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This article refers to the 2002 film. For other namesakes, see The Two Towers (disambiguation).

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the second film in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson. It is an adaptation of the book The Two Towers, the second part of the three-volume novel The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, although some of the book's events are held over to the third and final movie, The Return of the King. The film was very well received critically, winning two Academy Awards, and was an enormous box-office success, making over $936 million worldwide in its initial release, making it the highest grossing movie of 2002 and was the third highest-grossing film of all time at the time (behind Titanic and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone). It was the second Middle-earth film adaptation to be released, and the fifth chronologically.


The surviving members of the Fellowship have split into three groups. Frodo and Sam face many perils on their continuing quest to save Middle-earth by destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Merry and Pippin escape from the Orcs and must convince the Ents to join the battle against evil. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas encounter a mysteriously transformed Gandalf and battle Saruman's army at Helm's Deep.


In the Mines of Moria, the wizard Gandalf the Grey battles the Balrog of Morgoth on the Bridge of Khazad-dum in an attempt to allow the Fellowship of the Ring to escape. Gandalf casts the Balrog into the chasm below, but the demon pulls him down with it; the Fellowship believes he is dead, but he continues to fight the creature as they fall down into a huge subterranean lake in the depths of the Earth. Days later, the Hobbit Frodo Baggins continues his journey with his loyal friend, Sam, through the hills of Emyn Muil. One night, the creature Gollum, wishing to retrieve “his precious” (the One Ring), attacks them. The Hobbits capture him, but Frodo understands the burden of the Ring and takes pity on the creature. Realizing they are in need of a guide, Frodo persuades Gollum to lead them to the Black Gate of Mordor.

In Rohan, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are in pursuit of the Uruk-hai, who are journeying back to Isengard with the hobbits Merry and Pippin as their captives. Meanwhile, Théoden, the King of Rohan, is being held under a trance by Gríma Wormtongue, who is secretly in the service of Saruman the White. Saruman is working towards the demise of Rohan. Orcs and the Dunlendings, incited by Saruman, are freely roaming the land, burning villages, massacring the Rohirrim people and destroying crops. In an attack on one of the villages, a mother sends her two children on horseback to Edoras to warn the King of the attacks. Recently, the King's only son Théodred fell victim to them, left mortally wounded in an ambush. Théoden's nephew Éomer interrogates Gríma, labelling him a spy. Gríma, however, convinces the King to banish Éomer "on pain of death" for undermining his authority. Éomer sets forth to gather the remaining loyal men of the Rohirrim and leave Rohan. That night, Éomer's army ambush and kill the party of Uruk-hai, allowing Merry and Pippin to flee into the forests of Fangorn. There, they meet Treebeard, the oldest of the Ents of Middle-earth.


Frodo, Gollum and Sam watch the Black Gate

Frodo, Sam and Gollum traverse the Dead Marshes, evading a Nazgûl riding on a winged beast. When they finally reach the Black Gate, they find it shut and heavily guarded by Orcs. However, as they watch, an Easterling contingent arrives and the gate opens for them to enter. Sensing a chance, Frodo and Sam get ready to move. However, Gollum, who confirms their fears of capture and insists that any attempt to get in via the Black Gate will only end with the One Ring returning to Sauron, holds them back. He then reveals that there is another way into Mordor, hidden and unguarded. Sam is immediately suspicious, but Frodo gives him the benefit of the doubt, pointing out that he has remained loyal thus far.


