DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "Lord Of The Rings Extended Edition" (with screenshots)

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  1. Ronald Epstein

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    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    Lord Of The Rings:
    The Fellowship of the Ring
    Extended Edition

    Studio: New Line
    Year: 2001
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 208 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English

    One ring to rule them all,
    One ring to find them,
    One ring to bring them all
    and in the darkness bind them

    Published in 1954-1955, J.R.R. Tolkien's
    masterpiece Lord Of The Rings trilogy still
    remains one of the most definitive works of
    imaginary fiction ever written. The extraordinary
    efforts to get this trilogy to the screen is a
    testament of how popular these stories are today.
    Featuring 350 constructed sets, 100 or more locations,
    and 20,602 extras, this is the largest film project
    ever undertaken by a studio. New Line took a huge
    gamble and risked everything by filming all three
    movies back-to-back without knowing the fate of the
    original release. That gamble obviously paid off as
    Fellowship of the Ring grossed a phenomenal
    $157 million in just 12 days and held the No. 1 spot
    for weeks since its opening.
    Perhaps the most significant testament to the
    film's success lies in how magnificently the book
    was adapted to the screen. I was a pre-teen when
    I first read the entire trilogy. The book sparked
    my imagination like no other book has since. Never
    would I have believed that anyone could capture
    my imaginations and put them on the screen. Production
    designer Grant Major and art director Dan Hennah
    have created a visual masterpiece -- from the wonderfully
    pleasing Shire to the soaring elven town of Rivendell
    to Moria, the dwarven caves deep inside a mountain.
    The incredibly varied terrain of New Zealand was
    used to great advantage in the movie, and it was
    very difficult to tell what was natural scenery and
    what was constructed set or even computer generated
    Set in the mythical land of Middle Earth, in an
    era of goblins and wizards, the evil Lord Sauron
    and his dark forces once again threaten to rule all.
    The fate of the world relies on who possesses the
    one ring, which holds unspeakable power. Lord Sauron
    created the ring out of the fiery depths of Doom
    Mountain years and years ago, but it was during a
    battle where Sauron was killed that the ring
    changed hands. The ring is lost once again only
    to be found by Gollum, a lowly creature that gets
    poisoned by its power. The ring is eventually stolen
    by a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. And so, this is where
    the trilogy begins.....
    As the film opens, Gandalf the Wizard (Ian McKellen)
    is visiting his old Hobbit friend, Bilbo Baggins (Ian
    Holm). When Bilbo makes a daring announcement to a
    group of party guests, Gandalf realizes that Bilbo is
    in possession of a very important ring. Gandalf
    convinces Bilbo to give up the ring, and give it to
    the very young Frodo (Elijah Wood). When the secret
    of the ring is finally revealed to the old Wizard,
    Frodo is warned to leave the Shire at once. However,
    evil agents are already on their trail. Pursued by
    dark riders, the Hobbits are forced to team up with
    a mysterious stranger named Strider (Viggo Mortensen).
    The reluctant adventurers make their way to Rivendell,
    a temporary safe haven, where a grand council decides
    the ring must be destroyed by returning it to the
    fire from which it was made. With reluctance, nine
    chosen companions embark on a most perilous quest.
    The Extended Edition
    It is not until you watch this Extended Edition that
    you realize how much bigger-than-life this epic has
    become. The film becomes a totally fresh and new
    viewing experience mainly thanks to the film's
    cleverly reconstructed 15-minute opening, which is
    included in the addition of 30 minutes of footage
    that greatly flesh out the characters and bring more
    depth to the story. As many times as I have seen
    this film in its standard version, this new cut was
    an awe-inspiring experience for me. I'll never
    watch the standard version again.
    The Lord Of The Rings: FOTR arrives in
    a brand new 4-disc edition housed inside an
    attractive book-like casing. The movie is spread
    across discs One and Two. This means that nearly
    1:45 minutes into the film, you will need to
    switch to disc two in order to continue. The
    upside is that this enables the inclusion of
    four new audio commentaries as well as several
    audio formats including English Dolby Digital
    EX 5.1 Surround
    and English DTS ES 6.1
    . The downside is that when you
    switch discs, you must go into the SETUP area and
    once again set your audio preferences. The
    bottom line is that you will not be able to watch
    an uninterrupted presentation of the film. Discs
    Three and Four contain The
    Appendices, Part I and II.
    The added footage
    What I am going to do now is break down the list
    of added footage for you, as well as including a
    handful of screenshots. Please note that most of
    this is from memory, and there is always the
    possibility I may be describing a scene that was
    already in the standard version. I think my memory
    is pretty good and that I will come very close to
    being pretty accurate. Also please realize that since
    a small amount of added footage comes through quick
    cuts, I may have missed a few minor additions.

