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Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Return of the King: notable scenes [SPOILERS]

- Smeagol, pre-Gollum, right at the start. Completely unexpected, and therefore all the more satisfying.

- Merry giving Pippin the last packet of pipeweed just before Pippin rides off with Gandalf to Minas Tirith. It's not in the book, but I thought it was a very nice touch on Peter Jackson's part. This scene was meant I think to complement what happens later on when Sam gives up his drink to Frodo just before they ascend Orodruin.

- The lighting of the braziers, which gave Jackson the opportunity to indulge in some spectacular shots of snowcapped mountain tops. Howard Shore's score at this point is really quite majestic.

- Shelob. Since when did spiders have stingers on their abdomens like wasps? Who cares? Shelob was the most frightening monster in all three movies, and I can't wait to see how Weta put her together.

- The giant battering ram, or Grond as it is called in the book ("The Siege of Gondor" chapter): Great engines crawled across the field; and in the midst was a huge ram, great as a forest-tree a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains. Long had it been forging in the dark smithies of Mordor, and its hideous head, founded of black steel, was shaped in the likeness of a ravening wolf; on it spells of ruin lay. Grond they named it, in memory of the Hammer of the Underworld of old. Great beasts drew it, orcs surrounded it, and behind walked mountain-trolls to wield it.

- Pippin and Merry charging forward to attack in the climactic battle, only to get overtaken by their longer-limbed compatriots. In the book, Merry isn't actually there because of the injuries he sustained in stabbing the Nazgul, but that absence would be inexplicable in the movie.

- The guests at Aragorn's coronation bowing down before the four hobbits, a scene marked by the triumphant return of Shore's hobbit theme from the first movie.

- Seeing Bilbo again, and to have him ask Frodo about his old ring. This is from the book, and I'm glad they put it in: although in the book, it is clear that Bilbo in his old age has forgotten about what the ring was, while in the movie, it isn't clear as to whether Bilbo knows about the ring's true nature at all (he wasn't at the Council of Elrond in the movie).

- The Grey Havens scene, which is made all the more poignant by the fact that Pippin, Merry, and Sam don't know, or at least are reluctant to acknowledge, that Frodo must leave Middle Earth (not so in the book).

More commentary to follow, once I've finished Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment.