Yesterday, for the second time in my life, I experienced an Extended Lord of the Rings marathon. My long-suffering partner had yet to see Lord of the Rings and was thrown in at the deep end. He survived – didn’t even turn into an Elf (more’s the pity?).
But is sitting through over eleven hours of film really worth it? Couldn’t one just watch the theatrical edition? Surely the extended versions are just for nerds and die-hard film fans?
One of the most important reasons to Watch Extended for me is Boromir’s characterisation. In Theatrical, he is a weak man, tempted by the ring to bring power and glory to Gondor. He comes across as treacherous and, while struggling with himself, he ultimately comes out on top – but is it too little too late to redeem the man?
In Extended, we see a lot more of the Gondor he’s left behind. He has more conversation with Aragorn and shows more concern for the Hobbits, but it’s the scene in The Two Towers with Faramir and Denethor where his character really comes to life. He’s a big brother and a loyal son, despite his misgivings about his father’s attitude and actions, and that one scene lends makes Boromir a more sympathetic and understandable character.
So much so that I believe they should’ve put it in Theatrical.
2) Eowyn and Faramir
The love story between Eowyn and Faramir is a beautiful part of Return of the King. Pity the theatrical version skips over it entirely.
In fact, if you had no knowledge of the books, the fact that they’re standing together at Aragorn’s coronation could be pure coincidence.
While Extended doesn’t go into nearly as much detail as the books, it shows how they met and offers a lovely little scene of the two of them lending each other comfort. There’s the added bonus of Eomer being a good big brother.
And it makes their smiling faces at the coronation actually mean something.
3) The Lothlorien Gifts
“Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall”. Aragorn, what are you talking about? Yes, it’s a pretty brooch but there’s no need to get poetic about it – you’re mend to be tracking Hobbits! And why are they all wearing those ugly grey cloaks anyway?
Enter Galadriel. While we hear about Frodo’s little night-light – because they did remember that particular gift is somewhat vital to the plot – the matching get-up and other gifts are glossed over.
While Legolas’ bow, Merry and Pippin’s daggers and Gimli’s hair story are all nice additions, the cloaks, brooches and Sam’s rope are pretty plot-vital. The brooch is used by Pippin to alert Aragorn that they’re still alive, Frodo hides Sam with the cloak outside The Black Gates, and the Elvish rope burns Gollum when Sam ties him up with it.
Overall, the Extended gift-giving scene takes a whopping five minutes and ten seconds, a whole four minutes and twenty seconds longer than the scene in Theatrical.
Time well spent, in my opinion.
I could go on. Probably at length. I would encourage viewing of the Extended versions – possibly not all in one go – because the choices made by PJ et al. in editing the theatrical editions, which are still quite lengthy, are of interest to film-makers.
And, if you just want to prove your nerd credentials, Watch Extended With Commentary. I promise you won’t regret it.