    Disc One

    - In a newly reconstructed introduction to the film
    (and before the opening credits), we listen to
    added narration from Bilbo as he sits at his table
    working on his memoirs. We learn more about the
    Hobbits...their passions for food, planting and
    celebration. More importantly, we are introduced
    to the ring at a much earlier interval.
    - During a fireworks display, Bilbo welcomes guests
    and hides from others as he has extended dialogue
    with Frodo.
    - In the library. Gandalf reads more of the history
    of the ring, complete with added flashback.
    - A party has Merry and Pippin dancing on a table
    as others talk about the war brewing beyond their
    - A beautiful sequence where in the woods just
    outside of the Shire, Sam and Frodo peer upon a
    group of wood-elves on their way to the harbor
    beyond the grey towers. Sam also complains about
    not being able to sleep amongst the roots.
    - An extended sequence inside the Prancing Pony
    regarding Strider.
    - Additional dialogue with Strider. The Hobbits
    talk amongst themselves as to whether they should
    trust Strider and if he really is a friend of
    - A walk through a marsh filled with mosquitos
    (great rear channel effects here). Later, Strider
    sings beneath the light of the moon about a love
    he lost.
    - Frodo awakens after being stabbed by the blade
    of a Wraith. He is in a thicket surrounded by
    Troll statues.
    - A really cool sequence that takes place during
    the roundtable meet in Rivendell. As Frodo
    places the ring on the table, Borimor goes for it,
    claiming it is a gift to be used against Mordor.
    A spell is raised that literally shakes the

    Disc Two

    - A brand new sequence opens the second disc as
    Aragorn (formally known as Strider) visits
    the grave of his Mother as Elrond Peredhil reminds
    him of his destiny.
    - Elrond bids farewell to the departing nine
    companions as the fellowship awaits the ring
    - A short dialogue sequence where Gandalf asks
    Frodo to help an old man. Gandalf asks the
    Hobbit how his shoulder is as both discover how
    powerful the influence of the ring is becoming. The
    wizard advises Frodo to only trust himself. We also
    learn that Gandalf is sensing impending danger
    inside the Moria mines that will ultimately test him.
    - Another sequence has Gandalf becoming irate
    over not being able to find the words to open
    the doors of Durin that lead the way to the heart
    of Moria.
    - Inside the mines of Moria, against a steep
    cliff, Gandalf points his way down the chasms as
    he shows his companions the true wealth of Moria.
    - A newly found passage into the great hall of
    the mines of Moria. Gandalf speaks of the
    oncoming Balrog. The jump across the bridge is
    also greatly extended with a new set of stairs to
    cross and a much earlier arrival of a full-formed Balrog.
    - As Frodo walks through the woods he hears
    additional calls of Galadriel, Lady of the
    Galadrhim. Gimli makes a very uncourteous remark
    about the lady after being captured by elves. Later,
    Aragorn tells Frodo that Gandalf's death was not
    in vain.
    - The group is handed cloaks and food by the elves
    as well as parting advice. Galadriel gives gifts
    to each of the members. Gimli has a very
    unlikely request. Wait till you hear what he
    - As the group makes a short stop on shore,
    there is another sighting of Gollum in the
    water. Sam pleads to Frodo that he is truly his
    friend and wants to help. Boromir and Aragorn
    - An extended battle sequence between Aragorn and
    the head Orc.
    Again, I must stress that all of this is from
    memory. Please be kind if I made any mistakes here.
    Fortunately, the added material can easily be
    identified by going into Select a Scene
    where asterisks indicate **new scene as well
    as **extended scene. Please note that I
    did not refer to this area prior to writing the
    above scenes.
    How is the transfer?
    To say that this is an absolutely flawless
    transfer and leave it at that would be sort
    of shortchanging this review -- but it would
    be the absolute truth. What we have here is
    an absolutely pristine image that is very close
    to Hi-Def. The transfer looks absolutely smooth
    and with extremely accurate colors -- especially
    in the facial flesh tones. Blacks are rock solid
    and the picture never becomes too sharp nor soft,
    giving this film a very natural beauty.
    This DVD features both English Dolby Digital
    EX 5.1 Surround
    and English DTS ES 6.1
    . Even though My system is limited
    to a 5.1 setup, it wasn't difficult to get totally
    immersed in the audio presentation. As I usually
    expect from most DTS tracks, the sound has a very
    spacial quality to it -- not sounding the least
    compressed. This is one hell of an aggressive mix
    with sound that is extremely accurate and detailed.
    The rear channels are nearly always active throughout,
    and there's tremendous LFE channel support that adds
    booming floor-shaking response. This is one of the
    strongest sounding LFE tracks in memory -- so strong
    in fact that I was very concerned about blowing out
    my subwoofer.
    It really becomes difficult to define a transfer
    that is as beautiful as this one. Thus far, Attack
    Of The Clones
    has become the best DVD I have
    seen, thanks to its direct digital transfer. I
    was amazed to see that this film transfer looked
    almost as good. This tells you much about the effort
    New Line has put into making this DVD look flawless.
    Special Features
    As I sit here with four discs containing over 6 hours
    of material, I sort of hesitate to move on. What
    lies before me is over a full day's worth of review
    material devoted to one DVD package. I will do as
    thorough of a job as I can with this, but will
    mostly highlight what you can expect out of these

