Wooden ship coming to a city

Siege of Gondor – Part 2

It is always easier to blame someone else for one’s shortcomings than to admit to wrongdoing. It is also a very draining experience, to feel anger toward someone and being unable to forgive. Anger takes a lot of energy out of an individual. Over time it becomes habitual. It envelops us into a circle that is not easily broken. 

Fear of feeling weak

Denethor had spent quite some time dealing with feelings of anger, blame, and resentment toward almost everyone around him. The root of his feelings is grief, firstly for Boromir, and now for Faramir as well, and fear. For all his self-declared wisdom and intelligence, he has become a recluse out of fear. What he had foreseen for his own people hadn’t triggered a sense of spite or will to defend them, he merely gave up.

The feeling of fear of the outside world made him into a coward and a weakling, everything he saw in Faramir but failed to acknowledge in Boromir.

Precisely because he wanted to avoid feeling weak he bullied his sons into obedience, presenting himself as the dominant figure. He was angry and disappointed by Faramir because of his sensitive nature. Denethor constantly put him down because of it. This, however, only mirrored Denethor’s own emotions and fear of being weak himself. 

Denethor, as much as he proclaims to be angry at the world around him, blaming everyone for the fate of his sons, he is angry at himself. However, it will be too late when he finally realizes his own mistakes. 

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Taking command

Abandon your posts! Flee! Flee for your lives!

Denethor

Denethor’s fear over the scene before the walls of Minas Tirith boils into a misguided conclusion, leaving the guard confused. Hearing this, Gandalf, in three swift moves, knocks out Denethor with his staff. Moreover, his comment of Denethor’s exclamation, although wordless, speaks volumes. He is almost disgusted with Denethor’s handling of the situation. He, therefore, takes over command. 

Prepare for battle. Pull them in! To the wall! Defend the wall! Return to your posts! Send these foul beasts into the abyss!

Gandalf

Fearless

The soldiers use trebuchets to launch large rocks at the Orc army. The masonry squashes some of the Orcs. For the moment, the guard of the Citadel has an advantage over the Mordor army. The Orcs around Gothmog shift fearfully.

Stay where you are.

Gothmog

Gothmog does not give in to fear and neither should his army. 

The soldiers of Gondor sling large rock arcs out from the city towards Gothmog. As a rock arc surges toward him, Gothmog stands in his place. His troops, however, scramble out of the way. Only before it is about to smash into him does Gothmog take a sidestep to avoid impact. A nearby troll looks in confusion at this action of his commander, with his eyes wide in wonder and fear. Gothmog’s only reaction to this “personal attack” is to spit on the boulder itself, thus proving nothing can touch him.

Encouragement

As all the soldiers run toward the lower level of the city, so does the newly appointed Guard of the Citadel follow. He cannot but feel fear as he runs alongside them. He cannot imagine what awaits him, but still, the call to duty is strong within him. 

The Nazgûl shriek and fly in over the city and begin to tear down the trebuchets. The only words of encouragement are those of Gandalf. He stands by the soldiers on the walls keeping their focus in check. He is aware of the fear that now permeates the city, but whatever their feelings may be, they must persevere in their fight against the enemy if they are to have any chance of survival. 

Hold them back. Do not give in to fear! Stay at your posts!

Gandalf

Imminent danger

Gandalf keeps firm command over his troops, directing their aims according to the immediate need. The siege towers come ever closer to the walls of Minas Tirith. The soldiers instinctively aim their arrows at them. What they can’t see over the wall are the trolls that push these towers, and if they are to be halted in time, then the trolls’ death should be imminent. 

Don’t aim for the towers. Aim for the trolls. Kill the trolls! Fight them back!

Gandalf

The battle strategy of the Orcs now resembles that of Helm’s Deep with one unit trying to penetrate the gate of Minas Tirith with a battering ram and the other using towers to come over the wall. In this instance, however, there is no explosive bomb in sight.

Pippin’s courage

In this great upheaval, Pippin arrives at the walls, looking dazed. He stands paralyzed with fear as the Orc towers approach him. Gandalf takes note of his presence. 

Gandalf: “Peregrin Took! Go back to the citadel! Now!”

Pippin: “They called us out to fight.”

Pippin is subdued, he doesn’t know his left from his right, still paralyzed with fear. The siege towers anchor themselves over the wall and Orcs pour out. Gandalf fights off one by one.

This is no place for a Hobbit!

Gandalf

Pride of Gandalf

As an Orc moves to strike Gandalf, Pippin finally moves his feet forward and stabs the Orc, killing it. Pippin remains still for a moment, contemplating his blood-stained sword. He has managed to participate and successfully kill an enemy. He has done his duty as ordered by the Steward. Pippin has overcome his fear and found his courage in a time of need. A sense of pride and accomplishment flows through him. 

Guard of the Citadel indeed! Now back up the hill! Quick! Quick!

Gandalf

Having been a successful aid in their cause, Gandalf sends Pippin back to the Citadel, for he cannot guarantee his safety and he cannot know how long Pippin’s courage would last. 

Grond

The soldiers of Gondor seem successful in their attempt to hold the penetration of the gate. All the Orcs that were helping to breach the gate with the battering ram now lie dead before it. 

Gothmog: “What are you doing, you useless scum?”

Orc Captain: “The door won’t give. It’s too strong.”

Gothmog: “Get back there and smash it down.”

Orc Captain: “But nothing can breach it.”

Gothmog: “Grond will breach it. Bring up the wolf’s head.”

Orcs: “Grond! Grond! Grond! Grond! Grond! Grond!”

At the same time that Grond makes an appearance on the fields of Pelennor, a much-needed helping hand for Gondor arrives unseen. 

Corsairs of Umbar

The corsairs of Umbar sail upriver. 

Sir Peter Jackson, Rick Porras – Co-Producer, Richard Taylor – Weta Workshop Creative Supervisor, Andrew Lesnie – Director of Photography and Gino Acevedo – Weta Prosthetics Supervisor all joined forces on-screen in their cameos as Corsairs. The director took a cameo role in the other two films of the trilogy, but in this instance, some of his primary collaborators on this project were happily transformed into fictional characters themselves. 

Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas stand alone on the shore watching them. They converse with the pirates in an almost smug and arrogant way, secretly knowing the pirates do not have a prayer of escaping or entering Gondor. 

Smug confrontation

Aragorn: “You may go no further. You will not enter Gondor.”

Corsair: “Who are you to deny us passage?”

Aragorn: “Legolas, fire a warning shot past the bosun’s ear.”

Gimli: “Mind your aim!”

As Legolas prepares to shoot his arrow, Gimli nudges his bow, causing the arrow to hit a pirate square in the chest. Gimli didn’t mean it to be a warning shot.

The overtake

Pete the Pirate: “Ah!”

Gimli: “Oh! That’s it. We warned you. Prepare to be boarded.”

Gimli’s surprise does not last long as his concern for the pirates is non-existent. This warning shot, however, does not bring fear to the pirates, they don’t even see it as a serious threat. With only the three of them against their whole armada. The pirates laugh at the Three Hunters and their attempt at a threat. 

Corsair: “Boarded, by you and whose army?”

Aragorn: “This army.”

Suddenly the threat does not appear hollow. The King of the Dead appears behind Aragorn and runs through him, leading his men in a charge to the ships. The sailors recoil and yell in terror.

Frodo and Gollum reach the tunnel. Read on in my next post.

Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

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