The Return of the King
Directed by Peter Jackson New Line Cinema

"The road goes ever on and on," sings Bilbo Baggins. So also will feverish debate among readers and moviegoers now that Peter Jackson's ambitious cinematic adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy is complete.

The Return of the King, the final installment, delivers on the promise of grander spectacle, higher intensity, and a marathon of emotional resolutions to the story's elaborate plotlines. It also introduces more controversial changes, which will surely throw fuel on the fiery tempers of Middle-earth purists.

But there are also some problems created by the filmmakers' adherence to the text. Some things just work better in literature than they do onscreen, like the concluding parade of tear-jerking reunions and farewells. Nevertheless, Jackson's big-screen victories far outweigh his failures.

The movie opens with a prologue that portrays Smeagol's disintegration into Gollum (played by Andy Serkis), a tormented wretch obsessed with and addicted to the great Ring of Power. In this surprising flashback, Serkis plays the as-yet unspoiled Smeagol unenhanced by effects, and it becomes clearer just how much of the actor's brilliant work indwells Gollum's animated expression. This reminds us of where the Ring is taking our story's ring-bearer—Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood)—whose every step Gollum follows with malice and deadly intent.

As we watch brave Frodo march toward similar spiritual ruin, Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), his steadfast companion, gets to "show his quality." When Gollum cleverly separates the loyal companions, Sam demonstrates newfound courage and loyalty in confronting Shelob, film history's most frightening spider. When Frodo's will teeters on the edge of an abyss, Sam perseveres. Resisting the temptation to carry the burdensome Ring himself, he vows instead to carry his master.

While Sam's determination is truly inspiring, the determining factor in the quest and the conflict is, in the end, the compassion Frodo has for suffering Smeagol, a quality that provokes an unlikely but profound conclusion. The saga's central thread is one of longsuffering and mercy, with violence as a grievous and questionable alternative—notwithstanding some misguided reviewers' view that Tolkien's epic is a mandate for the United States to send Muslim extremists "to an early grave."

It is hard to imagine actors who could have played Frodo and Sam better. Few films have ever portrayed a friendship as intimate and as powerful. Their transformation from simple whimsical folk to battered, beleaguered survivors is heartbreakingly convincing. Astin will likely earn more acclaim and attention for his part; tearful breakdowns win awards. But Wood's emotional performance is a riveting picture of disintegration.

Article continues below

Frodo and Sam are not the only dynamic duo divided in this chapter. Merry and Pippin, who so far have served as comic relief, are separated as well. Eventually they join an exhilarating exhibition of an army on horseback en route to Minas Tirith. The city is besieged by an orc army that is commanded by a monster resembling a mix of a giant, evil Elephant-Man and Yoda. The parts they play there lead to a showdown that earns the film's biggest cheer.

Pippin (Billy Boyd), meanwhile, pledges his service to the despairing Steward of Gondor, Lord Denethor (John Noble), and sings a haunting song at his command. (Yes, that is Boyd's real singing voice; in fact, he composed the song.) He too finds opportunity for heroism.

These adventures are only a few in a film that tests the limits of audience endurance. If viewers had any trouble following interweaving plots in previous installments, they'll be disoriented by the many additional characters, monsters, races, places, talismans, histories, and prophecies presented here. Tolkien fans, however, will be enthralled by Jackson's vivid depictions, unless their insistence on adherence to the books—chapter and verse—is too strong.

Parents should be aware that The Return of the King surpasses Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and The Matrix Revolutions as 2003's most violent movie. Jackson has intensified the battle scenes and duels, and the result may indeed deserve a stricter rating than pg-13. Further, some Christians may be troubled by the indulgently ghoulish spectacle awaiting Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in a haunted mountain.

Tolkien once wrote, "The canons of narrative art in any medium cannot be wholly different; and the failure of poor films is often precisely in exaggeration, and in the intrusion of unwarranted matter owing to not perceiving where the core of the original lies."

The Return of the King's weaknesses do stem from exaggerations and intrusions that belie the screenwriters' misinterpretation of Tolkien's convictions. In the film's culminating moment, a simple and profound demonstration of pride's deadly consequences is compromised by the filmmakers' desire to amplify one hero's bravery. This contradicts the book's portrayal of that hero's failure.

