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The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is set in the fictional world of Middle-earth, and follows the hobbit Frodo Baggins as he and a Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, and thus ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. The Fellowship becomes divided and Frodo continues the quest together with his loyal companion Sam and the treacherous Gollum. Meanwhile, Aragorn, heir in exile to the throne of Gondor, and the wizard Gandalf unite and rally the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, who are ultimately victorious in the War of the Ring.
The Fellowship of the Ring
In the Second Age, the Dark Lord Sauron attempts to conquer Middle-Earth using his One Ring. In a battle against the Elves and Men, Prince Isildur cuts the Ring from Sauron's hand, destroying his physical form and vanquishing his army. However, Sauron's "life force" is bound to the Ring, allowing him to survive while the Ring remains. Isildur, corrupted by the Ring's power, refuses to destroy it. When Isildur is killed by Orcs, the Ring is lost in a river for 2,500 years. The Ring is found by Gollum, who possesses it for centuries until it is found by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
The Ring has found its way to the young hobbit Frodo Baggins. The fate of Middle-earth hangs in the balance as Frodo and eight companions who form the Fellowship of the Ring begin their journey to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.
The Two Towers
Continuing the plot of The Fellowship of the Ring, the film intercuts three storylines. Frodo and Sam continue their journey towards Mordor to destroy the One Ring, meeting and joined by Gollum, the ring's former owner. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli come to the war-torn nation of Rohan and are reunited with the resurrected Gandalf, before fighting at the Battle of Helm's Deep. Merry and Pippin escape capture, meet Treebeard the Ent, and help to plan an attack on Isengard.
The Return of the King
As Sauron launches the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth, Gandalf the Wizard, and Théoden King of Rohan rally their forces to help defend Gondor's capital Minas Tirith from the looming threat. Aragorn finally claims the throne of Gondor and summons an army of ghosts to help him defeat Sauron. Ultimately, even with full strength of arms, they realise they cannot win; so it comes down to the Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, to bear the burden of the Ring and deal with the treachery of Gollum. After a long journey they finally arrive in the dangerous lands of Mordor, seeking to destroy the One Ring in the place it was created, the volcanic fires of Mount Doom.