> The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a film released on Wednesday, December 18, 2002, directed by Peter Jackson with a runtime of 179 minutes (2 hours, 59 minutes). It is the second part in a trilogy of films, following The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, also directed by Jackson. It is an adaptation of the book The Two Towers, the second part of the three-volume novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, although some of the later events are held over to the third movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It was very well received critically and was an enormous box-office success, making over $900 million worldwide (making it the fourth most successful film of all time at that point in time).
In addition to many characters returning from the first film, The Two Towers featured Éowyn, a princess yearning to be a warrior; Éomer, a stalwart Marshal of Rohan and brother of Éowyn; Théoden, a troubled king, uncle of Éowyn and Éomer; and his treacherous counselor, Gríma Wormtongue. These humans were largely overshadowed by special effects creatures including treelike Ents, the pterodactyl-like flying steeds of the Nazgûl, and, especially, Gollum, widely acclaimed as the first fully realized CGI character in a live-action film. His movements and facial expressions were modeled on the actor who provided his voice. Only glimpsed in the first film, Gollum here becomes a pivotal character with the potential to change the fate of the story's world; he wrestles with inner demons and becomes a source of friction in Sam and Frodo's previously unshakeable friendship.
Warning: this section contains spoilers not just for The Two Towers but also for The Return of the King.
The surviving members of the Fellowship of the Ring have split into three groups. Frodo and Sam face many perils on their continuing quest to save Middle-Earth by destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Merry and Pippin escape from the Orcs and must convince the Ents to join the battle against evil. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas encounter a mysteriously transformed Gandalf and battle Saruman's army at Helm's Deep.
Deviations from the source material
Jackson's The Two Towers differs from Tolkien's in several important ways. Arwen does not appear in the second book at all. Interviews with Jackson and the other writers on the extended DVD version of the movie make it clear that they are fully aware of the implications of these changes in terms of the original story, and have chosen to make them not out of ignorance but in order to make the story work better in terms of motion picture storytelling.
Notably the meaning of the title itself, 'The Two Towers', has been changed. Tolkien considered many possible combinations, but eventually settled on Orthanc and Minas Morgul being the 'two towers'. However, in Jackson's movie Gandalf instead names them as Orthanc and Barad-dûr, which is also reflected in the movie poster.
Tolkien divided The Two Towers into two distinct parts. The first told the stories of Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and Gandalf. The second concerned Frodo, Sam and Gollum. Jackson chose to intercut between the two to present the events in chronological order.
Jackson's structure changes the tale from a pure quest to a war story. Each of the film's three main threads make the point that the war has started and that our heroes are in the thick of it.
Jackson and his co-writers added several events to the story, notably:
- In the movie, Faramir speaks of taking the Ring from Frodo, for the defense of Gondor; in the book, he denies having any such desire: not even if I found it by the side of a road, he repeats. According to Jackson, this does not work dramatically, as Faramir has no "character arc" (i.e. he does not change as a character from his first scene to his last). Jackson justifies this change as a means of making Faramir seem more of a rounded character.
- In the movie, Faramir takes Frodo, Sam and Gollum to the besieged city of Osgiliath, but subsequently lets them go. In the theatrical version it is not clear how Frodo and his companions get back from Osgiliath to Ithilien, but this is explained in the extended cut - they escape through the ruined city's sewers and so make their way out behind the enemy lines. (It is not explained why the Gondorians have made no military use of this apparent asset.)
- Aragorn says a prayer for Merry and Pippin at the pyre of orcs in Rohan. This is deeply jarring as Tolkien carefully avoided the creation of "gods" in his "sub-creation".
- An attack on the Rohirrim traveling to Helm's Deep by Orcs mounted on wargs results in Aragorn's near death; he is revived by a vision of Arwen in a dream sequence. Nothing like this is present in the book.
- Galadriel persuades Elrond (via long-distance telepathy) to send Elven archers to Helm's Deep. Interestingly, they appear nonetheless to be Elves of Lórien, one of whom (Haldir) we met previously in the Golden Wood. Jackson originally planned to have Arwen herself fighting at Helm's Deep and filmed some scenes along those lines, but abandoned that tack.
- Arwen has a vision of her future which is taken somewhat loosely from The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the books' Appendices.
- Elrond almost forcibly sends Arwen "to the West". Her final decision on the matter, and her reason for making it, is revealed in The Return of the King.
Two important events from Tolkien's The Two Towers did not make it into the film, but were held over for the next one:
- Gandalf and Saruman's confrontation at Isengard; this was originally intended to appear at the beginning of The Return of the King, but a late decision by Peter Jackson meant that this scene was not part of the theatrical version, though it has since been included in the extended cut.