The Rohirrim attack the Uruk-hai of Saruman

Éomer later encounters Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in Rohan. He tells the group that there were no survivors of the battle with the Uruk-hai the previous night, indicating that Merry and Pippin were accidentally slain. Upon arriving at the battle site, Aragorn picks up the tracks of the hobbits and the trio follows them into Fangorn. There they are approached and temporarily subdued by a wizard masked with shining white light. Initially fearing it is Saruman, the group are amazed when he reveals himself to be Gandalf reborn (after defeating the Balrog in a battle that cost him his life). Gandalf reveals that he is now known as Gandalf the White. The quartet proceed to Edoras, where they exorcise Saruman's hold on Théoden and banish Wormtongue. The now awakened Théoden has to come to terms with both his son's death and the threat of Saruman. Rather than risk open war and further harm to his people (especially after seeing the two exhausted children who finally arrived from the village), Théoden decides to flee to Helm's Deep, a large stronghold in the Mountains. Gandalf realises that Helm's Deep's defences will not survive the Uruk-Hai onslaught that is surely to come. He leaves to find Éomer, promising to return within five days with the 2,000 banished riders. As they lead the people of Edoras to Helm's Deep, Aragorn and Éowyn (Éomer's sister) form a close relationship. Aragorn tells Éowyn that Arwen, whom he loves, is leaving Middle-earth to be with her people in the Undying Lands. In the meantime, Wormtongue has fled to Orthanc and informs Saruman of a weakness in the outer wall of Helm's Deep, which Saruman and his army of 10,000 Uruk-hai plan to exploit. Saruman dispatches his army to Helm's Deep, ordering them to spare no one.

Route taken in the two towers middle earth

Different routes taken in The Two Towers in throughout Middle-earth. Routes shown in yellow (Merry & Pippin), green (Aragorn et al.) and blue (Frodo & Sam)

Having led the Hobbits south from the Black Gate to the land of Ithilien, Gollum is in turmoil, torn between his loyalty to Frodo and his all-consuming need for the Ring. The three travellers then play witness to an ambush of Haradrim by Rangers of Ithilien, who take Frodo and Sam prisoner. Meanwhile, on the journey to Helm's Deep, the Rohirrim are attacked by Saruman's Warg-riders. During the battle, Aragorn is thrown off a cliff into a fast-flowing river below: Théoden, Legolas, Gimli and the others believe him dead and journey on to Helm's Deep. Elrond comes to his daughter Arwen and implores her to leave on the ships departing Middle-earth, escaping the troubles of these lands. When she refuses, Elrond, in a devastating speech, uses his powers of foresight and reveals the darkness of Arwen's future if she chooses to remain in Middle-earth with Aragorn. As he is mortal, Aragorn will eventually die even if he becomes King of Gondor, leaving Arwen to fade away with her grief when he is gone. Once again, Elrond pleads with her and she yields to him. As she leaves Rivendell, the words of Galadriel, concerning the plight of Men defying Sauron, come to Elrond in that moment. She questions whether the Elves should wash their hands of Middle-earth and points out that the Ring has maneuvered itself into the company of Men, which it can easily corrupt. Galadriel asks if they should abandon Men to their fate, even if it condemns Middle-earth to fall under Sauron's rule for all time.

Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam have been taken to Henneth Annûn, a stronghold for the Rangers of Ithilien, and brought before Faramir, Boromir's younger brother. Gollum had evaded capture and, in order to save him from death at the hands of Faramir's hunters, Frodo accepts that he and Gollum are bound to each other. Faramir investigates further and learns of the One Ring that Frodo carries. Seeking to prove his worth to his father, Denethor, he decides the Ring shall go to Gondor. In Rohan, Aragorn washes up on the riverbank and is nudged awake by the horse Brego, which formerly belonged to Théodred, and which Aragorn had set free before leaving Edoras. On the verge of collapse, he wills his horse to take him to Helm's Deep, passing Saruman's army of Uruk-hai on the way. His arrival at Helm's Deep is met with relief, but is short lived as the news of the approaching Uruk-hai horde casts doubt upon the survival of the defenders. As night falls, a battalion of Elves led by Haldir arrives from Lothlórien, bearing word of alliance and aid from Elrond. In Fangorn forest, Merry, Pippin, Treebeard and other Ents hold an Entmoot to decide on the role of the Ents in the war with Saruman.


