Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Sean Astin in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Sean Astin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Samwise "Sam" Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The Return of the King is the third film of the Lord of the Rings telling the story among many of when the hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) finally gets into Mordor and onto Mount Doom to destroy the Ring.

Sean Astin portrays Frodo's fellow Hobbit and best friend who has been with him along his whole long journey to destroying the ring. In the other two films Astin offered fine support as Sam who always act loyal to Frodo being the only member of the original fellowship to go with him to actually attempt to destroy the ring. Astin is good in both he previous films, and does have some very nice moments but it is not until this film where he really gets to fully shine in the part of Samwise. In the role throughout all of the films but especially this one, where one could argue that Sam becomes the true hero of the entire film, is the perpetual optimism of Sam. Astin portrays this particularly well because unlike say the Ralph Bakshi where Sam just comes off as stupid, Astin shows it as something entirely genuine within Sam to simply try to see the brighter side of things even in the darkest of situation. Astin does overplay it any way only portraying Sam's strong beliefs in good triumphing over evil in a honest fashion that is perfect for Sam. 

What is perhaps the most important aspect of Sam in the series is his friendship with Frodo. Astin and Wood depict it in a very quiet and understated fashion that work wonderfully well. Importantly though Astin shows his love for his friend as something that endures all the pains of the adventure, and that is really what keeps him still trying his best to remain positive even as Frodo becomes slowly more and more depressed over their hardships. Astin makes their key moments together quite moving though because he just is so truthful in finding the unending passion within Sam to help his friend. Sam being the first film as rather afraid and unsure of himself so much that he hesitates to leave his home. In this film he goes all the way to taking on a giant spider all by himself. That is certainly not an easy transition to make believable, but Astin does just that. It is a well handled transition slowly through the film, but it is not that Sam necessarily becomes a different person, Astin certainly does not play it that way nor should he. Astin rather more effectively portrays a bravery that simply was always in Sam, and simply the situations is what broke him out of the hesitations he had beforehand.

One thing that certainly works in favor of the films is the down to earth performances given by much of the cast despite the fact that it is a fantasy film. This is especially true of Astin whose reactions to the situations he goes through, as well as his slow physical and mental trauma from the events, as the reactions of any man, not even necessarily a hobbit. Astin just has the utmost conviction in his part to make every moment especially the most poignant ones, such as "I can carry you", come through with the power they need for the film. It is heartbreaking as it should be and what Astin delivers is the weight not only what we see in this film, but every moment that came before. Every line that is there has this conviction from Astin though, and every moment as the character and the relationship are so well realized. When Sam is turned away by Frodo, Astin's anguish is devastating, just as when he returns it is inspiring. Astin uses that all that came, even the romance that only had a slight moment in the first film is given such gravity through Astin's heart wrenching delivery of remembering as Sam believes it will be the end. As with all the best performances in the trilogy Astin's work finds the honest humanity within the fantasy that takes the trilogy as a whole further than any fantasy film that ever came before. Astin's work here is actually one of the most remarkable depictions of friendship in any film. Astin makes Sam's loyalty to his friend not only believable but something truly special by how genuine every second of it is.


Michael Patison said...

I'm glad you seemed to like both the performance, the film, and the series. The series is one of my favorites. I love how each one of the films has a really great supporting performance (on top of all the other good ones also present) that seems to stand out from the other ones (McKellen in the first, Serkis in the second, and Astin in the third) all with Wood giving a wonderful performance that, while his character may be supporting as it receives no more time necessarily than anybody else in the film, effectively moves the story along while providing the requisite emotional power.

RatedRStar said...

I liked nearly everyone in LOTR, my personal fave was Viggo Mortensen =D .

Lezlie said...

I love the films and the actors in it! Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis are all great, but my personal favourite is Sean Bean :) Boromir is my favourite character of the trilogy, too bad he dies in the first film xD But his death is Epic.
Good review!

Louis Morgan said...

Michael: Yes it is a great cast. Watching it again I would put everyone in supporting. I would put Wood in lead for Fellowship, as well as Two Towers along with possibly Mortensen, I have to watch that one again to be sure.

RatedRStar: Yes Mortensen is great in all three films, but than again when isn't Mortensen great?

RatedRStar said...

true he is always great =D he is also looking great for his age Viggo, born in 1958... he looks great.