Even after he has been shot a few times Boromir still kills several more Orcs and scares the rest by making a scary face and raring at them, until they shoot him a few more times just to be sure. Only then does he finally get round to blowing his horn to alert the others, but by the time Strider, Legolas and Gimli get there the Orcs have gone and taken Merry and Pippin with them.
Strider promises the dying Boromir that he will go to Minas Tirith, and then Boromir goes
Strider quickly works out that Frodo and Sam have taken one of their boats and that it is only Merry and Pippin that have been captured, and the Three Hunters chase after them to attempt a rescue. They handicap themselves unnecessarily by running in slow motion - even Strider succumbs this time.
There follows a long sequence of the Orc force running with Merry and Pippin in tow before Pippin collapses and Merry's accent becomes Australian. As the Orcs halt, the Riders of Rohan attack them, wielding the animation style of the enemy against them.
Frodo and Sam are by now on their way to Mordor, and can even see their destination, Mount Doom, away in the distance. Gollum is following them. There have been glimpses of him before now, ever since the Fellowship passed through Moria and his glowing yellow eyes were visible, but now he enters the story properly.
Frodo spots Gollum and they ambush him.
"Don't hurt us! Don't let them hurt us, precious. Cruel little Hobbitses. Jumps on us like cats on poor mices, gollum. We'll be nice to them if they'll be nice to us, won't we, precious?"Gollum mentioned cats! He is so effortlessly the best character in this.
When they tell him they are headed to Mordor, Gollum makes a run for it, and when they recapture him they bind him with the Elven rope which hurts him (the film does not explain why) until they take it off when he promises
"Smeagol will be very good. Smeagol will swear never to let Him have it. Smeagol will save it."The first foreshadowing of Gollum's eventual fate, and the Ring's.
Back at the battle between the Rohirrim and the Orcs of Isengard, some of the Orcs are very good at standing still. They're not very animated, is what I'm saying, mew. As the battle goes poorly for their captors, Merry and Pippin are left unattended, and they escape into Fangorn Forest where they meet Treebeard.
The Three Hunters have also reached Fangorn. A wizard comes out of the woods and Gimli says
"Your bow, Legolas, it's Aruman! Shoot, before he puts a spell on us, quickly!"
It's really Gandalf, trolling them by being mysterious and pewpewpewing the weapons out of their hands before finally revealing himself. Gandalf tells them of his fight with Balrog, and it is presented to us as a series of still images in a very different style to the rest of the film, an almost abstract depiction of the titanic struggle between the two Maiar.
They ride to Edoras (their acquisition of horseys skipped over) while Gandalf gives the exposition of what is going on in Rohan, and who Théoden, Gríma Wormtongue (whose nickname is presented without introduction as though it were his real name) and Éomer are.
There is a scene where Saruman, with Wormtongue at his side, makes a speech to his Orc army. Either this is a flashback, or else Wormtongue teleports to Edoras in time for the next scene where he says to King Théoden
"Did I not counsel your doorkeeper to forbid his staff?"although the scene with Háma trying to do this is sadly missed out, which is a shame because it is a classic bit of Gandalf trolling. Alas, it is understandable that it would be cut for time.
Wormtongue gives himself away as a baddy when he tries to stab Gandalf although, if you ask me, his unfortunate surname, shifty appearance and creepy habit of stroking King Théoden's beard should have been enough clues.
Gandalf advises they travel to Helm's Deep and Théoden takes his entire army with him. On the way there, Gandalf suddenly rides off on his own (well, on his own apart from Shadowfax) leaving Strider and Théoden to become friends.
Cut to Frodo, Sam and Gollum. Except that Gollum has gone - snuck away while the Hobbits were having sleeps.
He comes back with a fish, nomnomnom.
As they march on, Frodo is tired, and Gollum says
"The precious is heavy, yes? Very heavy. Smeagol knows. If it's too heavy for nice master, little Smeagol will carry it. Smeagol doesn't mind. Give it to Smeagol."To which Frodo becomes grumpy and replies
"Do not say that again! Do not think it! Before you touched the precious again, Smeagol, I would put it on and have you leap off a cliff, or into a fire... and you would do it, Smeagol."So at the same time we see the growing influence of the Ring upon Frodo, and further foreshadowing of the fate of Frodo, Gollum, and the Ring itself.
In the next scene Frodo and Sam are having sleeps again, and Gollum stays awake to debate with himself what he ought to do.