The Battle of Helm's Deep begins with a flurry of arrows from the defending archers, cutting down dozens of Uruk-hai. Scaling ladders are thrown up against the Deeping Wall and the Uruks swarm up to engage the defenders. At first the onslaught is stayed by the valour of the Rohirrim and of Aragorn and his companions. Suddenly, two crude explosive devices that Saruman created, blow up the gutter in the Deeping Wall, blasting a breach in it. Despite Aragorn and Gimli's best efforts, the Uruks manage to penetrate the main gate and soon the stronghold is overrun. In the midst of battle, Haldir is slain and the few remaining Elves fall back. In the Hornburg, the Uruks have scaled the walls and have breached the gate, forcing the defenders to retreat into the Keep. In Fangorn, Treebeard and the other Ents have decided to not have any involvement in the war, deciding rather to "weather such things as [they] have always done". Despite this, Pippin manages to cleverly take Treebeard to the section of Fangorn that Saruman has recently decimated near Isengard. Treebeard is filled with rage at Saruman's betrayal and commands all the other Ents to seek vengeance. The Ents gather and embark upon 'the Last March of the Ents', straight into Isengard itself.

Meanwhile, as Théoden despairs in the besieged Keep, Aragorn refuses to give in and, remembering Gandalf's words before he left Edoras, takes Théoden, Legolas and the remaining Rohirrim on one last gallant ride to attack the Uruk-hai army in a desperate bid to allow the Rohirrim's women and children to escape into the mountains. The riders storm out of the Keep and cut their way through to the fortress gate. As the riders emerge into the mass of Uruks, the first rays of dawn fall down into the valley and upon the eastern hill, Gandalf appears, accompanied by Éomer and his men.


Isengard destroyed by the Ents

They rush down into the body of the stunned Uruks and rout them: the terrified Uruk-hai flee into Fangorn, where the Ents and their Huorn allies swiftly exact retribution. Meanwhile, the Ents are take control of Isengard. They destroy the remaining Uruk-hai population and release the dam placed upon the river Isen, which gushes forth into the plains around Orthanc, drowning the surviving Orc defenders, quenching the fires of its industry and flooding Isengard, and stranding Saruman in his tower.


Frodo encounters a Nazgul in Osgiliath

Away to the East, Faramir has had Frodo, Sam and Gollum taken to Osgiliath, a ruined city on the banks of the river Anduin between Mordor and Gondor; where there is a Ringwraith, again on a winged beast. With the help of Sam and Faramir, Frodo narrowly escapes the Ringwraith's efforts to capture him and the Ring (it nearly cost Sam his life because the Ring tried to make Frodo kill him). In an inspired monologue as he watches the Ringwraith fly off (and as victory scenes from the two battles are seen) Sam reflects on the state he and Frodo are in, on how their story may yet come to have a happy ending. Frodo is doubtful of this (especially because he nearly killed Sam) but Sam insists that they must still hold on to what they are fighting for: each other, and the fulfilment of their quest. Approaching them from the throes of battle, Faramir overhears them and realises these unassuming hobbits have a high doom before them which he can no longer hope to interrupt. He sets them free and helps them on their way. After the battle of Helm's Deep, Gandalf and the others ride up on horseback and gaze towards Mordor, and now know inevitable things have been set in motion. As Gandalf puts it, "The battle for Helm's Deep is over. The battle for Middle-earth is about to begin." He remarks that hope now rests with Frodo and Sam, who have resumed their journey to Mordor with Gollum. Feeling betrayed by Frodo when he delivered him into the hands of Faramir's men, Gollum's darker self re-emerges and he decides to reclaim the Ring by secretly leading Frodo and Sam to a creature he refers to only as "her", which Gollum's lighter self reluctantly agrees to and leads the hobbits on through the woods as Mordor is seen in the distance.

