The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the second film in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, directed by Peter 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 book's events are held over to the third movie, The Return of the King. The film was very well received critically, winning two Academy Awards, and was an enormous box-office success, making over $926 million worldwide. It was the second Middle-earth film adaptation to be released, and the fifth chronologically.
In the Mines of Moria, the wizard Gandalf the Grey battles the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dum in an attempt to allow the Fellowship of the Ring to escape. Gandalf casts the Balrog into the chasm below, but the demon pulls him down with it; the Fellowship believes he is dead, but he continues to fight the creature as they fall down into a huge lake in the depths of the Earth. Days later, the Hobbit Frodo Baggins continues his journey with his loyal friend, Sam, through the hills of Emyn Muil. One night, the creature Gollum wishing to retrieve “his precious” attacks them. The Hobbits capture him, but Frodo understands the burden of the ring and takes pity on the creature. Realizing they are in need of a guide, Frodo persuades Gollum to lead them to the Black Gate of Mordor. In Rohan, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are in pursuit of the Uruk-hai, who are on their journey back to Isengard with hobbits Merry and Pippin as captives. Meanwhile, King Théoden, the king of Rohan, is being put in a trance by his steward, Gríma Wormtongue, who is secretly in the service of Saruman. Orcs and Wild Men of Dunland, incited by Saruman, are freely roaming the land, burning villages, massacring the people and destroying crops. (In an attack on one of the villages, a mother sends her two children on horseback to Edoras to warn the King.) Recently, the King's only son Théodred fell victim to them, left mortally wounded in an ambush. Théoden's nephew Éomer interrogates Gríma, labelling him a spy: however, Gríma banishes Éomer, "on pain of death", for undermining his authority, and Éomer sets forth to gather the remaining loyal men of the Rohirrim and leave Rohan. That night, Éomer's army ambush and kill all of the Uruk-hai, thus allowing the two hobbits to flee into the forests of Fangorn. There, Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard, the oldest of the Ents of Middle-Earth.
Frodo, Sam and Gollum traverse the Dead Marshes, evading a Nazgûl riding on a Fell beast. When they finally reach the Black Gate, they find it shut and heavily guarded by Orcs. However, as they watch, an Easterling contingent arrives and the gate opens for them to enter. Sensing a chance, Frodo and Sam make ready to move. However, Gollum, who confirms their fears of capture and insists that any attempt to get in via the Black Gate will only end with the One Ring returning to Sauron, holds them back. He then reveals that there is another way into Mordor, hidden and unguarded. Sam is immediately suspicious, but Frodo gives him the benefit of the doubt, pointing out that he has remained loyal thus far.
Éomer later encounters Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in Rohan, who tells the group that there were no survivors of the battle the previous night, indicating that the hobbits were accidentally slain. Upon arriving at the battle site, Aragorn picks up the tracks of the hobbits and the trio follows them into Fangorn. There they are approached and temporarily subdued by a wizard masked with shining white light. Initially fearing it is Saruman, the group are amazed when he reveals himself to be Gandalf reborn (after defeating the Balrog in a battle that cost him his life), now known as Gandalf the White. The quartet proceed to Edoras, where they exorcise Saruman's hold on Théoden and banish Wormtongue. The now awakened Théoden has to come to terms with both his son's death and the threat of Saruman. Rather than risk open war and further harm to his people (especially after seeing the two exhausted children who finally arrived from the village), Théoden decides to flee to Helm's Deep, a large stronghold in the Mountains. Gandalf realises that Helm's Deep's defences will not survive the Uruk-Hai onslaught that is surely to come. He leaves to find Éomer, promising to return within five days with the 2,000 banished riders. As they lead the people of Edoras to Helm's Deep, Aragorn and Éowyn, Éomer's sister, form a close relationship. Aragorn tells Éowyn that Arwen, whom he loves, is leaving Middle-Earth to be with her people in the Undying Lands. In the meantime, Wormtongue has fled to Orthanc and informs Saruman of a weakness in the outer wall of Helm's Deep, which Saruman and his army of 10,000 Uruk-hai plans to exploit. Saruman dispatches his army to Helm's Deep, ordering them to spare no one.
The 10,000 strong Uruk-hai besiege Helm's Deep.
