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Return of the King

Video | With so much more material, this Return of the King is, in effect, a different movie from the version that won 11 Oscars

Issue: "Lavelle's wonderful life," Dec. 25, 2004

One reason the book is nearly always better than the movie is that a novel, read over days or weeks, has a wealth of time to tell its story. Movies are limited to the 2-3 hours that the human anatomy can sit in one place.

The pause button on the remote removes that limitation for movies that go to DVD and video. With his Lord of the Rings masterpiece, Peter Jackson has gone farther than other directors in putting back material that had been edited out for theaters, with an additional 50 minutes in the new extended version of The Return of the King. With so much more material, this Return of the King is, in effect, a different movie from the version that won 11 Oscars. Critics are agreeing that this one is even better.

The extended version includes whole subplots that had been cut out, particularly what happened to Saruman and the love story between Eowyn and Faramir. We are also given more scary scenes in Shelob's lair, the House of the Dead, and the gates of Mordor. We see more of the characters in action, including Gandalf in full action-hero mode.

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The four-disc DVD set also includes commentaries from the director, actors, designers, and special effects people; interactive maps and galleries; and over a dozen "documentaries" detailing how the film was made.

Now fans can take the Middle Earth challenge: With the extended versions of The Fellowship of the Ring clocking in at three and a half hours and The Two Towers at three hours and 45 minutes, Tolkien fans can take in the entire trilogy in 11 hours, 23 minutes. Add in the documentaries and other bonus features and you have another 10-plus hours. That leaves just enough time for bathroom breaks, and it will be possible to stage a 24-hour Tolkien marathon. For true Tolkien fans, that would not be nearly long enough.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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