The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

From Tolkien Gateway
"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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The name Two Towers refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Two Towers (disambiguation).

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a film which was directed by Peter Jackson, with a theatrical runtime of 179 minutes (2 hours, 59 minutes). It is the second part in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, following The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It's screenplay is written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. It is an adaptation of the book The Two Towers, the second part of the three-volume novel The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, although some of the later events are held over to the later third movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.The film premiered at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, on Thursday, 5th of December, 2002. It was very well received critically and was an enormous box-office success, making over $900 million worldwide (making it the fourth most successful film of all time at that point in time).


The surviving members of the Fellowship of the Ring have split into three groups. Frodo and Sam face many perils on their continuing quest to save Middle-earth by destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Merry and Pippin escape from the Orcs and must convince the Ents to join the battle against evil. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas encounter a mysteriously transformed Gandalf and battle Saruman's army at Helm's Deep.


  1. The Foundations of Stone
  2. Elven Rope *
  3. The Taming of Sméagol **
  4. The Uruk-hai **
  5. The Three Hunters
  6. The Burnings of the Westfold **
  7. Massacre at the Fords of Isen *
  8. The Banishment of Éomer **
  9. On the Trail of the Uruk-hai
  10. Night Camp at Fangorn **
  11. The Riders of Rohan
  12. The Fate of Merry and Pippin
  13. Treebeard
  14. The Passage of the Marshes **
  15. The White Rider **
  16. The Songs of the Entwives *
  17. The Heir of Númenor *
  18. The Black Gate is Closed
  19. Ent Draft *
  20. The King of the Golden Hall **
  21. The Funeral of Théodred *
  22. Simbelmynë on the Burial Mounds
  23. The King's Decision
  24. Brego *
  25. The Ring of Barahir *
  26. A Daughter of Kings **
  27. Exodus from Edoras
  28. The Forests of Ithilien
  29. Gollum and Sméagol
  30. Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit **
  31. Dwarf Women **
  32. One of the Dúnedain *
  33. The Evenstar **
  34. The Wolves of Isengard
  35. Helm's Deep **
  36. Isengard Unleashed
  37. The Grace of the Valar
  38. Arwen's Fate
  39. The Story Foreseen from Lórien
  40. The Window on the West **
  41. Sons of the Steward *
  42. The Forbidden Pool **
  43. Aragorn's Return
  44. Entmoot
  45. The Glittering Caves **
  46. "Where is the Horse and the Rider?"
  47. "Don't Be Hasty Master Meriadoc!" *
  48. The Host of the Eldar
  49. The Battle of the Hornburg **
  50. Old Entish
  51. The Breach of the Deeping Wall
  52. The Entmoot Decides
  53. The Retreat of the Hornburg **
  54. Master Peregrin's Plan
  55. Osgiliath
  56. The Last March of the Ents **
  57. The Nazgûl Attack
  58. Forth Eorlingas
  59. The Flooding of Isengard
  60. The Tales That Really Mattered...
  61. Fangorn Comes to Helm's Deep *
  62. The Final Tally *
  63. Flotsam and Jetsam *
  64. Farewell to Faramir *
  65. "The Battle for Middle-earth is About to Begin"
  66. Gollum's Plan
  67. Credits
  68. Official Fan Club Credits *

* denotes a scene only available in the Extended Edition cut of the film.

