to capture a scene. When in the post-production process, the more camera coverage means that there is more footage for the film editor to work with in assembling the final cut.-See...

.

Scenes shot in June were the Paths of the Dead across various locations, including Pinnacles
Putangirua Pinnacles
The Putangirua Pinnacles -also known colloquially simply as The Pinnacles- as a geological formation are one of New Zealand's best examples of "badlands erosion" and consist of a large number of earth pillars or Hoodoos located at the head of a valley in the Aorangi Ranges...

. In July the crew shot some Shelob scenes, and in August and September time was spent on the scenes in Isengard. Monaghan and Boyd tried numerous takes of their entrance, stressing the word "weed" as they smoked pipe-weed. Christopher Lee spent his part of his scene mostly alone, though McKellen and Hill arrived on the first day for a few lines to help.

Edoras exteriors were shot in October. The Ride of the Rohirrim, where Théoden
Théoden
Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears as a major supporting character in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.-Appearances:...

 leads the charge into the Orc army, was filmed in Twizel
Twizel
TwizelUrban AreaPopulation:1,000Extent:Territorial AuthorityName:Mackenzie District CouncilPopulation:Mayor:Website:Extent:Regional councilName:Environment Canterbury...

 with 150 extras on horseback. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields has more extensive use of computer-generated imagery
Computer-generated imagery
Computer-generated imagery is the application of the field of computer graphics or, more specifically, 3D computer graphics to special effects in art, video games, films, television programs, commercials, simulators and simulation generally, and printed media...

, in contrast to the more extensive use of live action in the Battle of Helm's Deep
Battle of the Hornburg
The Battle of the Hornburg is a fictional battle in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings. The battle pitted the forces of the Wizard Saruman against the Rohirrim under King Théoden, who had taken refuge in the mountain fortress of the Hornburg at Helm's Deep...

 in the second film. Also filmed were the attempts by Faramir to recapture Osgiliath, as were scenes in the city itself. At this point production was very hectic, with Jackson moving around ten units per day, and production finally wrapped on the Minas Tirith sets, as well as second units shooting parts of the siege. Just as the Hobbit actors' first scene was hiding under a Ringwraith, their last scene was the bluescreen
Chroma key
Chroma key compositing is a technique for compositing two images together. A color range in the top layer is made transparent, revealing another image behind. The chroma keying technique is commonly used in video production and post-production...

ed reaction shot of the inhabitants of Minas Tirith bowing to them.

Pick-ups


The 2003 pick ups were filmed in the Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

 studio car park, with many parts of sets and bluescreens used to finish off scenes, which the design team had to work 24/7 to get the right sets ready for a particular day. The shoot continued for two months, and became an emotional time of farewells for the cast and crew. The film has the most extensive list of reshoots given for the trilogy. Jackson took his time to reshoot Aragorn's coronation, rushed into a single day under second unit director Geoff Murphy on 21 December 2000. Jackson also reshot scenes in and around Mount Doom, and Théoden's death, right after Bernard Hill was meant to wrap.

There was also the new character of Gothmog. This was a major new design addition for the film, as Jackson felt the Mordor Orcs were "pathetic" compared to the Uruk-hai
Uruk-hai
The Uruk-hai are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth. They are introduced in The Lord of the Rings as an advanced breed or breeds of Orcs that serve Sauron and Saruman...

 of the second film after watching assembly cuts, and thus Weta
Weta
Weta is the name given to about 70 insect species endemic to New Zealand. There are many similar species around the world, though most are in the southern hemisphere. The name comes from the Māori word 'wētā' and is the same in the plural...

 created grotesque new "über Orcs" as antagonists for the audience to focus on. Christian Rivers
Christian Rivers
Christian Rivers is a New Zealand visual effects art director and filmmaker. He first met Peter Jackson as a 17 year old, and storyboarded all of Jackson's films since Braindead. He also cameos in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as a Gondorian soldier. He is set to make his...

 also redesigned the Witch-king and all of his scenes were reshot, due to confusion from non-readers over whether or not Sauron was on the battlefield.

With the positive response to Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom
Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Bloom is an English actor. He had his break-through roles in 2001 as the elf-prince Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and starring in 2003 as blacksmith Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and subsequently established himself as a lead in Hollywood...

