‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
‘The Passing Of An Age’
This is a fitting conclusion to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ radio series that I’ve enjoyed immensely.
It wouldn’t do having listened to ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and ‘The Two Towers’ to complete this radio trilogy with ‘The Return of the King’. It was before Christmas, 2004 that I purchased this third CD volume. It’s not great as ‘Fellowship’ and ‘Two Towers’, but it has a lovely bonus music disc.
The cast have excelled themselves including Ian Holm as Frodo with Michael Horden as Gandalf, Robert Stephens as Aragorn, John Le Mesurier as Bilbo Baggins, Peter Woodthorpe as Gollum, Bill Nighy as Sam, Jack May as King Théoden of Rohan and Peter Vaughn as Denethor of Gondor.
This is a four-disc CD set (the story on Discs 1-3 and the music on Disc 4). Inside there is a sleeve notes booklet containing the cast list; track listings; a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien and a listing of all the songs contained on Disc 4. The track listings with time durations are as follows.
1. PROLOGUE (5m 24s)
The first disc of ‘ROTK’ opens the same way as ‘Two Towers’ opened with a male choir singing ‘The Road Goes Ever On’. It then cut to Frodo in Bag-End after the events of ‘LOTR’.
2. GALADRIEL’S STAR-GLASS (2m 40s)
The story follows on from where ‘Two Towers’ ended with Sam upset about Frodo being captured by Orcs. He figures out how he’s got to get Frodo out of Cirith Ungol and resists using the ring.
Sam makes a run for it to enter the tower and uses Galadriel’s star-glass to get in.
3. DENETHOR WAITS AND WATCHES (5m 42s)
In Gondor, Denethor waits and watches for news of the siege of Gondor with Pippin at his side. Gandalf then turns up with news of Faramir’s failure at Osgiliath and that the Witch-King is coming.
As Gandalf tells his news about Gondor’s defences, Faramir returns wounded and sick.
4. THE TOWER OF CIRITH UNGOL (12m 07s)
Back with Sam, he arrives in the Tower of Cirith Ungol to find all but two Orcs dead. Sam doesn’t know how to find Frodo until he sings a song to let him know he here.
Sam finds Frodo and both eventually walk into Mordor wearing Orc armour.
5. THE GATE OF GONDOR (8m 30s)
Back in Gondor, Denethor grieves over his son Faramir on his deathbed and sends Pippin away.
At the Gate of Gondor, the Orcs break in. The horns of the Rohirrim echo from a distance as Théoden’s army has arrived. Gandalf is then called upon by Pippin to rescue Faramir from Denethor.
6. THE BATTLE OF PELENNOR FIELDS (8m 48s)
On the Pelennor Fields, the Rohirrim arrive. King Théoden leads them, along with Eomer; Eowyn and Merry. The battle in the radio series is not as good as the movie version as most of it is in song.
Théoden gets attacked and dies on the battlefield with Eomer leading the Rohirrim.
7. THE PYRE OF DENETHOR (6m 37s)
In Minas Tirith, Gandalf and Pippin find Denethor in the Tombs of the Stewards and save Faramir.
Denethor reveals he has a palantir and makes his own pyre; burning himself to death.
8. ARAGORN RETURNS (5m 35s)
Back on the battle, the Corsairs of Umbar (pirates) turn up from the sea.
But it turns out Aragorn is helming the corsair ships with Legolas and Gimli. The battle is over and all the men of Rohan and Gondor return to Minas Tirith. Pippin manages to find Merry who is injured.
9. THE HOUSES OF HEALING (15m 00s)
At the Houses of Healing, Aragorn uses Athelas to heal Faramir, Eowyn and Merry of their injuries.
In Mordor, Frodo and Sam seem to be lost on their way to Mount Doom.
1. TRAPPED (2m 12s)
The second disc begins with Sam waking Frodo up. He tells Frodo that Gollum is still following them.
Frodo and Sam eventually run into an army of Orcs and are forced to march with them.
2. THE LAST DEBATE (3m 15s)
Back in Gondor, a meeting takes place between Gandalf, Aragorn and Eomer about what to do next.
