A couple of months ago I ran through my extended editions of all three of the Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson. And once again I was impressed with how good they were. Now I have some friends who, even though they liked the movies, still didn’t think they were enough. One old friend would have liked to see sixty one hour episodes in a TV series, even though TV wouldn’t have spent the bucks to get the big screen masterpiece that resulted from it being filmed as a major motion picture. Another complained that there was no Tom Bombadil. Now Tom might have added something to the movie, but really wasn’t central to the storyline, which had to be cut in some places, so that the four hour extended versions could actually be filmed. One complaint I heard several times was the use of Arwin in the movies. She really wasn’t shown much in the books, only really a passing mention in a couple of places. But when the novel was written a fantasy story could be told without too much character development, and today people want romance in the stories they read or see, just a bit. So Hollywood added that romance by a little more development of Arwin, in the only way it can be done in a film, by showing it.
Now all of the Lord of the Rings movies were good. You could see the development of the effects through the films, which got better as the series progressed. Makes sense, as new techniques and technologies were developed through those years. But the sum of the parts was better than the individual segments. The series was amazing in many respects. The production quality was amazing. The cast of characters was maintained through the three movies, something very difficult to do. I have seen many sequels in the past where a new actor played a character, and we were supposed to completely ignore that they were not the same person that played the part in the preceding film. Not so with Lord of the Rings. They kept the entire cast intact for the entire movie series. Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Aragorn, Elrond, Galadriel, Saroman, Merry and Pippen. The gang stayed for all the movies. Now I know there are contracts, and I’m sure everyone was signed to one, but that doesn’t always prevent people from leaving. The second amazing thing was how the series fitted together like one seamless story, with the tension growing from episode to episode. Remember the big battle scene in Fellowship. Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legalos versus the Uraki. Oh, and a couple of Hobbits as well. The Two Towers featured an Army of ten thousand Uraki versus the defenders of Helms Deep, augmented by several thousand cavalry. Sure, there were some liberties taken with Helms Deep, like the inclusion of elves, but all in all it was a great battle scene. And then the battles of Return of the King, the great cavalry charge against the massive army of Orcs. The fight with the Olifants. Everything building to the final scene when the great eye crashes to the ground. It was definitely Jackson’s masterpiece, and an effort to be proud of. I bought the complete extended edition when it came out, retiring my standard editions, which were still good, but just not enough compared to those extra three hours of magical scenes.
Yes, Lord of the Rings was the ultimate fantasy experience. It had magic, a Balrog, great armies, single battles, dwarven mines and Elfin forests. It had flashbacks to the past that filled in the story for those who didn’t know it. It added a love story to the mix. The only thing it didn’t have was a dragon, and we have that coming in the Hobbit, Jackson’s future release. I think the money I spent on the extended additions is a good investment. I will probably watch it at least once a year for the rest of my life, and enjoy it every time.