The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” (2003)


The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” (2003)

It’s one of the oldest tropes in storytelling, but also one of the best: when the heroes seem doomed to fail against overwhelming odds, more heroes suddenly arrive to lend their assistance. This is the setup that leads to “Ride of the Rohirrim,” one of the best cues in the entire film. At this point, Minas Tirith is close to being completely overrun by the armies of Mordor. Gandalf is doing his best to lead the defense but there’s simply too many of them (not to mention he also has the Witch King to deal with). But then…a distant horn call grabs everyone’s attention: Rohan has arrived!

The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” Soundtrack (2003)

The music starts off slow as Theoden gives his commanders their orders. But as the king launches into a rousing speech to his men, the music is filled with more and more trumpets, culminating in a blast as Theoden shouts “A sword day, a red day, ‘ere the Sun rises!” The music then briefly pulls back but not by much, it’s clear the climax for this scene is imminent. One of my favorite moments comes right before the charge when all the horns of Rohan are sounded at once (it actually gives me goosebumps every time I hear it).

The charge itself is followed by Rohan’s theme played over and over again as the Rohirrim charge the lines of Mordor. What’s clever here is that Howard Shore grows the theme in power with each iteration. No matter how many arrows the orcs send at them, the riders simply keep coming. I love how the charge builds with equal intensity, you can see the lust for battle building in all of the riders as they race forward. I also love the moment when it finally dawns on the orc commander that nothing is stopping this charge from hitting them head on. Finally, with trumpets blazing in the background, the cavalry strikes the orcs and decimates their forces. It’s a supremely uplifting moment that instantly restores hope that the good guys will win the day. But while Rohan’s arrival has somewhat evened the odds, our heroes are forgetting that Mordor has been holding forces in reserve all this time. For next time I’ll discuss the arrival of the Haradrim.

What do you think of “Ride of the Rohirrim”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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The Return of the King “Lighting the Beacons” (2003)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Shire” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Shadow of the Past” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Wood Elves/Passing of the Elves” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Treason of Isengard” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “A Knife in the Dark” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Flight to the Ford” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Bridge of Khazad-Dum” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Many Meetings” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Ring Goes South/Fellowship Main Theme” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “In Dreams” (2001)

The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

The Two Towers “Last March of the Ents” (2002)


4 thoughts on “The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” (2003)

  1. Pingback: The Return of The King “The Haradrim Arrive” (2003) | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: The Two Towers “Forth Eorlingas!” (2002) | Film Music Central

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