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Gimli goes "postal"
when he realizes that
his best scene in the
film was cut.

The Fellowship of the Ring:
Special Extended DVD Edition

Review written by: Alex Sandell

Have I ever had a bitch of a time with some of the diehard fans of The Lord of the Rings.  The majority of these cultists do not take their fiction lightly (and, I realize, that these are the fanboys on the fanatic fringe.  I readily acknowledge that most LoTR fans aren't psychotic.).  Some have gone as far as to hunt down the telephone numbers of my relatives, and have threatened their lives.  Others have told me how happy they are that my beloved dog died, because they feel that I deserve as much suffering as humanly possible.  Why?  Because I gave the theatrical version of The Fellowship of the Ring a "5" (on a scale of 1-10). 

You know what's both ironic and just a little bit funny?  I was right.  The theatrical version of The Fellowship of the Ring was/is a "5."  Like I said in my original review, "Fans of the book will most likely be wetting themselves, but the casual viewer may wind up thinking the whole thing is all wet."  Why is that?  Because Peter Jackson edited out the majority of character development featured in the book, in lieu of non-stop action. 

Fans of the book had already developed their feelings for the characters, before even seeing the movie.  To them, the film was perfect.  Not because the film actually was perfect, but because they had previously found perfection with the novel.  Those not familiar with the book went in and were introduced to a bunch of characters with all the emotional depth of the saber-slicing folks in the latest Star Wars' prequel.  These LOTR "virgins" had no emotional connection to Boromir.  They felt nothing when he was murdered by that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' sorta monster guy. 

It's pretty damn hard to get into a three hour picture filled with characters that you don't give a piss about.  And, unlike the majority of critics, I had the nerve to admit that.  For stating my opinion, I was cyber-crucified.  Like Jesus on the cross, only for a far more petty and meaningless reason.  Not to mention that the cross was digital, and I'm not really Jesus.  But if I did happen to be Jesus, I'd ask God what his problem was, crucifying his only son, and everything.  I'd also ask why he created hemorrhoids.

But, not all The Lord of the Rings fans are complete wankers.  One was stunningly compassionate.  She understood why the theatrical version of the film would leave many fans new to the series -- including myself -- bored and bewildered.  She asked me, through email (and later the telephone - where are you people getting my unlisted number?!?), if I would be willing to give The Fellowship of the Ring, Special Extended DVD Edition a chance.  Since she was going to send me a copy for free, I figured it wouldn't hurt.  At least it wouldn't hurt my wallet.  Plus, she even sent me a nifty poster!  A poster so nifty it's now tacked up on my wall.  And I didn't even draw a dorky looking mustache on Frodo!

I watched this super-duper extended version and was thunderstruck to the point of shock.  This is the Fellowship of the Ring I was looking for when I originally watched and reviewed the flick.  This DVD, with its 35 additional minutes, has the character development I desired.  It has the humor I longed for.  It's the fantasy film that I craved. 

The 35 minutes that were cut from the theatrical version were the most important moments in The Fellowship of the Ring.  This mega-cool DVD version doesn't make an unaware audience "fill in the blanks."  The blanks are filled, even if that annoying rhyming bastard, Tom Bombadil still didn't make the cut (although I think those creepy trees in The Old Forest woulda made for some entertaining cinema, even though it was kinda a rip-off of The Wizard of Oz).

Why would Peter Jackson surgical slice the heart from his film?  Why take away nearly every touching scene?  I'm guessing he did it because he's too close to the source material.  He most likely has trouble comprehending the fact that there are a lot of people almost entirely unaware of The Lord of the Rings.  I'm also guessing the stupid studio insisted the film come in at no longer than 3 hours.  Stupid studios and their ridiculous time limits.  If a story takes 3 hours and 40 minutes to tell, then the studio should allow the full 3 hours and 40 minutes to play out.  I can almost guarantee that the audience would patiently sit through the entire film ... twice.

The edited scenes are truly the best, and that's why owning the Special Extended DVD Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring is mandatory for longtime fans of The Lord of the Rings, and newcomers, alike.  When Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) asks for nothing more than a strand of Galadriel's (Cate Blanchett) hair, I was truly touched.  The newly included moments at the Green Dragon show the Hobbits at their drunkest (and most typical).  The elves passing Sam and Frodo in the Shire is a beautiful and eerie scene that was a pity to see go, but a pleasure to watch, once it was put back into the film.  Lastly, there's the scene where Aragorn sings a song about an elf falling in love with a mortal.  The moment is powerful.  The moment makes you feel.  The moment develops character

The extended DVD version of The Fellowship of the Rings does justice to Tolkien's vision.  You see the personality traits of the Hobbits and of the other characters in the film.  You see the strength of everyone involved.  The Fellowship means so much more, if you watch the film with the lost 35 minutes included.  With these scenes mercilessly chopped away, the members of the Fellowship are nothing but Dwarves, Hobbits and "Big People."  Unless you've read the book, it's hard to care about any of them, no matter what size they are. 

But when the audience finds out, through the extended edition, the weak constitutions the Hobbits instinctually have (the chopped-up introductory scene is quite possibly the most crucial moment in the film), there is no way to avoid being moved by their courage.  With only 35 additional minutes, the film takes a splendid new twist.  Suddenly the Hobbits are heroes - not just midgets with furry feet.

I stand by the rating of "5" that I gave for the theatrical Fellowship.  On the other hand, I really liked the extended edition of Fellowship, and I'm actually LOOKING FORWARD to Return of the King. Until about 30 days ago, I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be typing that.  Thank Cathy from Oregon for my sudden twist.  She's one fan who was intelligent enough to realize that sending a DVD was more productive than sending emails about how splendid it was that my dog died prematurely.

On a scale of 1-10?

8

What does this rating mean?  Everyone rates things differently.  Your "5" could be my "7," or vice-versa.  Find out what MY rating means by clicking here

Agree? Disagree? Feeling bored and wanna write a letter that you'll probably never get a response to?  Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com 

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Text (Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].