** denotes a scene which includes extended content only available in the Extended Edition cut of the film.


Actor Role
Bruce Allpress Aldor
Sean Astin Sam
John Bach Madril
Sala Baker Man Flesh Uruk
Cate Blanchett Galadriel
Orlando Bloom Legolas
Billy Boyd Pippin
Jed Brophy Sharku/Snaga
Sam Comery Éothain
Brad Dourif Wormtongue
Calum Gittins Haleth
Bernard Hill Théoden
Bruce Hopkins Gamling
Paris Howe Strewe Théodred
Christopher Lee Saruman
Nathaniel Lees Uglúk
John Leigh Háma
Robbie Magasiva Mauhúr
Robyn Malcolm Morwen
Ian McKellen Gandalf
Dominic Monaghan Merry
Viggo Mortensen Aragorn
Miranda Otto Éowyn
Craig Parker Haldir
Bruce Phillips Rohan Soldier
Robert Pollock Mordor Orc
John Rhys-Davies Gimli/Voice of Treebeard
Andy Serkis Gollum
Olivia Tennet Freda
Ray Trickett Bereg
Liv Tyler Arwen
Karl Urban Éomer
Stephen Ure Grishnákh
Hugo Weaving Elrond
David Wenham Faramir
Elijah Wood Frodo
Victoria Beynon-Cole, Lee Hartley, Philip Grieve Hero Orcs
Billy Jackson, Katie Jackson Cute Rohan Refugee Children
Sean Bean Boromir (Extended Edition only)
Timothy Lee Wildman (Extended Edition only)
John Noble Denethor (Extended Edition only)
Phillip Spencer-Harris Ranger 1 (Extended Edition only)


Actor Role
Richard Alexander, Geoff Allen, Daniel Andrews, Sean Button, Ryan Coray, Rodney Cook, Tack Daniel, Augie Davis, Mana Hira Davis, Shane Dawson, David Gatward Ferguson, Siaosi Fonua, Winham Hammond, Michael Harrison, Lani Jackson, Ralph Johnson, Sam Kelly, Greg Lane, Lance Louez, Joseph Mika-Hunt, Dean Morganty, Francis Mountjoy, Nooroa Poa, Allan Poppleton, Ken Stratton, Robbie Titchener, Tim Wong, Robert Young Uruk-Hai
Geoff Allen, Daniel Andrews, Ben Barrington, Mana Hira Davis, Michael Harrison, Ron Kerkmeester, Joseph Mika-Hunt, Francis Mountjoy, Matthew J. Saville Gondorian Soldiers
Geoff Allen, Frazer Anderson, Daniel Andrews, Ben Barrington, Mana Hira Davis, Siaosi Fonua, Michael Harrison, Paul Holmes, Ralph Johnson, Ron Kerkmeester, Lance Louez, Francis Mountjoy, Shaneel Sidal, Melvin Te Wani, John Turner Orcs
Geoff Allen, Colin Bleasdale, Mana Hira Davis, Aron Eastwood, Michael Harrison, Davey Hughes, Ralph Johnson, Ron Kerkmeester, Richard Knowles, Ken Stratton, John Turner Rohan Soldiers
Frazer Anderson, Ben Barrington, Michael Harrison, Dean Morganty, Ken Stratton Rangers
Jarl Benzon, Jørn Benzon, Ben Britton, Alexia Fairbrother, Daniel Falconer, Kester Fordham, Ben Fransham, Jonathan Harding, Gareth Jensen, Sam Kelly, Sandro Kopp Elven Warriors
Jarl Benzon Rohan Stable Boy
Owen Black, Daniel Falconer Rivendell Elves
Dorothy Anne Bonner, June Hancock, Dra McKay, Dianne Smith Rohan Women
Ben Britton Man of Rohan
Riley Brophy Cute Rohan Refugee Child
Alistair Browning Damrod
Alix Bushnell, Kelly Corbishley, Frank Goldingham, Lew Hewson, Jaime Lawrence, Cameron Lemon, Miranda Rivers, Samuel E. Shore, Sarah Thomas Rohan Refugees
Erin Cassie Village Girl
Robert Catto, Michael Fowler, Jaime Lawrence, Francis Mountjoy, Samuel E. Shore Elves
Mana Hira Davis, Shane Dawson, Clint Elvy, Are Manea Karati, Jeremy Sciascia Harad Warriors
Karlos Drinkwater Easterling Warrior
Frank Edwards, Tony Shaw Rohan Men
Michael Harrison, Ron Kerkmeester, Paul Norell, Ken Stratton, Robbie Titchener Easterlings
Michael Harrison, Michael Lawrence Wildmen
Lucas Hayward, James Ordish Rohan Boys
Dan Hennah, Alan Lee, Arnold Montey Rohan Recruits
Lew Hewson, Gareth Reeves Fighting Elves
Jason Hood Théoden's Royal Guard
Peter Jackson Spear-Throwing Rohan Soldier
Sam La Hood Orc Pitmaster
Greg Lane Berserker Torch-Bearer
Don Langridge, Robbie Titchener Rohan Guards
Jono Manks Twilight Ringwraith
Brent McIntyre Witch-king
Dean Morganty, Ken Stratton Haradrim Warriors
Henry Mortensen Rohan Boy Recruit
Barrie M. Osborne Rock-throwing Rohan Soldier
Wayne Phillips Captain of the Guards
Campbell Rousselle Tree-cutting Orc
Nancy Ruck Rohan Refugee Child
Allan Smith Dead Marshes Elf
Ken Stratton Isengard Orc
Marcus Thorne Featured Orc
Greg Tozer Conscripting Rohan Soldier
Piripi Waretini Uruk-Hai Warrior
Hannah Wood Rohan Woman in Cave
John Wraight Stable Hand


