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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Adventure, Fantasy  |  17 December 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 1,121,425 users   Metascore: 94/100
Reviews: 3,146 user | 329 critic | 41 from Metacritic.com

Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.



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Top Rated Movies #9 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 150 wins & 101 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Noel Appleby ...
Elanor Gamgee (as Alexandra Astin)
Sadwyn Brophy ...
Richard Edge ...
Jason Fitch ...


While Frodo & Sam continue to approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, unaware of the path Gollum is leading them, the former Fellowship aid Rohan & Gondor in a great battle in the Pelennor Fields, Minas Tirith and the Black Gates as Sauron wages his last war against Middle-Earth. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

orc | epic | ring | battle | king | See All (255) »


There can be no triumph without loss. No victory without suffering. No freedom without sacrifice. See more »


Adventure | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 December 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Return of the King  »

Box Office


$94,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£15,021,761 (UK) (19 December 2003)


$377,019,252 (USA) (28 May 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Blu Ray Extended Edition) | (DVD Widescreen Edition) | (DVD Special Extended Edition)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the scene when Denethor attempts to burn Faramir on the pyre, the pyre could not truly be on fire because Gandalf's horse would not go near it. To solve this, the crew reflected a real fire onto a pane of glass in front of the camera so that it looks as though the pyre is burning. See more »


The Orc commander orders the archers to "fire" their arrows. This sense of the word originated when fire was used to ignite explosive weapons, e.g., to discharge artillery or firearm, and was extended later to discharge of any missile, e.g., arrow. See more »


[first lines]
Deagol: Smeagol, I've got one! I've got a fish, Smeag. Smeagol!
Smeagol: Pull it in. Go on. Go on. Go on. Pull it in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Concept sketches behind the credits show images of locations in the sequence they were seen in the film, ending on the rounded doors of the Shire. See more »


Featured in The Passing of an Age (2004) See more »


The Green Dragon
Music by David Donaldson, David Long, Steve Roche (as Stephen Roche), and Janet Roddick
Lyrics by Philippa Boyens
Performed by Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan
Courtesy of Mana Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Part 3: It's Not Really the Thought that Counts
30 November 2007 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

Just as Peter Jackson felt that LOTR had to be made as one large, three-part, cinematic piece, I decided to write my IMDb review of all three movies as a single, multi-part essay. Click on my screen-name and hit "Chronological" to view my reviews of the Fellowship and Two Towers. I make no guarantees about the quality and consistence of my review, but I do guarantee that these three films offer very high and very consistent quality from beginning to end. The acting, cinematography, art, and direction simply can not be beat.

Which of the three movies is my favorite varies with my mood – and the same holds true for Tolkien's books. When I am immersed in the story, ROTK is my favorite. When I simply want to have fun with the whole experience, I love Fellowship. And when I want something intense, evocative and thoughtful, I go for the Two Towers.

Frodo, Sam and Golem are on their way to Mount Doom and their bodies, nerves, and relationships have borne the greatest burden on middle earth. The rest of the fellowship is rallying to the defense of Minas Tirith, and preparing for even more deadly battles to come.

The heroism and romance are incredibly moving - when was the last time you saw an entire audience leaving a theater after a fantasy movie rubbing their eyes? The sets are breathtaking - even moreso than in the previous two films.

The casting and acting are superb.

The film delivers at every level and is the jewel in the trilogy's well-earned crown.

Return of the King offers a resolution of all of the major story arcs in LOTR. As with the classic Tolkien trilogy, however, you may be able to predict some of what will occur, but never all of it and you'll never guess how you will get there. The same fatalistic and paradoxically unpredictable feeling of Tolkien's grand plots is present throughout ROTK especially. The major theme in ROTK, however, is the varied ways and means of heroism – both intentional and unintended, and Tolkien's examination of sacrifice and heroism is as inspiring as it is subtle. Amazingly, it all comes through in the films.

Even more than the previous two films, Jackson and his writers took liberties with the story-line. Like the others, however, this serves the film better than simple adaptation from one medium to another. By reordering some of the chronology and adding scenes and plot devices which are consistent with Tolkien's world and characterizations, the film-makers actually do a better job of preserving the concepts and themes of the story than they could have with a pure adaptation. The lengthy epilogue in Tolkien's book is greatly reduced, reordered, and somewhat changed in order to work in the film. Some parts actually appear very early in ROTK. And some aspects of Tolkien's epilogue are disclosed in the Two Towers, though not directly depicted. But all of the really important components of the epilogue are, at least strongly implied if not well illustrated in ROTK.

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