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Lord of the Rings Extended vs. Theatrical

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jon Baker, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. James Ryfun

    James Ryfun Well-Known Member

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    I think another thing people need to remember is - DVD and film are two different mediums, and as such are treated differently in many cases. Especially with these films. With tons of extras and added footage, these are meant to be enjoyed at your leisure, quite unlike a theater experience where you sit down at 1:00 and the film ends at 3:00. (Or whenever.)
    When Peter Jackson went about editing these extended editions together, he wasn't (obviously) held to the same kind of constraints he was when editing the theatricals together, in terms of pairing them down to a specific length. My point is, of course there's going to be a difference with the various versions and how they "flow." They simply weren't constructed with the same mind set.
    But there's nothing wrong with either version. It's OK to like the theatricals more, and it's certainly ok to prefer the extended editions. One is easily viewed in one sitting while the other isn't for many, other than the LOTR faithful. Although I'm sure there are exceptions to either rule. [​IMG]
     
  2. Jonathan Peterson

    Jonathan Peterson Well-Known Member

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    I've always watched the EEs as if they were a mini-series. One disc per night which for me makes for a great viewing experience.
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    As an LoTR novel fan, I clearly prefer the EEs. My parents, who have never read the books and probably never will, also preferred the EEs for just about every reason already stated (explained a lot, character development, etc.).
    And every person I've had over to watch the EEs, whether they had read the novel or not, expressed mild to extreme preference of the EEs over the TEs.
    I know it's only anecdotal evidence, but I thought I'd post it anyway just to add to the court of public opinion. [​IMG]
     
  4. Beau

    Beau Well-Known Member

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    EE's for me. FOTR in EE form is one of my favorite movies of all time. An ablosutely PERFECT movie. TTT was also improved greatly with the EE. I was actually a little dissapointed with the movie when I saw it in theaters, but it's grown on me over time, and the EE really helped with that. But one scene I didn't like was with Merry and Pippin on the Orc's backs with that little scenes that never made much sense to me. With ROTK, there's one thing I didn't like they put back in, all the extra stuff with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli with the ghosts. I thought it was better with it cutting away with Aragorn asking for help, then a surprise with them coming from the boat.
     
  5. Mark Kalzer

    Mark Kalzer Well-Known Member

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    FOTR - EE I prefer. Somehow, the movie flows much better. Having the concerning Hobbits in there is nice, (Though they actually cut some Frodo-Gandalf dialog for it. I only noticed when rewatching some scenes from my theatrical DVD) and I especially enjoy the dramatic beats added for the Fellowship leaving Rivendale, and then the gift giving scenes. The sense of time is also conveyed a little better. In the theatrical, it almost appears as if they leave Lothlorien, and then the breaking of the fellowship occurs in the very same day. Time has clearly passed in the EE though.

    TTT - I almost think the theatrical cut flowed a bit better. Most of the Merry-Pippen stuff was fun the first time, but it doesn't do much for me on repeats. It seems to me that Two Towers was strong enough on its own in it's 2:50 original running time.

    ROTK - This one I think is vastly superior in it's EE form in every way. I love the additional character moments we get for everyone. All the little bits between Aragorn and Eowyn, between Pippen and Gandalf, and of course Sam and Gollum add so much texture to the film that I realy love.

    I also find the EE really sells the drama of the final stage of Frodo and Sam's journey through Mordor. Again in the books it took days to cross, yet in the film it appears to have been just a few hours. This being the toughing task done by hobbit kind in all history, I felt it was important to show just how difficult this really is, and all the added scenes here make the sequence stronger.

    I am also impressed with one of the cosmetic changes, the scene where Pippen finds Merry on the battlefield. It was a great scene in the theatrical, but in the EE, it starts first with Pippen finding Merry's Lothlorien leaf dropped in battle, and then beginning his search. After the house of healing montage, we cut back to Pippen searching for Merry still, the same scene as from the theatrical, (a tad longer) but now colour timed differently so that it's dusk that he finds him at. With this cosmetic change, the passage of time is implied, and it is now clear that Pippen has been searching for hours for his friend, refusing to give up. The impact that makes is startling.
     
