I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: I cry a lot. I cry watching movies and TV shows. A good book will bring on the water works. Listening to music gets me too. My dad is an emotional man so I blame him. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like that the stuff I watch, read, and listen to moves my heart. Why would I want to be emotionally unaffected? Seems like a weird way to go through life. So, as is fairly obvious from the title of this article, I will be discussing five times The Lord of the Rings makes me cry. Believe me, I’ve cried more than five times. Much more. But, to keep this concise, I’m going to limit myself to only five. Also, these are all about the films, not the books. Those make me cry as well but sometimes for very different reasons.
1. “I will take the ring to Mordor. Though, I do not know the way.”
This is a small moment, but it has moved me numerous times. Specifically, it’s the innocent bravery of Frodo coupled with the absolutely perfect reaction by Gandalf. The look on Ian McKellen’s face gets me every time. He is both blown away by Frodo’s courage but also incredibly concerned what this choice will mean for the young hobbit in the days ahead. The filmmakers consistently got these little moments right, which is why the films worked so well.
2. “Rosie Cotton dancing…”
The quest is over and Frodo and Sam wait for death to come as they lie on a rock surrounded by flowing lava from Mount Doom. The ring has been destroyed but it is clear to them there is no hope for their survival. Frodo is himself for the first time in weeks. His heavy burden is gone and there is a palpable sense of peace about him.
Sam, while happy to be done with their mission and for Frodo, begins to ponder what it all means. He understands the life he thought he might have is never going to come to pass. His thoughts go back to The Shire and to Rosie Cotton, the young hobbit lass he had hoped to marry. His heartbreak is almost too much for me to take. Frodo feels the same and wraps his arms around Sam. We are all Frodo in that moment, consoling our brave friend in his moment of grief.
3. “I would have followed you, my brother, my captain, my king.”
Seriously, is there a better death scene in any movie? I don’t think so. Boromir dies a valiant and heroic death, which is made all the more poignant since it is his attempt at redemption after falling to the temptation of the ring. His death gives us one of the most intimate and beautiful moments in the trilogy: Aragorn pledging to defend the White City and Boromir finding peace even after his failing. Both Sean Bean and Viggo Mortensen give award-level performances in this scene and it messes me up every time I watch it.
4. “I will not say do not weep. For not all tears are an evil.”
It’s possible that when discussing all the times The Lord of the Rings makes me cry, this one hits the hardest. If you say the words, “Grey Havens” to a Tolkien fan, they will probably get a little weepy. Or, maybe that’s just me. We have spent hours and hours with these characters. We have watched them struggle, fight, and survive. And now, instead of getting to live “happily ever after”, Frodo is leaving. Forever. Yes, the quote I used is from Gandalf as he is leaving as well, but the true power and emotion of the scene comes when Frodo gets ready to step on the boat and sail away to the undying lands. His hobbit friends are crushed. We are crushed. But, in a way that feels right and true, we are also comforted. We know Frodo needs healing and that must happen in Valinor. Our tears are “love mingled with grief” and there is nothing more true than that.
5. “Something worth fighting for…”
This speech by Samwise Gamgee comes after the ring nearly takes Frodo and shatters all hope. Sam is nearly at the end of hope as well, but he summons the courage to deliver these words of challenge and encouragement. They are enough to set their feet on the path to Mordor once more.
A lesser actor would have butchered this scene. Our society doesn’t always appreciate sincerity. Contrast that with how Peter Jackson and company routinely presented moments in the trilogy. This scene in particular is played with absolute earnestness. There is no whiff of insincerity or pretense. Sean Astin delivers his lines like his life depends on them. It’s utterly human and beautiful.
That’s my list so far. I’ll probably make this a semi-regular thing for Rambling Ever On because I can think of many other time The Lord of the Rings makes me cry. What about you? What are some film moments that bring you to tears? I know I’m not the only one. We would love to read about them in the comments. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed it be sure to share this article with your friends.