The Wait is Over: All Hail the King!

The Wait is Over: All Hail the King!.

At last! My copy of the extended version of the Return of the King arrived today … and it is the best one yet! Like the extended versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers,
the added scenes are mainly character development and additional
exposition, but some of the battle scenes have picked up some cool
additional action scenes. (I don't quite get the business with all the
skulls, however. Was it intended as an in-joke by Jackson? A reference
to Skull Island, perhaps?)

Unlike the extended versions of the first two films, much of the
added character development here is devoted to characters outside the
Fellowship. Somebody criticized the first two films on grounds that
Peter Jackson tended to diminish the roles and even the moral character
of figures outside the Fellowship, presumably so as to buildup the Nine
as heroes about whom the audience cares most. In the RotK, however,
players outside the Nine get their due. Faramir and Eowyn, in
particular, are much more fully realized characters now. (To my regret,
the book's friendship between Eomer and Aragorn is still ignored;
indeed, Eomer is given some additional lines about Merry and Eowyn that
make him come off as something of a sexist/racist warmongerer.)

Interestingly, however, it is Denethor whose character may benefit
most from the added time available in the extended version. Glenn
Reynolds observed
of the theatrical version: “if fictional characters could sue for
libel, Denethor would have a case.” In contrast, the extended version
much more fully fleshes out the reasons for Denethor's conduct. He's
still insane, but enough of the back story is given for his insanity to
evoke compassion and understanding rather than puzzlement.

I loved the first two extended versions better than their theatrical
versions; but the gap is even greater here. With the added story and
more complete character development in this version, the RotK is now
the movie it always deserved to be – and now probably my favorite movie
of all time (the same place the book holds in my literary pantheon).

Tonight was devoted to the film itself; after dinner on Friday
night, I'm going to curl up with some port, a couple of cigars, and
watch it again with the actors' commentary turned on. 

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