  6. Elijah Sullivan

    Elijah Sullivan Well-Known Member

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    First off, to clarify:
    Peter Jackson's contract stipulates all three films run no more than 120 minutes. That's what the contract says (according to PJ himself). Those cuts don't work. The theatrical cuts include those scenes that round the film out and make it work - hence, these are the best working cuts in his opinion.
    I agree - the theatrical cuts make the most sense and are the most elegantly edited versions. The extended cuts have fitful stop-go pacing and hairpin tonal shifts that the theatrical cuts don't have. They are also sloppy, contain redundancies and red herrings, and get sidetracked into issues that go nowhere and add nothing to the overall story.
    They do gratify fans of the books, and fans of the films who want "more of the same" regardless of the esthetic consequences.
    Exceptions: The Return of the King theatrical cut was already overlong. If I were PJ's editor, I would beg him to let me cut another 30-40 minutes out of the theatrical cut. The extended DVD would be ok at 3:20 minutes...but at 4 hours plus, King is a catastrophe.
    The Two Towers extended cut has a couple of nice additions - if they had extended it by ten minutes it would have been the best of the three films. With 40 minutes of additions, the extended cut gains emotional resonance but loses momentum and coherance.
    That's my opinion...
    Fellowship - theatrical: A+ extended: A-
    Two Towers - theatrical: A- extended: A
    Return of the King - theatrical: A extended B-
     
  7. Beau

    Beau Well-Known Member

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    Or they just don't agree there are any asthetic consequences. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  8. greg_t

    greg_t Well-Known Member

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    The theatricals are much better to me. I don't compare them to the books, I think of them as their own movies. With that in mind, I think the theatricals have much better pacing and the EE has alot of unnecessary scenes. Some are good though, but overall the theatricals are much better films to me.
     
  9. FranklinC

    FranklinC Well-Known Member

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    I think you would be confused by certain things in ROTK if you did not see the EE of FOTR and TTT.

    Where did Frodo get the vial that Sam used against Shelob otherwise?


    That's not in the TE of FOTR if memory serves...

    I say EE of FOTR and TTT, TE of ROTK. Some of the additions in ROTK slowed things down and disrupted the flow of the story IMHO. Plus, it changed alot of the meaning of what was happening toward the end, and not for the better. PLus, wasn't it long enough already? I think it was a perfect cut, as is.
     
  10. Jack _Webster

    Jack _Webster Well-Known Member

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    It was. That's the only gift you see given.
    In my mind, the theatrical cuts are only superior to the extended cuts if you MUST watch one of the films in a single sitting. The pacing keeps the momentum going so that it doesn't feel like three hours.
    As for my own viewing - I do it Epic style. Watch the first half one night, and finish it the next. These movies are too long to watch at once (IMO), but that in no way hinders the quality of the films if you ask me. I watch all my favorite big epics this way - Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur, Gettysburg, Hamlet, etc. It makes it all so much more of an event than a simple movie - and why not? LotR is my very favorite story, after all.
     