Below is a list of trivia from Amazon's "X-Ray" feature that accompanied the film upon streaming it on Prime Video.

Filming locations

Specific Location
in New Zealand
General Area
in New Zealand
Plains of RohanGreenstone StationKinloch
RohanPoolburn LakeManiototo Plain
EdorasMount SundayRangitata Valley
Dead MarshesKepler MireTe Anau
The Black GateRangipo DesertLake Taupo
Helm's DeepHayward's HillLower Hutt

Deviations from the source material

Jackson's The Two Towers differs from Tolkien's in several important ways. Arwen does not appear in the second book at all. Interviews with Jackson and the other writers on the extended DVD version of the movie make it clear that they are fully aware of the implications of these changes in terms of the original story, and have chosen to make them not out of ignorance but in order to make the story work better in terms of motion picture storytelling.

Notably, the meaning of the title itself, 'The Two Towers', has been changed. Tolkien considered many possible combinations, but eventually settled on Orthanc and Minas Morgul being the 'two towers'[1] However, in the Jackson's movie, Saruman instead names them as Orthanc and Barad-dûr, which is also reflected in the movie poster.


Tolkien divided The Two Towers into two distinct parts. The first told the stories of Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and Gandalf. The second concerned Frodo, Sam and Gollum. Jackson chose to intercut between the two to present the events in chronological order.


Jackson and his co-writers added several events to the story, notably:

  • In the movie, Faramir speaks of taking the Ring from Frodo, for the defence of Gondor; in the book, he denies having any such desire: I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. he said.[2] According to Jackson, this does not work dramatically, as Faramir has no "character arc" (i.e. he does not change as a character from his first scene to his last). Jackson justifies this change as a means of making Faramir seem more of a rounded character as well as not wanting the line to deflate the perceptions of the Ring's power.
  • In the movie, Faramir takes Frodo, Sam and Gollum to the besieged city of Osgiliath, but subsequently lets them go. In the theatrical version, it is not clear how Frodo and his companions get back from Osgiliath to Ithilien, but this is explained in the extended cut - they escape through the ruined city's sewers and so make their way out behind the enemy lines. (It is not explained why the Gondorians have made no military use of this apparent asset.)
  • An attack on the Rohirrim travelling to Helm's Deep by Orcs mounted on Wargs results in Aragorn's near death; he is revived by a vision of Arwen in a dream sequence. Nothing like this is present in the book.
  • Galadriel persuades Elrond (via long-distance telepathy) to send Elven archers to Helm's Deep. Interestingly, they appear nonetheless to be Elves of Lothlórien, one of whom (Haldir) we met previously in the Golden Wood. Jackson originally planned to have Arwen herself fighting at Helm's Deep and filmed some scenes along those lines, but abandoned that tack. It is still possible to pick her out in the battle, as some footage was used in the Extended Edition. This addition might have been inspired by a single line spoken in passing by Legolas, when he was waiting for the coming forces of Saruman at the walls of Helm's Deep: But even more would I give for a hundred good archers of Mirkwood. We shall need them. The Rohirrim have good bowmen after their fashion, but there are too few here, too few.[3]
  • Arwen has a vision of her future which is taken somewhat loosely from The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the books' Appendices.[4]
  • Elrond almost forcibly sends Arwen "to the West"(Aman). Her final decision on the matter, and her reason for making it, is revealed in The Return of the King.

