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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Question: Did Shelob die when she got stabbed by Sam?

New this month Answer: It is unknown whether Shelob survived. In the film she is severely wounded and flees the battle, never to be mentioned again. The description in the book is identical, she is said to have never been heard from again after that moment.

Question: How old is Aragorn when he dies?

Answer: Aragorn is 210 years old when he dies. Some of the early texts give his age at death as 190, but Tolkien eventually confirmed that 210 is the correct age.

Tailkinker

Question: What's the difference between an oliphant, seen in The Two Towers, and the mumakil in The Return of the King?

Answer: No difference at all - Oliphaunts and Mumakil are simply what the creatures are called in different languages - Oliphaunt being the term used in the western lands of Middle-Earth, while Mumakil is from the language of the Haradrim from the southern reaches. As a note, Mumakil is plural - an individual creature is a Mumak.

Tailkinker

Question: Why must Frodo go with Gandalf and the elves, at the end of RotK?

Answer: He doesn't have to, but he wants to. His adventures have left considerable scars on him, both physically and mentally. He could stay in the Shire, but he'd continue to suffer for the rest of his life. By going into the West with Gandalf and the Elves, he'll be able to live out his days peacefully, free from pain.

Tailkinker

Question: I am resubmitting my question because the posted answer is incomplete and/or irrelevant. In FOTR, Bilbo says something like "There has always been a Baggins living at Bag End, and there always will be." Presumably he thinks Frodo, and Frodo's descendants, will always live there, but Frodo goes to the Undying Lands, leaving no heirs behind. In the book, Sam and Rosie move into Bag End, but this does not happen in the movie - at the end of ROTK, you can see that the hobbit hole Sam goes home to is not Bag End. My question is, why did the filmmakers change these 2 things? In other words, if Bilbo's line is included to make it important who ends up in Bag End, why not show who does end up there in ROTK? If it is not important who lives there (thus explaining why Sam and Rosie don't appear there), then why have Bilbo make a fuss over it in FOTR? Someone answered that "Bilbo is simply stating the way things have always been", but this is not what I'm asking. I'm not asking "why would Bilbo say this?", I'm asking "why did Peter Jackson think it was important to have this line in the movie?" Why make a scene about who Bilbo thinks will end up in Bag End, and then not show who does end up in Bag End? I want to know what dramatic or story-telling purpose the juxtaposition of these 2 scenes (Bilbo's line and showing that Sam and Rosie do not move into Bag End) serves.

Answer: I think the point is that, at the time he speak the line, Bilbo has NO WAY to know the events that are to come. Clearly, he thinks that the Baggins' will always live at Bag End. How can he possibly know the way things will turn out? Even in the book, at the beginning of the story, Bilbo has no way to know that Sam and Rosie will move into Bag End and that Frodo will not. Also, you might be attaching far too much significance to this one line. We cannot assume that the line was included for the express purpose of "making it important who ends up in Bag End". All that matters is Bilbo is making an assumption that Baggins' will always live there.

Question: Is Gandalf really as powerful as everyone claims? He's supposed to be a great wizard yet he barely uses any power and is always doubting everything, even himself.

Answer: Gandalf is extremely powerful, as are all the five Wizards. They were sent to Middle-Earth to aid the inhabitants in the fight against Sauron, but they were only sent to help - they were placed under a specific instruction that they were only to assist, not to lead - the battle ultimately had to be fought by the races of Middle-Earth. As such, they were forbidden from using the full extents of their magics, lest they become tempted to rule rather than advise. Saruman ultimately fell to this very temptation, and Tolkien felt that two of the other wizards (neither mentioned in the films) did likewise in lands far to the east, with only Gandalf and Radagast staying true to their mission.

Tailkinker

Question: Where were the other Wizards during the fight for Middle-Earth?

Answer: There are only five wizards. Saruman and Gandalf are heavily involved, as we see. Radagast, while not mentioned in the film, has a particular affinity with the birds and animals - it is he who sends the Eagles to the last battle, and to rescue Gandalf from Isengard. The final two, Alatar and Pallando, known as the Blue Wizards, went into the far eastern regions of Middle-Earth and never returned. Tolkien felt that they would ultimately have fallen from grace, much as Saruman did.

Tailkinker

Question: In the scene where Aragon, Gimli and Legolas managed to escape the mountain after the Army of the Dead tried to crush them with sculls and Aragon sees the Corsairs marauding the lands, before the King of the dead appears again, what piece of the soundtrack is played in the background? I can't seem to find it on the official soundtrack, neither as a separate piece nor as part of a larger piece. Can anyone help?

Answer: That cue is only on the 4 CD "Complete Recordings" version of The Return Of The King, released in 2007.

Question: In the theatrical trailer, we see a scene of Eomer grieving for a dead person, presumably during or after the battle for Minas Tirith. This scene is not in the theatrical version of the movie. Will it be in the extended version? And who is the dead person? Theoden (Eomer's uncle)? Or some other fallen warrior that Eomer was very fond of? Thanks.