Article continues below

The filmmakers continually emphasize that humanity's hope lies in, well, humanity. Tolkien insisted, "One must face the fact: the power of Evil in the world is not finally resistible by incarnate creatures, however 'good.'" He added: "The Writer of the Story is not one of us."

Nevertheless, we can be thankful that the truth shines through this finished work as brightly as it does. The Christian virtues of humility, sacrifice, and faith filter through. The triumphant epilogue offers tangible hope rather than mere Hollywood sentiment. We can look back now and see that, while this edition of Tolkien's epic is clearly tarnished, it stands alone as the most rewarding and accomplished fantasy trilogy ever filmed.

Jeffrey Overstreet writes Film Forum each Thursday for

What Other Critics Are Saying
compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet
from Film Forum, 10/30/03

Are you counting the days until The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King? With just over a month left before the December 18 unveiling, the Internet is buzzing with trailers, news, photographs, interviews, and hype. What are your concerns about the final episode in Peter Jackson's filmic trilogy? Or have his previous interpretations of J.R.R. Tolkien's stories turned you off to the whole project? Let me know.

An update at announced this week that the film's official running time will test the endurance of even the series' most devoted fans: 210 minutes!

And yet, the films' fanatical audience is showing unprecedented enthusiasm for the series. On Wednesday October 8, New Line Cinema made tickets available for a special one-day-only event in 99 locations across the U.S., a marathon run through all three Lord of the Rings films. It's been nicknamed "Trilogy Tuesday."

"Rarely, if ever, in the history of movie making has a studio gone so far for its fan base," reported. "And yet, the small number of theaters tapped for the event guaranteed fierce competition for tickets. Fan anticipation was great, and demand extremely high. Tickets went on sale in 99 locations across the United States and with a few exceptions, they were gone a few hours later."

Those who snatched up tickets for the event, scheduled for December 16, will have the privilege of sitting through The Fellowship of the Ring's extended edition, previously only viewable on DVD. That's a 210-minute production. After an intermission, they will sit through the extended edition of The Two Towers (due on DVD on November 18). That's another 208 minutes. Following that, they will stretch and reload their bags of popcorn for the screenings of the three-and-a-half hour Return of the King, 48 hours before it opens for the rest of us.

Article continues below

(Keep in mind that the extended edition of Return of the King is not finished and will not be available on DVD for perhaps as long as a year. You can bet that keeping you on the edge of your seat for more than four hours!)

For those discouraged by the scarcity of event tickets, there is good news. In many locations, the extended editions of Fellowship and Two Towers will each have a whole week in theatres before Return of the King arrives. Tickets are already available, in many places, for these showings.

Film Forum will keep you posted on Middle Earth matters in the coming weeks with reviews of the Two Towers extended edition DVDs and with early buzz on The Return of the King. For detailed, regular updates on upcoming Lord of the Rings film screenings, locations, schedules, and tickets, visit the official website.

Meanwhile, some religious press film sites are already covering the landmark release. No such site has devoted more attention to the trilogy than Hollywood Jesus, which features commentaries by Greg Wright, who recently published his own study of Tolkien's Hobbit-heavy tomes, Tolkien in Perspective.

from Film Forum, 12/11/03

Many Film Forum readers already have their tickets for the third and final film in … oh, you know what I'm talking about.

I joined several Christian press film critics in Los Angeles last week to see an early screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The screening was an overwhelming experience—the film surpasses its predecessors in many ways, especially in the Department of Jaw-Dropping, Eye-Dazzling Spectacle. But regarding the way that Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh adapt this chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's story, they have made many changes that must be discussed. Check next week's Film Forum for some in-depth debate.

The day after the screening, most of us were still a bit bewildered from having seen such an awe-inspiring work, so we had to struggle to concentrate on the job of the day: interviewing the cast and the crew. My full review will be posted at Looking Closer on Monday, and excerpts from the interviews are being added to the site over the next two weeks. Some of the best interview bits will be included in next week's Film Forum as well.

Article continues below

A particularly interesting aspect of the interviews: Tolkien's Christian worldview seems to have gone either ignored or almost entirely unnoticed by many of the cast and crew. In fact, the themes of the story seem to have had very little influence on their thinking. Indeed, actor Andy Serkis told in an interview this week that if he had the Ring of Power in his grasp, "I would banish all religions first of all." In response, Steven D. Greydanus quipped, "The actor who plays Gollum thinks it would be better to be a Sauron than a Frodo."

