Monday, December 18, 2006

LoTR Extended vs Theatrical Releases

THe cable channel TNT has been showing the Lord of the Rings the last two weekends. As it happens, I've been watching the extended versions. While I have seen both versions before, I have not seen them so close together so I was struck by how different the extended editions are.

Most DVDs contain deleted scenes but these are normally shown separately, without context. It is up to you to figure out how they would have been incorporated into the original movie. The Extended Edition of the Fellowship of the Ring changed this. Peter Jackson re-edited it and had it re-scored. The result was a move that could have been a theatrical release very similar to the director's cuts that are sometimes made.

Now, in the Fellowship of the Ring, it didn't make that much difference. We saw a longer opening with some background on Hobbits and a few other scenes that added depth but slowed the pace of the movie.

The Two Towers was a little different. Most of what was added was fun but optional. We saw Merry and Pippin spending the night at Treebeard's place and drinking his special Ent brew. Later we saw them stumbling on Sauruman's larder. More important, we saw what really happened to Sauruman's army of orcs - they were killed by an army of trees from Fangorn forest.

But these are nothing compared to the Return of the King. That movie was judged too long for theatrical release so some important scenes were cut for time. This was obvious in two places in the final version. In one, Gandolf and company go to confront Sauruman but then leave. Much later, Aragorn leads his commanders to the gates of Mordor. The gates open and he runs back to his army. Obviously something happened here.

In the Extended version we see the confrontation with Sauruman and the Mouth of Sauron.

A lot more is there in the Extended version. A number of connecting scenes are restored. Battles are longer. In at least one place, the order of events is changed.

In the theatrical version, the orcs are breaking into Minas Tirath. The orc general is ordering his troops to kill anyone they meet. Then horns blow and the Riders of Rohan appear. Back in Minas Tirath, Pippin finds Gandalf an fetches him to save Faramir.

In the extended version, the orcs are breaking into Minas Tirith and the general is instructing his troops. Pippin fetches Gandalf. On their way to save Faramir they are confronted by the Witchking. He breaks Gandalf's staff but is distracted by the horns. We see the general turn then we see the Riders of Rohan.

BTW, Gandalf goes through a lot of staffs. Sauruman takes the first one. The second is lost in Moria. The Witchking breaks the third. When Gandalf saves Faramir he has to snatch a guard's pike.

There are also scenes showing Aragorn and company attacking the revers and curing the people who were sickened by the Nazgul.

In all, after seeing the Extended Edition of the Return of the King I have trouble enjoying the original version.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

great post. Sadly, we are still waiting for the Blu-ray version of the extended editions to come out. Thats how I stumbled upon your post.