Top 10: Middle Earth Moments

The three films that make up The Lord of the Rings trilogy are the best, most captivating, most impressive films I have ever seen. They are massively responsible for sparking my passion for film and are one of cinema’s greatest, ground-breaking accomplishments: Wonderful story, unique characters, love-able heroes, detestable villains, terrifying battle scenes, heart wrenching music, magnificent acting, 17 Academy Awards and a breathtaking New Zealand as Middle Earth. The trilogy is the closest to perfect I have had the pleasure to watch. With the last Hobbit film, The Battle of the Five Armies, bringing the Peter Jackson/Tolkien era to a close, I decided to do a Top 10 of my favourite moments from the 6 film franchise that is adored by myself and so many. Enjoy! (Spoilers warning!)

10. The Ents Attack Isengard– The Two Towers

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Not the most fierce or brave looking creatures, the Ents seem to be the most unlikely to join in with the fight. But secretly, they are courageous and spirited. The Ents storm Isengard with a vengeance, lead by Treebeard with Merry and Pippin on his branches, and leave their mark. The reason this is number 10, is because the rallying of the Ents shows that even the most odd, forgotten underdogs of Middle Earth will make a stand against evil. It’s quite metaphorical and heart warming.

9. Meeting the Dwarf Company – An Unexpected Journey

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When the first Hobbit film was released in 2012, Middle Earth lovers would have only met one dwarf so far: Gimli. However, The Hobbit is very much about the Dwarves and so An Unexpected Journey allowed you to meet all 13 of them.. All at once.. crammed into a Hobbit hole. An intimate experience indeed, I was intrigued to learn more and to visualise them on a big screen. And they were splendid! Lead by Thorin Oakenshield, they are a collective, but all 13 have their own quirks, colour, weapons and style of fighting. They are merry, funny, musical, proud and strong, and are brought to life by Peter Jackson and actors brilliantly. My favourites of the company include Thorin (the wonderful Richard Armitage), Balin (Ken Stott), Dwalin (Graham McTavish), Bofur (James Nesbitt) and Oin (John Callen).

8. Lighting the Beacons – The Return of the King

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This montage begins with the audience’s eyes opening to the fact Pippin isn’t just the foolish clown of the Fellowship, but actually a courageous little Hobbit. With stunning visuals, an uplifting, exciting soundtrack to accompany it and the fires lighting high in the mountains, low on the ground and in the dead of night, travelling across Middle Earth; what can I say? “Gondor calls for aid” and this scene deserves to be in here.

7. Gollum and Bilbo’s Riddles in the Dark – An Unexpected Journey

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The highlight from the first Hobbit film, without a doubt is this scene between our hero and protagonist Bilbo Baggins (the perfectly cast Martin Freeman) and our old friend from The Lord of the Rings, Gollum (Andy Serkis). Gollum is unpredictable, and Bilbo learns that quickly, humouring him with a game of riddles to wager for his life. Andy Serkis’ return is a welcome relief from the chaos that ensues in An Unexpected Journey and to watch Martin Freeman take a minute out of the madness to really sink his teeth in and act as Bilbo is a revelation.

6. Annie Lennox and Howard Shore’s Into the West – The Return of the King

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The soundtrack that accompanies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit combined is truly mesmerising, iconic and one of the best. Howard Shore is responsible for the music and for giving us an emotional breakdown come the end of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and particularly by this song. Into the West is sung and co-written by Annie Lennox, and it is beautiful and poignant. When the wonderfully crafted credits roll, marking the end to the trilogy, it is accompanied by Into the West. Just sit, listen, absorb the credits, music, the lyrics and the voice of Annie Lennox.

5. The Mines of Moria and the Balrog – The Fellowship of the Ring

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The moment in Balin’s tomb and Boromir (Sean Bean) makes the realisation “they have a cave troll”, the scenes in Moria get bigger, darker and more frightening. Moria gives you and the little Hobbits a glimmer of what they are up against on their journey, and gives the chance to see how the newly formed Fellowship adjust to each other and work as a team. As they flee from an unknown creature, the famous scene commences with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) standing on the bridge between the rest of the Fellowship and the now revealed huge, computer generated achievement, Balrog of Morgorth. Iconic and emotional, Gandalf shouts the famous line “you shall not pass” and breaks the bridge, before falling into the darkness with the Balrog. It’s memorable and upsetting, as the clearly respected and loved leader of their company is lost in able to protect the rest. It is the last of Gandalf the Grey, but who says he can’t steal another colour and come back to life eh? (Spoilers…)

4. Gollum vs. Smeagol Monologue – The Two Towers

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Andy Serkis not only acts but channels antagonist Gollum and Smeagol to life. Very much like Jekyll and Hyde, Gollum is the evil, ring obsessed side to Gollum’s former self, the innocent Smeagol (who is or was a Hobbit too). Often we witness both personalities battling each other. But there marks a moment in The Two Towers when we first fully discover this duel personality and this moment makes number 4 on my list. I believe Andy Serkis should have been Oscar nominated for Gollum/Smeagol as this scene is one of the best acted scenes in the entire 6 film franchise.

3. Smaug the Dragon – The Desolation of Smaug

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I’ll admit, I was disappointed by The Hobbit films. But, by far the stand out moment from the trilogy was Smaug the Dragon. It put my faith back into the films and showed me that Peter Jackson was still the master of magical creatures; he still knew how to treat an iconic moment and make it unforgettable on a cinema screen. Smaug is such an achievement! Majestically voiced by the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch (who also did motion capture movements for Smaug), Smaug is incredible and incredibly huge, nearly reaching the high ceilings of Erebor. The conversation between himself and Bilbo matched that from the book and had you on the edge of your seat. Real effort went in to perfecting him and Smaug indeed is given the best lines including the infamous: “I am fire. I am death.”

2. The Charge of the Rohirrim at Pelennor Fields – The Return of the King

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If I said the horn of Rohan during the Battle of Pelennor Fields to any The Lord of the Rings fanatic, I expect a gasp, a nod and maybe even a tear. Just kidding. As the Battle for Gondor, men and the city of Minas Tirith continues, the soldiers believe the fight is lost and they have been deserted by Rohan. However, when all of a sudden the horn of Rohan rings out, hope is not lost. Over the hill comes the army on horseback, the Rohirrim, lead by King Theoden (the brilliant Bernard Hill), who gives his best lines to date, his rousing speech that convinces even you at home to join the charge into the evil forces that ruthlessly seeks to destroy the world of men. Accompanied by Howard Shore’s, once again, marvellous soundtrack that crescendos throughout, the Battle of Pelennor Fields without fail sends a shiver down my spine and a tear to my eye. This is what cinema is all about.

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1. The Battle of Helms Deep – The Two Towers

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Peter Jackson is renowned and brilliant at filming and constructing battle sequences, it is indeed his forte, which is why my number 1 and 2 are both battle sequences. The Battle over Helms Deep beats Pelennor Fields to number 1 though because of its underdog story and because it’s breathtaking. Watching 10,000 armoured, tenacious, cruel Uruk-Hai storm the Hornburg and attack the men of Rohan defending it- and of course Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and the Elves too- is a defining memory and image that stays with you. The scenes you witness are violent, hostile and quite scary, and the narrative is gripping, told through the different battle waves: ladders, crossbows, higher ladders, battle ram and the explosion. From the first patter of rain on their armour to the final charge of the Rohirrim, this is one thrilling, epic battle that marks my favourite moment in the whole of the 6 films.

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What do you guys think? Did I miss out one of your favourites? Feel free to comment and let me know!

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