"Smeagol's promised.Andy Serkis received a lot of praise for his performance as Gollum, he even won some awards, but even at his best he is nowhere near as good as Peter Woodthorpe is here, and in the next bit when Sam accuses him of "sneaking off and sneaking back" and Gollum goes into a huff over the word "sneak."
Yes, yes, we promised to save our precious, never to let him have it... but it's going to him, my precious, nearer every step.
I can't help it. Smeagol promised to help nice Hobbit. He took cruel rope off our leg. He speaks nicely to me.
He's a Baggins, my precious. A Baggins stole it. We hates Bagginses. Must have the precious. Must have it. We wants it. We wants it.
But there's two of them.
Yes. We needs help, precious. She might help. Yes, She might help us..."
The Orc army attacks Helm's Deep while singing a song. There hasn't been enough songs preserved in this version of Lord of the Rings (music, yes, but not songs) so it is nice to see this. There is then quite a long battle scene, although such things are relative and it is nowhere near as lengthy as the one in the 2002 film of The Two Towers, where it seems to take up most of the movie.
Legolas and Gimli's friendly competition here plays out with them trying to prove which animation style is best - Gimli adopting the realistic style along with the Rohirrim extras, while Legolas stays cartoony.
Saruman attacks Helm's Deep with magic spells of pewpewpew to breach the walls.
Our heroes retreat "to the caves" while the Orcs finish their song. They're trapped and things seem bad, but Théoden determines to ride out in the morning, and he asks Strider to come with him. D'awww, they really are best friends now.
Back with Frodo, Sam and Gollum, and Gollum tells them about "Smeagol's secret way - the straight stair and the winding stair." Sam asks
"What comes after that?"only to get the evasive reply
"We shall see. Oh yes, we shall see..."Except we won't, because that is the last scene of the film with them in it.
At Helm's Deep, the Orcs are still trying to break into the caves through the front door when they hear many horns sounding, which gives them pause (pause, not paws) and they start running about in some confusion. Our heroes ride out, led by Strider and Théoden. This has unexpectedly turned into a mighty bromance between the two.
Despite the initial advantage from their surprise attack, there are too many Orcs for them to beat. The Orcs surround them and begin to close in, when Gandalf arrives with reinforcements in the nick of time! I would have said Gandalf arrives with the cavalry, but King Théoden's army is also cavalry so that doesn't quite work.
The theme music begins playing in triumph as Gandalf rides around, gorily killing Orcs in slow motion. Then Gandalf throws his sword up in the air to signify their victory as the narrator says
"The forces of darkness were driven forever from the face of Middle-earth by the valiant friends of Frodo. As their gallant battle ended, so too ends the first great tale of The Lord of the Rings."
Strider, Théoden, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli all ride off towards the camera, which was presumably between them and the sunset.
They obviously wanted and intended to make a second part. There are a few too many moments that are rendered entirely inconsequential if not there to be followed up in the sequel, such as introducing Éowyn only for her to do absolutely nothing, or Gollum's hinting at the presence of Shelob.
It's a genuine shame, as by far the biggest fault of the film, and the reason it is not better remembered, is that it leaves the tale unfinished. Which is ironic, when you consider how many of his stories Tolkien didn't complete - they even named a book after it!
So despite all the various omissions, changes and mistaiks in pronunciations, I still consider this to be a better adaptation than the 2001-2003 film trilogy. Why? Well, here's a list of all the things this film, struggling with its run-time as it was, didn't take the time to gratuitously add:
- Théoden being possessed by Saruman and exorcised by Gandalf
- Elves (other than Legolas) joining in at Helm's Deep
- Gimli's running gag about being tossed (naughty Gimli!)
- A whole extra subplot where Strider falls off a cliff and the others think he's been killed
- Faramir taking the Hobbits to Osgiliath
- Denethor running a mile while on fire
- Saruman dying by falling on some spikes, instead of being murdered by Wormtongue after the Scouring of the Shire - which they definitely could have found the time for if they had put Shelob in the right bloody film in the first place!
- And, most damning of all, Frodo sending Sam away, like the most clichéd of all Hollywood plot contrivances
But really, in the grand scheme of things, these are all just minor quibbles. My actual reason that this is the superior version is simply and entirely because Peter Woodthorpe plays Gollum.
The forces of Hoover were driven forever from the face of the living room by the valiant friends of Big Gay Longcat. As their gallant battle ended, so too ends the third great review of The Lord of the Rings.