Answer: This scene found its way into the extended edition of Return of the King. The scene shows Eomer discovering his sister Eowyn on the battlefield, presumably grievously wounded.

Question: Can someone tell me who the elf/actor is who stands next to Elrond in the scene were Aragorn just become king and sees Arwen? They kiss and then you'll see them clapping. I can't find it anywhere.

Answer: This appears to be an unnamed character played by an un-credited actor. He's basically an extra who is part of Elrond's group.

raywest

Question: When the rings were forged, nine were given to the Kings of Man and they became the Ringwraiths. How is it that the three elves had no trouble, as they are all there and smiling in the Grey Havens scene? Also, what happened to the dwarfen rings?

Answer: When the Rings were created, the elves became aware of the creation of the One Ring, and removed their rings. Only when the One Ring was removed from the hand of Sauron were even those rings safe to use. It should be pointed out that the elven rings were crafted by the elven smiths themselves for their own purposes and did not have the same corrupting influence by default as the Seven and the Nine. While their rings were subject to the power of the One Ring, the elven ringbearers remained untouched by his power, tapping into the powers of their rings only sparingly to maintain their realms and only while the One Ring remained lost to Sauron (as it was for the entire time since the last war, up to and including the time of LotR). As for the dwarves, they also proved to be too hardy for Sauron to dominate and the rings merely increased their innate desire for gold. Sauron ultimately reclaimed three of the dwarven rings, which were presumably lost in the fall of Barad-dur, with the other four being consumed by dragons.

Question: Gollum had lots of chances to kill Sam and Frodo so why didn't he take them?

Answer: He feared them, for one thing, but also felt loyalty to Frodo, who showed him kindness. Gollum, torn between his good and evil nature, was eventually overpowered by his desire for the ring.

raywest

Question: This might be a daft question, but what exactly is Denethor's problem? From the Extended Version of "The Two Towers" to when he dies in "The Return of the King", I just get the impression that he's being an a** for no apparent reason.

Answer: Denethor is basically a grim and humourless man, largely brought on by the early death of his beloved wife, thirty years before the events of the film. In many ways an intelligent ruler, he nevertheless commanded the city under the continued stress of the threat of Mordor, a power that built throughout his reign as Steward and this took a great toll on the man. In the books, Denethor repeatedly used a palantir to gather knowledge from afar; this allowed Sauron to tap into his psyche and sap his will, casting him deeper into a state of fear and paranoia. Ultimately the loss of his beloved son and heir, Boromir, sent him over the edge, leaving him as the bitter and rather twisted man that we see during the events of "The Return of the King".

Tailkinker

Question: This applies to all three movies. Why didn't they just release the Extended Versions in the theatre as opposed to releasing what was released in the theatre? Some things would have made a lot more sense (i.e. the breaking of the Evanstar in the theatrical release makes more sense in the Extended Version), and they are far truer to the books.

Answer: Longer films aren't as marketable or profitable as shorter ones. Studios have the final word on how long a movie is, often overriding the director's artistic intention. A movie's running time is determined by a number of factors including how long it's believed an audience is willing to sit through it, and the maximum number of showings possible per day in a theater. The more showings, the more tickets sold. With LotR, each movie was already quite long, and it's doubtful theater audiences would have been willing to sit through an even longer version. Also, with epic films like LotR, it is typical for the theatrical version to be released on DVD first. Much later, the "extended" version is offered, basically repackaging and reselling the movie to the same audience who bought the first DVD, further increasing the profits.

raywest

Question: Does Legolas marry after the battle ends, and where were his kin throughout the battle? Does Gimli marry, and where were the other Dwarfs?

Answer: Sauron's assault on Middle-Earth took place on many fronts; it wasn't limited to the assault on Minas Tirith. The elven kingdom of Lorien came under attack, as did the dwarven realm of Erebor; the elves and dwarves were busy fighting their own battles. Tolkien never mentions whether Gimli or Legolas later marry, although both settled with their kin after the fall of Sauron, Legolas in Ithilien and Gimli in the Glittering Caves of Helm's Deep, so both had the opportunity to have done so before sailing into the West together after Aragorn's death in the year 120 of the Fourth Age.

Tailkinker

Question: Why don't they get one or more orcs to guard the crack of mount doom? Surely they could have spared a couple of orcs just in case someone managed to get through?

Answer: Guard it from who? One of the premises of the whole plot is that Sauron simply cannot believe that someone would want to destroy the ring rather than use it themself. That's why the plan succeeded, and that's the only reason it succeeded. The loss of the ring forced Sauron to make his move early (i.e. sending out his armies sooner than he would have wanted) to stop whoever was using the ring (the only possibility in his mind) from gaining too much power. So who would want to go into Mt. Doom? Besides the fact they'd have to get INTO Mordor first (something which Sauron would have laughed at anyway) they could do nothing there anyway, unless they were there to destroy the ring, which is something Sauron didn't even consider. It'd just be an utter waste of man (orc?)power.

