"Where is the horse and the rider..."

Our Review

Plain and simple, this scene gives me goosebumps. It's one of the most beautiful suit-ups ever committed to film. Director Peter Jackson is brilliant in all aspects of his film-making, but it was his strict loyalty and love of the books of J.R.R. Tolkien that made 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy such a treat.

From a person whose read said books over five times already, this scene in 'The Two Towers' holds a special place in my heart. But we'll get to that in a second.

First, let's talk about where this actual suit-up scene happens in the movie. Calling it a pivotal moment for the good guys is an understatement. King Theoden of Rohan had become a beaten man in his old age. Poisoned by the lies and deceit of Grima Wormtongue, spy of the evil wizard Saruman, he had given up hope of ever escaping the dark shadow of the enemy. That is until Aragorn and crew turn up at his doorstep with inspiration and hope. Soon, Theoden is back on his feet, ready to lead the forces and hold off an army of Saruman's that is coming to invade Rohan at the old keep of Helm's Deep.

With that, we transition gracefully into a Theoden's suit-up scene. A holy, bluish light floods the room as Gamling, trusted right hand man, prepares to suit up his king. A man he has loved and honored his whole life. A man that was on the threshold of defeat. But now a man that is back and ready to do the impossible.

Peter Jackson's wonderful cinematography, Andrew Lesnie, lets the actors bodies block out the light on certain camera moves, but it punctures the scene as close-ups of hands strapping on chest plates and gauntlets rhythmically do their duty. The score has never been better. We cross-cut with the children and senior citizens of Rohan also suiting up for battle (this is how outnumbered they are), then onto the armies of Sauruman, blotting out the land as they march uphill towards Helm's Deep.

And in a moment of doubt, Theoden asks, "Who am I, Gamling". To which Gamling responds, "You are our king, sire..."

And that's all it takes. Theoden begins the chant of the Rohirrim. And this is where I truly fall in love with this suit-up scene. Because this is where Peter Jackson makes his brilliant move. You see, in the book, the following lines do not get said by Theoden. They are omnisciently written as verse. But like so many great passages from the book, Jackson could simply not let them go. So in a scene that is not actually even in the book, our great director gives them to King Theoden to utter:

"Where is the horse and the rider...
Where is the horn that was blowing...
They have passed like rain on the mountains...
Like wind in the meadow...
The days have come down in the West...
Behind the hills into shadow..."

I've come to learn through writing for this site, that suiting up doesn't just mean putting items onto your body, in preparation for something. They are about so much more. They are about that transcending moment when the movie changes. When the second act comes to a close and we dip into the final third of our movie. When the character goes through a metamorphosis and becomes who he/she was meant to be.

For me, this scene represents that doctrine to a 't'. And God bless it.

Oh yeah; it also gets points for being one of the only suit-up scenes I know thus far that features someone suiting up someone else up.