Some of the religious press critics who saw the film have already posted their reviews. Steve Beard, for example, has summed up his experience at the premiere on his site Thunderstruck.

Two of them came away with startlingly different responses. (Strangely, they sat side-by-side at the same screening.) Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) says, "It's hard to overstate the soaring achievement of Peter Jackson and company in The Return of the King. To call it the grandest spectacle ever filmed is no exaggeration; it may also be the most satisfying third act of any film trilogy, completing what can now be regarded as possibly the best realized cinematic trilogy of all time. It's the most ambitious [of the three]; it may also be the most emotionally affecting, and perhaps the most flawless." But Barbara Nicolosi, Christian film blogger at Church of the Masses and the director of Act One: Writing for Hollywood, feels very differently. "This film is … the most self-indulgent of the three projects. [It] ends at least seven times that I counted, each one bringing tear-filled eyes and the loving gripping of shoulders. I'll give you that it certainly is a spectacle in the way that Cleopatra and Intolerance were spectacles. … But it isn't great spectacle in the way that Lawrence of Arabia or Gone With the Wind[were], because in the end, I just don't care too much about any of the people on the screen. The spectacle only serves itself."

Mainstream critics are, for the most part, waiting until the release date to publish their reviews, but there is a full examination posted at The Hollywood Reporter.

from Film Forum, 12/18/03

"The board is set. The pieces are moving." The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King looks poised to conquer box office records, and it may be on a path that leads to Oscars. Judging from the euphoric praise offered up by mainstream press critics, it looks like director Peter Jackson has triumphantly completed the greatest adventure film trilogy ever made.

Article continues below

Many of you—perhaps most of you—will be seeing the movie this week. (I've got a hunch a good number of you have already seen it.) When you do, let me know your opinions: Do you agree with those religious press film critics who are heaping superlatives on Jackson's effort? Do you think it is as successful an adaptation as The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers? Do you have any complaints? Further, why do you think the trilogy is striking such a chord with viewers, and what sets it apart from other films in this season saturated with epics? Send me an e-mail.

The film follows the last days of the quest of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) across the span of Middle-Earth. This hobbit from the quiet and innocent region called the Shire has been beaten down and nearly destroyed, sapped by the wicked and alluring power of the One Ring he is seeking to destroy. Helped by his faithful friend Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), Frodo has arrived at last in the blasted wasteland of Mordor. Within shouting distance of Mount Doom's destructive lava flow, the only force that can destroy the Ring and prevent the dark lord Sauron from ruling Middle-Earth, Frodo finds himself facing both his own weakness and the malevolent designs of the Ring-obsessed wretch called Gollum. Gollum has devised plans for foiling Frodo's quest. They include deceit, violence, and a particularly nasty spider.

Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes focus their attention on buying Frodo some time. The only way they can do that is by keeping Sauron's attention on the city of Minas Tirith, where a war of unthinkable proportions is being set in motion. The wizard Gandalf, Pippin the Hobbit, the armies of Rohan led by King Theoden, and a couple of warriors who disobeyed orders to join the resistance, dig in their heels for what seems to be a doomed cause. They must face fearsome winged monsters called Fell Beasts, the demonic warlords called Nazgul, and the poisonous disillusionment of their own leader—a sour-spirited man called Denethor.

The survival of these heroes depends not only on the Ringbearer, but also on Aragorn, the inheritor of the throne of Gondor. With his trusty companions Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Aragorn must enter the bone-chilling caves that lead through the Paths of the Dead. There he must wrestle his own reluctance and lay claim to the kingship, a title that could earn him the allegiance of a much-needed force that dwells forgotten within the mountain.

Article continues below

The last chapter of Tolkien's series plays like a three-hour finale, featuring some of the most awe-inspiring battle sequences ever created. Jackson wisely fills the film with quieter exchanges between characters so that the drama remains intimate and personal, the threats ominous and intimidating. Howard Shore's glorious soundtrack underlines the epic quality of this astonishing spectacle. In spite of the filmmakers' misguided meddlings with the story, admirable themes shine through.

