The Two Towers movie is the second film in a series of three released by New Line Cinema, under the direction of Peter Jackson.
The Two Towers movie follows the general storyline of the JRR Tolkien book version by the same name, though it has a different structure.
The Two Towers is something of an oddball from a movie perspective, in the fact that it has no definite beginning or end. It takes up the narrative precisely where The Fellowship of the Ring left it, and carries it forward to “The Battle of Helm’s Deep”, where it ends, the story not yet complete.
This is the same way that Tolkien’s trilogy was published in 1954-55. The publishing of multiple books comprising a single storyline has become almost commonplace today, but at the time of the release of the Lord of the Rings books was all but unheard of.
Director Peter Jackson decided not to preface The Two Towers movie with an in-depth review of the events in The Fellowship of the Ring, but instead to dive directly into the narrative where it had been dropped at the end of the first movie, exactly as the novel does. This was controversial at the time, but worked wonderfully, avoiding an extended and boring “recap” of events to that point.
The Two Towers was released on December 18, 2002 to rave reviews by critics and Tolkien fans alike, much as its predecessor had been the previous December.
The movie itself was more progressive from a special effects standpoint than even The Fellowship of the Ring movie had been. It introduces two very important characters to the narrative, Gollum and Treebeard, both of whom required that the special effects be taken an extra step to provide realism.
Gollum is “played” by Andy Serkis, who wore a motion capture suit during filming. The “visual” Gollum was a CGI animation that was superimposed over Serkis in the film. The character of Treebeard was created entirely using CGI animation.
The major divergence from the published version of The Two Towers is primarily in structure.
The published version is essentially split into two “books”. The first “book” exclusively follows Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Pippin into Rohan and ends on the road to Minas Tirith. The second “book” follows Frodo and Sam to the east, toward Mordor.
The movie necessarily flickers back and forth between these two storylines, rather than giving them in their separate entireties. The movie’s climax is “The Battle of Helm’s Deep”, which presented itself as a convenient stopping point for the film. The narrative is continued in the third movie in the trilogy, The Return of the King.
The Two Towers movie also ends at a different point than the books, leaving some of the scenes to comprise the first part of The Return of the King movie. The Two Towers movie was tremendously successful…from a monetary standpoint even more so than the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring had been. It grossed more than $900 million worldwide, and currently ranks as the fifth highest-earning film of all time. A Special Extended Edition was released on DVD in November 2003.
Like The Fellowship of the Ring before and The Return of the King after, The Two Towers movie’s musical score was composed, arranged, and conducted by Howard Shore.
The Two Towers movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning two for:
- Sound Editing
- Visual Effects
The final volume of the epic trilogy, The Return of the King was released in December 2003.