They agree to take an army of Gondor and Rohan to draw out Sauron’s armies and empty his lands.
3. THE LAND OF SHADOW (3m 23s)
Back with Frodo and Sam, a rabble between the Orcs occurs giving them a chance to escape.
After their escape, the two hobbits rest before continuing their journey to the fiery mountain.
4. LORD FARAMIR AND LADY EOWYN (3m 08s)
In Gondor in a garden, Faramir walks by himself and is joined by Eowyn, who asks to join the battle.
Faramir soon reveals to Eowyn that he finds her beautiful and expresses his feelings for her.
5. MOUNT DOOM (10m 24s)
In Mordor, Frodo and Sam make a treacherous and hard-going journey to the mountain of fire.
Frodo struggles to climb up until Sam carries him to the entrance at the Crack of Doom.
6. THE MOUTH OF SAURON (6m 40s)
At the Black Gates, Gandalf; Aragorn; Eomer; Legolas; Gimli and Pippin meet The Mouth of Sauron.
The Mouth of Sauron makes terms with the company before armies of Mordor attack.
7. THE CRACK OF DOOM (10m 43s)
At Mount Doom, Gollum attacks Frodo and Sam. Sam distracts Gollum whilst Frodo goes inside.
The ring gets destroyed and Frodo and Sam escape, before Gwaihir and the eagles rescue them.
8. LONG LIVE THE HALFLINGS (4m 41s)
Sam wakes up in Ithilien and sees Gandalf and Frodo. Gandalf announces they are to meet the king.
On the way, they are happily reunited with their friends and meet Aragorn the king.
9. THE STEWARD AND THE KING (5m 47s)
Back in Gondor, Faramir proposes to Eowyn as he loves her, and she happily accepts him.
Later on, the coronation of Aragorn as king takes place and Faramir becomes the new steward.
10. THE WHITE TREE OF NUMENOR (6m 57s)
Days later, the White Tree of Gondor is replanted and Arwen of Rivendell is comes to marry Aragorn.
Frodo soon goes to Aragorn and Arwen and informs that he’s leaving Minas Tirith.
1. THE DAY OF DEPARTURE (4m 18s)
The third disc begins with our heroes leaving Gondor and returning to Rohan to bury King Théoden.
Gandalf goes with Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn and Elrond as they leave for Isengard.
2. MANY PARTINGS (9m 11s)
At Isengard, Gandalf and company meet up with Treebeard who tells them that Saruman is gone.
Many farewells take place as Legolas and Gimli leave; Treebeard leaves and Aragorn leaves.
3. DON’T ADVENTURES EVER HAVE AN END (8m 15s)
Eventually the company return to Rivendell. Frodo goes to be reunited with Bilbo Baggins.
Months later, Frodo announces that he must go back to the Shire and says farewell to Bilbo.
4. HOMEWARD BOUND (8m 50s)
On the way home, the four hobbits return to Bree and reunite with Barliman Butterbur and Nob.
They soon leave Bree, and Gandalf soon leaves the hobbits who head back to the Shire.
5. THE SCOURING OF THE SHIRE (4m 15s)
The hobbits return to find Hobbiton destroyed. Merry summons the hobbits with his horn.
A group of evil men then turn up and the four hobbits defend the Shire against them.
6. SHARKEY (6m 01s)
At Bag-End, the four hobbits find Saruman. Frodo orders Saruman to leave with Wormtongue.
After Saruman mistreats Wormtongue, he gets killed by him. The hobbits plan to rebuild the Shire.
7. THE MALLORN TREE (4m 49s)
Very soon, Bagshot Row is restored. Sam uses his gift from Galadriel to replant the trees in the Shire.
Frodo soon invites Sam to stay with him at Bag-End with Rosie Cotton as his new wife.
8. ROSE AND ELANOR (4m 20s)
But Frodo has fits of illness from the quest whilst Sam and Rosie have a daughter named Elenor.
