LOTR3; What was the very end all about. [spolier]

Ok I just saw LOTR 3. I got the whole movie but what I didn’t get is what the hell the deal was when they all got on the boat at the end. Was that supposed to signify the end of magic on (middle) Earth? or what was it supposed to mean?

Sorry if this is a little dated.

The era of magic had ended in a spectacular battle and, now that good had triumphed over evil, the time of elves, dwarves, halflings and others was at an end. Man’s time was beginning.

The magical creatures were returning to the land from which they came.

Or something like that. Tokein explained it in the book somewhere, probably when Frodo explained to Samwise why it had to be. After they defeated Sharky.

Galadriel was returning to the undying lands where she was born. Gandalf was returning to retire there. He helped build them (and the rest of the world too, but the undying lands were really nicer than most of the rest of the world). A branch of Elrond’s ancestors had come from the undying lands, and he was going to live there now too.

Basically the mightiest and wisest of the elves were leaving Middle-Earth to spend the rest of Time in Valinor (The undying lands). The age of men had come. Any elves who continued to live in Middle-Earth would slowly fade. Any elf had the option to sail into the West to live in the undying lands by the end of the 4th age. But this sort of trip was forbidden to most mortals. When Arwen chose mortality, she lost her privilege to go into the West. Aragorn never had the privilege, despite being descended from Elrond’s brother Elros. Elros chose mortality for himself and all his descendants thousands of years before Aragorn was born.

Bilbo and Frodo got invited to live the rest of their lives in the easternmost part of the undying lands (Tol Eressëa, aka Avallonë) because of their spiritual wounding by Sauron via the ring. It was hoped they would heal and find peace there before dying.

BTW, the undying lands are so called because those that live there do not die. While elves may have their bodies destroyed, their spirits return to the undying lands where they may get issued new bodies; alternatively they may just hang around the halls of Mandos in spirit form until the end of the world. And the Powers like Gandalf can generally manifest a variety of physical forms.

Mortals like men and hobbits were given the gift of death. When they died, their spirits left all of creation altogether, and the elves and the Powers (like Gandalf and Saruman) don’t know what happens to them. Although reliable reports state that when the end of Time arrives, and the Battle of Battles occurs, mortals will return to kick some major butt.

Moving this from IMHO to Cafe Society.

Sort of. The Age of Elves was the final age of magic, and the Age of the Elves was ending so that the Age of Men could begin. What this means to those of us who aren’t Tolkien scholars is that the time when elves and other magical creatures were present and active in the main part of the world was coming to a close, leaving the world dominated by humans. The elves had a choice: they could travel to the Undying Lands (near as I can tell, essentially Heaven on earth) and live out the rest of time in seclusion from the rest of the world, or they could choose to remain in the world of men and slowly fade away. Elrond and Galadriel chose to go, Arwen chose to stay with Aragorn. (That’s what all that fussing between Elrond and Arwen about her taking a “boat west” was about; he wanted her to go to the Undying Lands and live forever with her people rather than stay with some human and watch him die. Your basic parent-grown child “I want what I think’s best for you” argument, in other words.)

Gandalf was also a magical being. It’s not really explained in the movies and I’ve never read the books, so I don’t fully understand this bit, but he’s apparently a heavenly being like an angel. (When he was killed by the Balrog and came back more powerful, he basically got promoted a higher level of angel.) At any rate, he also has the option of going to the Undying Lands pretty much any time he wants.

Because of the spiritual wounds the Ring inflicted on Bilbo and Frodo, they were invited to the Undying Lands. Being mortals, they wouldn’t live there forever, but they would live beyond their normal span, and hopefully the magic of the place would heal them so that they could have peace and happiness before they died. (That’s what Frodo’s comments about how some wounds never really heal meant. The damage the Ring had inflicted upon his soul would never fully heal in the world of men, and he knew it.)