Having led the Hobbits south from the Black Gate to the land of Ithilien, Gollum is in turmoil, torn between his loyalty to Frodo and his all-consuming need for the ring. The three travellers then play witness to an ambush of Southrons by Rangers of Ithilien, who take Frodo and Sam prisoner. Meanwhile, on the journey to Helm's Deep, the Rohirrim are attacked by Saruman's Warg riders. During the battle, Aragorn is thrown off a cliff into a fast-flowing river below: Theoden, Legolas, Gimli and the others believe him dead and journey on to Helm's Deep. Elrond comes to his daughter Arwen and implores her to leave on the ships departing Middle-Earth, escaping the troubles of these lands. When she refuses, Elrond, in a devastating speech, uses his powers of foresight and slowly tells her future if she chooses to remain in Middle-Earth with Aragorn. As he is mortal, even if he succeeds in defeating Sauron and becomes King of Gondor, Aragorn will die eventually and Arwen will be left to fade away with her grief when he is gone. Once again, Elrond pleads with her and she yields to him. As she leaves Rivendell, the words of Galadriel, concerning the plight of Men to defy Sauron, come to Elrond in that moment. She questions whether the Elves should wash their hands of Middle-Earth and points out that the Ring has manoeuvred itself into the company of Men, which it can easily corrupt. Galadriel asks if they should abandon Men to their fate, even if it condemns Middle-Earth to fall under Sauron's rule for all time.
Surely enough, Frodo and Sam have been taken to Henneth Annun, a stronghold for the Men of Ithilien, and brought before Faramir, the younger brother of Boromir. Gollum had eluded capture and, in order to save him from death at the hands of Faramir's hunters, Frodo accepts that he and Gollum are bound to each other. Faramir investigates further and learns of the One Ring that Frodo carries. Seeking to prove his worth to his father, Denethor, he decides the Ring shall go to Gondor. In Rohan, Aragorn washes up on the riverbank and is nudged awake by the horse Brego, which formerly belonged to Théodred, and which Aragorn had set free before leaving Edoras. On the verge of collapse, he wills his horse to take him to Helm's Deep, passing Saruman's army of Uruk-hai on the way. His arrival at Helm's Deep is met with relief, but is short lived as the news of the strength of the approaching horde casts doubt upon the likely survival of the defenders. As night falls, a battalion of Elves led by Haldir arrives from Lórien, bearing word of alliance and aid from Elrond. In Fangorn forest, Merry, Pippin, Treebeard and other Ents hold a council to decide on the role of the Ents in the war with Saruman.
The battle of Helm's Deep begins with a flurry of arrows from the defending archers, cutting down dozens of Uruk-hai. Scaling ladders are thrown up against the Deeping Wall and the Uruks swarm up to engage the defenders. At first the onslaught is stayed by the valour of the Rohirrim and of Aragorn and his companions. Suddenly, two crude explosive devices that Saruman created, allowing the Uruks entry into the outer defences, blow up the gutter in the Deeping Wall. Despite Aragorn and Gimli's best efforts, the Uruk-hai manages to penetrate the main gate and soon the stronghold is overrun. In the midst of battle, Haldir is slain and the few remaining Elves fall back. In the Hornburg however, the Uruks have scaled the walls and have breached the gate, forcing the defenders to retreat into the Keep. In Fangorn, Treebeard and the other Ents have decided to not have any involvement in the war, deciding rather to "weather such things as [they] have always done". Despite this, Pippin manages to cleverly take Treebeard to the section of Fangorn Saruman has recently decimated near Isengard. Treebeard is filled with rage at Saruman's betrayal and commands all the other Ents to seek vengeance. The Ents gather and embark upon 'the Last March of the Ents', straight into Isengard itself.
Meanwhile, as Théoden despairs in the besieged Keep, Aragorn refuses to give in and, remembering Gandalf's words before he left Edoras, he takes Théoden, Legolas and the remaining Rohirrim on one last gallant ride to attack the Uruk-hai army in a desperate bid to allow the Rohirrim's women and children to escape into the mountains. The riders storm out of the Keep and cut their way through to the fortress gate. As the riders emerge into the mass of Uruks, the first rays of dawn fall down into the valley and upon the eastern hill, Gandalf appears, accompanied by Éomer and his men. They rush down into the body of the stunned Uruks and rout them: the terrified Uruk-Hai flee into Fangorn, where the Ents and their Huorn allies swiftly exact retribution. Meanwhile, at Isengard the Ents are taking control. They destroy the remaining Uruk-hai population and release the dam placed upon the river Isen, which gushes forth into the plains around Orthanc, drowning the surviving Orc defenders, quenching the fires of its industry and flooding Isengard, and stranding Saruman in his tower.
