Over the past two nights, I watched the 210 minute extended edition (30 mins longer, reedited, remastered, and rescored) of The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring.
I absolutely loved this series when it was in the theater, remembering the long-anticipated opportunities to watch as one of my most beloved reading experiences from my adolescence became a reality on the silver screen. Many reviewers, pundits, and people in the know both literary and pop-culturary (?) suggested that it was not destroyed by the filmmaking process, but done right; done magnificently; done in a manner that revered the books rather than destroyed them. I went into the films knowing that the super dork behind the sleeper cult classics that I loved, “Meet The Feebles,” “Bad Taste,” and “The Frighteners” would actually take this budget (something he hadn’t seen in his career) and make some real magic.
I was right. I remembered the films nostalgically as a watershed in dorkiness, and went to see these films several times and bought the DVDs right away. When the opportunity to own the extended editions at a library book sale (all 3 films, all 12 DVDs, all thousand or whatever hours of commentary, films, extras, etc., all for $6 for the trilogy) and relive the magic in a new way, I snatched it up… Of course, Schneider’s 1001 challenge made it the perfect time to watch them over.
I have to say that the films hold up remarkably well. The overall execution of every little detail, the technology that Jackson had at the time, the beauty and awe that every scene evokes, everything…everything about these films are pure magic. I could only spot two places in this film where I had a bit of a “wow, they messed up the blending there,” mostly with characters walking and it not matching the environment (both in the Moria sequences) and one spot where CGI ruins didn’t match the camera tracking all that well, but besides that, it is so impressive that I still watched this run through with my mouth agape. What they were able to accomplish on a mere $300M budget is astounding. The performances of McKellen, Mortensen, Serkis, and Holm were impressive, and I was still a little annoyed at Wood’s constant falling over and shouting and hurting, but that is the character, not his performance.
A great film overall. Looking forward to the next two once more.