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

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 #8 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 174 wins & 113 nominations. See more awards »



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


The final confrontation between the forces of good and evil fighting for control of the future of Middle-earth. Hobbits Frodo and Sam reach Mordor in their quest to destroy the "one ring", while Aragorn leads the forces of good against Sauron's evil army at the stone city of Minas Tirith. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

orc | epic | ring | battle | middle earth | See All (263) »


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

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

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Billy Boyd's singing scene largely came about because Philippa Boyens went for a night out at a karaoke bar with the younger male cast members and she was very struck by the quality of his voice. Remembering that Denethor asks Pippin to sing him a song when Faramir heads off to war, she resurrected the lyrics from the novel and Boyd himself came up with the tune for it. See more »


When Gandalf and Pippin conclude their meeting with Denethor and leave, the bottom of Gandalf's robe clearly has been soaked in dirty water. Then the next shot of his robe from behind shows it to be clean. 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

Just like the two previous "Lord of the Rings" movies, there are no opening credits after the title has been shown. See more »


Spoofed in Saturday Night Live: Elijah Wood/Jet (2003) See more »


The Edge of Night
Music by Billy Boyd
Lyrics by J.R.R. Tolkien
Performed by Billy Boyd
Adapted by Philippa Boyens
Orchestration by Howard Shore
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Not only the best of the "Lord of the Rings" series, but sets a new standard of epic filmmaking.
16 December 2003 | by (Washington, D.C.) – See all my reviews

Saying that this film starts where `Two Towers' left off is somewhat misleading, for the film starts a great distance from the walls of Helm's Deep. `Return of the King' opens with a flashback of Smeagol (Andy Serkis) obtaining the one ring of power and an origin of his deterioration into the creature Gollum. This opening recaptures an emphasis that was somewhat lost within the epic battles of `Two Towers,' at that's the ring. The first installment, `The Fellowship of the Ring,' provided heaps of exposition on the ring's importance and influence, and in `Return of the King,' we see it pay off, big time.

After the armies of Isengard have been defeated due to an allegiance between Theoden (Bernard Hill), the king of Rohan, and the elves, the main threat to middle earth is now concentrated in the kingdom of Mordor, controlled by the dark lord Sauron. Sauron has turned his eye towards the realm of Gondor, the last free kingdom of men, and the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) must warn Denethor (John Noble), Steward of Gondor of the impending attack, while Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), heir to the throne of Gondor, and Theoden gather men to aid against the armies of Mordor. The dark lord Sauron needs only to regain the one ring of power to conquer all of middle earth, and two hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Wood) the ring-bearer and Sam (Sean Astin), must continue their journey, directed by Gollum, to Mount Doom, the only place where the ring can be destroyed. Got all that? If not, you need to bone up on your `Lord of the Rings' before expecting to follow this film.

Since all three epics were filmed simultaneously, each individually has the feel of being part of a larger picture - except for this one. `The Return of the King' is just too big, the most epic of a set of epic films. Now that director Peter Jackson has brilliantly constructed the characters and plotlines throughout the first two films, he puts them to use.

All of the characters have their best moments within this film. The pair of mischievous hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), are no longer the tree ornaments they were from `Two Towers,' but are split-up, and take their characters in completely new directions. Aragorn, played with an unmatched sense of honor by Viggo Mortenson, is about to meet his destiny as the future king of all men, while Andy Serkis continues his expert portrayal of Gollum (Serkis' provided not only the voice of Gollum, but also assisted during production by acting out the scenes of the computer-generated character with his fellow actors).

However, the real acting triumph of the film is Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins. He continues his descent into corruption with an incredible talent that many could not pull off. Wood's performance is so critical to the film because it determines the ring's power to corrupt, which, needless to say, is absolute.

The first two films established Jackson as an incredible visionary, shooting vast landscapes from his native New Zealand. With `Return of the King,' Jackson really gets a chance to show off. With, hands down, the most beautiful visuals of the trilogy, Jackson makes `Return of the King' a gorgeous feast for the eyes, while never resorting to McG level over-the-topness. Jackson stays very grounded in his characters, not letting the effects tell the story, but only assist the wonderful dialogue and characters. Think of `Return' as a mix of `Fellowship' and `Two Towers,' with enough action and character development worthy of ending a film event of this magnitude.

The bottom line, fans of the films will not be disappointed. Hardcore Tolkien lovers might be upset by plot changes and interpretations made by Jackson and the other writers, however, it is unrealistic to expect a completely true adaptation of the novels, being that film is an entirely different medium. Despite the alterations, Jackson consistently stays true to the major themes and ideas from the original text, while adding some of the finest filmmaking ever put to screen. `The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' is one of the most finely tuned and cinematically perfect films ever made. Not only the best of the trilogy, but a crowning achievement in epic filmmaking.

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I get the popularity among viewers, but among critics? antilect
Besides Frodo, a complete snoozefest Blf1523
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