Away in the East, Faramir has had the hobbits bound and taken to Osgiliath, a ruined city on the banks of the river Anduin between Mordor and Gondor. There a small battle ensues with the Orcs of Mordor, who are led by a Ringwraith again, on a Fell beast. With the help of Sam and Faramir, Frodo narrowly escapes the Ringwraith's efforts to capture him and the Ring (it nearly cost Sam his life because the Ring tried to make Frodo kill him). In an inspired monologue as he watches the Ringwraith fly off, (and as victory scenes from the two battles are seen) Sam reflects on the state he and Frodo are in, on how their story may yet come to have a happy ending, even when so much bad had happened. Frodo is doubtful of this, (especially because he nearly killed Sam) but Sam insists that they must still hold on to what they are fighting for each other and the fulfillment of their quest. Approaching them from the throes of battle, Faramir overhears them and realises these unassuming hobbits have a high doom before them which he can no longer hope to interrupt. He sets them free and helps them on their way. Gandalf and the others now know that things have been set in motion that cannot be undone or avoided. Sauron will surely seek retribution for the defeat of his puppet Saruman and strike at Men again, only stronger and with greater fury: as Gandalf puts it "The battle for Helm's Deep is over. The battle for Middle-earth is about to begin". He remarks that hope now rests with Frodo and Sam, who have resumed their journey to Mordor with Gollum. Feeling betrayed by Frodo when he delivered him into the hands of Faramir's men, Gollum's darker self re-emerges and he decides to reclaim the ring by secretly leading Frodo and Sam to a creature he refers to only as her, which Gollum's lighter self reluctantly agrees to and leads the hobbits on through the woods as Mordor is seen in the distance.
In addition to many characters returning from the first film, The Two Towers featured Éowyn, a noble lady of Rohan who yearns to be a warrior; Éomer, a stalwart Marshal of Rohan and brother to Éowyn; Théoden, troubled king and uncle of Éowyn and Éomer; and his treacherous counsellor, Gríma Wormtongue. The actors were supplemented by a number of special effects creatures including treelike Ents, the pterodactyl-like flying steeds of the Nazgûl and Gollum, widely acclaimed as the best fully realized CGI character in a live-action film. His movements and facial expressions were modelled on the actor who provided his voice, Andy Serkis. Only glimpsed in the first film, Gollum here becomes a pivotal character with the potential to change the fate of the story; he wrestles with inner demons and becomes a source of friction in Sam and Frodo's previously unshakeable friendship.
in New Zealand
in New Zealand
|Plains of Rohan||Greenstone Station||Kinloch|
|Rohan||Poolburn Lake||Maniototo Plain|
|Edoras||Mount Sunday||Rangitata Valley|
|Dead Marshes||Kepler Mire||Te Anau|
|The Black Gate||Rangipo Desert||Lake Taupo|
|Helm's Deep||Hayward's Hill||Lower Hutt|
Differences from the Book
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 defence of Gondor; in the book, he denies having any such desire: Not if I found it on the highway would I take it, 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 book, Faramir does not take them further than the forbidden pool. 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.
- An attack on the Rohirrim travelling 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. According to the screenplay writers, this was to give Arwen more prominence, being the love interest of Aragorn.
- The Knights of Dol Amroth are not present in the movie as they were in The Return of the King novel.
- 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. It is still possible to pick her out in the battle, as some footage was used in the Extended Edition. This addition might have been inspired by a single line spoken in passing by Legolas, when he was waiting for the coming forces of Saruman at the walls of Helm's Deep: he wished that he could have had a hundred Elven archers with him to strengthen the defence.
- 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.
- Gandalf's final fight with the Balrog is shown.
- Like the previous film, Saruman's role is expanded into the main antagonst of this film. However, a notable difference is that Saruman is loyal to Sauron, whereas in the book Saruman sought the One Ring for himself so that he could become the Lord of the Rings.
- In the books, Theoden's weakened state is due to the words of Wormtongue. In the film however, Theoden is literally possessed by Saruman, meaning Gandalf has to take far more drastic action. Gandalf forcibly exorcises Saruman from Theoden using a magical attack, an act which causes physical injury to Saruman.
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, although this is foreshadowed by Gollum's line ('we could let her do it'). Shelob's lair did indeed feature prominently in the third film. The film makers rationale for leaving this out was that it happened later than the other events shown in The Two Towers: Frodo is captured by the orcs of Cirith Ungol on March 13 at the end of The Two Towers, while the Rohan army had reached Isengard a week before on March 5, and the events of The Return of the King started with Gandalf and Pippin reaching Minas Tirith on March 9.
