***If you haven’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, stop now and come back after you’ve watched them all. If you do binge them all at once (because they’re that great), just make sure you get up and stretch your legs between films.***
The Brilliant Aragorn
Aragorn is played by Viggo Mortensen, and his command of this role started from the first film, where he’s primarily referred to by his Ranger name, Strider. Initially seen as a mysterious figure in The Fellowship of the Ring, sitting in the shadows and smoking a pipe, viewers quickly realized his purpose: to defend Frodo and keep him safe. Aragorn is not perfect, and he does fail at times. Seriously, how far away did you go when Frodo’s friends decided to start a fire at night when they’re being hunted by malevolent Nazgûl, Ringwraiths who are searching for the One Ring that Frodo carries?
So, cinematically, it’s a brilliant scene. We see the Nazgûl surrounding the Hobbits and then after Frodo’s injury, we see Aragorn single-handedly fend off five of these Ringwraiths. There’s almost a determined desperation to his fighting style, because he seems to give every possible ounce of himself into this and every other battle. Yet, I love Aragorn’s willingness to admit his limitations. When Frodo is injured, he quickly states, “This is beyond my skill.”
Struggles from Within
A strength to see one’s limitations is heightened when one pushes beyond your own fears. Afraid of his lineage, as the heir to the throne of Gondor, Aragorn’s role as leader continues to grow throughout the franchise. We see him finally accept this role in Return of the King as he wields a once-broken sword which belongs to the rightful King of Gondor and leads an army into battle. This Ranger-turned-King does not only prove he’s willing to be a leader, but he does so despite not necessarily believing in himself. The exchange with Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, explains this inner struggle the best (Movieclips):
Elrond: “I give hope to Men.”
Aragorn: “I keep none for myself.”
This internal struggle is captivating to watch, and it enhances his steadfastness with regard to his duty and his one true love, Arwen. That whole business of leading an army is courageous, but not because he’s decided to lead it. Aragorn marches to the lands of Mordor, not to defeat the evil Sauron and his army, but to distract him and give Frodo time to destroy the Ring – the purpose of this entire trilogy. Aragorn is willing to defend Frodo. He’s able to mount a defense against a larger army, biding time for rescue. He’s able to muster the courage to fight a seemingly hopeless battle. This moment, and his resolve to do the right thing, highlights his own greatness and gives strength to those who follow him.
Honor Above All Else
If you want your kids to emulate a person’s actions, perhaps his greatest quality is his loyalty to his one true love. Arwen has made a choice to be with Aragorn and “choose a mortal life” (IMDb). Aragorn did not initially want this for Arwen, because it meant she would die one day. He accepts her choice, and he does not abandon her commitment to him, despite there being opportunity. Through the course of the second and third films of LOTR, it’s clear that another character has feelings for the future king.
Whether it be in film or real life, there are often times that relationships fail from unfaithful actions. How do we explain that to our kids? Everyone is different. Some people regret these actions. Sometimes, people continually make the same choice, which make me wonder if it’s truly a mistake in their minds. As a father, I want my kids to know I am faithful to their mother. It’s important that they realize the bond we have cannot be broken by another person. Perhaps this is why I love Aragorn so much. His bond to Arwen reminds me of what I had always wanted when I originally saw the film, and what I hold onto so dearly now with my wife.
If you’re interested in finding a similar connection for you or your teens, watch Viggo Mortensen in Lord of the Rings as we celebrate 15 years of Return of the King. There’s a good chance, if not Aragorn, you’ll find a deep bond with one of the incredible characters in the LOTR series.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Length: 3 hours, 21 minutes
PG-13 Rating, via Motion Picture Association of America: “Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13 – Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.”
Return of the What?
Before I end this celebratory spiel of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, I’d like to point out what you’ll find when you Google “return of the.” That’s right, The Return of the King is not first or even second, because honestly, how many people use "The" in most searches?
So, did you know that the 1996 song by Mark Morrison, “Return of the Mack,” is the most Googled thing when you’re doing research for the final installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy? It’s even above Return of the Jedi. Here are the top six things you’ll currently see when you Google search the epic film.
- return of the mack
- return of the jedi
- return of the living dead
- return of the obra dinn
- return of the king
- return of the mack lyrics
So, if you haven’t seen Lord of the Rings, maybe it’s appropriate to say the trilogy is one of the most epic things you’ll ever watch. “But I guess you didn’t know, as I said the story goes” (lyrics).
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.