, Legolas was given a fight with a mûmak, and Howard Shore
Howard Shore
Howard Leslie Shore is a Canadian composer, notable for his film scores. He has composed the scores for over 80 films, most notably the scores for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, for which he won three Academy Awards. He is also a consistent collaborator with director David Cronenberg,...

 also appeared in a cameo during Legolas and Gimli's drinking game at Edoras. The final scenes shot were Aragorn escaping the Skull avalanche, and Frodo finishing his book. The cast also received various props associated with their characters, although in the case of John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies is a Welsh actor and voice actor. He is perhaps best known for playing the charismatic Arab excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones films and the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy...

, he burned his final Gimli prosthetic. Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Peter Mortensen, Jr. is a Danish-American actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter. He made his film debut in Peter Weir's 1985 thriller Witness, and subsequently appeared in many notable films of the 1990s, including The Indian Runner , Carlito's Way , Crimson Tide , Daylight , The...

 headbutt
Headbutt
A headbutt is a strike with the head, typically involving the use of robust parts of the cranium as areas of impact. Effective headbutting revolves around striking a sensitive area with a less sensitive area, such as striking the nose of an opponent with the forehead...

ed the stunt team goodbye. Pick-ups ended on 27 June 2003.

Scenes shot afterwards included various live-action shots of Riders for the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and a reaction shot of Andy Serkis as Gollum finally realises Frodo intends to destroy the Ring, shot in Jackson's house. For the Extended DVD, Jackson shot in March 2004 a few shots of skulls rolling over for the avalanche scene; this was the final piece of footage ever shot for the trilogy, and Jackson noted that it must be the first time a director had shot scenes for a film after it had already won the Oscar.

Editing


Post-production on The Return of the King began in November 2002, with the completion of the 4½ hour assembly cut of the film that Annie Collins
Annie Collins
Annie Collins is a film editor from New Zealand, best known for her work on The Return of the King. She was a film conformer on The Fellowship of the Ring, and moved up to assistant editor on The Two Towers...

 had been completing over 2001 and 2002, from 4 hour dailies. For example, Théoden leading the charge went from 150 minutes of takes to a finished 90 seconds. Jackson reunited with longtime collaborator Jamie Selkirk
Jamie Selkirk
Jamie Selkirk is a film editor and producer who has worked primarily in New Zealand. He is particularly noted for his work on the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, which he co-produced with Peter Jackson...

 to edit the final film. Like The Two Towers, they would have to deal with multiple storylines, and Jackson paid attention to each storyline at a time before deciding where to intercut. Most importantly they spent three weeks working on the last 45 minutes of the film, for appropriate intercutting and leaving out scenes such as the Mouth of Sauron, and the fates of characters like Legolas, Gimli, Éowyn and Faramir. The film inherited scenes originally planned to go into the second film, including the reforging of Narsil, Gollum's backstory, and Saruman's exit. But the Saruman scene posed a structural problem: killing off the second film's villain when the plot has Sauron as the main villain. Despite pick-ups and dubs, the scene was cut, causing controversy with fans and Saruman actor Christopher Lee, as well as a petition to restore the scene. Lee nonetheless contributed to the DVDs and was at the Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 premiere, although on the other hand he says he will never understand the reason for the cut and his relationship with Jackson is chilly. They would, however, later reconcile upon Lee's casting in Jackson's Hobbit films. Jackson only had a lock on 5 out of 10 reels, and had to churn out 3 reels in 3 weeks to help finish the film. It was finally done on 12 November 2003. Jackson never had a chance to view the film in full due to the hectic schedule, and only saw the film from beginning to end on 1 December at the Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

 premiere; according to Elijah Wood
Elijah Wood
Elijah Jordan Wood is an American actor. He made his film debut with a minor part in Back to the Future Part II , then landed a succession of larger roles that made him a critically acclaimed child actor by age 9. He is best known for his high-profile role as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's...

, his response was "yup, it's good, pretty good".

