Photographic Evidence Against Denethor's Plunge (Lord of the Rings film)
On a recent discussion regarding a scene in New Line Cinema's Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, some members of the Barrow-Downs were highlighting some of the absurdity of Peter Jackson's portrayal of the Steward of Gondor's final moments. (If you haven't seen the film, look away boys; here there be spoilers.)
In the book, Denethor's suicidal madness slackens for but a moment when he sees that his son Faramir yet lives, whom he thought was dead. Gandalf the White bursts upon the scene (minus his staff, because of another strange sequence where Gandalf is thrown to the ground like a helpless geezer under the power of the Witchking) and rides to the rescue. However, Gandalf himself actually does very little; Shadowfax delivers a hit to the Lord Denethor, while Pippin the hobbit rescues Faramir from the flames. The flaming Denethor despairs, and bolts from the burial chamber, and hurls himself off the very pinnacle of Gondor.
There is one problem with this sequence. It is totally and in all other ways inconceivable.
Overhead shot of the pinnacle of Gondor, showing the distance across the courtyard.
Level shot of courtyard.
Pippin stalking the guards carrying Faramir behind Denethor. This picture shows the distance of the bridge Denethor would have needed to run from the burial chamber.
Side shot shot showing the incredible length of the bridge to Rath Dínen, as well as showing Denethor would have had to run up several stories' worth of steps!
Final shot showing the path Denethor traversed to get to the tip and launch himself into a flaming oblivion.
From these pictures, IT IS CLEAR THAT DENETHOR COULD NOT HAVE MADE THIS LONG-DISTANCE SPRINT WHILE AFLAME. This dash would have taken him at least three minutes to make, counting his trip back through the hallways leading back to the Silent Street, the long bridge, the flights of stairs and the courtyard.