Filming locations[]

Specific Location
in New Zealand
General Area
in New Zealand
Plains of Rohan Greenstone Station Kinloch
Rohan Poolburn Lake Maniototo Plain
Edoras Mount Sunday Rangitata Valley
Dead Marshes Kepler Mire Te Anau
The Black Gate Rangipo Desert Lake Taupo
Helm's Deep Hayward's Hill Lower Hutt

Differences from the book[]

Jackson and his co-writers added several events to the story, notably:

  • In the movie, Faramir speaks of taking the Ring from Frodo, for the defence of Gondor; in the book, he denies having any such desire: Not if I found it on the highway would I take it, he repeats. According to Jackson, this does not work dramatically, as Faramir has no "character arc" (i.e. he does not change as a character from his first scene to his last). Jackson justifies this change as a means of making Faramir seem more of a rounded character.
  • In the movie, Faramir takes Frodo, Sam and Gollum to the besieged city of Osgiliath, but subsequently lets them go. In the book, Faramir does not take them further than the Forbidden Pool. In the theatrical version, it is not clear how Frodo and his companions get back from Osgiliath to Ithilien, but this is explained in the extended cut - they escape through the ruined city's sewers and so make their way out behind the enemy lines.
  • An attack on the Rohirrim travelling to Helm's Deep by Orcs mounted on wargs results in Aragorn's near death; he is revived by a vision of Arwen in a dream sequence. Nothing like this is present in the book. According to the screenplay writers, this was to give Arwen more prominence, being the love interest of Aragorn.
  • Galadriel persuades Elrond (via long-distance telepathy) to send Elven archers to Helm's Deep. Interestingly, they appear nonetheless to be Elves of Lórien, one of whom (Haldir) we met previously in the Golden Wood. Jackson originally planned to have Arwen herself fighting at Helm's Deep and filmed some scenes along those lines, but abandoned that tack. It is still possible to pick her out in the battle, as some footage was used in the Extended Edition. This addition might have been inspired by a single line spoken in passing by Legolas, when he was waiting for the coming forces of Saruman at the walls of Helm's Deep: he wished that he could have had a hundred Elven archers with him to strengthen the defence.
  • Arwen has a vision of her future which is taken somewhat loosely from The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the books' Appendices.
  • Elrond almost forcibly sends Arwen "to the West". Her final decision on the matter, and her reason for making it, is revealed in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
  • Gandalf's final fight with the Balrog is shown.
  • Like the previous film, Saruman's role is expanded into the main antagonist of this film. A notable difference is that Saruman is apparently loyal to Sauron, whereas in the book, Saruman sought the One Ring for himself so that he could become the Lord of the Rings. However, in the books, Frodo speculated that all of Saruman's actions were done in Sauron's name, even if he hoped to claim the Ring.
  • In the books, Théoden's weakened state is due to the words of Wormtongue. In the film however, Théoden is literally possessed by Saruman, meaning Gandalf has to take far more drastic action. Gandalf forcibly exorcises Saruman from Théoden using a magical attack, an act which causes physical injury to Saruman.
  • The Dead Marshes are shown as foggy ponds with jets of fire rather than the misty candle-flames described in the book. Frodo actually falls into a marsh, in which ghostly figures surround and reach for him before Gollum pulls him out.

Two important events from Tolkien's The Two Towers did not make it into the film, but were held over for the next one:

  • Gandalf and Saruman's confrontation at Isengard; this was originally intended to appear at the beginning of The Return of the King, but a late decision by Peter Jackson meant that this scene was not part of the theatrical version, though it has since been included in the extended cut.
  • Sam and Frodo's encounter with the monstrous Shelob, although this is foreshadowed by Gollum's line ("We could let her do it"). Shelob's lair did indeed feature prominently in the third film. The filmmakers' rationale for leaving this out was that it happened later than the other events shown in The Two Towers: Frodo is captured by the Orcs of Cirith Ungol on March 13 at the end of The Two Towers, while Théoden and his companions had reached Isengard a week before on March 5, and the events of The Return of the King started with Gandalf and Pippin reaching Minas Tirith on March 9.


