Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Return of King Peter

This afternoon I received my copy of the Extended Version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

It brought back some good memories. I saw it in Coquitlam last Christmas season when I was visiting my folks. At the time I was finally doing something I'd been meaning to get round to: reading the actual book. (I'd finished up The Fellowship of the Ring on the plane.) I was impressed by it so much, I got the Extended Editions of the first two movies. I concluded from watching these that Peter Jackson was one heck of a good filmmaker.

With RotK EE, the first thing I did was pop in Disc 3. The Extended Edition Appendices follow a pattern: the first feature talks about Tolkien, the second talks about the issues involved in adapting Tolkien to the screen. The first is good if you're a big fan of the books; the second is a must-see if you're interested in the filmmaking process. They have a good use of graphics to show how they used pieces of the book The Two Towers to flesh out the storyline used for the third film, and they have a reasonable explanation for taking out the "Scouring of the Shire" chapter.

I also watched the movie with commentary by Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. It's nice stuff--you get the idea of a half-crazed filmmaker being barely restrained by his wife and her best friend. (A running joke has Peter talking about doing a George Lucas on the film for the "25th Anniversary Edition," and Fran and Philippa trying to talk him out of it.)

One interesting bit of trivia: Jackson was shooting extra footage for the Extended Edition of the film--a scene of skulls rolling down a hill, which appears in the cut--three weeks AFTER the Academy Awards ceremony when Return won Best Picture. One does get the impression of overkill here.

This a definite Buy recommendation, not just for Tolkienites but for fans of good cinema. This is a much better film than that thing about the sinking ship that James Cameron did--what was its name again?