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The Return of the King Extended Version ***Spoilers***
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 5:43 pm    Post subject: The Return of the King Extended Version ***Spoilers*** Reply with quote

This is largely from my review(s) on Amazon. DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM YET.

Virtually all of the extended and new scenes added depth, meaning, and fluidity to the film, which the theatrical release lacked. I saw the theatrical release with a person who had never read the books, and much confused him. For example, what happened to Saruman? Where did he go? When asked, “What of the White Wizard,” why did the Witch King of Angmar reply, “I will break him,” only to have nothing come of it. For myself, I wondered why the scene with the Mouth of Sauron had been deleted, and very much wanted to see it.

The two questions my friends posed were answered.

First, some comments on the film itself. As with the previous two movies, I was disappointed with the theatrical release, mainly because of the removal of the scenes I will discuss later, but also because the film lacked a coherent fluidity. Even so, I was left breathless at the accomplishments of Jackson and his team. The special effects were and are the finest I’ve ever seen. Just as I felt that I was deep within a mountain while the Fellowship was in the Mines of Moria, so also I felt that I was immersed within a battle to save Minas Tirith. The construction of that city, and its destruction, was beautifully done. The confrontation with the dead was appropriately eerie, and the effects surrounding that scene tremendous. There isn’t enough to say about the ingenious special effects, nor the manner in which the battle scenes played out, and how all of the characters interacted with each other.

But the story lacked. Saruman cannot simply disappear without explanation, especially when he is such a central character to the story. I believe that the exclusion of “The Voice of Saruman” from the theatrical release was Jackson’s second biggest mistake (I’ll get to the biggest in a moment). The scene itself was curiously crafted. Saruman spoke to them from the top of the five hundred foot tower of Orthanc, and it’s difficult to believe that conversations without multiple utterances of “what?” could have occurred. In the book, Saruman and Grima were much lower. That is, though, a minor point, and we can allow for the suspension of disbelief.

There was one surprise in the scene: Saruman, angered by Gandalf’s softly spoken urges to join with them, sent a blast of fire from his staff that engulfed Gandalf in flames, and when the flames die out Gandalf still sat astride Shadowfax, and he and his steed are untouched. Saruman, for the first time in the film, shows a decided lack of confidence, if not panic. That did not happen in the book, and as somewhat of a purist, I was taken aback. Then I realized that it was an appropriate representation of Gandalf’s ascension, his apotheosis. Then Gandalf spoke the words I had been longing to hear since the theatrical release of The Two Towers: “Saruman, your staff is broken”. It’s breaking was such a welcome sight. That Saruman then slaps down Grima in an expression of almost helpless rage, and Grima in turn chooses that moment to stab Saruman in the back, sending him plunging to his death in a most horrific fashion, was appropriate, as The Scouring of the Shire was not going to be part of the film. This was a most satisfying scene.

Far less satisfying was “The Witch Kings Hour”. Something obscene and profane happened within this scene; something impossible within the context of the universe that Tolkien created. I can imagine him revolving in his grave like a turbine. When the Witch King swooped down into Minas Tirith to confront Gandalf, I expected something similar to the scene described above. I expected a physical confrontation, although it did not exist in the book, and for the Witch King to be harmed, to an extent. Instead, the Witch King broke Gandalf’s staff and Gandalf was thrown from his horse. Jackson, as a rabid fan of Tolkien’s work, and surrounded by others who were also rabid fans, should have known better.

Laugh if you will, but I almost shut the movie off at that point, so great was my frustration. It’s one thing to alter events to try and broaden the appeal of a movie (e.g., the inclusion of Arwen), one thing again to include things that didn’t happen in the book to offer some form of structural symbolism (e.g., Gandalf being engulfed in flame), but it’s another thing entirely to have something happen that could not *possibly* have happened. The Witch King of Angmar was no feeble opponent, to be certain, but he was only a man. Gandalf was not only of the race of the Maiar (within Tolkien’s mythos, I analogize the Maiar to angels), he had also been reborn, sent back to Middle Earth cleansed and “greater”. No man, regardless of his form, regardless of any ring he may wear, regardless of the power that runs within him, *could have possibly broken Gandalf’s staff*. It disgusted me, as it should every fan of The Lord of the Rings. It was impossible, and entirely unforgivable.

Here’s some additional information to back that theory up:

In Unfinished Tales Manwe asks Olorin (Gandalf) to be the third messenger to Middle Earth, as an answer to the reawakening of Sauron. Olorin was noted for being the wisest of all the Maiar, and he remarked that he was "too weak for such a task, and that he feared Sauron." Manwe said, essentially, that was all the more reason he should go. (Like the man who says he has not what it takes to be King - all the more reason for him to be King.) Most readers believe that Gandalf's fear of Sauron was tied into Sauron's relentless malice, not that Sauron was so much stronger than he. That his "fear" was the fear of wisdom, not of cowardice.

Two pages later Tolkien writes, "To the defeat of Sauron would [Manwe] not then send some...mighty spirit of the angelic people, one coeval and equal, doubtless, with Sauron in their beginnings, but not more? Olorin was his name."