Religious press critics are almost unanimous in their praise of the film. My own in-depth examination is posted at Looking Closer. (A shorter version appeared yesterday here at Christianity Today.)

Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) praises its superiority in the film trilogy: "Certainly it's the most ambitious; it may also be the most emotionally affecting, and perhaps the most flawless. For all Jackson's reimaginings and elaborations, for all he does and does not do, Tolkien's saga is in these films honored beyond all reasonable hope. The spirit of Tolkien's work is honored in the transposition—imperfectly, yes, but brilliantly and transcendently in what it accomplishes."

But he does admit, "Peter Jackson's … fingerprints are everywhere, notably in his flair for the hyperdramatic."

Greg Wright (Hollywood Jesus), author of the book Tolkien in Perspective, calls it "Symphonic. I can find no better single word to describe the design, execution and impact of The Return of the King. Other classic films of the past, of course, have also felt symphonic—Amadeus, Apocalypse Now!, Lawrence of Arabia, even Saving Private Ryan. What distinguishes Jackson's magnum opus, however, is that the tempo of his cinematic symphony's final movement is largo—very slow. And Jackson's daring pace, perfectly in harmony with the spirit of Tolkien, pays off in a terribly satisfying and haunting experience."

Peter T. Chattaway (Canadian Christianity) expresses some concern over the way Jackson and Company "crank up the conflict and tension whenever they can, and in doing so, they risk subverting the purity of Tolkien's characters and concepts. These changes can be especially awkward when the conflicts they introduce have to be resolved immediately so that the story can point back in the direction it was always going in the first place."

Article continues below

Nevertheless, he concludes, "The films are remarkably true to Tolkien's deepest themes."

"Not only is this epic film the leading contender for best picture of the year," writes Michael Elliott (Movie Parables), "[but] Jackson may very well have just completed the best movie trilogy ever made. The triumphs of the cast, which perform brilliantly, are presented to us on a silver platter. The production design is magnificent; realizing not only Peter Jackson's vision but … Tolkien's as well. It is a story well told on every level. Though Tolkien himself often said that The Lord of the Rings should not be taken as a Christian allegory, it is impossible not to recognize that it is rife with Christian influences and principles."

Jeremy Landes (Christian Spotlight) goes farther, calling it "the best film of the … trilogy, this year, and, perhaps, this decade. Prepare your heart to laugh, cry, and shout. Return of the King brings you to the climax of the characters' struggles and leaves you dizzy with wonder, grief, and joy. [It] promotes character traits like self-sacrifice, unwavering friendship, and mercy."

Frederica Matthewes-Green (Our Sunday Visitor) says the movie is "a crowning conclusion to the trilogy, and also arguably the best of the three films." Praising Tolkien's achievement, she examines why the story endures. "What becomes a legend is a story that is made out of elements already within us: awareness of a great battle that is going on, that involves us somehow already, as well as invisible powers far stronger than us; the need for others to help us in this journey, and a love for them in all their failings; a sense of our own capacity to turn traitor at the last moment, despite our high-flown claims. All of these are elements of the Gospel story, the story we're born carrying inside, 'The Greatest Story Ever Told.'"

Mainstream critics are heralding it as an achievement unlikely to be matched in the genre of adventure filmmaking. Elvis Mitchell (New York Times) calls Jackson's film "a meticulous and prodigious vision made by a director who was not hamstrung by heavy use of computer special-effects imagery. It's been a long time since a commercially oriented film with the scale of King ended with such an enduring and heartbreaking coda: 'You can't go back. Some wounds don't heal.' It's an epic about the price of triumph, a subversive victory itself in a large-scale pop action film."

But Mitchell also sorely misquotes Gandalf as saying that Frodo's quest is a "false hope," when in fact he calls it a "fool's hope." Big difference. Further, Mitchell makes the odd claim that "the movie isn't as exclusionary as the books' implicit Christian forcefulness, which made Middle Earth a re-creation of the Crusades."

Article continues below

Middle-Earth's Stars, Filmmakers comment on Tolkien's spiritual themes

At a Los Angeles press junket held two weeks ago, religious press writers had opportunities to meet with the cast and crew of The Return of the King for interviews. Transcripts of those interviews are being gradually posted at my own Web site, Looking Closer.