(as given in the end credits)

Actor Role
Bruce Allpress Aldor
Sean Astin Sam
John Bach Madril
Sala Baker Man Flesh Uruk
Cate Blanchett Galadriel
Orlando Bloom Legolas
Billy Boyd Pippin
Jed Brophy Sharku/Snaga
Sam Comery Éothain
Brad Dourif Wormtongue
Calum Gittins Haleth
Bernard Hill Théoden
Bruce Hopkins Gamling
Paris Howe Strewe Théodred
Christopher Lee Saruman
Nathaniel Lees Uglúk
John Leigh Háma
Robbie Magasiva Mauhúr
Robyn Malcolm Morwen
Ian McKellen Gandalf
Dominic Monaghan Merry
Viggo Mortensen Aragorn
Miranda Otto Éowyn
Craig Parker Haldir
Bruce Phillips Rohan Soldier
Robert Pollock Mordor Orc
John Rhys-Davies Gimli/Voice of Treebeard
Andy Serkis Gollum
Olivia Tennet Freda
Ray Trickett Bereg
Liv Tyler Arwen
Karl Urban Éomer
Stephen Ure Grishnákh
Hugo Weaving Elrond
David Wenham Faramir
Elijah Wood Frodo
Victoria Beynon-Cole, Lee Hartley, Philip Grieve Hero Orcs
Billy Jackson, Katie Jackson Cute Rohan Refugee Children
Sean Bean Boromir (Extended Edition only)
Timothy Lee Wildman (Extended Edition only)
John Noble Denethor (Extended Edition only)
Phillip Spencer-Harris Ranger 1 (Extended Edition only)


(as given on IMDb)

Actor Role
Richard Alexander, Geoff Allen, Daniel Andrews, Sean Button, Ryan Coray, Rodney Cook, Tack Daniel, Augie Davis, Mana Hira Davis, Shane Dawson, David Gatward Ferguson, Siaosi Fonua, Winham Hammond, Michael Harrison, Lani Jackson, Ralph Johnson, Sam Kelly, Greg Lane, Lance Louez, Joseph Mika-Hunt, Dean Morganty, Francis Mountjoy, Nooroa Poa, Allan Poppleton, Ken Stratton, Robbie Titchener, Tim Wong, Robert Young Uruk-Hai
Geoff Allen, Daniel Andrews, Ben Barrington, Mana Hira Davis, Michael Harrison, Ron Kerkmeester, Joseph Mika-Hunt, Francis Mountjoy, Matthew J. Saville Gondorian Soldiers
Geoff Allen, Frazer Anderson, Daniel Andrews, Ben Barrington, Mana Hira Davis, Siaosi Fonua, Michael Harrison, Paul Holmes, Ralph Johnson, Ron Kerkmeester, Lance Louez, Francis Mountjoy, Shaneel Sidal, Melvin Te Wani, John Turner Orcs
Geoff Allen, Colin Bleasdale, Mana Hira Davis, Aron Eastwood, Michael Harrison, Davey Hughes, Ralph Johnson, Ron Kerkmeester, Richard Knowles, Ken Stratton, John Turner Rohan Soldiers
Frazer Anderson, Ben Barrington, Michael Harrison, Dean Morganty, Ken Stratton Rangers
Jarl Benzon, Jørn Benzon, Ben Britton, Alexia Fairbrother, Daniel Falconer, Kester Fordham, Ben Fransham, Jonathan Harding, Gareth Jensen, Sam Kelly, Sandro Kopp Elven Warriors
Jarl Benzon Rohan Stable Boy
Owen Black, Daniel Falconer Rivendell Elves
Dorothy Anne Bonner, June Hancock, Dra McKay, Dianne Smith Rohan Women
Ben Britton Man of Rohan
Riley Brophy Cute Rohan Refugee Child
Alistair Browning Damrod
Alix Bushnell, Kelly Corbishley, Frank Goldingham, Lew Hewson, Jaime Lawrence, Cameron Lemon, Miranda Rivers, Samuel E. Shore, Sarah Thomas Rohan Refugees
Erin Cassie Village Girl
Robert Catto, Michael Fowler, Jaime Lawrence, Francis Mountjoy, Samuel E. Shore Elves
Mana Hira Davis, Shane Dawson, Clint Elvy, Are Manea Karati, Jeremy Sciascia Harad Warriors
Karlos Drinkwater Easterling Warrior
Frank Edwards, Tony Shaw Rohan Men
Michael Harrison, Ron Kerkmeester, Paul Norell, Ken Stratton, Robbie Titchener Easterlings
Michael Harrison, Michael Lawrence Wildmen
Lucas Hayward, James Ordish Rohan Boys
Dan Hennah, Alan Lee, Arnold Montey Rohan Recruits
Lew Hewson, Gareth Reeves Fighting Elves
Jason Hood Théoden's Royal Guard
Peter Jackson Spear-Throwing Rohan Soldier
Sam La Hood Orc Pitmaster
Greg Lane Berserker Torch-Bearer
Don Langridge, Robbie Titchener Rohan Guards
Jono Manks Twilight Ringwraith
Brent McIntyre Witch-king
Dean Morganty, Ken Stratton Haradrim Warriors
Henry Mortensen Rohan Boy Recruit
Barrie M. Osborne Rock-throwing Rohan Soldier
Wayne Phillips Captain of the Guards
Campbell Rousselle Tree-cutting Orc
Nancy Ruck Rohan Refugee Child
Allan Smith Dead Marshes Elf
Ken Stratton Isengard Orc
Marcus Thorne Featured Orc
Greg Tozer Conscripting Rohan Soldier
Piripi Waretini Uruk-Hai Warrior
Hannah Wood Rohan Woman in Cave
John Wraight Stable Hand