Gandalf and Sauron shared the same beginnings, are from the same race, and are, as Tolkien notes, contemporaries and equals. When Gandalf slew the Balrog of Moria (also a member of the Maiar, twisted by Morgoth as was Sauron), he was cleansed and sent back greater than he was. So much stronger that even Saruman's considerable strength (Saruman was also one of the Maiar, and the first chosen as "messenger" to Middle Earth upon the reawakening of Sauron.

A reviewer on Amazon thought that the Witch King was infused with Sauron's power. I believe that is a direct misinterpretation of the character of the Witch King and the source of all of the Nazgul’s power. All of the Nazgul were men of Numenor - and the men of Numenor were mightier than "regular" men, but they were men nonetheless. Sauron wooed them with rings of power, and brought them under his control.

They derived much of their power from the rings they carried, not from Sauron - and this includes the Witch King.

What must be remembered is that Gandalf himself - although it is not mentioned in the movie - bears one of the elven rings, Narya the Great, the Ring of Fire. Given that Gandalf bears a far greater ring than the Witch King, is of a greater "race", and has been cleansed and strengthened when he was already Sauron's near-equal, it is impossible to imagine that a mere human could have broken his staff.

More satisfying was “The Mouth of Sauron”. Aragorn, Gandalf and others approached the Black Gates and demanded that Sauron come forth. Instead, Sauron sent his Lieutenant, who sought to chide the group with insults from a mouth in dire need of a dentist with a good saw and grinder, and with Frodo’s garments. Although it didn’t happen in the book, Aragorn tired of his babbling and chopped off his head. Jolly good fun that was.

Regardless of my disgust with the “The Witch King of Angmar”, this still stands as one of the most remarkable accomplishments in cinematic history, and the result for this fan of Tolkien’s work was immense satisfaction. Kudos, Mr. Jackson.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

heh, thanks for the review. I shall look forward to getting a hold of this film. Very Happy

yeah, I think that the Witch King was more powerful than you make out... and don't forget, though Gandalf was one of the Maiar, his powers were much reduced, or so I thought, by the fact he was placed in an old mans body.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the Witch King was of the Black Numenoreans, and referred to in some places as a Sorcerer King before being turned by Sauron. He was unquestionably strong, of that there is little doubt.

However, in Fellowship, Gandalf fought ALL NINE at Weathertop.

Quote:
I galloped to Weathertop like a gale, and I reached it before sundown...and they were there before me. They drew away from me, for they felt the coming of my anger and they dared not face it while the Sun was in the sky. But they closed round at night, and I was besieged on the hill-top, in the old ring of Amon Sul. I was hard put to it indeed: such light and flame cannot have been seen on Weathertop since the war beacons of old.


At sunrise Gandalf "escaped" - but he was not beaten. If he could hold off all Nine, for an entire night, how in the world could one Ringwraith, even if he is the Witch King, break Gandalf's staff? Again, especially since Gandalf was sent back from Valinor greater than he was.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. *scratches head* Maybe I shouldn't ask for ROTK for Christmas. The extended scenes sound worse than the regular ones.

I personally thought a great deal of the final book's power was undermined by the movie's use of short-cuts and plot devices. (*cough* stupid Elf tricks *cough*) My biggest beef was with the special effects: there's nothing special about them if you can tell they're special effects. And the ghosts being green - what's up with that? Do we have a little Illearth Stone action going on here?

I suppose I shall still buy the third movie for continuity's sake, but, as in the case of the third HP movie, I am one of the minority who quite simply did not like the end product.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was definitely difficult to separate the book from the movie. As a purist, many things frustrated me, but most I was able to forgive because they did such a good job on everything else. For example, the scene of the Bridge of Khazad-dum, the rendering of Gollum and the Balrog, and so many others. (I think the dead were green simply because the Nazgul, when Frodo put the ring on, were white, and Jackson simply had to differentiate.)

The only thing that is absolutely unforgiveable was the breaking of Gandalf's staff. That absolutely infuriated me.

But, separating the book from the film, and understanding that it was one man's vision of how the books should be presented, and also how difficult it was to make these books into a movie, I am more than happy with the final product.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does the special edition remove most of Sam's crying?
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loremaster wrote:
Does the special edition remove most of Sam's crying?


Oh I hope so. Very Happy

Should this be moved over to the Tolkien Forum?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whoops. I didn't know there was one.

Sorry.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No worries. I'm supposed to know these things, and it slipped my mind, too. Hold on to your hats, we're flying over to the Library.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought this the other day, and I agree with much of what Burg66 had to say. The scene with Saruman should have been included in the theatrical version, and also the scene before the Black Gate.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always thought them leaving out the confrontation between Saruman and Gandalf at the Tower of Isengard was a mistake. This was one of my favorite moments in the book and the fact that this was the point when Saruman is cast from the order of Wizards was important.
Although I loved the fact that they added in some of this in the extended version I was almost dismayed that they watered it down so much. Im my opinion had they kept true to the book the scene would have been so much more compelling.