Later on, Frodo asks Rosie if she’d allow Sam to go with him on a short journey. Rosie eventually says yes. Frodo then shows Sam the book he’s been writing and says there’s room for a little more.
9. THE GREY HAVENS (10m 28s)
The last chapter has Frodo and Sam joining Elrond; Galadriel and Bilbo making for the Grey Havens.
At the harbours of the Grey Havens, they meet Gandalf and joined by Merry and Pippin. A tearful farewell ensues as Frodo leaves Middle-Earth. Sam returns home to the Shire with his family.
10. CLOSING CREDITS (2m 42s)
The opening and closing credits have been read by Brian Sibley for this three-volume collection.
DISC 4 – THE MUSIC
This is the bonus disc containing a list of music from the radio series which I’ve enjoyed.
1. THE LORD OF THE RINGS (5m 11s)
This is the signature music theme for the ‘LOTR’ radio series.
2. O ELBERETH GILTHONIEL (2m 35s)
This is a song of Elf music sung in Rivendell.
3. THE ROAD GOES EVER ON (7m 14s)
This song was sung by Bilbo and was used in front of the Prologues of ‘Two Towers’ and ‘ROTK’.
4. IN WESTERN LANDS BENEATH THE SUN (1m 14s)
This is the song sung by Sam when trying to look for Frodo at Cirith Ungol in ‘ROTK’.
5. SEEK FOR THE SWORD THAT WAS BROKEN (4m 26s)
This music contains the themes of Aragorn and the lyrics of ‘Seek For The Sword That Was Broken’.
6. SHADOWFAX (2m 54s)
This is the music theme for Shadowfax, Gandalf’s horse.
7. O LORIEN (2m 42s)
This is a song of Lothlórien where the Fellowship depart from Lórien.
8. FORTH RODE THE KING (3m 13s)
This is a song sung when the riders of Rohan ride to Gondor.
9. THE MARCH OF THE ENTS (2m 21s)
This song is sung in ‘Two Towers’ where the Ents led by Treebeard make war against Saruman.
10. THE BATTLE OF PELENNOR FIELDS (3m 17s)
The song is taken from ‘ROTK’ and I found disappointing since it doesn’t make the battle exciting.
11. LAMENT FOR THE FALLEN (4m 35s)
This suite of music contains the ‘lament’ theme for Boromir in ‘Two Towers’ and Théoden in ‘ROTK’.
12. GIL-GALAD WAS AN ELVEN KING (1m 22s)
This is another song sung by Sam when the hobbits led by Strider make for Weathertop.
13. IN CARAS GALADHON (2m 53s)
This is another suite of music featured in the Lothlórien scenes.
14. THE TREE LORDS (5m 09s)
This contains two songs that Treebeard sings to Merry and Pippin.
15. GWAIHIR’S SONG (1m 46s)
This song is from ‘ROTK’ to celebrate the victory against Sauron.
16. LONG LIVE THE HALFLINGS (2m 27s)
This song is sung in praise of Frodo and Sam in ‘ROTK’.
17. THE HEALING OF THE SHIRE (2m 44s)
This section of music occurs when Sam plants the Mallorn Trees after ‘The Scouring of the Shire’.
18. BILBO’S LAST SONG (3m 36s)
This is the last song sung in the entire radio series of ‘LOTR’. ‘Bilbo’s Last Song’ is sung by a boy soloist. It occurs when Frodo boards the grey ships to pass into the west.
19. BILBO’S LAST SONG (DEMON VERSION) (1m 11s)
Another version of ‘Bilbo’s Last Song’ is sung by John Le Mesurier who plays Bilbo in the radio series.
This is a very fitting conclusion to the radio series of the ‘LOTR’. I’ve enjoyed listening to this third volume immensely. It was very interesting to see how much similarities and differences there were to compare between the radio and movie series. ‘The Scouring of the Shire’ is very effective.
I’m sad that this radio series has come to an end. But I enjoyed listen to all three volumes over and over again, and it adds to the Middle-Earth experience and provides more insight into the story than just relying on the movie version and see how much is based on the original books by Tolkien.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ (BBC) rating – 8/10
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