Just like so many other people, I have a long history with "The Lord Of The Rings". From my very early childhood up to this very day I have been fascinated with Middle Earth and everything connected to it. "The Hobbit" is my favorite book of all time and "The Lord Of The Rings" Trilogy is my favorite movie of all time. Seeing that "The Hobbit" is coming to cinemas this winter, I think it is time to re-watch these movies once again and list up my favorite scenes. Since I own The Special Extended DVD, I will use the extended cut for this list. Please keep in mind that this list is just based on my personal opinion and therefore maybe you'll be upset that your favorite scene might not be on this list. If so, you are welcome to tell me which scene that is, but please remember that everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I will try to give reasons for why I love the scenes so much, so maybe you can understand my opinion.
Now that that's out of the way, without any further ado, I will dive deep inside the cinematography of Middle Earth and show you my top eleven favorite scenes. Have fun!
11. Concerning Hobbits
As my first scene I think it is quite fitting to take one of the beginnings of the movies. I did not choose the prologue of "The Fellowship Of The Ring", but rather "Concerning Hobbits". Now you might ask yourself why I didn't pick the epic plot set-up, in which Galadriel gives the viewer some details about the history of The Ring. Well, that is basically the reason: It is "just" exposition about great events that happened several thousand years before the story takes place. Don't get me wrong: I like the prologue, but for me "Concerning Hobbits" is much more important for the story, because it is part of one of the several messages this story gives the audience: The importance of every single individual, no matter how little and insignificant they might seem. The Hobbits are the embodiment of that insignificance. They live in the tiny Shire and mind their own business. They don't care about the great evil stirring in Mordor, they rather smoke some pipe-weed and enjoy a mug of ale. It is no coincidence that the hero of the story, Frodo, is a hobbit. This scene is told out of the perspective of Bilbo, a Hobbit who loves adventures and has already saved the Lonely Mountain in his past. He is writing a book in which he tries to describe hobbits. He does not like to indulge in the day to day activities of his fellow hobbits and sort of makes fun about some typical "hobbit traits", he even laughs about what he writes, but not in a mean spirited way. After all he does love the Shire, even though he barely admits it. The best part of the scene is when Bilbo says the following: "But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet and good, tilled earth. For all Hobbits share a love of things that grow. And, yes, no doubt to others, our ways seem quaint. But today of all days, it is brought home to me: It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." Those words are the best way to characterize the innocence of the Hobbits, the reason why they are so loveable. And it sets the tone of the next scenes. It would be strange to change from the epic prologue to the simple life of Bilbo and Frodo without anything in between. So "Concerning Hobbits" is more than just exposition, but a transition between scenes as well as a character introduction. Also, I have to admit, I just really love "The Hobbit" and having Bilbo open up the scene is just a wonderful way to pay homage to it, a wonderful way to start the movie.
10. Sam's speech
At the end of "The Two Towers" Sam holds a motivational speech for Frodo. If any other person would have written this speech, it would have been an overload of cheesiness, but luckily it was written by a genius. Now the situation for Frodo and Sam is extremely bad. The Ring is about to be taken from them, they are to be brought to Minas Tirith and
yeah Middle Earth would then pretty much be doomed. To make things even worse, the Ring takes over a part of Frodo and the Nazgul is about to get the Ring!!! But Sam, the Gardener, pulls Frodo away in time. In his rage, Frodo almost kills Sam, but Sam makes him snap out of it. Frodo realizes what happened and just says out loud that he can't do the task. Sam doesn't counter argue, he simply says: "I know. It's all wrong. By rights, we shouldn't even be here." He doesn't say that to comfort Frodo, it is his genuine thought, but he knows that they have to do this, so he says: "But we are." Then he starts his speech. Now his speech is very different from the ones of Gandalf, Aragorn, or Théoden. Sam is a simple gardener in the Shire and he doesn't understand a lot about the great happenings in the world, he just knows that what they do is the right thing, so he explains it with the example of the stories that he had heard back in the Shire, "the ones that really mattered." The speech again shows the innocence and the goodness of the hobbits. It also shows that Sam as a character has gone through an arc. In the beginning he didn't want to go at all, but now he knows he has to and he even makes Frodo go on as well. When Frodo asks him: "What are we holding on to, Sam?", he doesn't say something about the evil forces of Sauron or that the destruction of the Ring is the only thing that can prevent Middle Earth from falling, he just says: "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for." That answer fits the character 100% and also makes the scene relatable to the audience. You really start caring about Sam and Frodo and Middle Earth because of little sentences like this. And the speech even wins Faramir over. A wonderful speech that marks the end of "The Two Towers" and deserves its spot on this list.
