2 Movies 1 Moment: ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ Versus ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’
Time for someone to take a bow, or rather, not.
2 Movies 1 Moment is a feature where we look closer at moments in two films that present the same thing and dig a little deeper as to their significance in the film and cinema as a whole.
In this edition of 2 Movies 1 Moment, we put respect to the test as we compare two scenes that feature a bow not taken, one from the 2004 action adventure film The Chronicles of Riddick, starring Vin Diesel and one from the 2003 fantasy film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Each feature moments when someone is compelled to take a bow but for their own reasons of ones bestowed upon them, don’t. Let’s compare.
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
THE FILM: A sequel to the 2002 film Pitch Black about an extraordinarily dangerous criminal with surgically-modified eyes that allow him to see in the dark, the story picks up five years later with Riddick hiding from bounty hunters. He eventually gets captured and sent to an underground moon prison where he meets up with Jack (Alexa Davalos) a girl he rescued from the last movie. Now they need to escape.
THE NO BOW MOMENT: Early in the film, Riddick is on New Mecca, and meets Imam (Keith David), another man he rescued in the first story. While there, an army of militant religious fanatics attack and in the ensuing battle, kills Iman while Riddick manages to escape. The following day, the high priest of the Necromongers, called The Purifier (Linus Roache), assembles the masses in a great hall and forces the population to bend to his will, demanding they convert to the cause, all in the name of Lord Marshal (Colm Feore). To show their subjugation, with soldiers watching, he requires they kneel and bow to authority.
During all this, under disguise, Riddick moves among the conquered people as they listen in duress. When the throngs acquiesce to The Purifier’s command, only Riddick stands tall, and when seen, removes the hood from his head, prompting nearby Lord Vaako (Karl Urban) to approach and offer him an ultimatum. Naturally, Riddick isn’t about to get on a knee for this or any guy, so he tells him instead, “I bow for no man.”
Riddick explains that he’s not with the people here, but points to a Necromonger guard and says that he would like a piece of him, recognizing him as the one who had killed Iman. That heavily armed guard becomes intrigued by the possibility of taking down this insubordinate, but obviously, Riddick makes short work of the bulbous bad guy and lays him out fast using a few well-placed jabs with a special serrated knife. Point taken. Literally. It sends a strong message and has Lord Marshal curious, so he approaches the masked man to see who he truly is. When he scans him and finds out, well, things kick into real action. It’s a great no bow moment, and immediately establishes Riddick’s in-your-face attitude and defiant badassery, but is it better than …
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
THE FILM: The third in the epic trilogy by Peter Jackson, adapted from the beloved book series about a battle for good over evil in the fictional world of Middle Earth, the film follows the last push toward Mt. Doom in Mordor, home to the evil Dark Lord Sauron, who is after the once lost One Ring of power that will seal his control over the land. That ring is in the possession of a Hobbit named Frodo (Elijah Wood), who is tasked by the Fellowship, a gathering of Men, Dwarves, Elves, and Hobbits, to cast it into the fires from which it was forged, ending the long dark threat of its power.
THE NO BOW MOMENT: So some major spoilers ahead if by some unimaginable chance you haven’t seen the films, but toward the end, Frodo and his most trusted friend and fellow Hobbit Samwise (Sean Astin), reach the bowels of the mighty volcano and after terrible strife and effort, manage to send the vile ring to its depth, along with a poor wretch of a creature who longed to have his ‘precious’ as well.
Meanwhile, the others, in a struggle to distract the forces of evil from their comrades, wage a terrible war with Sauron and his ghastly army, as great cost. With victory upon them though, Sauron is defeated and peace is restored, allowing the one true king of the human realm of Gondor, Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) to take his throne.
On his coronation, along with his Elven queen Arwen (Liv Tyler), they stand atop the royal courtyard of Minas Tirith and walk among his people where they approach Frodo, Sam, and two other Hobbits Pippen (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan), who were crucial to the win, all standing with great humility before the king. They make a motion as if to bow before Aragorn but are stopped fast, the king assuring them, “My friends,” dramatic pause, “you bow to no one.” He then drops to one knee and lowers his head, inciting the thousands on hand to do the same. Cue the tears. It’s an extraordinary cinematic moment that is one of the most well-earned in movie history. It’s also a sensational flip on the no-bow trope. What do you think?