  11. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Well-Known Member

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    My 1 and one half cents [​IMG]
    Fellowship of the Ring: EE, but only by a hair. The Theatrical version was so enthralling that night I sat and watched it in a theater with my friend Dennis. I had no idea it was going to be that good. A lot of people forget that it was still a very iffy prospect when Fellowship was being made. "The guy who made Dead Alive?" "The kid from Flipper as Frodo?" "Rudy is Sam?" "Who the hell is Viggo Mortensen?" "Agent Smith is Elrond. Okay." At the time the movie was considered well-nigh unfilmable. so I went in pretty trepidatious. And was blown away. Still the best movie of the trilogy, for me. What the EE fleshes out it does well and it flows almost as effortlessly as the TE. On first viewing there was a lot I didn't realize was added back until I checked the chapter listings and was surprised at how many "content added" asterisks there were.
    The Two Towers: TE. The EE fills in a lot of blank spots, but it seems to do it awkwardly. And the pacing is off in some spots, leading to a semi-disjointed viewing experience. The editing on Two Towers was always the most problematic, and I think if Jackson was given an extra two or three months, he'd have improved Two Towers considerably for the theatrical, and a lot of the problems that Return of the King had to overcome in it's first hour would have been non-existent. The EE sometimes feels like a slog--but a FUN slog, sort of like the middle half hour of Star Wars, after the droids land on Tatooine, but before they finally hit the Death Star. Except in Two Towers EE, it's about an HOUR of that slog.
    Return of the King: EE, mostly because it's such a full, rich dish that I end up not caring how much food is on the plate. I've thrown in the 1st disk of the ROTK EE about 3 times now, and each time, I'm doing it intending to only watch that first disk and finish up the next night. And every time, me and my girl just automatically throw the 2nd disc in--fully expecting to stop it about halfway through and finish the next night. And it never happens. We always end up bleary eyed and sniffly at 2 in the morning. Every time. The first time I watched the EE, I actually cried MORE than during my first time watching the TE in theaters--and I was a sniveling WRECK at the end of that theatrical viewing. Yes, it's 4 hours long. But it's so utterly transporting at all times that I don't care. It's like a waking dream, almost BECAUSE of it's length. And while I still believe that the EE of Fellowship is the more riveting movie, the sheer emotion coming off of every frame in the EE of Return of the King is just more satisfying, maybe even because of the length. It revels in the buildup and that's why I think the 20 minute endings sequences are earned.
    That said, my friend Mike detailed to me how to perfectly truncate that ending so that it works perfectly: Kill the movie after they toast to their health, silently, in Hobbiton. I took it one step further--you also cut the pillowfight sequence. Go from Frodo being flown over what's left of Mordor, unconscious, fade to black--and fade in at Aragorn's coronation. The inference is that Frodo and Sam DID die after "Here at the end of all things" and lends a wistful, bittersweet tone to the celebration that I think would be welcomed--and then when you SEE all 4 hobbits, you're overjoyed and elated that they DID live. And then when he says "you bow to no one?" floodgates from the tearducts.
    Improves pacing AND emotional heft, and you kill probably 8-10 minutes from the film. Sure, you lose the grey havens, which is such an important part of the book, and you almost NEED to make that concession to the fans after axing the Scouring of the Shire, but in pure movie language, I think chopping the pillowfight and everything after the toast works better.
     
  12. Elijah Sullivan

    Elijah Sullivan Well-Known Member

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    That's an interesting idea. I also thought that the fade-out after the "here at the end of all things" line would have been a killer place for an ending -- it would have broken every heart in the theater.
    And I think the audience felt it appropriate... every time I saw Return in the theater, the audience started leaving during that fade-out!
     
  13. Mark VH

    Mark VH Well-Known Member

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    Quote:



    Originally Posted by Elijah Sullivan
    First off, to clarify:

    Peter Jackson's contract stipulates all three films run no more than 120 minutes. That's what the contract says (according to PJ himself). Those cuts don't work. The theatrical cuts include those scenes that round the film out and make it work - hence, these are the best working cuts in his opinion.

    I agree - the theatrical cuts make the most sense and are the most elegantly edited versions. The extended cuts have fitful stop-go pacing and hairpin tonal shifts that the theatrical cuts don't have. They are also sloppy, contain redundancies and red herrings, and get sidetracked into issues that go nowhere and add nothing to the overall story.

    They do gratify fans of the books, and fans of the films who want "more of the same" regardless of the esthetic consequences.

    Exceptions: The Return of the King theatrical cut was already overlong. If I were PJ's editor, I would beg him to let me cut another 30-40 minutes out of the theatrical cut. The extended DVD would be ok at 3:20 minutes...but at 4 hours plus, King is a catastrophe.

    The Two Towers extended cut has a couple of nice additions - if they had extended it by ten minutes it would have been the best of the three films. With 40 minutes of additions, the extended cut gains emotional resonance but loses momentum and coherance.

    That's my opinion...