9. Éomer finds Éowyn
After the battle on the Pelennor fields, Éomer and the Rohirrim walk around the battlefield to find survivors. Meanwhile Pippin finds Merry's cloak and starts searching for him, when all of a sudden we hear Éomer shout "NO!" on the top of his lungs. The camera switches to him screaming "NO!" again and throwing his sword and his helm away. He runs towards Éowyn's dead body, lifts her up and cradles her in his arms, still screaming in despair. This shows how much he cares for his sister, making him more likeable and Éowyn's death even more tragic. It is just such a strong image having Éomer, who is portrayed as a fearless warrior just lose it and cry out and scream on the top of his lungs when finding his dead sister on the battlefield. It's a very intense and emotional scene and I love it for that.
8. A Shortcut To Mushrooms
When I was younger I loved this scene! I would watch it every time I was in a bad mood and immediately I was cheered up. In "A Shortcut To Mushrooms" Sam and Frodo are just wandering through a cornfield when they stumble upon Merry and Pippin who have just stolen some vegetables from the farmer Maggot, who is chasing the two of them down. Having no time to start a conversation with Frodo, they hand him and Sam some of the veggies and take them with them. They reach the end of the cornfield, just to fall down a small slope. Several of the vegetables are broken, but they found some mushrooms growing near the path. This is just the perfect way to introduce Merry and Pippin to the story, as it is a perfect reflection of their personalities. They stumble around and always get into trouble, but somehow manage to get out again. They share a friendship as deep as Frodo and Sam, but they don't know anything of the quest and the ring yet. All they think of is that they've seen Frodo again after some time and want to talk with him. Again this shows the innocence of the hobbits and without many words already gives the audience an impression on the two characters Merry and Pippin. The first half of "The Fellowship of the Ring" consists out of character introduction and every single one is done well. This one is my favorite because it also brings back the "Shire-vibe" that was almost forgotten with Frodo and Sam starting the quest and all. It is a great character introduction, it's wonderfully humorous and a great scene.
7. Frodo, Aragorn, The Ring and the Uruk-Hai
After Boromir tried to take the Ring from Frodo, Frodo puts on the Ring and flees. Once he takes off the Ring, Aragorn finds him. Frodo is scared that Aragorn will do the same as Boromir and tries to run away. Aragorn reminds him that he swore to protect him, and Frodo answers: "Can you protect me from yourself?" and asks him if he would destroy the Ring, he almost offers him the Ring.
Now the Nostalgia Critic (Link to his video: thatguywiththeglasses.com/vide… ) said in his review that the movie version of Aragorn never really appeared kingly up to when he got crowned king. I respectfully disagree. In this scene, what Aragorn answers to Frodo and how he acts, in my opinion, shows his kingly side, the difference to Boromir. He closes Frodo's hand, looks him straight into the eyes and says: "I would have gone with you to the end. Into the very fires of Mordor." He does not get corrupted by the Ring, but instead accepts Frodo's decision to go on alone. He sees Sting glowing and sends Frodo off. He is one person against a whole troop of Uruk-Hai, but nonetheless he faces them without fear, ready to die for Frodo. The fact that Aragorn, heir of the Gondorian Throne, protects the small hobbit with his life is just such a great moment, the reason why this scene is one of my favorites.
6. Forth Éorlingas!
Helm's Deep is breached, the few survivors have retreated into the keep, but the Uruk-Hai are about to break in. The battle is almost lost and the few men defending the door know that there is no hope left. Théoden has lost every last bit of his hope and asks Aragorn: "What can men do against such reckless hate?" Aragorn, who does not fear death, says they should ride out together and face the Uruks. Théoden believes Aragorn is trying to die a glorious death, but then Aragorn answers: "For Rohan. For your people." Now instead of having Théoden explain his opinion in great detail, he simply says "yes". The music score and his facial expressions tell the audience all there is to tell, there is no need for big words, and when Gimli says that the sun is rising, Théoden has overcome the anxiety he had throughout the first half of the movie. Once again we have a character who realizes he is about to die, but faces death without fear. He says: "The Horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the deep one last time", his voice is so heavy it almost cracks, some brilliant acting by Bernard Hill, and then Théoden turns to Aragorn and is ready for battle. He mounts his horse and speaks: "Fell deeds, awake. Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red dawn. Forth Éorlingas!" and then they all just charge into the Uruk-Hai. That scene all by itself is so powerful it easily earns the spot in this list, but then Gandalf arrives with Éomer and the scene just becomes even more awesome. Éomer, who was banished by the king himself, who had almost given up any hope for Rohan, returns to King Théoden with the Rohirrim. The image of those hundreds of horses charging down the mountain is stunning and when they are about to hit the first ranks of the Uruks, the sun rises and an epic music score overlays the scene. One word: Epic.
