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National Geographic: Beyond the Movie - The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

Join National Geographic for a compelling exploration of the realworld parallels to the events and characters brought to life in the epic motion picture The Lord of the Rings: The Return of... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Rhys-Davies ... Himself, also narrator
Elijah Wood ... Himself
Hugo Weaving ... Himself
Peter Jackson ... Himself
Ian McKellen ... Himself
Jock Ferguson Jock Ferguson ... Himself - William Wallce Re-enactor
Fiona Watson Fiona Watson ... Herself - Scottish Historian
Michael Drout Michael Drout ... Himself - Tolkien Expert
Susan Doran Susan Doran ... Herself - Oxford University (as Dr. Susan Doran)
David Loades David Loades ... Himself - Author, 'Elizabeth I'
Theodore Roosevelt ... Himself (archive footage)
Tweed Roosevelt Tweed Roosevelt ... Himself - Theodore Roosevelt's Great-Grandson
Michael Zuckerman Michael Zuckerman ... Himself - Benjamin Franklin Expert
Christopher Lee ... Himself
Tsar Nicholas II ... Himself (archive footage)


Join National Geographic for a compelling exploration of the realworld parallels to the events and characters brought to life in the epic motion picture The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Discover the legacy of history's "reluctant heroes" and their striking resemblance to the film's characters. Compare the roles of "wise counselors" like Gandalf, and powerful friendships like that of Frodo and Sam, to their historic counterparts. Thrilling film footage illustrates how historychanging events are reflected in the film's story of courage and camaraderie triumphing over impossible odds. Insights from leading historians, field experts and members of the filmmaking team make this a musthave addition to every Lord of the Rings collection!

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Official Sites:

National Geographic





Release Date:

12 December 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Elokuva ja enemmän See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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References The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Fine Documentary
14 July 2008 | by melissaaaron-1See all my reviews

Must agree with "Yeoman's" review. . . . National Geographic offers a more scholarly overview of Tolkien's trilogy and the already classic films inspired by the texts.

I wouldn't go so far to say that this documentary is 'for adults,' because doing so grossly underestimates the intellectual capacities of 21st century reading, film-watching, and video-game interactive youths. There is a vast difference between what youths born in the late 20th century and early 21st century are capable of comprehending in contrast to what mid-20th century or older adults are more likely to pay attention to. Our exposure to mass media in our earliest ages of development are extraordinarily different! For instance, a typical US urban public school educated 8yo can have one go at a "Lord of the Rings" video game without noticeable difficulty. Whereas, a comparable middle-age adult might not even be interested in the game, let alone be even moderately capable of maneuvering through it without considerable lack of speed. (I realize there are exceptions because some middle-age adults are quite focused upon involvement with operating computers and playing video games).

However, I do agree with "Yeoman's" assessment that appreciating this documentary requires a sophisticated intellect. What I differ upon is that age upon which acquires it. Regardless, for an intellectual or perhaps even academic approach to "Lord of the Rings," this documentary does a fine job. It's well work watching more than once.

(As an aside: I wish the public would recognize how Sir Ian McKellen's presence in the films and games have contributed the degree of acting and vocal acumen to the entire body of work. It's difficult to imagine another Gandalf who could be more convincing. Why is it that some of the world's most beloved characters and films have been taken for granted as if they were not an actor's body of work? For instance, Gregory Peck who went without a single Oscar).

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