In addition to many characters returning from the first film, The Two Towers featured Éowyn, a noble lady of Rohan who yearns to be a warrior; Éomer, a stalwart Marshal of Rohan and brother to Éowyn; Théoden, troubled king and uncle of Éowyn and Éomer; and his treacherous counsellor, Gríma Wormtongue. The actors were supplemented by a number of special effects creatures including treelike Ents, the pterodactyl-like flying steeds of the Nazgûl and Gollum, widely acclaimed as the best fully realized CGI character in a live-action film. His movements and facial expressions were modelled on the actor who provided his voice, Andy Serkis. Only glimpsed in the first film, Gollum here becomes a pivotal character with the potential to change the fate of the story; he wrestles with inner demons and becomes a source of friction in Sam and Frodo's previously unshakeable friendship.

Appearances and mentions[]

By type
Characters Species and creatures Locations Factions, groups and titles
Events Objects and artifacts Miscellanea



Main article: Soundtracks of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy

Awards & nominations[]

  • Academy Awards
  • American Film Institute: Digital Effects, Production Design, Movie of the Year
  • Apex Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Viggo Mortensen), Best Production Design, Best Original Song Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Make-up
  • 2003 Art Directors Guild: Best Production Design (Period or Fantasy feature Film)
  • Australian Film Awards: Best Foreign Film
  • British Academy Film Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Special Visual Effects, Orange Film of the Year (voted on by the public)
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Digital Acting Performance (Gollum)
  • Central Ohio Film Critics: Best Cinematography
  • Cinemarati Awards: Best Film, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Film Editing
  • Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics: Best Director (Peter Jackson)
  • Empire Awards: Best Picture
  • Golden Satellite Awards: Outstanding Motion Picture Ensemble, Best Visual Effects
  • Golden Trailer Awards: Best Action Trailer
  • Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hairstylist Guild Awards: Best Character Makeup, Best Character Hair Styling, Best Special Makeup Effects
  • Hugo Award (World Science Fiction Society): Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form
  • International 3-D Awards (computer graphics industry): Best Feature Film VFX (Weta)
  • Kansas City Film Critics: Best Director
  • Las Vegas Film Critics: Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects
  • Phoenix Film Critics Society|Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards: "Best Picture", "Best Ensemble Acting", "Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium", "Best Cinematography", "Best Production Design", "Best Visual Effects", and "Best Makeup" "Gollum's Song", the theme played during the end credits, won the award for "Best Original Song". The song was written by Howard Shore and sung by the Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Awards: Best Film
  • Saturn Awards: Best Fantasy Film, Best Costume (Ngila Dickson), Best Supporting Actor (Andy Serkis)
  • Visual Effects Society Awards: Best Special Effects, Best Effects in Art Direction, Best Visual Effects in Photography, Best Models and Miniatures, Best Performance by an Actor in an Effects Film, Best Character Animation in a Live-Action Feature Film, Best Compositing and Visual Effects in an Effects-Driven Film
  • Followers of the Oscars predicted that the movie had a poor chance of winning Best Picture, because it received no other nominations in the major Oscar categories Director, Actor and Actress. This proved to be true, though the film did win the Academy Award for Visual Effects. It was speculated that the Academy was biding its time for the concluding film, The Return of the King, to be released so that they could honor Peter Jackson for creating such a successful and acclaimed film trilogy. The third film was awarded 11 Oscars in 2004.


