In this article, we are discussing why was Gondor so weak in the Lord of the Rings movies. We will give you a bit about the history of Gondor, as well as some differences between Gondor in the books and Gondor in LOTR movies.
Gondor is a fictional kingdom from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Gondor is the kingdom of Dúnedain, the remaining Numenoreans, in the south. It was founded by Elendil and Isildur in the Second Age of the Sun. When in peak power, Gondor ruled the port of Umbar and held three cities: Minas Tirith, Minas Ithil, and Osgiliath.
Umbar was abducted by Gondor in the war with Harad. Over time, Osgiliath became a desolate and destroyed city, and Minas Ithil was captured by the Witch King – who was one of Nazgûl.
Sauron, who hated all Dúnedain, attacked Gondor during the three thousand years of the Third Age of the Sun. After the last King of Gondor was killed, Gondor was ruled by Stewards. During the War of the Ring, the Ruling Steward of Gondor was Denethor II, and his two sons were Boromir and younger Faramir – the latter being the last Ruling Steward of Gondor. When Aragorn sat on the throne he restored the glory of Gondor and Arnor, who again became strong states.
Osgiliath, a city and former capital of Gondor on the river Anduin, was largely destroyed and abandoned by the end of the Third Age. During the War of the Ring, Gondor kept a garrison on the west bank to prevent the Enemy from crossing the river and assaulting Minas Tirith.
Osgiliath was the key to besiege Minas Tirith because of its location and access to the river. The massive Morgul-host led by the Witch-king to besiege Minas Tirith overwhelmed the garrison and gained the passage of the Anduin, precipitating the Siege of Gondor that would conclude with the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
The military of Gondor was arguably the strongest force in Middle-earth that opposed Sauron in the late Second and Third Age.
In The War of the Last Alliance
Within a century of Gondor’s founding, it was put to a severe test during the War of the Last Alliance. In an alliance with Arnor and Elven forces from Lindon and Rhovanion, Gondor fought a series of battles against the forces of Sauron.
The Third Age
During the Third Age, Gondor’s military prowess eventually declined. The major difference was the Gondorian soldiers themselves: although the soldiers would have proudly fought to the last man, they were never as strong as the warriors of the past especially by the second half of the Third Age.
After the Great Plague and the Kin-strife, which left Gondor very weakened, many Númenóreans of pure blood had perished during those troublesome times. The Gondorian military wore chainmail armor with helmets graven with a small silver star. Citadel Guardsmen wore blackmail with mithril helms and a black and silver surcoat.
Why was Gondor so weak in the Lord of the Rings Movies?
Well, as we said, Peter Jackson, and his movies, didn’t do justice to Gondor soldiers. Even though they were not as nearly as strong as in Second Age when they were the strongest force in Middle-earth that opposed Sauron, they were still amazing soldiers, with great armor and weapons.
In LOTR books the Gondorians are horribly outnumbered, frightened of the Nazgul, and in a rather sorry state yet still fight valiantly until the end, and are more than a match for any orc.
But given the script that the movie follows it is easy to see why are they in this state now.
- The death of Boromir: In the extended version the character of Boromir is explored further, and it shows him to be a fearless leader of men, loved and respected by all. But once he succumbed to the Ring, Gondor was pretty much without a leader, because Faramir did not get the same support from his Father.
- Faramir was a different kind of brave: Faramir is much like The Dark Night – a hero that everyone deserves, but no one needs. In the book, he is resistant to the Ring (far more than his brother) and is fair, just, and upright. It can be said he is much like Aragorn and Gandalf in person, two people his father disliked. In fact, Faramir would have made a much better Fellowship member than his brother. But for whatever reason, his whole character wasn’t explored in the movies. He should have got his fair share of exposure.
- Gondor does not have a leader: They are led by a rather listless Denethor who became even more detached after the death of Boromir. Lack of proper leadership and with Faramir not getting the support he deserved from his father (not to mention he was pretty much out for the majority of the Battle of Pelennor Fields), lowered their morale somewhat.
- The script is unfair to Gondor: There are so many ways in which Gondor could have put up a fight (from using flaming arrows to deal with the moving towers to use the terrain to their advantage – Gondor was built into mountains, which gave them the advantage of height). Why just Gondor, the extended version does a huge injustice to Gandalf. In the extended version, the Witch-King of Angmar manages to subdue Gandalf and even break his staff. In reality, Gandalf was much stronger than the Witch-King, and his strength only increased after he had that near-death experience with the Balrog and was resurrected as Gandalf the White.
- Rohan’s contribution had to count for something: Gondor calls for aid, and Rohan responds. What was the point of mustering the Rohirrim and riding out to battle if Gondor was pretty much able to manage things on its own? To be of any value, the aid had to look like Gondor really needed it, and would not have survived without it. Although, if you look at it in the larger context, it was pretty much redundant once the Army of the Dead came and made the battle one-sided.
So in a nutshell, Gondor soldiers were not weak. It was the script that tried to showcase the strength of Mordor but instead ended up highlighting the weakness of Gondor.
Soldiers of Gondor are not incompetent. In movies, they are shown so to amplify the grimness of the battle.
In the book, they are sad and without hope. They are scared when Nazgul come, but otherwise, they are valiant and put up a good fight which keeps the enemy out of the city walls all the time.
In the majority of movies, there are always certain fighters that seem to exist for the express purpose of having someone for the heroes to easily destroy (think Stormtroopers). Orcs serve this purpose in the LotR films.
Conversely, some films include a “good” variant for these, for the LOTR films the Gondorian soldiers. Throughout the film, they seem to only exist to be killed in various ways by the orcs and to demonstrate how Gondor is losing without hope. They also serve to amplify the Ride of the Rohirrim.