The Return of the King  - J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Lee

A chapter titled "The Houses of Healing" stands as breathing space for the reader and the characters.  Men start cleaning up and repairing the battle damage, friends reunite, wounds are tended, and legacies unveiled.

Coming into Gondor, Aragorn chooses caution rather than claiming his power, respecting the long sovereignty of the Stewards.  It is here that they find both loss and hope; Denethor gone, Theoden lying upon a bed of state, but Eowyn and Faramir lying in the house of healing.  The shadow of Mordor is long, one that inflicts wounds beyond even Gandalf's power and knowledge, but ones that may be cured by some nature within a King.

Aragorn's unusual life as an uncrowned King perhaps gives him a unique modesty and self view.  In the high tongue he admits to beign known as the Elfestone and the Renwer, but the name he claims is one often applied to him in mockery, that of Strider.  We've seen him all along take the mantle of leadership, but as part of his competence, not as his birthright, except in response to pressure or when the situation absolutely requires it.  Even now, that he is within his birthright, he slips away to sleep in his tent when the whole city teems with rumors of his return.  Of course, his lineage is one long absent in the world at large.  Knowledge  of altheas or kingsfoil is that of half remembered old wives' tales, rather than a treasured piece of lore. 

Jackson, for various dramatic reasons and emotional appeals, handles the injuries, deaths, and reunions differently.  Theoden gets a farewell to Eowyn, giving them their moment together on the battlefield.  Pippin finds Merry, down but not out, and tends to his friend until he can receive proper healing.  The Houses of Healing remain unseen, none of our combatants need the healing only possible from the hand of a King.  No dire news delivered to those just rescued from the edge of death, and no discussion of how Wormtongue's poison was not for simply the king alone.  We have to trust that Faramir is as well as can be, relegated as he is to a minor supporting role.

Most of what was done here makes sense.  We have a brief calm before the storm, with little flashes of hope and grief, but the narrative given of the conflict as told by Jackson is different than that told by Tolkien.  Some of this is the difference of the voices and decisions made regarding audience appeal, but some is reflexive of the braiding of books five and six.  The main thing that stands out wrong to me is Gimili's suggestion that Aragorn not release the dead.  It just strikes me as uncharacteristically dishonorable.