The theatrical edition of the movie was released on VHS and DVD on August 26, 2003. The DVD was a 2-disc set with extras on the second disc. This was intended to be a simultaneous worldwide release, but some British stores began selling the videos on Friday 22 because it was a Bank Holiday weekend, much to the ire of the film's UK distributor, which has threatened to withhold advance supplies of subsequent video releases.

Extended Edition[]

An extended version of the movie including 45 minutes additional material was released on DVD on November 18, 2003 with a total of 222 minutes (3 hours, 40 minutes). One of the additional scenes features Sean Bean and John Noble, who do not appear in the theatrical version, in a flashback in which brothers Boromir and Faramir are seen together with their father Denethor. This is available on a 4-disc DVD set, with the movie on discs 1 and 2 including four audio commentaries by the crew and actors, and extensive documentaries and bonus material on discs 3 and 4, entitled "The Journey Continues" and "The Battle for Middle-earth Begins".

In December, 2003 there were also limited back-to-back theatrical releases of the extended versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers followed by premieres of The Return of the King, 10 hours and 30 minutes long in total.

Memorable quotes[]

"They're thieves. They're thieves. They're filthy little thieves! Where is it? Where is it? They stole it from us! My precious. Curse them! We hates them! It's ours, it is, and we wants it!"

"Now don't be hasty, Master Meriadoc."

"The power of the enemy is growing. Sauron will use his puppet Saruman to destroy the people of Rohan. Isengard has been unleashed. The Eye of Sauron now turns to Gondor, the last free kingdom of men. His war on this country will come swiftly. He senses the Ring is close. The strength of the Ring-bearer is failing. In his heart, Frodo begins to understand. The quest will claim his life. You know this; you have foreseen it. It is the risk we all took. In the gathering dark, the will of the Ring grows strong. It works hard now to find its way back into the hands of men. Men, who are so easily seduced by its power. The young captain of Gondor has but to extend his hand, take the Ring for his own and the world will fall. It is close now, so close to achieving its goal. For Sauron will have dominion over all life on this Earth, even unto the ending of the world. The time of the Elves is over. Do we leave Middle-earth to its fate? Do we let them stand alone?"
Galadriel to Elrond

"I can't do this, Sam."
"I know. It's all wrong. By rights, we shouldn't even be here... but we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."
"What are we holding onto, Sam?"
"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.
Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

"We could let her do it. Yes, she could do it. Yes precious, she could. And then we takes it once they're dead. ONCE THEY'RE DEAD."

"They come with fire, they come with axes. Gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning. Destroyers and usurpers, curse them!"
Treebeard about Orcs

"The courtesy of your hall is somewhat lessened of late, Théoden King."
"He is not welcome here."
"Why...should I welcome you...Gandalf Stormcrow?"
"A just question, my liege. Late is the hour in which this conjurer chooses to appear. Lathspell, I name him. Ill news is an ill guest."
"Be silent! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth! I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm!
Gandalf, Gríma Wormtongue and Théoden

"From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought him, the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side. Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time. The stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as a life age of the earth... but it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I've been sent back, until my task is done."