    Fellowship - theatrical: A+ extended: A-
    Two Towers - theatrical: A- extended: A
    Return of the King - theatrical: A extended B-





    My thoughts EXACTLY. FotR: theatrical is, for me, the best film of the entire trilogy. But TTT: EE and RotK: TE are A films as well. Dunno if I'd go as low as a B- for RotK: EE. Maybe a B. But still, you nailed the reasoning pretty much perfectly.

    My real problem, I guess, is with those folks who, for some reason, feel that the theatrical versions are somehow rendered invalid merely by the existence of the extended versions. It's like saying that the theatrical version of Apocalypse Now no longer exists just because the Redux was released. For too many people, just because the extended versions add in material from the books, the theatrical versions are inherently inferior and insignificant.

    For me, this couldn't be further from the truth, and seriously downplays the importance of good, judicious editing. Sometimes, cuts just need to be made. For me, the streamlined flow of FotR actually adds to the emotional impact of the film, rather than detracts from it. Is the gift-giving a lovely scene in its own right - does it add beauty, additional information and (in Gimli's case) humor, to the film? Absolutely. Does it belong in the final cut? For me, no. This is a point where the film needs to move, something it does with ferocity in the theatrical cut.

    I'm not saying that those that prefer the EEs all feel that just because more material is in the film, it's inherently better. But there is a group of people that DO feel this way and, for my money, it just isn't true. Editing matters, and I think the cuts PJ and his team made in FotR and RotK for the theatrical versions were necessary ones, and they result in better films.
     
  14. Beau

    Beau Well-Known Member

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    I guess you could say that the TE's make better "films", having a tighter pace and moving the story along with each scene. But if that's the case I'm going to say that the EE's are "cinematic novels", and are, IMO, much more satisfying than the abridgment. As to that last remark, you could say it isn't an abridgment because the TE's came first, and I'd in turn say that even though it was originally cut as the TE's, the EE scenes were filmed before any cut was made.
     
  15. Bryan Ri

    Bryan Ri Well-Known Member

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    I prefer the EE's on Fellowship and Two Towers, but the theatrical Return of the King is my preference over the EE.

    The Return of the King EE actually gives away one of the better 'suprises' of the film, which is why I will never show it to a first time viewer.
     
  16. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Well-Known Member

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    My New Year's tradition of the last couple years, which I expect will continue indefinitely since it's popular, is to run all 3 EE back to back starting at noon and ending just before midnight, with short breaks for the potty and snacks, with a big kettle of stew or chili boiling all day for whenever anyone's hungry.

    I dislike the EE of TTT intensely though, so the tradition might become EE of FOTR (which I love), TE of TTT to minimize the noncanonical material (and I wish there was a way to cut out the Wonder Horse material altogether), and EE of ROTK (which is long, but contains the essential death of Saruman---the TE is just missing too much important material).
     
  17. Sean Bryan

    Sean Bryan Sean Bryan

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    I prefer the Extended Editions. They are the superior versions in my opinion.
     
  18. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Well-Known Member

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    Mark
    Your assessment pretty much mirrors my own. I like your New Years idea.
     
  19. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Well-Known Member

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    I do prefer the theatricals to the EEs. FOTR EE is the best out all of them, but I do not like the extended Lothlorien intro scene. The theatrical version was fine, the EE features continuity errors (look at Gimli's makeup) and switches from night to day to night which seems jarring to me (I know, in the book, the journey takes several days, but I still prefer the theatrical version).
    In TTT EE, my main beef is the added scenes to the ending, whiched dragged on needlessly (similar to ROTK), unlike the theatrical ending which was paced perfectly.
    One would think that ROTK would benefit the most from added scenes, due to the amount of plot that needs to be covered, but this the worst out of all the EEs. The voice of Saruman scene was nice, but the worst additions was showing the Army of the Dead agreeing to join Aragorn and then attacking the corsairs, as it TOTALLY kills the suspense and surprise of their appearance in the Pelannor Fields. This is why I always skip chapter 1 of Disc 2. Also, ROTK EE features Gimli acting like a drunk ass and farting. People bitch and complain about the fart in The Phantom Menace, but this was just as bad, if not worse.
     
  20. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Well-Known Member

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    EEs all the way. Better story, better picture, and better sound.
     

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