Return of the King (2)

After Two Towers I made the following predictions about Return of the King.

1: Arwen will not appear at Pelanor Fields. She is already on her way to the Grey Havens. Someone else—quite likely Elrond—will bring the sword to Strider. (I can't believe that they would have shown the shards of Narsil in Fellowship if it weren't going to be reforged sooner or later.)

Correct. Elrond gives the sword to Aragorn and tells him to follow his heart and that he can do anything if he tries.

2: The Paths of the Dead will be turned into a big battle with zombies.

Wrong. In fact, Pelanor fields became a big battle with zombies. I was correct in my assumption that there was no way that this sequence could survive Jacksonisation. I reasoned that the Dead would have to be a very visible, active presence in the movie, and there I was all too correct. 

3: Sauron will resume his physical form— ride out from the Dark Tower and personally take part in the final battle. Either he will replace the Witch King at Pelanor fields, to be challenged by Gandalf and deaded by Merry (which I would deplore); or he will replace the Mouth of Sauron at the gates of Mordor (which wouldn't be that bad an idea.).

Wrong, although the Witch King has a similar hat to Sauron. The Mouth of Sauron and (astonishingly) Gandalf's confrontation with the Lord of the Nazgul are cut our of the movie altogether, along with plot, characterisation, and other minor details. I had reasoned correctly that Jackson would need Sauron to be physical presence in the movie. I unaccountably failed to spot the fact that he would be incarnated as a searchlight. 

4: Denethor will be suffering from the same demonic possession as Theoden and Gandalf will try (and fail) to exorcise him. When he says 'let us all burn, burn, burn' he will overact terribly.

Half-right, depending on your definition of over-acting. I had reasoned that the emphasis on Sauron's control of Saruman via the palantir was a "set up" to make Denethor's madness as depicted in the book make cinematic sense. This was based on the unwarranted assumption that Jackson cares about a: what is depicted in the book and b: making sense.  

5: When Gollum lops off Frodo's finger there will be flashbacks to Isildur castrating Sauron at the Last Alliance.

Wrong, but it does carefully parallel Isildur's refusal to cast the ring into the furnace, which is a similar ballpark.

5: Frodo will not return to the shire. After the last battle everyone will ride to the Grey Havens to wave bye-bye to the last ship. Arwen will be lingering on the shore. Elrond will be telling her that if she doesn't go she will regret it.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. Just before the boat departs Aragorn will come over the horizon, wearing his crown and therefore in silhouette. Arwen will leap out of the boat and run to him. Elrond will see that there is nothing he can do and give Arwen's seat on the boat to Frodo. The boats will sail. Sam will go back to the Shire alone. It will be closing time at the Green Dragon. Rosie will be waiting for him. He will go in and order a drink. 'Well I'm back' he will say uncertainly.

Totally wrong. I was, however, correct to think that Jackson's fondness for using "good lines" from the book, regardless of whether they fit the new context, meant that, by hook or by took, "We'll I'm back" would be the final line of the movie. I had supposed that the entirely new plot-thread created by Jackson — Arwen giving "the grace that would have been mine" to Frodo, her indecision about whether or not to go to Valinor — was going to have a significant pay-off in the final movie. This was based on the assumption that Jackson was following the normal rules of script writing where you can't have sub-plots without resolutions. Or, indeed, resolutions without sub-plots: what exactly were Farimir and Eowyn doing together at the end?

But Jackson's ways are not our ways; his mind is above our mind; and if we expect a movie to hang together at some level, that is our problem. This was, after all, the greatest film in motion picture history. It must have been. It had lots of elephants in it. 

 

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