I think we can all agree that the Ents are one of the greatest things about The Two Towers. After Merry and Pippin rescue themselves from the Uruk-hai, they head into Fangorn Forest and run straight into Treebeard, de facto leader of the few Ents that remain in Middle Earth. Ents…are like trees, sort of. They resemble different varieties of trees, but they have legs, and eyes and they can talk too. Oh and they live for a really LONG time. So long in fact, that regular events in Middle Earth like war very rarely bother them. They’d just as soon let the humans, elves and other races sort it out among themselves, despite the pleas Merry keeps making to them.
But just as Treebeard is set to take Merry and Pippin to a place where they can safely head off to the Shire, Pippin has an idea: he tells Treebeard to take them south past Isengard, having a fairly good idea of what the Ent will run into on the way.
See, while the Ents have been busy deep in the forest, Saruman the wizard has been busy having the forest surrounding Isengard chopped down as fuel for the furnaces helping to produce weapons and armor for his army. So when Treebeard comes to the slopes nearest the wizard’s tower, he emerges to find that acres of forest have been chopped down and completely destroyed, trees that he had known since they were seedlings.
That does it!! Exclaiming that “a wizard should know better” Treebeard lets out a howl of pain and anger that summons all the remaining Ents to his side as he explains to the hobbits:
“There is no curse in Elvish, Entish or in all the tongues of Men, for this treachery.”
Now the Ents will go to war, as they have not done for ages. But there is no optimism here: as the females of their species disappeared centuries ago, there are no more Ent children. Whatever losses they suffer in the coming battle will only hasten the extinction of their race, hence the reason this is called “the last march of the Ents.”
I love the scene when all the Ents are striding across the ruined plain, the Ent theme sounding clear in the background. This is one of those moments that is absolutely pure Tolkien and I never get tired of it. It’s such a sad theme, sad and bittersweet, but it matches the Ents perfectly.
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