After finishing the Fellowship I was eagerly anticipating watching The Two Towers. I havent been as excited for a sequel since the Bourne trilogy. I was excited to learn more about Middle Earth and the clans that inhabited it as well as journey with Frodo and Sam as they make their way towards Mordor. What would become of Gandalf? Would he return in some form or was he truly dead? These were all whizzing through my head in the week leading up to the second installment of the story.
The Two Towers did not disappoint. In fact it somehow managed to exceed the Fellowship in some ways. So many sequels fail to deliver. A good indicator that a sequel will be a waste of time is when they make it simply because of the success of the first film. Think Shrek. Think Oceans 12. Yes Oceans 13 redeemed the trilogy but only after much thought and crafting. I was never worried about The Two Towers because from the get go it was always going to be made. Plus Tolkein had written it before and thought through the plot. Nevertheless, Peter Jackson and the team delivered an epic film which I thoroughly enjoyed. If anything I got a little bored of Frodo and Sam and their irritating guide Golem. Perhaps it was because I knew they wouldn’t reach their destination and I’d have to wait until the final installment. I think that removed some of the mystery. They wouldn’t die and they wouldn’t finish – so the surprise was already absent. However it didn’t detract from the overall film at all.
My favourite part was the defense of Rohan at Helms Gate. That has got to be one of the most epic siege scenes in cinema history. I loved the interchange between calm and cool Legolas and the passionate and feisty Gimli as they slaughtered the oncoming enemy. The film’s climax for me was at the point of defeat, Aragon remembers the words of Gandalf to look to the west on the third day. Once again Tolkein has littered the plot with Biblical imagery. At that moment a shaft of brilliant light burst through the darkness vaporizing Orcs instantly. Suddenly over the crest of hill comes a single white horse galloping towards the battle scene with Gandalf leading the charge. Behind him is an army of men swarming to redeem the fighters of Rohan. For me that was a brilliant picture of Christ returning at the end of the age to vanquish evil once and for all and rescue his people from the clutches of death. As the plot continues it becomes clear that Tolkein has placed various images of Jesus in different characters. Gandalf is a loving fatherly type figure who wields a great deal of power – even if he’s not fully omnipotent. He also lays down is life for his friends in the caves and utters the words “You shall not pass” – resembling Christ’s “It is finished” on the cross. Finally, Gandalf returns on the 3rd day with an army behind him to rescue those that he loves from the evil forces that rule the world. Lord of the Rings is by far my favourite story in fiction as it echoes the greatest story ever to be told.
I’m excited to see The Return of the King which already is promising to be full of eschatological references.