Two important events from Tolkien's The Two Towers did not make it into the film, but were held over for the next one:

  • Gandalf and Saruman's confrontation at Isengard; this was originally intended to appear at the beginning of The Return of the King, but a late decision by Peter Jackson meant that this scene was not part of the theatrical version, though it has since been included in the extended cut.
  • Sam and Frodo's encounter with the monstrous Shelob. (This is foreshadowed by Gollum's line: "We could let her do it!") Shelob's Lair did indeed feature prominently in the third film.


Four of the characters in the film are presented somewhat differently than their counterparts in the book:

  • Faramir requires much more convincing to let Sam and Frodo continue on their quest; in the book he immediately recognizes the wisdom of permitting them to leave freely.[5]
  • Treebeard, chief among the Ents, is unaware of what is happening on the borders of his forest and has to be "tricked" into attacking Isengard. In the theatrical release he is not seen sending Huorns to Helm's Deep, but does so in the extended video version - see below.
  • Continuing a trend from the first movie, Elrond (who doesn't appear in the book) is much more protective of Arwen and is almost antagonistic toward Aragorn, thus the Thingol portrayal and the stereotypical "father-daughter theme" are both apparent.
  • King Théoden's reaction upon learning of Gríma's treachery differs greatly from the novel: In the book, he offers Wormtongue a chance to redeem himself by riding to war with the Rohirrim[6], whereas in the film, a dazed Théoden tries to personally execute the traitor.

Théoden's attitude towards the coming conflict is also presented differently in Jackson's film: In the novel, Théoden chooses to ride to war, and only goes to Helm's Deep in order to assist Erkenbrand's forces[7], which had been dealt a defeat by Saruman's armies. In the film, he opts to avoid open confrontation, and treats Helm's Deep as a shelter for the civilian population of Rohan. Only the ensuing orc siege forces him into battle.


Awards and critical opinion

  • Academy Awards
    • Winner: Visual Effects, Sound Editing.
    • Nominee: Best Picture, Best Art Direction - Set Decoration, Best Editing, and Best Sound.
  • American Film Institute: Digital Effects, Production Design, Movie of the Year
  • Apex Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Viggo Mortensen), Best Production Design, Best Original Song Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Make-up
  • 2003 Art Directors Guild: Best Production Design (Period or Fantasy feature Film)
  • Australian Film Awards: Best Foreign Film
  • British Academy Film Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Special Visual Effects, Orange Film of the Year (voted on by the public)
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Digital Acting Performance (Gollum)
  • Central Ohio Film Critics: Best Cinematography
  • Cinemarati Awards: Best Film, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Film Editing
  • Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics: Best Director (Peter Jackson)
  • Empire Awards: Best Picture
  • Golden Satellite Awards: Outstanding Motion Picture Ensemble, Best Visual Effects
  • Golden Trailer Awards: Best Action Trailer
  • Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hairstylist Guild Awards: Best Character Makeup, Best Character Hair Styling, Best Special Makeup Effects
  • Hugo Award (World Science Fiction Society): Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form
  • International 3-D Awards (computer graphics industry): Best Feature Film VFX (Weta)
  • Kansas City Film Critics: Best Director
  • Las Vegas Film Critics: Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects
  • Phoenix Film Critics Awards [1]: "Best Picture", "Best Ensemble Acting", "Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium", "Best Cinematography", "Best Production Design", "Best Visual Effects", and "Best Makeup" "Gollum's Song", the theme played during the end credits, won the award for "Best Original Song". The song was written by Howard Shore and sung by the Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Awards: Best Film
  • Saturn Awards: Best Fantasy Film, Best Costume (Ngila Dickson), Best Supporting Actor (Andy Serkis)
  • Visual Effects Society Awards: Best Special Effects, Best Effects in Art Direction, Best Visual Effects in Photography, Best Models and Miniatures, Best Performance by an Actor in an Effects Film, Best Character Animation in a Live-Action Feature Film, Best Compositing and Visual Effects in an Effects-Driven Film
  • Followers of the Oscars predicted that the movie had a poor chance of winning Best Picture, because it received no other nominations in the major Oscar categories (Director, Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress and Screenplay). This proved to be true, though the film did win the Academy Award for Visual Effects. It was speculated that the Academy was biding its time for the concluding film, The Return of the King, to be released so that they could honour Peter Jackson for creating such a successful and acclaimed film trilogy. The third film was awarded 11 Oscars in 2004.