Five 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. On the DVD commentary, Philippa Boyens states that to include the character of Faramir exactly as he appeared in the book would have dealt irrevocable damage to the character of the Ring. In essence, his immediate rejection of it would dismiss the idea that it is alluring (and thus, dangerous) to all. A similar example of this can be seen in the third film where, as opposed to the version of events portrayed in the book where he quickly dismisses any idea of keeping the ring, Sam hesitates to return it to Frodo in Mordor. It should also be noted that the extended edition of The Two Towers establishes Faramir's desperate wish to please his father and show his quality as well as Denethor's desire for the ring to come to Gondor.
- Éowyn in the book has a very limited role; in the movie, she has a larger role, with a kinder, more cheerful character.
- Also, Faramir and Eowyn do fall in love in the Two Towers Film, but in J.R.R. Tolkien's original book they actually kiss at the Houses of Healing and Faramir pledges his love for her and asks her for her hand in marriage.
- Treebeard, chief among the Ents, is unaware of the extent 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 "father-daughter theme" are both apparent.
- King Théoden's reaction upon learning of Gríma's treachery differs greatly from the novel: in the book, he offers Wormtongue a chance to redeem himself by riding to war with the Rohirrim, whereas in the film, a dazed Théoden tries to personally execute the traitor. Having achieved victory at Helm's Deep, in the third film Théoden offers Gríma the chance to return to him when they meet at Isengard.
Théoden's attitude towards the coming conflict is also presented differently in Jackson's film: in the book, Théoden chooses to ride to war, and only goes to Helm's Deep in order to assist Erkenbrand's forces, which had been dealt a defeat by Saruman's armies. In the film, he opts to avoid open confrontation, and treats Helm's Deep as a shelter for the civilian population of Rohan. Only the ensuing orc siege forces him into battle. The King's sense of self-doubt is greatly magnified in the film, in order to provide him with a character arc, as was done with Faramir.
- Main article: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Soundtrack)
Awards and Nominations
- Academy Awards
- 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 Make-up
- 2003 Art Directors Guild: Best Production Design (Period or Fantasy feature Film)
- Australian 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 Award (World Science Fiction Society): Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form
- 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 Society|Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards: "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. This proved to be true, though the film did win the Academy Award for Visual Effects. It was speculated that the Academy was biding its time for the concluding film, The 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 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 45 minutes additional material was released on DVD on November 18, 2003 with a total of 222 minutes (3 hours, 40 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 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.
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, 10 hours and 30 minutes long in total.
- Though Jackson's trilogy refrains from delving too deeply into the religious aspects of Tolkien's Middle-earth, when Aragorn addresses the Elven warriors at Helm's Deep in Elvish, he refers to them as Eruchín. This means, "Children of Eru," with "Eru" being the creator of Middle-earth and counterpart of the Christian God in our own world. Thus, the phrase essentially means, "Children of God." It should be noted that whilst Tolkien clearly established the existence of Eru in his Middle-Earth, the being is not mentioned by name in either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. There is also a line of dialogue from Arwen "May the grace of the Valar protect you". This is a direct reference to the angelic beings known as the Valar, who reside in the west over the sea.
- A rumor released on the internet prior to the film's release said that the movie was to be called "The Twin Towers", but changed to avoid controversy surrounding the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001. The same rumor stated that the book was originally called "The Twin Towers" as well.
- Eomer's sword falls out after giving the horses to Aragorn and co.
- At one point Pippin's hands are untied before being apparently trampled, but a few seconds later are shown to be tied as he is uncutting them on an orc axe.
- In the extended edition Aragorn tells Eowyn he is 87 as they are on the way to Helm's Deep, but according to the appendices he had his 88th birthday the day that the three met Gandalf the White and they set out for Edoras,.
VHS and DVD
The Two Towers was released on VHS and DVD in August 2003 in the United States. The date was originally intended to be a simultaneous worldwide release, but due to a Bank holiday weekend in the United Kingdom, some British stores began selling DVDs as much as four days earlier, much to the ire of the film's U.K. distributor, which had threatened to withhold advance supplies of subsequent DVD releases.
As with The Fellowship of the Ring, an extended edition of The Two Towers was released on VHS and DVD in November 2003 with 45 minutes of new material, added special effects and music, plus 11 minutes of fan-club credits. The runtime expanded to 223 minutes. The 4-disc DVD set included four commentaries along with hours of supplementary material.
In August 2006, a limited edition of The Two Towers was released on DVD. The set included both the film's theatrical and extended editions on a double-sided disc along with all-new bonus material.
The theatrical Blu-ray version of The Lord of the Rings was released in the United States in April 2010. The individual Blu-ray disc of The Two Towers was released in September 2010 with the same special features as the complete trilogy release, except there was no digital copy.
The extended editions for Blu-ray were released in the U.S. and Canada in June 2011. This version has a runtime of 235 minutes.