The early 2000's saw the release of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films, which became one of cinema's most beloved and iconic trilogies. The beating heart of these films was not the warriors and kings, but the Hobbits who were thrust into an adventure far bigger than them. Perhaps no Hobbit represented this emotional core more than Samwise Gamgee, the stalwart companion who, undaunted, carried Frodo across the finish line. Arguably Sam's biggest moment was his speech at the end of The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers. But the resolute and hopeful speech that said so much about his character almost didn't make it into the film, as Samwise actor Sean Astin explained.
That scene was not written in the original script. The writers went back to the book, found that speech, and we went back and filmed it. In the middle of a billion-dollar [franchise] and all that comes with that, Peter Jackson was able to navigate that space in a way that was really heartfelt and meaningful.
Watching that speech today, even by itself, can still send chills down your spine and fill your heart with hope. It is difficult to imagine The Two Towers or the trilogy as a whole without it. Shooting The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a massive undertaking, and the fact that they went back and decided to insert this is incredible. It does not feel tacked on; and more than being seamless, it feels vital and inextricable from the film as a whole. The speech is heartfelt and meaningful and it ends the dark middle chapter on an inspiring and hopeful note.
As Sean Astin told Yahoo, the speech was actually a direct response to the 9/11 attacks. The first film was released in December of 2001, and The Two Towers proved unfortunately titled when it was released the following year. So the writers went back to the book, found J.R.R. Tolkien's beautiful words, and added that scene to the film. That is part of what makes the speech so incredible. Of course Samwise is speaking to the struggle in Middle Earth, but the words have resonance far beyond that fantasy world. In case you've forgotten, watch the speech below.
That is the power of great storytelling. Words found in a novel published in 1954, were filmed to inspire hope in 2002, and they still hold weight today. This is just another reason why The Lord of the Rings trilogy set the benchmark for high fantasy in feature film that is still unmatched to this day (on the big screen at least). This speech is just a part of what made Peter Jackson's trilogy so memorable, and why for some it is the greatest trilogy of all time (cue Clerks 2 argument). It is also why the upcoming Lord of the Rings TV show from Amazon is so ambitious. Spending an insane amount of money with modern technology might produce bigger battles, but it takes purpose and heart to tell a story that really matters.