Video release

The theatrical edition of the movie was released on VHS and DVD on Tuesday, August 26, 2003. The DVD was a 2-disc set with extras on the second disc. This was intended to be a simultaneous worldwide release, but some British stores began selling the videos on Friday 22 because it was a Bank Holiday weekend, much to the ire of the film's UK distributor, which has threatened to withhold advance supplies of subsequent video releases.

An extended version of the movie including 44 minutes of additional material was released on video on Tuesday, November 18, 2003, with a total of 223 minutes (3 hours, 43 minutes). One of the additional scenes features Sean Bean and John Noble, who do not appear in the theatrical version, in a flashback in which brothers Boromir and Faramir are seen together with their father Denethor. This is available on VHS and on a 4-disc DVD set, with the movie on discs 1 and 2 including four audio commentaries by the crew and actors, and extensive bonus material on discs 3 and 4. There is also a "Special Edition" DVD package containing the 4-disc set, a sculpture of Gollum, a booklet about the process of designing Gollum for the movie and a short DVD documentary on the process of designing collectible sculptures based on the movies' characters and artefacts.

In December, 2003 there were also limited back-to-back theatrical releases of the extended versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers followed by premieres of The Return of the King, in all nine hours and seventeen minutes long.

References in other media

In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Duchess of Wails", the end of the episode is a homage to the attack on Helm's Deep from the movie. Certain lines are used in the scene's dialogue as well as memorable visual moments, like the initial volley of arrows (tomatoes in the episode) are also used.


  1. Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, "Truth or Consequences: A Cautionary Tale of Tolkien Studies", Hammond& (accessed 6 January 2022), footnote 50
  2. J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter V (The Window on the west), p.671
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VII ("Helm's Deep"), page.532
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen"
  5. J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter V (The Window on the west), p.672
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VI ("The King of the Golden Hall"), page.520
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter VII ("Helm's Deep"), page.528
Licensed screen adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's works
Animation The Hobbit (1967) · The Hobbit (1977) · The Lord of the Rings (1978) · The Return of the King (1980) ·The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (2024, upcoming)
Live-action The Lord of the Rings film series The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) · The Two Towers (2002) · The Return of the King (2003)
The Hobbit film series An Unexpected Journey (2012) · The Desolation of Smaug (2013) · The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Other films The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum (2026, upcoming)
TV series Hobitit (1993) · The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022-present)

The Lord of the Rings film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films The Fellowship of the Ring (extended editionThe Two Towers (extended edition) · The Return of the King (extended edition)
Music The Fellowship of the Ring (The Complete Recordings) · The Two Towers (The Complete Recordings) · The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings) · "May It Be" · "Gollum's Song" · "Into the West"
Tie-in books Official Movie Guide · The Making of the Movie Trilogy · Complete Visual Companion · Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic · There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale · Weapons and Warfare · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Sketchbook
The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion · The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers Visual Companion · Photo Guide · The Art of The Two Towers
The Return of the King Visual Companion · The Art of The Return of the King
Video games The Two Towers · The Return of the King · The Third Age · Tactics · Conquest · Aragorn's Quest · Lego The Lord of the Rings
Characters Frodo · Bilbo · Gandalf · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Boromir · Legolas · Gimli · Elrond · Galadriel · Théoden · Éomer · Éowyn · Saruman · Sauron · Witch-king · Denethor · Faramir · Gollum · Gríma · Treebeard · Celeborn · Haldir · Lurtz · Sharku · Grishnákh