Monday, March 15, 2004

Immersion in Middle Earth

Well, I'm off to see Return of the King for the second time in less than an hour, so I presume I'll have updates later on today. Yes, the film's been out for three months, and I'm only now getting around to seeing it again. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to see it again in a theatrical release (although buying the DVDs is a no-brainer), but I decided that since I have no idea at all when I'll be able to experience these films again in their intended theatrical presentation, I'd better do it.

Last night, though, I completely immersed myself in Middle Earth, watching the first two films back-to-back. That's quite the experience, and if you haven't done so, please do. I know it's hard to free up the eight or nine hours necessary to do it (adding extra time for trips to the kitchen for snacks and to the loo once the snacks from the first movie need to come out toward the end of the second), but you really get a sense of the story's emotional sweep that way.

Before I go, just a couple of things about the Extended version of The Two Towers:

:: There's a scene at Edoras in which Aragorn calms a terrified horse, and then directs the stablekeepers to set the horse free, saying something like, "This animal has seen enough wars." Is this the same horse that later finds Aragorn after he goes off the cliff and floats miles downriver?

:: The extended ending of The Two Towers simply doesn't work as well, in my opinion, as the theatrical version. Frodo and Sam are warned by Faramir that Cirith Ungol is a particularly dangerous path, which to my mind mutes the idea that Gollum is leading them unawares into horrible danger; and Merry and Pippin's finding of the pipeweed, while a charming scene, rather deflates the pathos of the film's conclusion.

:: Legolas has something like twenty "kills" in the first ten minutes of the Battle of Helm's Deep, but only ends up with 42? Did he take a long lunch or something?

:: I loved the moment when Fangorn Forest exacts its revenge on the orcs.

:: I'd like to know what the state of mind was of the person who first scouted the location for Osgiliath and said, "Yep the foothills of Mordor are a fifteen-minute walk away, so let's build a town right here!"

:: After having seen Return of the King and watched Legolas single-handedly bring down an oliphaunt, the cave-troll fight in Fellowship plays a bit differently. I'm thinking, "Oh come now, quit messin' around! You can defeat a beastie twenty times your size, but this troll is beyond your ability?"

:: One facet of Peter Jackson's story construction is pretty obvious: needing some major deaths along the way but not really given any (except Boromir), he simply looks for characters who are never mentioned again in the books after their initial appearance (Haldir, Hama) and then brings them back to kill them. Brilliant!

OK, that's it. I'm off; back later.

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