Is the epilogue of “Return of the King” too long? While some viewers had been able to make this criticism of the last part of the trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, the latter answered them in the audio commentary of the film.
We are at the end of The Return of the King, the last part of the trilogy directed by Peter Jackson based on the work of JRR Tolkien. Frodo and Sam have just thrown the One Ring into Mount Doom, Sauron is destroyed, Middle-earth is liberated. But the film is far from over.
Indeed, before the first notes of the final credits begin to sound, we will have to wait a good 20 more minutes, during which we will witness (among other things) the coronation of Aragorn, the return of the Hobbits to the Shire, the wedding of Sam and the departure of Frodo and Bilbo to the Undying Lands. A particularly dense epilogue that some viewers had sometimes deemed unnecessarily long at the time of the film’s release.
In the audio commentary of the long version, the filmmaker Peter Jackson returned to these reproaches with his usual humor, attributing them in particular to pressing desires:
“This whole ending sequence earned us the worst reviews in The Return of the King. Most of it was due to bladder issues.” he jokes. “At this stage, the public especially wants to rush to the toilets. All this succession of scenes for another 20 minutes, could have led some spectators to reproach us for making an end with drawers.
An explanation that seems quite plausible, given the fact that even in its short version, The king’s return takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes. Yet, as he also makes clear in the audio commentary, peter Jackson could have provided his film with an even longer denouement:
“We had shot little epilogues specific to each character that we never used, even in this long version. I think we don’t need them. It gave the opportunity to see what was happening to Legolas, in Gimli, in Faramir, and in Eowyn. (…) I only kept what I thought was fun to leave. (…) What I didn’t find nice, I didn’t keep. It’s that simple. It doesn’t go any further. That’s how I make up my mind.”
Note also that in the original work of JRR Tolkien the return of the Hobbits to the Shire is marked by many events that do not appear on the screen, and in particular a final confrontation with Saruman, who has taken over the region.