5. The Ring Goes South
After the long dialogue in "Elrond's Council", the audience knows now who the Fellowship consists of, but apart from standing together, they haven't done anything yet. Now "The Ring Goes South" is basically nothing more than a montage of The Fellowship walking, but
DAMN DAT MUSIC! The score starts very soft with some string instruments, while the Fellowship is leaving Rivendell, but the score gets louder and involves more instruments, the music builds up more and more, until, for the first time, we hear the full "The Fellowship Of The Ring" score. It is one shot, nothing much happens, except the Fellowship walking past some stones, but it shows so much. It is this moment that tells you that the introduction and the massive set-up is now over and the real adventure begins. This scene does everything so right: The still camera, the music with the thundering score, the expressions on the character's faces, just everything. This scene is the scene that turned even the most pessimistic of critics over. And I have to stress that not a single word is spoken, everything is told through vision and music. That is why this small scene that storywise doesn't have anything to say is yet so important for the movie. And that's all there is to say to it. It's a wonderful scene.
4. A Far Green Country
This scene is very different from the previous one, because it only consists out of dialogue. The battle on the Pelennor fields is in full swing, but in the city of Minas Tirith, things aren't looking very bright for the Gondorians. They have retreated to a higher level of the city, but even that level is about to get breached by the enemy. Gandalf and Pippin are sitting by a wall and waiting for the end, when Pippin says: "I didn't think it would end this way". Then Gandalf answers: "End? No the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path
one that we all must take. The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it." Now Gandalf does not talk about what he thinks the afterlife is like, he has been dead already, he knows what it is like. Yes, his words comfort Pippin, but that is not the reason why Gandalf tells them to him. He just describes what it is like, the same way one describes a happy memory. It is a happy memory of Gandalf and to be fair, who wouldn't feel better when hearing the following: "White shores and beyond; a far green country under a swift sunrise." After telling Pippin this he sighs in the way a person sighs when remembering something nice. Also the look in Pippin's face as he listens to what Gandalf is saying is content. The scene is very heartwarming, as for once, Gandalf is not making fun of or scolding Pippin, but talking with him on the same level. It shows that he has grown to care for the hobbit and in the moment when they are about to die, he talks with him as a friend, not as Gandalf the White. It is a beautiful piece of dialogue and one of the best scenes of the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.
3. Boromir's Death
Merry and Pippin find themselves cornered by the Uruk-Hai. The others are far away and there is no chance for them to get out of that situation, but then Boromir appears and protects the two Hobbits with his life. Now this scene is full of action, but that's not what makes it so good, it's the fact that it is Boromir who's protecting Merry and Pippin. Boromir is the son of the stuart of Gondor and the only thing he cares about is to protect his people, no matter for what price. In his desperation, his mind easily gave in to the madness of the Ring and he tried to take it from Frodo. With Frodo and the Ring gone, Boromir comes back to normal, realizes what he has done and tries to find Frodo to apologize, but then the Uruk-Hai arrive and start to follow Merry and Pippin. Now Boromir could have easily gone after Frodo and taken the Ring from him if he was that evil character that lots of people think he is, but instead he comes to Merry and Pippin's aid and protects them. He blows the Horn of Gondor in order to have the others come to help him, but more and more Uruk-Hai arrive. He is hopelessly outnumbered, but still he fights on. The really emotional part of the scene begins when the first arrow pierces him. The scene quiets down and he falls to his knees. If he would really be that weak character that many people say he is, then that would have been the moment of his death. He just would have fallen to the ground and accepted his death. But badass Boromir goes back on his feet and fights on. Several more arrows hit him and he knows he will die, but he rises once again, defending Merry and Pippin with his last strength. Now that is just heroic. But every hero loses strength when pierced by several arrows and eventually Boromir falls and is unable to rise again. The next moment is definitely the moment in which Boromir proves that he is not weak: The Uruks kidnap Merry and Pippin and leave and Lurtz slowly approaches him. Boromir knows that Lurtz is going to give him a painful death, but he does not beg for mercy, he is not scared, he just scowls at Lurtz. For me that redeemed what he did to Frodo, which makes his death even more sad. Especially his last words to Aragorn, whom he did not want to accept as a king in earlier scenes: "I would have followed you my brother. My captain. My king." This is just such an emotional piece of dialogue, that it always has me in tears, every single time I watch this scene. I love the character Boromir and his death is one of the best scenes of the movies.
2. The Ride Of The Rohirrim
Again, one word: Epic. This scene is the embodiment of the word epic. From the beginning to the end: pure epicness! I'm sorry if this scene disappoints you, but I just love it. It starts out with the Witchking of Angmar hearing the first horn of the Rohirrim, then we see Gothmog turning towards the direction out of which the sound of the horn is coming, which leads to a beautiful shot of the Rohirrim arriving at the Pelennor fields along with the rising sun, facing the thousands of orcs and other evil beasts from Minas Morgul and we can see that the disguised Éowyn and Merry are terrified. Even Éomer has a look of unease in his face, but Éowyn says something simply beautiful to comfort Merry and herself: "Courage, Merry. Courage for our friends." Once again this shows the extremely strong friendship the characters have. They are willing to go to war, to die, just to help their friends. On the opposing side, we see Gothmog barking orders and calling the Orks "maggots". This is but a glimpse of what would await Middle Earth, should the forces of Mordor win the war. Again it emphasizes that it is necessary to stand up against Sauron. Even the most radical pacifist acknowledges the fact that the free Folk of Middle Earth have to go to war against Sauron. This is achieved by the brilliant writing, acting, filming skills of all the people involved in this story. After seeing the frighted faces of Merry, Éowyn and Éomer, the audience sees Théoden. Very different from the Théoden of the Battle for Helms Deep, this Théoden is not afraid. He is well aware of the fact that he is riding to his death, but he still looks determined. This underlines the arc that he has made as a character and yes, a character arc is a good thing. He started out as an old, cursed king who was incapable of ruling his country, to a conscious, but cowardly king who fled to Helms Deep, but then Aragorn makes him change. First Théoden faces the Uruk-Hai in Helms Deep, then he rides to Gondor's aid and now, facing the thousands and thousands of orcs, he does not flee, he is not scared, he is calm, determined to go into battle nonetheless, worthy of a true king. But it gets even better. He gives Éomer, Gambling and Grimbold orders, but not in a way that Gothmog does. Théoden sends them forth and says: "Forth, and fear no darkness!", giving them a small spark of bravery. He turns to the Rohirrim and shouts: "Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered
a sword-day, a red day
ere the sun rises!" He knows they will fall, he believes all of them will die, but he tells them to ride without fear and fight evil until the last moment. The camera swooshes back and reveals the entire Rohirrim, trumpets thunder, and then the Rohirrim prepare their spears for battle. Théoden pulls out his sword and rides past them, clanking the sword against the spears and calls out to them: "Ride now! Ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending!" This is the ultimate proof that he and all Rohirrim know that they will die, they still don't have to go to battle because the orcs are attacking Gondor, not Rohan, but they go to Gondor's aid nonetheless, screaming "Death!" while doing so. Then the music gets even louder to build up to Théoden shouting: "Forth Éorlingas!", the same words he shouted at the battle for Helm's Deep, again showing the arc he has gone through. The Rohirrim sound their horns, the music builds up even more and then changes into an epic version of the Rohan theme, when the Rohirrim charge into the orcs. Everything in this scene is done right, the action, the dialogue, the kamera, the music, everything is in perfect harmony and I just love Rohan! And this scene is Rohan's shining moment. Now you might ask yourselves which scene could possibly beat that onslaught of epicness? Just two words:
1. "For Frodo"
Yes, it's just those two small words. Believe me, I'm surprised by this myself. I had always thought that The Ride Of The Rohirrim was my favorite scene, but it is this scene. You might as well be wondering why it is this scene and not the speech that Aragorn holds for the Gondorians and the Rohirrim (This Day We Fight). Why? Because this scene yet again shows us the true friendship that Aragorn and Frodo have. The scene in which Aragorn lets Frodo go already showed the audience that Frodo and Aragorn are more than just companions, but friends and this scene is just what the whole story is all about: the power of friendship. Aragorn has finally returned to Minas Tirith and taken up Isildur's legacy. He has brought Gondor and Rohan together, has marched to the Black Gate and is now facing Sauron. Instead of addressing Sauron, Aragorn turns around, looks at Gandalf and says: "For Frodo". He takes Anduril and charges towards Sauron. Then Merry and Pippin, the two little hobbits run after him, followed by Gimli, Legolas and Gandalf and the music score of The Fellowship Of The Ring kicks in. That scene is not about the battle, not even about saving Middle Earth anymore, it is about the true friendship of the fellowship. A power so strong it can make even the smallest find their bravery. And that's it. That's my favorite scene. Re-watching the three movies has left my hyped up about "The Hobbit". What about you?