Peter Jackson spills a few more beans on what will make the next LOTR films as well as an unfortunate exclusion.
by Paul Davidson
Four famous Lord of the Rings faces showed up in the Big Apple over the weekend for a special book signing at the Union Square Barnes & Noble bookstore. Director Peter Jackson, wife and co-writer Fran Walsh, composer Howard Shore, and thespian Christopher Lee were all on hand to sign their John Hancocks and chat with the scores of eager fans who made it to the event. Jackson, in particular, was able to satisfy several questions concerning which scenes and events will be included in the next two Middle-earth films. Warning: minor spoilers ahead!
Fans were especially inquisitive about Shelob, the giant spider, and her encounter with Sam and Frodo beneath the mountains of Mordor. As Tolkien’s novel was published, the Shelob scene occurs at the end of the Two Towers book. However, Jackson has chosen to push it back to the beginning of The Return of the King. One of the reasons for this is that the scenes between Sam, Frodo, Gollum, and Faramir have been expanded, perhaps to build upon Faramir’s character and tie plotlines together a little more tightly. Jackson declined to comment how The Two Towers would end, but said viewers wouldn’t be disappointed.
Fran Walsh went on to mention that she was responsible not only for writing, but also for directing the backstory of Sméagol and his transformation into the pitiful Gollum. Moviegoers can expect to see that part of Gollum’s life exanded upon in The Two Towers.
Jackson also mentioned a major part of the Lord of the Rings novel that will be cut from the films: the Scouring of the Shire at the end of The Return of the King. Jackson’s only explanation for this is that it didn’t really “work,” so the films’ only homage to it will remain the vision Frodo received from Galadriel’s mirror.
Others may feel differently, but this writer will sorely miss the Scouring of the Shire. Arguably, there are two main plots that run throughout the LOTR story: Frodo’s journey to destroy the One Ring, and Aragorn’s quest to save Gondor and reclaim his long-forsaken kingship. These two storylines separate from each other at the end of the first book (and movie) with the breaking of the Fellowship. However, as Tolkien wrote it, the story has a theme that transcends both these plots: the importance of insignificant hobbits to the fate of Middle-earth. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was a story of great strength, courage, and heroism found in the most unlikely of places: the meek, seemingly unimportant hobbits. For me, it was neither the destruction or the Ring, nor the victory of Gondor, but the Scouring that brought the tale to end. In single-handedly restoring the Shire to its proper state, we see the completion of character arcs that have turned four simple hobbits into heroes of everlasting reknown.
Jackson was also able to confirm a video/DVD release date of August for the Fellowship movie and the November release of a 3.5-hour special edition (Jackson doesn’t like the term “director’s cut”). He described some of the extra footage in an interview with Empire Online:
“There’s a lot of character scenes, the thirty minutes is sprinkled right the way through from one end to the other, it’s integrated into the film. There’s a very famous sequence from the book where Galadriel gives the Fellowship gifts, which we didn’t have in the theatrical release even though we shot it. There’s a lot of really nice moments between characters. We carved the movie right back to keep the pace fairly relentless for the cinema but on a DVD you’ve got a little more flexibility. You can develop the characters more, there’s more information about who they are, what they are and where they come from.”
In the meantime, Shore has been given the job of composing an additional thirty minutes of music for the extra footage.
Jackson also confirmed that new Fellowship reels will be sent out to theaters by March 22, each with a new Two Towers preview tacked onto the ending. Thanks to Dark Horizons for the Barnes & Noble report. Stay tuned for ongoing Middle-earth news coverage!