Question: When Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn are leaving the troops to go summon that ghost army in the mountain, all of the troops and even Eowyn think he is abandoning them. Why does he not explain where he is going? If he would have told them that he was going to summon a great army to help it would have done a lot for their morale. What does the book say about this?

Answer: The Dead who live under the mountain are feared and hated by pretty much everyone - note Aragorn's reaction when Elrond first suggests recruiting them. The Rohirrim will be well aware of all the tales - if Aragorn were to tell them what his mission was, they'd likely consider him to be insane. Better for them to think that one of their leaders has to go on some unspecified mission than for them to think that he's actually nuts. Besides, Aragorn has no idea whether the Dead will actually choose to fight - he seems reasonably convinced at first that they won't, and he's not likely to be alone in that opinion - most of the Rohirrim would probably consider him to be a fool for even contemplating it - also not exactly great for morale.

Tailkinker

Question: Is Gimli the last dwarf?

Answer: Gimli is simply the only one in the fellowship. The dwarves at Moria were slaughtered, but that was only a colonizing group sent out from the dwarves at the Lonely Mountain to reclaim Moria after it had been abandoned. Gimli, after all, was only one of the three dwarves that was sent to Rivendell for Elrond's council, so we have visual proof of two more, but there is a thriving society still out there. Elrond even mentions that they only care for their mining, with no mention that they are all dead.

Garlonuss

Question: This is for ALL THREE movies, how many of Arwen's scenes actually happen in the books?

Answer: Practically none of them. Arwen appears in about two scenes in the Fellowship of the Ring and is mentioned in a third - she has no dialogue at all. She is never mentioned in The Two Towers. She shows up at the end of the Return of the King to marry Aragorn. She then has one scene (the only one where she says anything), where she tells Frodo that he would be allowed to go in the West if he so desires and also gives him the jewel that, in the film, she gives to Aragorn. When the filmmakers said that they beefed her role up a bit, they really weren't kidding. One of the appendices to the book does contain a section called "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen", which goes into those parts of their relationship that occur both before and after the events of the main storyline. For obvious reasons, she shows up in that rather a lot.

Tailkinker

Question: If Gondor's royal line of succession was broken, how was it re-established from Isildur to Aragorn?

Answer: This'll be a complex answer - sorry in advance. When Elendil, Isildur and co returned to Middle-Earth after the Fall of Numenor, they set up two kingdoms, Arnor in the north, ruled directly by Elendil (as High King of both kingdoms) and Gondor in the south (ruled jointly by Isildur and his brother Anarion in their father's name). Elendil and Anarion both died in the War of the Last Alliance, and Isildur fell shortly after, leaving Isildur's youngest son Valandil (his other sons died with Isildur) ruling Arnor and Anarion's son Meneldil ruling Gondor. Valandil, as the direct heir of Elendil, should have been proclaimed High King over both kingdoms, but Meneldil refused to recognise his authority over Gondor - the two kingdoms effectively became entirely seperate at this point. Meneldil's line ruled Gondor for two thousand years before the last King, answering a challenge from the Witch-King, entered Minas Morgul, never to be seen again, leaving the Stewards in control of Gondor. Arnor, in the meantime, lasted nine hundred years before splitting into three kingdoms, each ruled by one of the three sons of the last king of Arnor. The land of Arthedain, ruled by the eldest son, lasted slightly more than one thousand years before falling to the forces of Angmar - the people vanished into the wilderness, becoming the Dunedain rangers, with the son of the last king becoming their chieftain, a role that was handed down from father to son until, another thousand years later, Aragorn was given the position. So Aragorn can trace his ancestry directly back to Elendil, the last High King of the two Kingdoms, allowing him to legitimately claim the throne of Gondor. Phew...

Tailkinker

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Quotes

Aragorn: Stand your ground, stand your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves, and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! For all that you hold dear, on this good earth, I bid you stand, men of the west!

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Mistakes

Legolas sends an arrow directly to Grima atop Orthanc, and as Grima starts to fall back the arrow is quite visibly well below the coat's fur. However, when Grima actually hits the ground, the arrow is now higher up, protruding from the fur. (Extended Edition.)

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Trivia

In the extended version when Grima Wormtounge stabs Saruman in the back on top of the tower, Christopher Lee corrected the crew on the fact that when a person is stabbed in the back of the chest, they do not scream (as the film crew wanted), in fact the air is pushed out of their lungs and they "groan" with an exhalation of air, very quietly, as their lungs have been punctured. From Peter Jackson's DVD commentary: "When I was shooting the stabbing shot with Christopher, as a director would I was explaining to him what he should do...And he says, 'Peter, have you ever heard the sound a man makes when he’s stabbed in the back?' And I said, 'Um, no.' And he says 'Well, I have, and I know what to do.'" The crew said that they knew Christopher Lee had been in the British Royal Air Force Intelligence Service in World War Two, and they didn't really push him for more information about how he knew in such detail exactly what noise a person makes when this is done to them.

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