Commenting on the way that Tolkien's Hobbiton represents all that is good and pure in the world, Sean Astin (Samwise) says, "If Hobbiton is a place, an ideal, worth wanting to manifest in real human life, now … it can't happen without some awareness of what's going on in the real world. It's maybe a little bit sad that children just can't be children in a pure kind of world where there's no danger and there's no threats. But it's the responsibility of the mature to preserve the sanctity of a world worth living in."

Astin is also challenged by the nobility and longsuffering qualities of the character he portrays: "If I'm really honest with myself … I've been disappointed in myself and my own inability to be more like Sam with my friends. I don't know if I can in order to survive, in order to be a good husband and a good father and have a career. I try, in moments, to manifest the better angel of my nature with my friends, but I'm not as good a friend to my friends as Sam. It's a little bit hard to be the sort of emblem, to portray the character as an emblem for those things, and to know in my own life that I can't. Or maybe, if I can, it's going to be somewhere in my future when I'm more mature."

"In playing a hobbit," says Elijah Wood (Frodo), "I was at the very center of [Tolkien's] ideology, his perspective of what was good and what was wrong with the world. I agree with his perspective on the fact that there all these wonderfully good and pure things that are being threatened by Mordor, which is (in my estimation) the modern world threatening all that is good and pure. Those themes that are very important in the story to Tolkien became very important to me. I think I agreed with them before, but especially after working in New Zealand … working in a country that is so lightly populated and is so pure in terms of its ecosystem and its nature … I think we all have a better perspective of the state of the world and that it needs to be saved and preserved."

Article continues below

When asked about the film's culminating scene (which Jackson has made more ambiguous onscreen than it is in the novel), Wood has strong opinions about the events leading to that crucial turning point: "It's mercy. Had Frodo killed Gollum, he would have possibly gotten to Mount Doom, [but] he would have kept the ring for himself and the world would have been doomed. [It was because] he saw a kinship in Gollum and had an understanding and an empathy with Gollum that Gollum stayed alive."

Screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens commented on how they tried to stay true to Tolkien's sentiments about faith. "We have the ability within us to fail," says Boyens. "Faith requires us to believe in a higher power."

But in whom should we have faith? Looking at the story, Walsh says, "I think it's about the enduring power of goodness, that we feel it in ourselves when we perceive it in others. And that's a good reason to hope that it has significance for all of us asa race, as mankind … that we're evolving and getting better rather than becoming less, diminishing ourselves through hatred and cruelty. We need to believe that. We need to have a sense of perfection."

Tolkien would have disagreed. He wrote, "One must face the fact: the power of Evil in the world is not finally resistible by incarnate creatures, however 'good'." But he also added, "The Writer of the Story is not one of us."

This week, Terry Mattingly sums up the junket experience and the differing interpretations of the film in his own column.

from Film Forum, 01/15/04

Two weeks ago in World Magazine, Gene Edward Veith looked at the timeliness and resonance of The Lord of the Rings films.

"Fellowship … showed terrifying Dark Riders breaking into the peaceful, complacent world of the Shire only a few months after Sept. 11, 2001," he observed. "The Two Towers showed the battle joined between the 'free folks' and the forces of the Shadow, just as Americans were reacting to the destruction of their Two Towers by fighting the war in Afghanistan. This year, The Return of the King portrays a victory, in the aftermath of our own overwhelming but incomplete victory in Iraq, opening only a few days after the capture of the Dark Lord, Saddam Hussein. The movie even features a 'spider hole.'"

But in accenting the epic's parallels to violent world events, Veith overlooks one of the primary themes of The Lord of the Rings: That our only hope lies in the destruction of tools of great power. In doing so, he contributes to a growing misinterpretation of Tolkien's work. Tolkien would have been grieved to hear that his story was throwing fuel on the fire of the United States "pre-emptive attacks." His story shows that the solution to the world's ills is not to put destructive power in the right hands. The solution is to eliminate that kind of power, to reject it, to refrain from seizing it.

Article continues below

The salvation of Middle-Earth is brought about through our compassion, our patience, and our humility in the presence of our enemies (Gollum.) As Tolkien understood, war is sometimes necessary. But it should never be the first impulse. Although this scene is not in the film, Tolkien's heroic ranger Aragorn walks out on the wall of Helm's Deep and extends the orcs a chance to surrender. The orcs! In the novels, Aragorn is a reluctant war-maker. He seeks first to give his enemy a chance to be redeemed.

