That evening Jonathan and I got together to work on this site and he told me that we were going to get an opportunity to see the Extended version of the DVD before a bunch of other people, and we were to keep it quiet.
The 12th rolled around and I found myself having breakfast with a bunch of people from New Line, other webmasters, and other people who I found out later worked on the DVD project.
After a nice breakfast we headed into the screening room and sat down. We were told a bit about the project before everything got started. Turns out that this project was pretty massive. I don’t know if it was the most complex DVD project ever, but it sure sounded impressive. 1,500 different sound and video elements went into the 4 disk set. The menu navigation consists of over 15,000 buttons. The movie needed to be broken onto 2 DVD’s as the credits are now over 27 minutes in length. This in addition to the extended footage.
Without much further ado they popped the DVD in and the movie started up. Three hours and thirty minutes later. I wondered where the time went. The movie sure didn’t seem to be an extra 30 minutes in length. But, looking at my watch told me otherwise.
I don’t remeber all the extra scenes, and to be honest, after the first couple I decided just to enjoy the movie instead of trying to get a complete list of additions.
So what did I think of it? Well, let me give you a little background. I stopped counting the number of times I’ve seen this movie in the theatre after my 10th time (which was sometime in Janurary, and I saw it a couple times a week until March). I’ve watched the movie 5 times on DVD. Now some of you may think that’s a bit obsessive, and perhaps it was. The truth was that I was getting paid at the time to write some articles regarding the movie and the difference between it and the book. So all this watching was put to good use.
But this doesn’t answer the question I proposed. What did I think of it? I loved the additional footage! During one of the making of video’s Mark Ordesky makes a very acurate statement about how the decision was made to remove all character development that was not directly related to Frodo and the Ring to cut the length of the film. This describes perfectly the difference between what we saw last December and what I saw on Saturday.
How much of a difference do these character development scenes make? They make a huge difference. The friendship and childishness of Merry and Pippin are fleshed out. The pride, nobility, and loyality of Boromir are also fleshed out. The power and fraility of Gandalf is now balanced with a bit of humanity. Sam and Frodo’s relationship is a bit more natural. The relationship between Gimli and the elves is now setup for later events.
I could go on and on about how each of these changes make the movie closer to the finer points of Tolkien lore and the importance of your favorite scene and why it should be in the DVD. But, all of that is meaningless and pointless, you have not seen the movie and I suspect most of you are going to really love it.
To all of you who need a reason to purchase this DVD, I have the same thing to say to you that I said last year when I saw Fellowship. Sit through the first 10 minutes of it. I dare you to!
The first new thing you will notice is the new start of the movie after the prologue, which contians my new favorite line in the movie. “It is no small thing to celebrate a Simple Life.”
Stay tuned for the rest of the review regarding Disks 3 and 4.