Visual effects



The Return of the King contains 1,488 visual effect shots, nearly three times the number from the first film and almost twice that of the second. Visual effects work began with Alan Lee and Mark Lewis compositing various photographs of New Zealand landscape to create the digital arena of the Pelennor Fields in November 2002. Gary Horsfield also created a digital version of the Barad-dûr during his Christmas break at home by himself, for the film's climax. In the meantime, Jackson and Christian Rivers
Christian Rivers
Christian Rivers is a New Zealand visual effects art director and filmmaker. He first met Peter Jackson as a 17 year old, and storyboarded all of Jackson's films since Braindead. He also cameos in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as a Gondorian soldier. He is set to make his...

 used computers to plan the enormous battle up until February 2003, when the shots were shown to Weta Digital. To their astonishment, 60 planned shots had gone up to 250, and 50,000 characters were now 200,000. Nevertheless they pressed on, soon delivering 100 shots a week, 20 a day, as the deadline neared within the last two months, often working until 2 a.m.

For the battle, they recorded 450 motions for the MASSIVE digital horses (though deaths were animated), and also had to deal with late additions in the film, such as Trolls bursting through Minas Tirith's gates as well as the creatures that pull Grond to the gate, and redoing a shot of two mûmakil Éomer takes down that had originally taken six months in two days. On a similar note of digital creatures, Shelob's head sculpture was scanned by a Canadian company for 10 times more detail than Weta had previously been able to capture.

Like the previous films, there are also extensive morphs between digital doubles for the actors. This time, there was Sam falling off Shelob, where the morph takes place as Astin hits the ground. Legolas attacking a mûmak required numerous transitions to and fro, and Gollum's shots of him having recovered the One Ring and falling into the Crack of Doom were fully animated. The King of the Dead is played by an actor in prosthetics, and his head occasionally morphs to a more skull-like digital version, depending on the character's mood. The Mouth of Sauron also had his mouth enlarged 200% for unsettling effect.

The Return of the King also has practical effects. In the Pyre of Denethor sequence, as the Steward of Gondor throws Pippin out of the Tomb, John Noble
John Noble
John Noble is an Australian film and television actor, and theater director of more than 80 plays. He was born in Port Pirie, South Australia, Australia and is currently starring as scientist Walter Bishop in the J. J. Abrams television series Fringe.He made occasional appearances on the...

 threw a size double named Fon onto a prostrate Billy Boyd, who immediately pushed his head into camera to complete the illusion. A few burning torches were also reflected off a plate of glass and into the camera for when Gandalf's horse Shadowfax kicks Denethor onto the pyre. Because of Jackson's requirement for complete representation of his fantasy world, numerous miniatures were built, such as 1:72 scale miniature of Minas Tirith, which rises 7m high and is 6.5m in diameter
Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle...

. 1:14 scale sections of the city were also required, and the Extended Edition scene of the collapsing City of the Dead has 80,000 small skulls, amounting in total to a single cubic meter. The miniatures team concluded in November with the Black Gate, after 1000 days of shooting, and the final digital effects shot done was the Ring's destruction, on 25 November.

Sound effects


The Sound department spent the early part of the year searching for the right sounds. A tasmanian devil
Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae, now found in the wild only on the Australian island state of Tasmania. The size of a small dog, it became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936...

 was Shelob's shriek, which in turn gave inspiration for Weta's animators, while the mûmakil is the beginning and end of a lion roar. Human screams and a donkey screech were mixed into Sauron's fall, and to avoid comparison with 9/11, broken glass was used for the collapsing sounds. For missile trading during Minas Tirith's siege, construction workers dropped actual 2 ton stone blocks previously lifted by a construction crane. Mixing began at a new studio on 15 August, although unfinished building work caused some annoyances. The mixers finished on 15 November, after three months of non-stop work.

Soundtrack


The music was composed by Howard Shore
Howard Shore
Howard Leslie Shore is a Canadian composer, notable for his film scores. He has composed the scores for over 80 films, most notably the scores for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, for which he won three Academy Awards. He is also a consistent collaborator with director David Cronenberg,...

, who previously composed the first two parts of the trilogy. Shore watched the assembly cut of the film, and had to write seven minutes of music per day to keep up with the schedule. The score sees the full introduction of the Gondor theme, originally heard during Boromir's speeches at the Council of Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring and at Osgiliath in The Two Towers Extended Edition. Actors Billy Boyd, Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler also contributed to the film's music. Boyd sings on screen as Faramir charges towards Osgiliath, Mortensen sings on screen as he is crowned King, and in the Extended Edition Tyler sings as Aragorn heals Éowyn.

Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming is an American soprano specializing in opera and lieder. Fleming has a full lyric soprano voice.Fleming has performed coloratura, lyric, and lighter spinto soprano repertoires. She has sung roles in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian, aside from her native English. She also...

, Ben Del Maestro
Ben Del Maestro
Ben Del Maestro is a singer, most famous for performing with the London Oratory School Schola on The Lord of the Rings soundtracks....

 and James Galway
James Galway
- External links : IMGArtists.com 15 September 2008. AllAboutJazz.com 5 August 2008.*...

 also contribute to the soundtrack. Fleming sings as Arwen has a vision of her son and when Gollum recovers the One Ring. Del Maestro sings when Gandalf lights his staff to save fleeing Gondorian soldiers from Osgiliath as the Nazgûl attack. Galway plays the flute as Frodo and Sam climb Mount Doom. The end title song, "Into the West
Into the West (song)
"Into the West" is an Oscar winning song, written by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, and Annie Lennox, and performed by Lennox. The song plays during the closing credits of the film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King...

", was composed by Shore with lyrics by Fran Walsh. Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox, OBE , born Ann Lennox, is a Scottish singer-songwriter, political activist and philanthropist. After achieving minor success in the late 1970s with The Tourists, with fellow musician David A...

 (formerly of Eurythmics
Eurythmics
Eurythmics were a British pop rock duo, formed in 1980, currently disbanded, but known to reunite from time to time. Consisting of members Annie Lennox and David A...

) performed it and also received songwriting credit. The song was partially inspired by the premature death from cancer of a young New Zealand filmmaker named Cameron Duncan
Cameron Duncan
Cameron Troy Duncan was a writer and director from New Zealand.-Film career:Duncan completed many home videos but only two short films, DFK6498 and Strike Zone, a movie involving his love for softball, as well as a few commercials and brief clips, before dying of osteosarcoma, a type of bone...

 who had befriended Peter Jackson.

Release


After two years of attention and acclaim since the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, audience anticipation for the final installment of the trilogy had reached fever pitch when the film was complete. The world premiere was held in Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

's Embassy Theatre, on 1 December 2003, and was attended by the director and many of the stars. It was estimated that over 100,000 people lined the streets, more than a quarter of the city's population.

Critical reception


The film garnered universal acclaim from critics; the film has a 94% rating of positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

. Richard Corliss
Richard Corliss
Richard Nelson Corliss is a writer for Time magazine who focuses on movies, with the occasional article on music or sports. Corliss is the former editor-in-chief of Film Comment...

 of Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 named it the best film of the year. The main criticism of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, was its running time, particularly the epilogue; even rave reviews for the film commented on its length. Joel Siegel
Joel Siegel
Joel Siegel was an American film critic for the ABC morning news show Good Morning America for over 25 years. Born to a Jewish family of Romanian descent, and raised in Los Angeles, California, he graduated cum laude from UCLA. His Romanian-born grandmother from Botoşani survived the Triangle...

 of Good Morning America
Good Morning America
Good Morning America is an American morning news and talk show that is broadcast on the ABC television network; it debuted on November 3, 1975. The weekday program airs for two hours; a third hour aired between 2007 and 2008 exclusively on ABC News Now...

 said in his review for the film (which he gave an 'A'): "If it didn't take forty-five minutes to end, it'd be my best picture of the year. As it is, it's just one of the great achievements in film history." There was also criticism regarding the Army of the Dead's appearance, rapidly ending the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

In February 2004, a few months after release, the film was voted as #8 on Empires 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, compiled from readers' top 10 lists. This forced the magazine to abandon its policy of only allowing films being older than 12 months to be eligible. In 2007, Total Film
Total Film
Total Film is a British film magazine published 13 times a year by Future Publishing. The magazine was launched in 1997 and offers film, DVD and Blu-ray news, reviews and features...

 named The Return of the King the third best film of the past decade (Total Films publication time), behind The Matrix
The Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving...

 and Fight Club
Fight Club (film)
Fight Club is a 1999 American film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher and stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton plays the unnamed protagonist, an "everyman" who is discontented with his white-collar job...

.

Box office


The film has earned $377,027,325 in the USA and Canada and $742,083,616 in other countries for a worldwide total of $1,119,110,941. It is the fifth highest-grossing film of all time worldwide behind Avatar, Titanic
Titanic (1997 film)
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Billy Zane as Rose's fiancé, Cal...

, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. At the time, it was the second film in history to earn over $1 billion in box office revenue in its initial release (the first being Titanic in 1997). It is the highest-grossing movie of 2003 worldwide and the highest-grossing movie in The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings is an epic film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers and The Return of the King .The films were directed by Peter...

 trilogy.

In the USA and Canada, the film earned $34.5 million on its opening day — the seventh largest opening day gross for a film released on a Wednesday. The film opened a day earlier for a midnight showing and it accounted for about $8 million. This was nearly twice the first-day total of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (which earned $18.2 million on its opening day in 2001), and a significant increase over The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers as well (which earned $26.1 million on its debut in 2002). Part of the grosses came from the Trilogy Tuesday event, in which the Extended Editions of the first two films were played on 16 December before the first midnight screening. It went on to make an opening weekend of $72.6 million ($124.1 million with weekday previews). It is the 13th highest-grossing film of all time at the American and Canadian box office.

Overseas the film has the fourth largest gross of all time after that of Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

, Titanic and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a 2011 epic fantasy film directed by David Yates and the second of two films based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the eighth and final instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by David...

 (the final Harry Potter film). It has the largest overseas gross for a 2003 film and the largest of the trilogy. It had an overseas opening weekend of $125.9 million.

Compared to the first two films of the trilogy it performed better: each of the first two films grossed less than the third both in North America and overseas. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King has helped The Lord of the Rings franchise to become the highest-grossing motion picture trilogy worldwide of all time with $2,911,746,256, beating other notable ones such as the Star Wars trilogies
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

, and surviving from being out-grossed by subsequent trilogies like Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)
Pirates of the Caribbean is a series of fantasy-adventure films directed by Gore Verbinski and Rob Marshall , written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer...

 and Harry Potter
Harry Potter (film series)
The Harry Potter film series is a British-American film series based on the Harry Potter novels by the British author J. K. Rowling...

, despite ticket price inflation.

These figures do not include income from DVD sales, TV rights, etc. It has been estimated that the gross income from non-box office sales and merchandise has been at least equal to the box office for all three films. If this is so, the total gross income for the trilogy would be in the region of $6 billion following an investment of $300 million ($426 million including marketing costs).

Awards and nominations



On 27 January 2004, the film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards: Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Picture
The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score
Academy Award for Best Original Score
The Academy Award for Original Score is presented to the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer.-Superlatives:...

, Best Original Song
Academy Award for Best Original Song
The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film...

, Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction
Academy Award for Best Art Direction
The Academy Awards are the oldest awards ceremony for achievements in motion pictures. The Academy Award for Best Art Direction recognizes achievement in art direction on a film. The films below are listed with their production year, so the Oscar 2000 for best art direction went to a film from 1999...

, Best Costume Design, Best Make-up, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing. On 29 February, the film won all the categories for which it was nominated
76th Academy Awards
The 76th Academy Awards ceremony honored the best films of 2003 and was broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California on ABC beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST, February 29, 2004 . The show was produced by Joe Roth and was hosted for the eighth time by comedian Billy Crystal.The...

, making it the most successful film in Academy Award history.

The film also won four Golden Globes
Golden Globe Award
The Golden Globe Award is an accolade bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign...

 (including Best Picture for Drama and Best Director), five BAFTA
British Academy of Film and Television Arts
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is a charity in the United Kingdom that hosts annual awards shows for excellence in film, television, television craft, video games and forms of animation.-Introduction:...

s, two MTV Movie Awards
MTV Movie Awards
The MTV Movie Awards is a film awards show presented annually on MTV . It also contains movie parodies that used official movie footage with hosts and other celebrities and music performances. The nominees are decided by producers and executives at MTV. Winners are decided online by the general...

, two Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s, nine Saturn Award
Saturn Award
The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. The Saturn Awards were devised by Dr. Donald A. Reed in 1972, who felt that films within...

s, the New York Film Critics Circle
New York Film Critics Circle Awards
New York Film Critics' Circle Awards are given annually to honor excellence in cinema worldwide by an organization of film reviewers from New York City-based publications. It is considered one of the most important precursors to the Academy Awards....

 award for Best Picture, the Nebula Award for Best Script
Nebula Award for Best Script
Winners of the Nebula Award for Best Script. The stated year is that of release; awards are given in the following year. Winning titles are listed first, with other nominees listed below. In 1974, 1975, and 1977 the award was for "Best Dramatic Presentation"...

