Everyone out there who complained about the “multiple endings”, I gotta say: cry more on this one… sorry.
The thing I really like about this compared to Harry Potter, which is also a book where the protagonist suffers a lot, is that “The Lord of the Rings” follows Frodo for a while after the end of the plot and shows that no, he doesn’t really get a happily ever after. Battle and trauma doesn’t come with a reward; it drains you, it changes you, in Frodo’s case it’s killing him slowly. So Harry gets his happily ever after, marries the girl he’s shown a tiny bit of interest in and then he pops out some kids and yay? I just don’t buy it, if anything I read this as just a facade.
So if you ended the movie in Minas Tirith and implied that the Hobbits were honored forever and la di da and happy ending it really undermines the sacrifice they made. So I’m really glad they didn’t leave those scenes for the extended cut; Frodo didn’t really get his happy ending. His story therefore is a lot more poignant than Harry’s because after all he’s been through he can’t return to the very thing he’s set out to save. And there’s this great little scene at the end with the four Hobbits just sitting and looking at eachother like “wow, we have been outside the cave. We can never relate to these people again.”
The damage done to Frodo wasn’t just there for some shallow drama, and we the viewer actually get to see that it had some real consequences. Frodo ends up having to leave the very thing he set out to save, and that’s some real poignancy you don’t see in big blockbusters.
— Lindsay Ellis