Saruman tries to use his voice (which is still powerful) to convince everyone that he has been misused/misunderstood and that Gandalf and he should put aside their differences and share council. It works against all but Gandalf who breaks the spell by laughing at him and asking him again to come down, that he will be released freely if he will just come out.
Saruman refuses and tells him to come back without all the rifraff and when he is ready to talk sense. He then walks away from the rail. Gandalf at this point brings his power to bear and makes Saruman turn around.

"'Come back, Saruman!' said Gandalf in a commanding voice. To the amazement of others, Saruman turned again, and as if dragged against his will, he came slowly back to the iron rail, leaning on it, breathing hard. His face was lined and shrunken. His hand clutched his heavy black staff like a claw.
'I did not give you leave to go,' said Gandalf sternly. 'I have not finished. You have become a fool... Saruman!' he cried, and his voice grew in power and authority. 'Behold, I am not Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White, who has returned from death. You have no colour now, and I cast you from the order and the Council.'
He raised his hand, and spoke slowly in a clear cold voice. 'Saruman, your staff is broken.'

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always though that Peter Jackson didn't man up with the Voice of Saruman scene like he should have. The spikey wheel picture leaked to the web, and this created outrage thoughout the known universe ("wizard-ka-bob", 'member?). And then, with about *4 years* to come up with something else, what does he do? He runs it anyway. Bleah.

I also thought that, omitting this whole scene, we could have at least caught a glimpse of Saruman and Grima at some point, so that their credits could get into the movie - they did this for Sean Bean, who was *dead*, and *he* got to go to all the Oscar parties. Poor Chris Lee.

BTW, the Nazgul were intentionally weaker in FOTR than in ROTK - that was intended by the author, although it is not justified by the author. But most scholars agree that Sauron intentially added or withdrew power from the Nazgul depending on what he wanted done.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I missed Theoden's funeral and honoring. Last we saw of him, he was laying on the battle field in Eowyn's arms. Not a fitting end to the King of Rohan if you ask me.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Soulbiter, I completely agree. IMHO, that is one of the strongest scenes - and my personal favorite scene - in the book. Tolkien wrote it with such astonishing authority that to omit said writing struck me as odd.

Perhaps Jackson sought to demonstrate Gandalf's authority over Saruman with the blast of fire that Saruman sends at him, which doesn't phase Gandalf in the least. While that never happened in the book, of course, I have to admit that even as a Tolkien purist, I enjoyed it.

That one blast covered quite a bit of dialog, which would have added length to an already lengthy film.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great review man. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

When it comes to movies made from books, I too am something of a purist. To such an extent that friends and family usually refuse to watch a movie made of any book that I've read with me.

On the whole though, I enjoyed LotR, and I understand the reasons for the various devices that they used, and the reasoning behind them.

Still, if I had the choice, I'd rather watch a four or five hour movie that's completely accurate. Not gonna happen though.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

burgs66 wrote:

That one blast covered quite a bit of dialog, which would have added length to an already lengthy film.


Very true. Its hard to please everyone and to add everyones favorite part would have made the movie 10 hours long. But I was so looking forward to that one scene and to see it almost totally disappear.. well it was disappointing. I think the few minutes it might have added would have been well worth it because, for me, this was my favorite part of this book as well.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoulBiter wrote:
But I was so looking forward to that one scene and to see it almost totally disappear.. well it was disappointing. I think the few minutes it might have added would have been well worth it because, for me, this was my favorite part of this book as well.

Jackson moved this scene from TT to ROTK. He claimed that TT could not end with this scene; too much non-peak action after the climax. Then he dropped it from ROTK. It's plain to me what happened. After the success of FOTR, he was a little bolder in TT, playing around with the story a lot more. He beefed up Helms Deep too much, in the end, but he didn't recognize his problem - he thought there was room in ROTK. So VOS was moved, Shelob was moved. Then ROTK time comes, and now he's in a pickle - it's bigger than he thought. Bye bye Saruman. "FOTR got it right, TT got carried away, and ROTK got to clean up." Personally, I would have kept this scene, and thrown out something else. Chris Lee was shafted, and that might have repercussions for Jackson down the road.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend wrote:
He beefed up Helms Deep too much, in the end, but he didn't recognize his problem...


Definitely Agreed.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What was Jackson's excuse for editing out Sarumon's scene in ROTK?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you think about the books, they were originally one long book. We all knows this. They then were split into three. The Two Towers essentially became a long setup to the events in Return of the King. We meet the people of Rohan, the Ents and so forth. Helm's Deep, aside from the encounter with Shelob and the Ents drowning of Isengard, is the only "big" battle in the Two Towers. And let's face it, it wasn't that big in the book. To bring the Two Towers to screen, Jackson knew that if he did it verbatim, there wouldn't be much of a climax, because the Two Towers isn't that climatic in book form. So hence, he embellished Helm's Deep. I understand his reasoning perfectly there.

However, changing Saruman's end around like he did I do not agree with. I see no reason for it. And why he didn't keep it in the theatrical version of ROTK is beyond me. It didn't take up that much more time on the extended version.

dlpsy wrote:
What was Jackson's excuse for editing out Sarumon's scene in ROTK?


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