- Sam and Frodo's encounter with the monstrous Shelob. (This is foreshadowed by Gollum's line: "We could let her do it!") Shelob's Lair did indeed feature prominently in the third film.
Three of the characters in the film are presented somewhat differently than their counterparts in the book:
- Faramir requires much more convincing to let Sam and Frodo continue on their quest; in the book he immediately recognizes the wisdom of permitting them to leave freely. He is shown as being a much more flawed character than in the book, but nonetheless one who is still capable of wisdom.
- Treebeard, chief among the Ents, is unaware of what is happening on the borders of his forest and has to be "tricked" into attacking Isengard. In the theatrical release he is not seen sending Huorns to Helm's Deep, but does so in the extended video version - see below.
- Continuing a trend from the first movie, Elrond (who doesn't appear in the book) is much more protective of Arwen and is almost antagonistic toward Aragorn, thus the Thingol portrayal and the stereotypical "father-daughter theme" are both apparent.
Awards and critical opinion
Academy Awards: Winner - Visual Effects, Sound Editing. Nominee - Best Picture, Best Art Direction - Set Decoration, Best Editing, and Best Sound.
American Film Institute: Digital Effects, Production Design, Movie of the Year
Apex Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Viggo Mortensen), Best Production Design, Best Original Song Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup
2003 Art Directors Guild: Best Production Design (Period or Fantasy feature Film)
Austrailian Film Awards: Best Foreign Film
British Academy Film Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Special Visual Effects, Orange Film of the Year (voted on by the public)
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Digital Acting Performance (Gollum)
Central Ohio Film Critics: Best Cinematography
Cinemarati Awards: Best Film, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Film Editing
Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics: Best Director (Peter Jackson)
Empire Awards: Best Picture
Golden Satellite Awards: Outstanding Motion Picture Ensemble, Best Visual Effects
Golden Trailer Awards: Best Action Trailer
Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hairstylist Guild Awards: Best Character Makeup, Best Character Hair Styling, Best Special Makeup Effects
Hugo (World Science Fiction Society): Award for Best Dramatic Presentation
International 3-D Awards (computer graphics industry): Best Feature Film VFX (Weta)
Kansas City Film Critics: Best Director
Las Vegas Film Critics: Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects
Phoenix Film Critics Awards  (http://www.moviecitynews.com/awards/phoenix_fca.htm): "Best Picture", "Best Ensemble Acting", "Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium", "Best Cinematography", "Best Production Design", "Best Visual Effects", and "Best Makeup" "Gollum's Song", the theme played during the end credits, won the award for "Best Original Song". The song was written by Howard Shore and sung by the Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini.
Rotten Tomatoes Awards: Best Film
Saturn Awards: Best Fantasy Film, Best Costume (Ngila Dickson), Best Supporting Actor (Andy Serkis)
Visual Effects Society Awards: Best Special Effects, Best Effects in Art Direction, Best Visual Effects in Photography, Best Models and Miniatures, Best Performance by an Actor in an Effects Film, Best Character Animation in a Live-Action Feature Film, Best Compositing and Visual Effects in an Effects-Driven Film
Followers of the Oscars predicted that the movie had a poor chance of winning Best Picture, because it received no other nominations in the major Oscar categories (Director, Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress and Screenplay). This proved to be true, though the film did win the Academy Award for Visual Effects. It was been speculated that the Academy was biding its time for the concluding film, Return of The King, to be released so that they could honour Peter Jackson for creating such a successful and acclaimed film trilogy. The third film was awarded 11 Oscars in 2004.
The theatrical edition of the movie was released on VHS and DVD on Tuesday, August 26, 2003. The DVD was a 2-disc set with extras on the second disc. This was intended to be a simultaneous worldwide release, but some British stores began selling the videos on Friday 22 because it was a Bank Holiday weekend, much to the ire of the film's UK distributor, which has threatened to withhold advance supplies of subsequent video releases.
An extended version of the movie including 44 minutes of additional material was released on video on Tuesday, November 18, 2003, with a total of 223 minutes (3 hours, 43 minutes). One of the additional scenes features Sean Bean and John Noble, who do not appear in the theatrical version, in a flashback in which brothers Boromir and Faramir are seen together with their father Denethor. This is available on VHS and on a 4-disc DVD set, with the movie on discs 1 and 2 including four audio commentaries by the crew and actors, and extensive bonus material on discs 3 and 4. There is also a "Special Edition" DVD package containing the 4-disc set, a sculpture of Gollum, a booklet about the process of designing Gollum for the movie and a short DVD documentary on the process of designing collectible scultures based on the movies' characters and artifacts.
In December, 2003 there were also limited back-to-back theatrical releases of the extended versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers followed by premieres of The Return of the King, in all nine hours and seventeen minutes long.