Aragorn calls out to the Black Gate. With a throaty gasp of the six-note Evil theme, the gargantuan doors part. Out proceeds a rider, draped all in black, his eyes buried behind his helmet, his mouth a twisted, poisonous wound. It is the Mouth of Sauron, the Black Lord’s repugnant emissary. The Lieutenant of Barad-dûr regards Aragorn’s force mockingly. Gandalf commands him to relay a message to Sauron, “The armies of Mordor must disband. He is to depart these lands, never to return.” Violins strike a familiarly pleading line… but it is not derived from Gandalf’s request. It is the same line heard when Frodo came nearest to the Black Gate in The Two Towers, the melodic entreaty that underscored Gollum’s manic begging.
Once again Frodo’s name meets the Gate. The Mouth of Sauron produces Frodo’s mithril vest, assuring his friends that the hobbit is dead, his mission failed. Pippin gasps, “Frodo!” The figure repeats, descending into the sorrowful B phrase of Gondor in Decline. Frodo was their last hope.
Aragorn rides to the front of the pack. French horn and strings shake with a telling phrase. The orchestra twitters with passing three-note figures, fragments of the Heroics of Aragorn. It is not yet the down-and-back-up figure that can change Gondor in Decline to Gondor in Ascension, but it marks an important turn. “It takes more to make a king than a broken Elvish blade,” the Mouth of Sauron’s final words ring true. Aragorn beheads Sauron’s lieutenant with a shock of a varied Decline figure. A king must take action.
The orchestra stirs, striking up an unrelenting pulsation of low strings and woodwinds over a galloping percussion cadence. Aragorn will not believe that Frodo has failed. He will not give in to despair and hopelessness. He will not betray the trust of his people.
The Gates part wide, disgorging the Orkish host which has for so long lain in wait, ready to end mankind. Evil Times is tautened into an oscillating surge. Brass swells momentarily, singeing the texture as the red glow of Barad-dûr becomes visible, towering behind the Orcs. The Mordor Outline thumps in an eager, bloodthirsty retrograde.
Sauron’s eye spins northerly towards the gate. Frodo and Sam are free to continue on, unwatched.
Gondor’s ringing trumpet sounds. Aragorn comes before his men. “Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers!” Fellowship dilates the brass writing. “A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day.” Strings join the Fellowship theme, now singing its full phrase. “This day we fight!” Swords part scabbards; the Men of the West await the Orcs.
The pulsing ceases, all musical warmth dissipating. In the dust, Frodo and Sam climb the final embankment to the Cracks of Doom. Frodo has barely strength enough to stand, let alone climb the mountainside. Sir James Galway’s whistle emits a singular, pure tone above the encroaching rumble of percussion. The stepwise motion of the Shire has come so far, but the journey’s final steps may be its most perilous. Frodo lies motionless upon the soot. Chorus begins Philippa Boyens’ “The Argument,” the articulation of Sam’s inner dialogue of doubt and determination. The whistle again tries to remember the Shire theme, locating its details but forgetting its tranquil peace.
Sam knows he cannot carry the Ring… but he can carry Frodo. Orchestra and chorus surge, emerging in a profound, enveloping statement of the Grey Havens. Sam’s gift to Frodo, his strength, determination and resolve will, alone, allow Frodo to be free of the Ring. But it is an act of self-sacrifice at least equal to Frodo’s—Sam knows that, one way or the other, he will lose Frodo.
IN THE MAKING:
“The Mouth of Sauron” was composed to an early cut of the scene that was tightened when edited into the film, so some musical passages were truncated. Shore’s composition is heard here in its entirety.
The Original Soundtrack CD featured different, more hopeful music for Sam and Frodo’s memories of the Shire, where the whistle line built directly into the Grey Havens theme. Here, as in the finished film, those memories are bitterer, and minor-moded string lines lead to the Grey Havens theme.
Text by Philippa Boyens
Sindarin Translation by David Salo
FIRST HEARD: DISC THREE | TRACK FIFTEEN
Caedo, losto. Ú-erin davo. | Lie down, sleep. I cannot yield.
Amman harthach? Anim únad. | Why do you still hope? I have nothing else.
Le tûg nach. O hon ú-wannathon. | You are a fool. I will not leave him.
Ú-moe le anno nad. Ónen a hon beth nín. | You owe him nothing. I gave him my word.
Gurth han ristatha. Ta han narcho Gurth. | Death will break it. Then let Death break it.
Gar vethed e-chúnen, go hon bedithon na meth. | He has the last of my heart. I will go with him to the end.
© The Annotated Score (The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films)
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