"Simbelmynë. Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears. Now it shall cover the grave of my son. Alas these evil days should be mine. The young perish and the old linger. That I should live to see the last days of my house."
"Théodred's death was not of your making."
"No parent should have to bury their child."
"He was strong in life. His spirit will find the way to the halls of your fathers.
King Théoden and Gandalf

"So this is the answer to all the riddles. Here in the wild I have you, two halflings and a host of men at my call. And the Ring of Power within my grasp."
Faramir to Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

"If Aragorn survives this war, you will still be parted. If Sauron is defeated and Aragorn made king, and all that you hope for comes true... you will still have to taste the bitterness of mortality. Whether by the sword or the slow decay of time, Aragorn will die. And there will be no comfort for you, no comfort to ease the pain of his passing. He will come to death, an image of the splendor of the kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world. But you, my daughter. You will linger on in darkness and in doubt as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Here you will dwell, bound to your grief under the fading trees until all the world is changed and the long years of your life are utterly spent."
Elrond to Arwen

"They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!"

Character portrayal[]

Five of the characters in the film are presented somewhat differently than their counterparts in the book:

  • Faramir requires much more convincing to let Sam and Frodo continue on their quest; in the book he immediately recognizes the wisdom of permitting them to leave freely. He is shown as being a much more flawed character than in the book, but nonetheless one who is still capable of wisdom. On the DVD commentary, Philippa Boyens states that to include the character of Faramir exactly as he appeared in the book would have dealt irrevocable damage to the character of the Ring. In essence, his immediate rejection of it would dismiss the idea that it is alluring (and thus, dangerous) to all. A similar example of this can be seen in the third film where, as opposed to the version of events portrayed in the book where he quickly dismisses any idea of keeping the ring, Sam hesitates to return it to Frodo in Mordor. It should also be noted that the extended edition of The Two Towers establishes Faramir's desperate wish to please his father and show his quality as well as Denethor's desire for the Ring to come to Gondor.
  • Éowyn in the book has a very limited role; in the movie, she has a larger role, with a kinder, more cheerful character.
  • Treebeard, chief among the Ents, is unaware of the extent of what is happening on the borders of his forest and has to be tricked into attacking Isengard. In the theatrical release he is not seen sending Huorns to Helm's Deep, but does so in the extended video version (see below).
  • Continuing a trend from the first movie, Elrond (who doesn't appear in the book) is much more protective of Arwen and is almost antagonistic toward Aragorn, thus the Thingol portrayal and the "father-daughter theme" are both apparent.
  • King Théoden's reaction upon learning of Gríma's treachery differs greatly from the novel: in the book, he offers Wormtongue a chance to redeem himself by riding to war with the Rohirrim, whereas in the film, a dazed Théoden tries to personally execute the traitor. Having achieved victory at Helm's Deep, in the third film Théoden offers Gríma the chance to return to him when they meet at Isengard.

Théoden's attitude towards the coming conflict is also presented differently in Jackson's film: in the book, Théoden chooses to ride to war, and only goes to Helm's Deep in order to assist Erkenbrand's forces, which had been dealt a defeat by Saruman's armies. In the film, he opts to avoid open confrontation, and treats Helm's Deep as a shelter for the civilian population of Rohan. Only the ensuing orc siege forces him into battle. The King's sense of self-doubt is greatly magnified in the film, in order to provide him with a character arc, as was done with Faramir.

Movie errors[]

  • Éomer's sword falls out after giving the horses to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.
  • At one point Pippin's hands are untied before being apparently trampled, but a few seconds later are shown to be tied as he is freeing them on an Orc axe.
  • In the extended edition Aragorn tells Éowyn he is 87 as they are on the way to Helm's Deep, but according to the appendices he had his 88th birthday the day that the three met Gandalf the White and they set out for Edoras.
  • In a scene where Frodo and Sam are talking to Faramir some barrels in the background vanish and reappear.
  • A large block of stone, flung from the explosion when the outer wall is breached, bounces off an Orc seemingly without the right amount off mass and rather like a bit of foam filling.


  • This is the only film in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies in which Bilbo Baggins makes no appearance.
  • This is also the only film in both trilogies in which no one ever uses the invisibility power of the One Ring.


The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

The Fellowship of the Ring | The Two Towers | The Return of the King

External links[]

Other info