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Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: December 17, 2002
CAP Score: 63
CAP Influence Density: 1.11
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LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (PG-13) -- I invite any of our readers to prepare a guest commentary.
Production: New Line Cinema, The Saul Zaentz Company (licensor) (d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises), WingNut Films
Distribution: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros
Director(s): Peter Jackson
Producer(s): Peter Jackson, Michael Lynne, Mark Ordesky, Barrie M. Osborne, Rick Porras, Jamie Selkirk, Robert Shaye, Frances Walsh, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Written by/Screenplay: Novel: J.R.R. Tolkien. Screeplay: Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson
Cinematography/Camera: Andrew Lesnie
Music: Howard Shore
Film Editing: D. Michael Horton
Casting: Victoria Burrows, John Hubbard, Amy MacLean, Liz Mullane, Ann Robinson
Production Design: Grant Major
Art Direction: Joe Bleakley, Dan Hennah, Philip Ivey, Rob Outterside, Mark Robins
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers earned a CAP final score of 63, placing it squarely in the middle of the CAP comparative baseline database scoring range for PG-13 movies (55 to 67). Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring earned a final score of 59, making Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers fairly equivalent ... for the same two reasons: violence and offense to God. Very violent. Graphically. Even the Orcs were more evil-looking. And while the use of sorcery by the "good" to fight evil was not as thick in this installment, it was there. Gandalf is resurrected and appears in glowing white atop a huge stone as if to mimic our Lord when He transformed Himself on the Mount of Transformation before Peter, James and John after His Resurrection [Matt. 17:1 -2]. While there was no sexual programming whatsoever to Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers frequently presented a very scantily clad critter showing full side male nudity [**] and a woman was noted to be on top of a man kissing him.
Scenery was regal. Computer graphic artistry and detail were amazing. Attention to even the smallest of visible detail was remarkable. Even the attention-keeping features of the film were exemplary.
The results are in regarding our invitiation for our readers to prepare a guest commentary for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Mr. Brian Day prepared the finest work which follows.
The Two Towers starts immediately where The Fellowship of the Ring ended, with a split up fellowship. Frodo (Elijah Wood), the bearer of the ring of evil power that has to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, and Sam (Sean Astin) continue towards Mordor on the quest. The other two hobbits, Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) are held captive by a force of the evil Uruk-Hai, who are taking them to their master. The remainder of the fellowship, the human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) are tracking and attempting to catch up with the Uruk-Hai to rescue Merry and Pippin.
The movie switches back and forth between these three groups to show what is occuring at each at a particular time. I'll summarize each story starting with the one that is given the least screen time, Merry and Pippin's.
The band of Uruk-Hai carrying Merry and Pippin are attacked by a group of cavalry from the nation of Rohan, through which the Uruk-Hai are traveling. In the ensuing fray Merry and Pippin escape into the nearby Fangorn forest. There they meet Treebeard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies). Treebeard is the eldest of a race of tree-like beings called the Ents.
Merry and Pippin try to convince Treebeard and the rest of the Ents to become involved in the war and fight for the good of Middle Earth against the strengthening dark forces (led by the Dark Lord Sauron and the corrupted wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee)). The Ents refuse, resulting in a very impassioned plea from one of the hobbits that the Ents are part of Middle Earth and should help to save it. There is a very strong element here of the old Edmund Burke quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Despite this plea, the Ents still decide to try to leave the war to the people who are already involved.
As Merry and Pippin are being carried out of the forest by Treebeard, they hit upon a way to bring the pain of the war home to the Ents. They ask Treebeard to take them toward Isengard, home of the wizard Saruman. When the Treebeard sees the destruction Saruman's forces have done to the forest in that area, he calls the rest of the Ents in for an attack on Isengard.
The 2nd storyline follows Frodo and Sam as they make their way toward Mordor and Mount Doom. Early on they capture the creature Gollum (a CG character over voice and body movements by Andy Serkis). Gollum was a previous carrier of the ring and has been twisted into an evil, pathetic creature by it. He has been following Frodo and Sam, hoping to kill them and take the ring back. Gollum is the most interesting character in the movie. Under his good treatment by Frodo, who feels some compassion and even kinship for the former ring-bearer, Gollum's "good-side" starts to emerge and war with the evil that has ruled him for many years.
Unfortunately, this improvement is cut short by circumstance. Frodo and Sam are captured by forces of the human kingdom of Gondor, who believe them to be spies for Sauron. Gollum is not captured, but was seen by Faramir (David Wenham), the leader of the Gondorians. When Faramir asks Frodo what happened to the "creature" he saw with them, Frodo lies in an attempt to protect Gollum's life and says that there was no creature. Later, Faramir's forces surround Gollum and Faramir threatens to kill him. Frodo intervenes and goes to Gollum to try to calm him. When Gollum is calmed down, the Gondorians attack, capturing him. Gollum sees this as a betrayal from someone he trusted and his path toward redemption is reversed. Later he schemes to kill Frodo and Sam again.
This is one of the best opportunities in the movie for discussion. What, if anything, could Frodo have done different? At each point he made the decision that he thought was in the best interests of Gollum. He also demonstrated great compassion. But in the end things were as bad as ever. The 3rd storyline follows Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, first as they track Merry and Pippin, then, after they lose track of them but find Gandalf, as they become deeply embroiled in the defense of the kingdom of Rohan from the armies of Saruman. There are several occurrences of note here. There is great bravery demonstrated in the face of seemingly impossible odds. There is a willingness to help others, even at great cost to one's self. There are also scenes of the most extreme violence I've seen in a movie since the beginning of "Saving Private Ryan". In the end, cooperation among the various "good" groups prove enough to successfully defend the Rohan fortress.
There are several other scenes in this movie that require particular thought by viewers. There is an apparent exorcism (by Gandalf, driving out the influence of Saruman on King Theoden (Bernard Hill)). And of course there is the question of Gandalf's resurrection.
Perhaps the most significant question raised by The Two Towers (and, indeed, by any fantasy movie or book) is how to regard it in relation to the real world. Taking as an example, the resurrection of Gandalf. After his resurrection Gandalf states that he was sent back because his work in Middle Earth was incomplete. One context in which it can be viewed is as compares to the Bible. When taken that way it bears enough resemblance to seem potentially a mockery, or at least an imitation of, the resurrection of Jesus. When taken in the context of the movie alone, or of the book, it is seen as a seemingly miraculous and almost completely unexplained event. When taken in the context of the rest of the mythology Tolkien created, which most of the movie audience will not have read, it is seen as divine event in which an angel-like being (Gandalf) is re-embodied to continue his good works.
Which is the most appropriate way to view these kinds of plot points is probably the most difficult question raised by this movie and I will not attempt to answer it here. Suffice to say, The Two Towers is not a fluff movie. It is complicated and raises questions that require careful consideration.
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
**"Nakedness" (display of nudity) is spoken of as dark, restricted, undesirable, shameful, etc. 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation. For example, Ezek. 16:36 "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers,..." thus associating wanton nakedness with ill repute. What makes display of nudity okay in entertainment/art if it is not okay in flesh?
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
Offense to God (O)(2):
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|NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.|
|"There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|