Tag Archives: Rohan

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


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

While there have been many criticisms leveled at the final entry in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, you can’t deny that the film possesses some awesome musical moments. One of my particular favorites is “Lighting the Beacons,” when Gandalf dispatches Pippin to secretly light the city beacon so that Rohan can be notified that Gondor needs help. While it is a deviation from the book (in the original story Denethor ordered the beacons lit before Gandalf and Pippin even arrived at Minas Tirith), it’s one I don’t mind because the music that goes with this scene is just wonderful.

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

The cue starts with a tentative motif in the strings, matching Pippin’s secret climb up to the beacon while Gandalf observes from below. Despite the two guards sitting nearby, there’s never any real sense that Pippin is in danger of being caught or falling. As soon as the guards notice the beacon is lit, the music quickly jumps up into a “burning” melody that matches the leaping flames shining for all to see. As the next beacon in the sequence is lit, the music “ignites” again, flourishing higher and higher as the message is passed on with each new beacon.

The next segment in this scene is a montage showing beacons being lit all across the mountains. There’s actually far more than the seven beacons mentioned in the book, but it makes for a great filler scene so I don’t mind. The music heard during this scene is a fast reprise of Gondor’s theme. I’ve always loved the power in this theme, which is dominated by the brass. The theme slowly fades as the final beacon is lit and observed by Aragorn at Edoras. The music trails off on a note of suspense because, in the following moment, Aragorn dashes to inform the king that Gondor is calling for aid (the music for that can be found in another cue, that’s why it trails off to silence).

If you compare the film version to the soundtrack version, you’ll notice there are some musical differences. While they sound very similar to each other, I think the soundtrack version of this piece comes from an alternate take that didn’t make it into the final soundtrack.

What do you think of the music for “Lighting the Beacons”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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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)


The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

Note: I was actually going to do “Riders of Rohan” today but my headphones are missing right now and I didn’t want to wait all day to do a post, so I picked this one instead 🙂


Theodred is a character that we, unfortunately, only “meet” after he has been mortally wounded by orcs at the Fords of the River Isen. (In the books we only learn of his death after the fact). He’s brought back to Edoras by his cousin Eomer, but he never recovers. In fact, a deleted scene was going to strongly hint that Wormtongue poisoned Theodred to make sure that he died.

The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

As King Theoden’s only son, the late prince is given a royal burial in the funeral mounds located outside the gates of Edoras, where all the kings of Rohan are buried. As the body is brought down to be interred into the mound, Eowyn (also Theodred’s cousin, being the sister of Eomer) leads a funeral dirge in Rohirric (the native language of Rohan).


As strange as the words sound, Tolkien (being an expert in ancient languages) based Rohirric on a dialect of Old English. This is why, if you listen carefully, the words sound almost familiar, even though they’re not understandable. The basic gist of the dirge is that: death has claimed this noble warrior, and all will wail his passing. He will return home to Meduseld (the house of the king) no longer. The words sound harsh to the ear, but the raw heartache behind them is palpable.

This is clearly a very emotional moment for Eowyn, who has already lost her parents, seen her brother exiled and now must watch her cousin be buried. I’m sure she never imagined that she would witness Theodred’s funeral. It always hurts to lose a family member, but Eowyn does her best to keep her emotions in check (she is a princess of Rohan after all, being a niece of the king).

While Theodred is a character we barely get to meet, his death has far-reaching consequences. For one, Theoden has lived to bury his children (thus affecting him for the rest of the story). For another, this makes Eomer, the king’s nephew, the heir to the throne of Rohan. The problem is: Eomer is currenly riding north and growing more distant by the hour. Unless he can somehow be recalled, Rohan is going to be in a lot of trouble very quickly.

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