It was tough, but for the site’s first collaborative article we worked with @LifeAtBagEnd to come up with our Top 10 moments from the critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy!
Who knew that it could be so difficult narrowing down one of the best trilogy’s in film history into its Top 10 best scenes? It was something that @LifeAtBagEnd and I found out the hard way as we worked together over the past few days to put together our list.
Before getting into the Top 10, I want to highlight some honorable mentions which just didn’t quite make the cut. If we ever go back and do a Top 20, or Top 10 specific to each movie then you’ll be sure to see the following making it in there.
- The Ringwraiths chase Arwen
- Gollum falls into Mt. Doom and the One Ring is destroyed
- Sam fights Shelob to save Frodo
- “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you”
- Gandalf explains Valinor to Pippin during the siege of Minas Tirith
The quality of the scenes that missed out is quite scary and says a lot about the scenes that did make it into the Top 10. But given the overall quality of the series it shouldn’t be surprising that there was such a plethora of great moments and scenes from which to choose.
So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 Scenes from the Lords of the Rings trilogy as chosen by @WeAreNiche and @LifeAtBagEnd…
Number 10: Weathertop, The Fellowship of the Ring
A personal favourite of @LifeAtBagEnd, the skirmish on top of Weathertop was a standout of the first film. Keeping in tone with the first 3rd of Fellowship of the Ring the scene was one of dread and helplessness.
From the opening comedic shots of the Hobbits around the fireplace, quickly transitioning into the shrill scream of a Ringwraith out in the distance and finally the fast paced action as we see for the first time what Aragorn is capable of as he battles 5 wraiths alone.
The scene blends together perfectly and Peter Jackson’s direction is of top quality here.
Number 9: Boromir’s Death, Fellowship of the Ring
Another worthy highlight from the first film in the trilogy.
The Captain of Gondor; the man who’s character arc dominates the last two thirds of the Fellowship of the Ring. From the moment he stands and says his piece during the Council of Elrond, with the gentle tones of Gondor’s theme playing in the background, to his passing in the final throws of the movie, Boromir’s journey is about protecting his people at whatever the cost.
Ultimately, whilst it seems as though he about to fully fall to the corruption and power of the One Ring, Boromir holds true to his principles and his love for his people by protecting Merry and Pippin with his life. Before then metaphorically passing on the torch of Gondor to the rightful heir, Aragorn.
A touching and beautiful moment that serves as a perfect conclusion to the fast paced and violent action that precedes it.
Number 8: Ride out and meet them, The Two Towers
It’s an easy argument to make that the entirety of the Battle of Helms Deep could make anyone’s Top 10 list. But with us wanting to keep this list limited to specific scenes, we decided on the final moments of the battle.
In perfectly balanced on-screen tension, our protagonists are cornered, the battle has been lost and everything appears to be a door-width away from failure. But then, for each their own reasons, the remaining men guarding Helms Deep, decide to ride out and meet the enemy head on. To buy the women and children time to escape and to die in a blaze of glory.
This would be a fitting end for any hero. But Gandalf had other plans, as Aragorn had predicted as he recalled his last words to him before he departed. Flanked by Eomer and his Rohirrim, Gandalf charges the lines of Uruk-Hai in a dazzle of light and before long the greatest on-screen battle has been won.
Number 7: Aragorn’s Crowning, Return of the King
Many consider the Lord of the Rings trilogy to be split into two core story paths. The first follows Frodo and Sam on their journey to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. The second, and the grander in scale of the two, is the rest of the Fellowship fighting to save each other and Middle Earth. This scene is the culmination of that second arc.
At long last the heir of Gondor has been found, he (Alongside others) have won the war against Mordor and an Age of peace has begun. Aragorn takes his place as the King of Gondor, he finds that he still has Arwen by his side and to the backdrop of a heartwarming song by Viggo Mortensen the scene ends as the King bows to the most unlikely of creatures… the Hobbits.
It is equal parts moving as it is poignant.
“Now come the days of the king. May they be blessed”
Number 6: Frodo’s Goodbye, Return of the King
Turns out that @LifeAtBagEnd and I are suckers for an emotional moment. Our sixth best scene in our list comes directly after our seventh, and it’s Frodo’s goodbye to Sam, Merry and Pippin on the shores of the Grey Havens.
Think what you will about the 3 faux-endings to the Return of the King, but you can’t deny that it earns them. For me personally, this scene is the most gratifying of all the arguable “endings” that Return of the King has. Frodo accepting that he has outgrown the Shire, and in fact all of Middle Earth is crucial character moment for him that truly brings his arc full circle. From the young Hobbit who enjoyed the life that the Shire had to offer, but longed for more, to the person he becomes at the end of the trilogy is how a character arc should be done.
