Greetings, readers! Continuing my look at my favorite items in my film collection, this week’s selection is The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
A few years ago I invested in the Blu-ray set of the extended editions. And it was worth every penny! You get Peter Jackson’s amazing film version of Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy. And the transfers to the Blu-ray format make the already phenomenal movies look and sound better than ever before.
Each film in the trilogy includes added scenes (30 minutes for Fellowship, 43 minutes for The Two Towers and 50 minutes for Return of the King). So if you already love these movies as much as I do, these are the definitive versions. My favorite bit of added footage is in Return of the King. Cut from the theatrical version was the death of Saruman (Christopher Lee). It’s not only an important part of the story, but filming the scene is how director Peter Jackson learned about Christopher Lee’s work as a spy during World War II in the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. This is how Lee knew what sound a man made when being stabbed in the back. Lee’s life is worthy of its own movie IMHO.
The discs are loaded with bonus content, including commentary tracks from some of the actors, the production design team and director Peter Jackson. One of the bonus features from The Two Towers that I particularly appreciated was the interactive atlas of Middle Earth.
What Peter Jackson and his cast and crew did bringing The Lord of the Rings to the big screen is one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema. While not every single part of Tolkien’s books made it to the screen, this is as faithful of an adaptation as we could have hoped for. Film technology finally caught up to Tolkien’s sweeping vision. What sets The Lord of the Rings apart from other big budget fantasy/action movies is that the filmmakers used CGI intelligently. It never feels overdone or for mindless action. It all serves a specific purpose and helps build the vast world that Tolkien imagined in his books. All the bonus content makes you appreciate what a labor of love this really was.
Pro tip: If you’re a hardcore fan, watch the extended editions together all in one day. I mean, how do you watch one of the movies and not feel obligated to watch the others?