Perhaps the sound and fury of Jackson's war-heavy Lord of the Rings films have deafened some viewers to its quieter, but ultimately more important, themes.

Meanwhile, in USA Today, Michael Medved looks at the different political points-of-view offered by two of the leading Lord of the Rings actors. He describes Viggo's soft-spoken argument as "ill-timed political posturing" and "pacifist preening."

You can read for yourself a fuller transcript Viggo's thoughts at Looking Closer. Is it "preening" to suggest that leaders should act without arrogance? Is it ill-timed political posturing for a person to suggest that a powerful nation should show respect for the U.N.?

He also includes quotes from the more conservative perspective of John Rhys-Davies, who makes some powerful observations as well. (A full transcript of that interview is available here.)

from Film Forum, 03/04/04

Tolkien fans would like to thank the Academy …

"It's a clean sweep!" Steven Spielberg exclaimed when he opened the Oscar envelope and saw the name of this year's Best Picture winner—The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Throughout its history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been notorious for choosing realism over fantasy. No fantasy film has ever won Best Picture.

That all changed when the third Rings film to be nominated for the award finally earned the appreciation of Oscar voters. To make the victory even sweeter, the Best Picture award was the eleventh Oscar given to the film that night, tying the record set by Ben-Hur and Titanic, and bringing the trilogy's Oscar total to a whopping seventeen—the most Oscars ever collected by a franchise.

Article continues below

With a sizeable crowd of the actors, crew, and the two screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens smiling and teary-eyed behind him, Peter Jackson accepted the award with his characteristic humility, gratitude, and sincerity. He joked about the broadcast "delay" that was in effect (in case of "wardrobe malfunctions" or inappropriate language) saying, "Fantasy is one F-word that the five-second delay won't do anything to." He thanked the Academy for "seeing beyond the trolls, wizards and hobbits."

For Lord of the Rings fans, there may have been a twinge of sadness as the program closed. This will be the first year since 2001 without a new Middle-earth movie that can qualify for competition, even though a DVD edition of The Return of the King promises to add another hour (!!) to the film's duration. (Jackson has reportedly completed a four-hour and twelve-minute cut.)

Peter Jackson's masterpiece is, for many Tolkien fans, a dream come true. Count me among them—I've been a fan of hobbits since I was eight years old. As a teen, re-reading the series, I hoped for an Oscar-caliber adaptation of the saga, even dreaming that Ian Holm would someday be cast as Bilbo Baggins, and wishing that somebody would make it look like Alan Lee's Middle-earth artwork. Holm was cast as Bilbo, Alan Lee was hired as a designer, and oodles of Oscars have been won. It seemed a ridiculous dream, but it all came true. It seems there really is "another will at work."

In my Oscar predictions article for CT Movies, I had guessed that Oscar's anti-fantasy bias would continue to hold and the over-the-top performances of Mystic River would give it the edge over Rings. It was the only major award I failed to guess correctly. I have never been so happy to be wrong.

To further explore the achievement of Peter Jackson and Company, check out this new article by Steven D. Greydanus of Decent Films.

For a summary of the Oscars, see this recap posted Monday at Christianity Today Movies.


The Return of the King: Best Picture, Perhaps, But Not Best Version

The author of The Battle for Middle-Earth examines the missing theology of the cinematic Fleming RutledgeChristianity Today Movies, posted 02/27/04REVIEW

The Lure of the Obvious in Peter Jackson's The Return of the King

The film adaptations of a 1,200 page novel required making significant changes to the story. But at what cost?by Ralph C. WoodChristianity Today, posted 12/17/03COMMENTARY

The Lord of the Rings, The Passion of The Christ, and the Highway of Holiness

Has God been "re-routing" us through popular movies, books, and cultural events?by Chris ArmstrongChristian History Newsletter, May 7, 2004

Related Elsewhere:

A ready-to-download Movie Discussion Guide related to this movie is available at Use this guide after the movie to help you and your small group better connect your faith to pop culture.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Our Rating
not rated  
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images)
Directed By
Peter Jackson
Run Time
3 hours 21 minutes
Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen
Theatre Release
December 17, 2003 by New Line Cinema
Browse All Movie Reviews By: