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Movie Review: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Many of us held our breath in anticipation while waiting for Peter Jackson's motion picture "The Two Towers" to appear in theatres around the world on Wednesday, December 18th. For the masses who still are waiting to "exhale" and for those who have already indulged themselves in this cinema adventure, Terrouge now presents a glimpse of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
J.R.R. Tolkien's original intent was for The Lord of the Rings to be an entire three-part epic rather than a trilogy. Hence, some editions are published in one volume. True to the author's idea, the motion picture The Two Towers is purely a continuation of the story from where "The Fellowship" ended without a concrete "refresher course," so to speak. The Two Towers is a detailed account of the journeys of the broken Fellowship until the time of the second War of the Ring.
At the beginning of the original novel, we see two things that occurred at the end of the first movie: Boromir's last valiant stand, and the capture of Merry and Pippin. In the movie, however, echoing voices in the mountains and images of Gandalf and the Balrog in Moria lead into the current plot. The first book in The Two Towers tells of Aragorn, Legolas of Mirkwood, and Gimli the Dwarf and how they fare after the battle at Amon Hen. While following the tracks of the Orcs they meet Eomer and the Riders of Rohan, who bear sad news about the hobbits. The men of Rohan had obliterated the army of Orcs that had captured Pippin and Merry, leaving none alive. The three continue sadly to find the end of their trail to see the ruinous battlefield where the smoldered corpses of Orcs were piled. However, the tracking skills of Aragorn the Ranger lead to hope in the forest of Fangorn.
Merry and Pippin are indeed alive and kicking in the forest and have already met Gandalf. Quite unexpectedly, the hobbits meet a mythological Ent, or tree-shepherd, named Treebeard. They must convince him and his fellows to help against Saruman if the forces of light are to have any chance.
Meanwhile, many things happen to Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee on their journey to Mordor in the second book, and their unexpected aide, Gollum. On this road, they must traverse reeking marshes, dry deserts, and volcanic mountains that belch forth lava. Frodo must bear the unbearable burden of the One Ring, which grows more oppressive with every step. The Two Towers exceeds The Fellowship of the Ring in terror, bloodshed, and suspense, making it a much darker story by far; but the simple humor of small heroes can still lift one's spirit even in the bleakest times.
Peter Jackson, the director of "Lord of the Rings," has been very careful to keep true to the story as much as possible while trying to adapt it to something interesting to those who have not read the books. The indispensable plot is well preserved, and the additions are neither inconsistent with the original morals of Tolkien's work nor inconceivable within the boundaries of Middle Earth customs.
However, despite the overall faithfulness of the movie, there are several large discrepancies. For instance, the sword of Aragorn's ancestor, Isildur, finds no special spotlight in Gondor. In fact, neither Gondor nor any mention of Anduril's reforging finds its way into the movie. Also, the elves at the battle of Helm's Deep appeared to be from Lothlorien rather than Rivendell, possibly their combined forces. Another discrepancy is the incorporation of several scenes featuring Arwen. One particulary tender scene shows Arwen appearing to the wounded Aragorn, which has no basis in the books. These scenes were included, I believe, to give us a glimpse into the Ranger's heart, which is full of love, in direct contrast to the hate with which he is surrounded. Perhaps the largest discrepancy is the change in the character of Faramir. In the books he is a complete opposite to his brother Boromir, but he is less noble in the movie. Jackson has said this change was made in order to make Faramir less of a flat character.
There are many such contrasts throughout both the film and the story, especially with darkness and light. One moment we see raging battle with the hideous Orcs, and another we are swept away to the lush forest of Fangorn with Treebeard striding slowly and serenely, speaking deeply and solemnly. Gollum, who takes a more prominent role in this installment, is a contrast of light and dark himself. His original persona, Smčagol, is a pitiable creature that does not altogether mean ill: Smčagol is who he was before the influence of the One Ring corrupted him; Gollum is his evil persona. The lyrics of the theme that is played during the credits, "Gollum's Song," has several contrasts in it. The first words are as follows: "Where once was light\ Now darkness falls\ Where once was love\ Love is no more." The first half of the song is also in contrast with the second half, which describes retribution and reconciliation.
"Gollum's Song" is just one theme from Howard Shore's masterful soundtrack for "The Two Towers". Throughout the film, astoundingly exquisite vocals serenade us, brass-heavy war themes arouse us, and wistful themes on orchestral strings haunt us. The theme for Rohan is especially beautiful and nostalgic. Another great composing talent, David Arkenstone (How appropriate! Do you remember the Arkenstone from the Hobbit?) has an album, "Music Inspired by Middle Earth," which gives a different but equally excellent musical interpretation of the same story.
The Two Towers, in book and movie, present an epic story in an epic fashion with epic style. Both are well worth the time and effort, for a fantastic yet remarkably tangible world lies beyond them, and the journey is part of the enrichment. Step forward, for the battle is just about to begin!
Links of Interest
Note: All of these Internet sites should be searched with discretion and caution, as with Redwall sites. (Rated PG) The lines between good and evil are often blurred online. It's the real world. Be careful!
Promotional Posters Available Online
LordoftheRings.net: The Official Movie Site
David Arkenstone's "Music Inspired by Middle Earth" (With a song download: "Hobbits from the Shire")