In LOTR: ROTK, as Frodo, Sméagol, and Sam approach Minas Morgul to make their climb to the Cirith Ungol pass, Frodo is somehow drawn to Minas Morgul and stumbles a few paces up the road leading to its gates. An enormous, cycling energy beam spirals out of Minas Morgul and up to the sky; Gandalf and Pippin observe it from Minas Tirith. I assume it has some meaning and/or significance, as it was left in the movie.

What is the beam of light at Minas Morgul for?

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2 Answers 2


As per TVTropes, of all places to get a good solid factual answer :)

The book tells us that this particular pillar is produced in response to one from Barad-dûr. The exchange is essentially Sauron (at Barad-dûr) asking "Are you ready?" and the Witch-King at Minas Morgul replying "Yes!"

Here's the relevant passage from "The Two Towers" that seems to confirm that this was either a "We are ready" or "We acknowledge the order to move out":

The great rumbling noise, louder than ever before, rolled in the ground and echoed in the mountains. Then with searing suddenness there came a great red flash. Far beyond the eastern mountains it leapt into the sky and splashed the lowering clouds with crimson. In that valley of shadow and cold deathly light it seemed unbearably violent and fierce.
And Minas Morgul answered. There was a flare of livid lightnings: forks of blue flame springing up from the tower and from the encircling hills into the sullen clouds.
Across the narrow valley, now almost on a level with his eyes, the walls of the evil city stood, and its cavernous gate, shaped like an open mouth with gleaming teeth, was gaping wide. And out of the gate an army came.

As a side note, for those who didn't notice this specific detail among the wall of quotes - while the movie scene was in the ROTK (as per the question), the equivalent scene is in "The Two Towers" book.

  • 8
    Every time I reread the books, I'm surprised that The Two Towers doesn't end until after Sam and Frodo have passed through Shelob's Lair. Every damn time.
    – Plutor
    Jan 31, 2012 at 2:42
  • 4
    @Plutor, I have a similar surprise, but for me it's every time I rewatch the movie ;) Sep 30, 2014 at 0:45
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    When I first saw it in the cinema, and it showed the end scene with Gollum planning to take them to Shelob, I was looking at my watch going 'How long can this movie be?' - then it ended. The book has a much better cliffhanger. Apr 8, 2015 at 18:33
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    @razethestray I agree. Especially with the division of the books (the six major sections) putting the encounter with the Mouth of Sauron, where he holds the Mithril shirt, before we find out what actually happened to Frodo and Sam.
    – KSmarts
    Apr 8, 2015 at 19:19
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    @maguirenumber6 At least in one place. As they take Frodo to the tower, Gorbag tells Shagrat But my patrol wasn’t ordered out for another day, nor any message sent to Lugbúrz either: owing to the Great Signal going up, and the High Nazgûl going off to the war, and all that.
    – Blackwood
    Dec 11, 2016 at 18:49

The green light showed before Osgiliath; I bet it was to show that they are going to attack. Because if you see once it's shown all the Nazgul and the army march out and begin to take over Osgiliath fully and then attack Minas Tirith.

  • Consult this help section on how to write a good answer. Jul 2, 2017 at 18:34
  • @GhotiandChips - I just got the joke (goac) in your username.
    – Valorum
    Jul 2, 2017 at 19:07
  • @Valorum Yes, Finnegan's Wake is filled with little treasures like that. Jul 2, 2017 at 19:24

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