‘Return of the King’: One film to end it all“The world and Wellington waited for this day.” This was the headline that ran in the local newspaper in Wellington, New Zealand, on the day of the sneak preview of “The Return of the King.”
The streets were filled with around 130,000 people, many in hobbit-like garb. Getting the most applause was director Peter Jackson, 42. At a press conference, most of the questions were asked of Mr. Jackson, not the stars.
Asked if he had any regrets about the end of the epic, he said, “Sometime during the filming, I decided that I would not have regrets about parts of the film, saying ‘I ought to have shot this this way.’ At the moment of filming, I believe it is important to give all that I’ve got and do the best I can.”
How does he want to be remembered by the next generation? “I would be happy if future generations of directors came up to me and said they were so inspired by ‘Lord of the Rings’ that they decided to become film directors themselves.”
Mr. Jackson’s next project is “King Kong,” which will star Andy Serkis, the actor who portrayed Gollum.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand ―
Good news for “Lord of the Rings” devoteees everywhere: Only nine more days to go until the finale to the film trilogy, “The Return of the King,” opens in theaters across the world on Dec. 17. Will Frodo (Elijah Wood), the innocent but weakening hobbit, finally succeed in destroying the Ring? Will Gollum (Andy Serkis) manage to steal the Ring from Frodo? And what will happen to Aragorn’s (Viggo Mortensen) and Arwen’s (Liv Tyler) love? All these questions will be answered in the movie, which lasts a whopping 3 hours and 12 minutes.
But though the film resolves the questions raised in the first two parts ― “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers” ― it’s a bittersweet event for fans, because it’s the last they’ll see of the director Peter Jackson’s spectacular recreation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy epic, which more than 100 million people are thought to have read.
A preview screening of “The Return of the King” was held Dec. 1 in Wellington in New Zealand, Mr. Jackson’s homeland as well as the site of the filming of all three movies.
The film contains the trilogy’s fiercest battles and its most emotional scenes, continuing Frodo’s and Sam’s quest to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. As they make their fateful and arduous journey into the land of Mordor, the evil power of Sauron takes stronger hold. Their guide, Gollum, remains a threat whose obsession with the Ring continues. Meanwhile, the great human warrior Aragorn and the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) lead the combined forces of Rohan and Gondor into the final battle for Middle Earth.
“In addition to these huge battles, you have these intimate stories, the emotional story, and that’s where most of the power of ‘The Return of the King’ really lies,” Mr. Jackson says. The film is indeed full of colorful stories, such as the tale of how Smeagol became Gollum. But the great battles add to the grandeur and magnificence of the movie. Journalists at the sneak preview concurred that the battle scenes at Pelennor Fields were the most impressive. About 200,000 digital characters were used in the movie.
Is this the best of the three? When Mr. Jackson went ahead with the production, he had in mind giving the films a natural feel ― by using the breathtaking scenery of New Zealand ― while also using high-tech computer graphics and miniaturization. He has succeeded in combining nature and technology to vivid effect.
But the success of these films is not due solely to the spectacular visual effects. Besides the struggle between good and evil, the films delve into the ancient problems of distrust and suspicion among men and the frustrations, temptations and deep desires of humanity. And by extending the story to the families of some of the characters, this new film broadens the tale’s scope. Many people attending the preview were heard to say, “‘The director saved the best for last.”
1“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” was screened in public for the first time in Wellington, New Zealand.
7Number of years it took director Peter Jackson to prepare for this project.
30Total length (in kilometers) of roads built for the filming.
250 Number of horses used in the three films.
274Number of days it took to shoot the trilogy’s major scenes.
350Number of sets used in the films.
1,000Number of suits of armor made for the films.
12,000Number of weapons made for the films.
650 millionProduction cost for the trilogy, in dollars
5.3 billionExpected total gross for the three films, in dollars
by Lee Eun-ju