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Return of the King Extended Edition has the best character arcs

One of the greatest strengths of The king’s return is that despite his epic reach and massive execution focused on the great battle for the fate of Middle-earth, he’s somehow also able to point out the small, intimate personal moments that make the plot and characters most compelling. , like the story of The Lord of the Rings comes to an end. Frodo and Sam’s dedication is tested in different ways but to the limits of the two characters. Aragorn finally assumes his destiny as King of Gondor and takes on all the responsibilities that come with it. Merry and Pippin are separated for the first time in history, and the two must develop without the support of the other. In many ways, Fellowship characters are more separate and isolated than ever before, and it’s for this reason that each player in the story has a more distinct character development than at any time before.


What can be lost in this awe-inspiring act of character and storyline juggling, however, is one of the most dramatic story arcs in the entire movie: King Theoden’s internal struggle. Part of the reason it’s easy to ignore is due to the direction of the story. While The two towers strongly focuses on Rohan, Théoden and the Battle of Helm’s Deep, The king’s return moves the drama from Rohan and Théoden to Gondor and Intendant Denethor. Theoden’s role changes accordingly, and his focus in the story is more of aid and support in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields than anything else.

The other major reason why it’s easier to ignore Théoden’s dramatic script in the Return of the king is that the film’s theatrical cut eliminates one of the most important scenes that sets up Theoden’s struggle in the first place. The outline of his drama is present in the theatrical cut but only becomes fully understandable with the scenes included in the extended edition. The scene in question is the conversation with Saroumane at the very beginning of The king’s return, and it provides a context that shapes nearly all of Théoden’s subsequent actions in history.

Image via New Line Cinema

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In the scene in question, Gandalf, Théoden and others come to question the defeated Saruman, who is entrenched in his fortress but addresses them from the top of his tower. While this scene has significant endings for the rest of the story and ends with the death of Saruman, when the sorcerer addresses Théoden, he ends up insulting the king, calling him “an inferior son of greater fathers. “and implies that Rohan fell into ruin during his reign while denying that Theoden had any responsibility for the victory at Helm’s Deep. It’s a commentary that clearly cuts Théoden deeply, and on which he will linger for the rest of the film. It is evident in his next scene with Eowyn when he denies his praise by repeating Saruman’s line that the victory at Helm’s Deep was not his own.

Another layer added by these first scenes with Théoden is his concern for the past. He royally sings “Hail the victorious dead!” During the victory celebration, expressing his own respect for the actions of the older generations and their heroism. But he also gradually reveals that he fears that he and his time will not live up to the heroism of his legendary ancestors. He’s torn between two sides of his character – drawn on one side by the appeal of ancient heroism, and on the other by the daily practice of ruling his kingdom. When told about the fate of Gondor, he first replies, “Why should we go to the aid of those who have not come to us?” What do we owe Gondor? His protective and pragmatic side makes a point: there is no practical obligation to rescue Gondor, and it appears he will not shoulder that responsibility.

However, despite its initial reluctance, when Gondor Is it that call for his help, the attraction to heroism ignites again and he takes action, calling for the mobilization of all his forces. Whether consciously or not, when the intersecting concerns of heroism, practicality, and responsibility are all stuck in his anxious conscience, Gondor’s plight ultimately tilts his character in a definitive direction.

Image via New Line Cinema

As the rest of the story unfolds, this determination gains in intensity, accelerating towards her character’s final climax on the battlefield. While he holds on to his determination to help Gondor, he increasingly understands that he does not have a force strong enough to break through enemy forces. The practical worry gives him pause for thought, and his anxiety for the battle clearly grows as his horsemen draw closer and closer to the city of Minas Tirith. Oddly, however, with his growing practical concern comes a growing determination to follow through on his commitment to come to the aid of Gondor.

With the growth of these two opposing forces weighing on Théoden’s mind, the climax of his character comes when his Rohirrim crosses the last hill and sees the battlefield unfold before them. While many sang the praises of the magnificent scene which is the charge of the Rohirrim in The king’s return, one moment in that glorious streak that is easy to forget is Théoden’s momentary hesitation, as he gazes at the massive armies of Mordor, as if wondering one last time if he is doing what he is doing. it was necessary. The scene in the film is emphasized by its description in the book: “The king sat on Snowmane, motionless, contemplating the agony of Minas Tirith, as if he were suddenly struck with anguish or terror.”

Ultimately, however, he makes his decision, and his resolution is clear. The two motivations and concerns that grew in her mind reached their peak. What was once just a hunch that he couldn’t win the battle has now become a certainty: he sees proof of his insufficient numbers right in front of his eyes. But despite this certainty, he nevertheless charged into battle, rallying his cavalry and leading them in front, shouting the certainty so that all could hear him: “Death! Death! Death! ”It is part of the great emotional swell of the scene, accompanied by Howard shoreThe magnificent score of, but the emotional weight of the scene is increased in this final decisive climax by the choice of Théoden.

Image via New Line Cinema

His final moments, after this decision, resolve the inner drama he endured throughout the film. With the intersecting traits of duty, heroism and practicality, Théoden ultimately ends with hope – hope for the future of his people – as the scene revolves around his conversation with Eowyn, who he hopes will rule his people after his death. But he also hopes for himself and for the greatness of those who came before him: “I go to my fathers, in whose company I will no longer be ashamed now. It is a moving scene in itself, but one which only reaches its full significance if one reflects on the concerns that began the story of Théoden de The king’s return in the first place. The deep cut made by Saruman’s comment has finally found a decisive answer.

Ultimately, Théoden plays into many themes of global history, primarily in his images of domination, heroism, hope, and despair. In many ways, he acts as a foil for Denethor, meeting a heroic and hopeful end where the Steward of Gondor gives in to despair. Heroism, honor and salvation are all part of the intricate act of juggling that is the plot of the film itself, seen even in the redemptive acts of the Army of the Dead who redeem their honor to gain the final peace for their restless souls. In Théoden, however, The king’s return plays out a desperate conflict that runs deep in her mind, which can only be fully appreciated with an understanding of where it all began.

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