, and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation
The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially...

.

The film was nominated for the 10th Anniversary Edition of AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies.

Home media


The theatrical edition of the film was released on DVD on 25 May 2004. The DVD was a 2-disc set with extras on the second disc. The theatrical DVD sets for the two previous films were released eight months after the films were released, but Return of the Kings set was completed in five because it did not have to market a sequel (the previous films had to wait for footage of their sequels to become available for a ten minute preview). However, it contained a 7 minute trailer of the entire trilogy.

The Return of the King followed the precedent set by its predecessors by releasing an Extended Edition (263 minutes) with new editing and added special effects and music, along with four commentaries and six hours of supplementary material, plus 10 minutes of fan-club credits. However, this set took longer to produce than the others because the cast and crew were spread all over the world working on other projects. The set was finally released on 10 December 2004 in the UK and 14 December in the U.S. The final ten minutes comprises a listing of the charter members of the official fan club who had paid for three-year charter membership.

New scenes such as: Éowyn's Dream, The Voice of Saruman, The Decline of Gondor, The Wizard's Pupil, Crossroads of the Fallen King, Merry's Simple Courage, The Witch-king's Hour, The Houses of Healing, The Mouth of Sauron, The Corsairs of Umbar & Sam's Warning, are added to progress the story and give it, as well as the characters depicted, more depth. Along with the new scenes, additional footage as been added to the battles in Osgiliath, Minas Tirith & Pelennor Fields. Likewise, more footage has been added to the Paths of the Dead, Edoras, as well as the time spent at Minas Tirith.

A collectors' box set was also released, which included the Extended Set plus a sculpture of Minas Tirith and a bonus 50-minute music documentary DVD, Howard Shore: Creating The Lord of the Rings Symphony: A Composer's Journey Through Middle-earth. The DVD has a DTS-ES soundtrack. The DVD also features two humorous Easter Eggs
Easter egg (media)
Image:Carl Oswald Rostosky - Zwei Kaninchen und ein Igel 1861.jpg|250px|thumb|right|Example of Easter egg hidden within imagerect 467 383 539 434 desc none...

, one where Dominic Monaghan plays a German interviewer with Elijah Wood over a phone, and another where Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn
Vincent Anthony "Vince" Vaughn is an American film actor, screenwriter, producer and comedian. He began acting in the late 1980s, appearing in minor television roles before attaining wider recognition with the 1996 movie Swingers...

 and Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller
Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller is an American comedian, actor, writer, film director, and producer. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara....

 attempt to convince Jackson to make a sequel, originally shown at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards
MTV Movie Awards
The MTV Movie Awards is a film awards show presented annually on MTV . It also contains movie parodies that used official movie footage with hosts and other celebrities and music performances. The nominees are decided by producers and executives at MTV. Winners are decided online by the general...

. Both can be accessed via a Ring icon on the last page of both Disc 1 and 2's scene indexes.

On 29 August 2006, a Limited Edition of The Return of the King was released. This Limited Edition contains two discs, the first is a two-sided DVD containing both the Theatrical and Extended editions of the film. The second disc is a bonus disc that contains a new behind-the-scenes documentary.

The theatrical Blu-ray version of The Lord of the Rings was released in the United States on 6 April 2010. The individual Blu-ray disc of The Return of the King was released on 14 September 2010 with the same special features as the complete trilogy release, except there was no digital copy. The Extended Edition was released in the United States on 28 June 2011.

See also



  • The Hobbit (2012 film)
  • The Hobbit (1977 film)
  • The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)
    The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)
    J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a 1978 American fantasy film directed by Ralph Bakshi. It contains both animation and live action footage which is rotoscoped to give it a more consistent look throughout the length of the movie. It is an adaptation of the first half of the high fantasy...

  • The Return of the King (1980 film)
    The Return of the King (1980 film)
    The Return of the King, also known as The Return of the King: A Story of the Hobbits, is a 1980 animated television special created by Rankin/Bass and Topcraft. The film is an adaptation of the third volume in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R...

  • List of films considered the best

External links