Not to mention the emotional weight that is placed on this scene. All the actors play their role perfectly, and seeing Frodo and Bilbo set sail into the great unknown is a tear-jerking scene no matter how boldly you fight off the tears.
Number 5: Charge of the Rohirrim, The Return of the King
Echoing a scene from earlier in our list, the charge of the Rohirrim at the battle of Minas Tirith is a perfect blend of character development, outstanding directing, beautiful music and the significant importance of the moment.
The charge itself, as the army of Rohan rushes to the aid of Gondor is crucial to both the story and Middle Earth as a whole. Lose the battle here and the armies of Mordor would have free reign over much of the lands of Men, Dwarves and Elves alike. Win, however, and Sauron’s armies would be dealt a significant defeat. Despite this, it is the characters involved who turn this scene from a good one, to a great one.
Eowyn finally achieving her goal of being able to fight, not for glory but to protect those she cares about. Merry, fighting for his friends, for the Shire and most importantly for Pippin who he knows is trapped at Minas Tirith. And Theoden, the bitter King who has put aside his differences with Gondor to come to their aid when they needed it most.
It’s the perfect combination of storytelling and action set piece.
Number 4: The lighting of the Beacons, The Return of the King
Perhaps the most visually beautiful of all the scenes in this list.
No characters needed, no dialogue, this is simply outstanding cinematography. It’s a testament to Peter Jackson’s direction across the entire trilogy that a scene which is entirely music and visuals can make it so high into the Top 10 list.
If you wanted to you can add on the conclusion of Aragorn bringing the message to Theoden at the end of this scene also, then you can push this scene even higher. But for our purpose we’re going to focus on the beauty of the SOS being sent from the high walls of Minas Tirith through the mountains all the way to Theoden’s halls in Rohan.
Number 3: Sam’s Speech, The Two Towers
The climax of The Two Towers presents a moment of crisis for all our heroes. For Sam and Frodo this climax doesn’t come in the shape of a large scale battle that they must overcome (Although they are around one), it instead comes from the question of “Why are we doing this?”.
As Frodo is lured ever closer to the dark power of the Ring, as the armies of Mordor close in around Gondor and as the corruption of men rests on a pivot, Sam delivers his most impactful moment of the series. A powerful speech to Frodo that explains why they’re fighting, why they’re carrying on to Mordor and what it means for them as people.
It’s wonderfully cut together over the final moments of the battle at Helms Deep, and the reactions of characters around Sam show off some of Peter Jackson’s best work as a director.
“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
Number 2: “I am no man”, The Return of the King
Earlier on we mentioned both character arcs and more specifically Eowyn’s goal of being able to fight for those she cares about. This is the culmination of that arc and it’s amazing.
Finally standing up on her own and facing off against the most threatening antagonist on the battlefield, Eowyn shows that she is more than worthy of her place among her men. Before removing her helmet, declaring that she is no man and plunging her sword into the face of that which no man can kill.
It’s a powerful moment than is as important in today’s society as it was at the time it was written, and will likely be important for many years to come.
Well done Eowyn, you kicked ass.
Number 1: “You cannot pass”, The Fellowship of the Ring
It had to be this didn’t it?
The epic climax (HOW DOES THIS ONLY TAKE PLACE 2/3 OF THE WAY THROUGH FELLOWSHIP?!) to Gandalf’s story in The Fellowship of the Ring. Facing down with a demon from a forgotten time, Gandalf holds the line across the Bridge of Khazad Dum whilst the rest of the Fellowship make for the escape.
It’s possibly the most mimicked and talked about scene among the general public from the entire trilogy. It’s a scene that encapsulates the “epic” nature of Lord of the Rings perfectly, but more than that it actually offers up an element of surprise and emotion.
If you go into watching Lord of the Rings blind, without having read the books first (As I did as a young child), then Gandalf being dragged down off the Bridge by the Balrog is perhaps the most surprising thing you will witness on a film screen (Okay maybe not but my point still stands).
As Gandalf offers his final warning of “Fly you fools” before being ripped from the Bridge and as the beautiful score by Howard Shore swells in the background, you realise that the film has managed to punch you in the gut and pull the rug out from under you at the same time. Watching the Fellowship react as they lose their leader and their friend is heartbreaking, but seeing Aragorn, Boromir and Legolas step up to protect the more vulnerable Hobbits is as equally heartwarming.
It’s the perfect scene to top of an incredibly impressive Top 10 scenes from Lord of the Rings.
So there we have it! The Top Ten Scenes from Lord of the Rings as chosen by myself and @LifeAtBagEnd! Let us know what your top ten scenes would be, and whether or not you agree with our list. Then be sure to go over to @LifeAtBagEnd if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan and be sure to give her a follow, she puts out some great Lord of the Rings content.