The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – In Concert

Hi there!

This has been a long time coming and one of the main triggers to my 2023 Tolkien fever. My girlfriend and I, with a couple of other friends, got our tickets months ago for an in-concert viewing of the third and final installment in director Peter Jackson’s beloved The Lord of the Rings trilogy, produced by Productions GFN. On the 3rd of March, we finally went to check it out, and, having never done anything like this before, I can already say that this definitely was a unique viewing experience that surely any fan of the movie will appreciate in one way or another.

Shown on a large screen in high definition, smaller than anything found in theaters nowadays and without any of the usual surround sound system, but a formidable setting to feel the music from the instruments played, the third movie was projected while the FILMharmonic Orchestra and Choir and the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal performed live Howard Shore’s Academy Award®-winning score throughout the whole movie. Luckily for them, the theatrical cut was shown, in English with French subtitles, and the movie was split into two parts with a 20-minute intermission, which probably saved a couple of lives too. 😀

The whole place was packed, without a single seat empty, and the experience was fantastic. Having never seen Peter Jackson’s trilogy on the big screen before too (I was too young to even know what was going on), it was quite thrilling to rewatch it in this context. I do have to admit that, having seen the extended cut not too long ago, I was shocked by how many scenes were cut out of the theatrical cut. Otherwise, the movie was exactly what you think it was but more on that in my review of that at another time.

What made it so entertaining was how most people present were probably fans already of the movie and whenever we got around to key epic moments in the movie, the crowd pretty much went wild while the orchestra kept going through the applause. While that might be an upside to a community event, it also comes with other issues, like people arriving late to the event. However, all that was minimal and of little repercussion to the experience itself.

When it comes to the orchestra and choir, there’s very little to criticize. They were spectacular and performed elegantly and without any flaw whatsoever. The conductor Shih-Hung Young was also incredible, never faltering and in complete control of the orchestra. The soloist Kaitlyn Lusk was mesmerizing whenever she got up to add vocals to pretty much all scenes implicated Arwen and other iconic moments. The young choir was also phenomenal. I sometimes wonder how such little people can have such great voices. 😛

While the prices are pretty high, and luckily we found seats at a decent price, I think any fan of The Lord of the Rings wouldn’t think twice to attend these shows. It’s a unique and immersive experience with amplified musical performances that heighten the emotional tension, allowing everyone to relive the glorious moments within the final installment in this epic fantasy trilogy! 😁



34 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – In Concert

  1. While I like the idea, the reality of that many people is my worst nightmare. So I’m glad you had a great time at it.

    And I am glad you could notice the differences between the theatrical and directors cut. It is really stark when you see them within a short time span of each other. I understand why the theatrical cuts exist but am very thankful the other is now the main one fans watch.

    Did you get a headache from the orchestra? How loud was it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The differences between theatrical and extended are flagrant! I felt like I was cheated upon throughout the movie hahaha And noop, no headaches from the orchestra, they played wonderfully and it wasn’t overwhelming, unlike what you can sometimes experience in theaters for some movies. You can also tell that they sometimes played a bit louder than what it would’ve originally been in the movie since, during epic sequences, with music, there would be some scenes with few lines and you could barely hear those. But those instances are quite rare. The overall experience is still pretty good!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Years ago, I went to a concert performance of the main Lord of the Rings soundtrack music that had the maps projected above the orchestra, and that was fantastic, but I haven’t been to a showing of any of the films with a live orchestra and choir. There haven’t been any of those anywhere near me. So I’m jealous that you got to see this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed seeing the movies in the theater when they came out, but this sounds like another experience altogether. I’ve heard of these types of shows before but never been to one. Were you able to hear the voices in the movie with the orchestra playing up there, or was the movie silent and you just heard the live music? Either way it sounds like quite an experience and worth trying at least once. I’m glad you all had that opportunity, very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, the movie still had dialogue and sounds. Only the music was cut out and played live by the orchestra. Their music didn’t overwhelm the movie’s lines though. At times, especially when things get VERY epic, you can tell that the music might have been cranked up a bit more, and I was all for it since it made it even more immersive. I definitely recommend the experience! 😀


  4. I’ve never attended an experience like that but it sounds awesome. It gives you yet another layer of immersion, I’d think. Were you torn between clapping and not? While you want to acknowledge the talent of the orchestra, it bumps you out of the zone. No?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes. Not being used to these kinds of events, I was 100% inclined to not clap and risk disrupting the orchestra but I can assure you that everyone else didn’t care about that and went on to clap as a mob whenever the movie got to the epic moments. I’m sure that orchestra and maestro were quite used to the clapping and probably relish it too, it being inevitable and all.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s so amazing! I remember seeing a “ciné-concert” like this in Paris, and it was the first movie of the Harry Potter saga – it was fantastic, and it also brought a lot of focus on the soundtrack, which can sometimes be overlooked. It was also very interesting to realise how they used subtle music in some scenes. I would love to see something like this for the Lord of the RIngs too, it really sounds like a unique experience! Thanks for sharing Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The company behind this one does the same with a lot of other classic movies/scores, including Harry Potter, and it’s quite awesome that you got to do it for that franchise in particular! I found that it was completely worth it to do it for TLOR too and hopefully you’ll get to do this too someday! Thanks for reading, Juliette. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It has been ages since I saw the trilogy at the theater and then a second viewing of the Director’s cut (you’re right about some important extended scenes missing from theater cut). But, yes, I would plunk down my money to experience this. So neat that you could.

    Liked by 1 person

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