    Disc One and Two

    As you pop in the DVD, you are welcomed at a
    Hobbit table where a book, The Fellowship of
    The Ring
    opens to reveal a page of menu
    Disc One contains the first part of the
    Extebded Edition which runs close to 1hr. 45 minutes.
    The side break is at the 1:45 mark where Pippin
    inquires "when are we goin'?!". A black screen
    comes up prompting you to continue to Disc Two.
    From the Special Features menu you can
    select any one of four commentaries. These
    commentaries feature: Track One: The
    Directors and Writers
    : Peter Jackson, Fran
    Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Track Two:
    The Design Team: Grant Major, Ngila Dickson,
    Richard Taylor, Alan Lee, John Howe, Dan Hennah,
    Chris Hennah and Tania Rodger. Track Three:
    The Production/Post Production Team: Barrie
    Osborne, Mark Ordesky, Andrew Lesnie (and a
    approximately 11 more) Track Four: The
    : Eliijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler,
    Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic
    Monoghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee and Sean
    What is very unique here is that each supplemental
    audio commentary track is accompanied by a subtitle
    identifying each different speaker.
    Now I must apologize in advance. Commentaries are
    usually the last thing I review. After spending
    a day writing this one, I am going to briefly touch
    upon just one of the commentaries. That
    commentary is of the cast. First, you will
    be very happy to learn that all of them are here
    together in one room -- except for Christopher Lee
    whose tracks seemed to have been recorded separate.
    Two things of immediate interest here. First, it's
    a very tame group effort for such a bunch of young
    cast members. Second, it seems all of these
    individuals are watching the added DVD material for
    the very first time as many of them seem to be in
    awe of what they are watching. McKellen talks about
    a windy day in the shire and the problem of keeping
    his hat on. The group never hesitates to point
    out where each scene was filmed -- especially when
    an actor crosses from an outdoor set onto a
    soundstage. You'll also hear the cast talk about
    "BK", who is Elijah's 3'4" double, used in scenes
    where height comparison was needed. Christopher
    Lee talks about some of the falls he had to do,
    being knocked around quite often (but fortunately
    not from any great height). A wraith chase through
    the woods leading the Hobbits to the Ferry is not
    so fondly recalled here. The boys had an awful
    time in the pouring rain not only from shoes
    that went flying off...but by the time they reached
    the bottom of the hill, they were so exhausted they
    had to be carried back up.
    I realize I have merely scratched the surface on
    the commentaries, but I think all of you understand
    that I just cannot rewatch 3 hours of material to
    give you the type of review you want.

    Disc Three

    Here begins what is called The Appendices.
    They are spread out across Discs Three and Four.
    Let's begin with Disc Three which is titled
    Part One: From Book To Vision
    As in the rear pages of the Tolkien books, these
    Appendices give the back stories and
    origins of how the mythology of Middle Earth was
    created. Part One (Disc Three) has 2.5
    hours worth of documentary material and Part Two
    has 3.5 hours of additional documentary material.
    Let's begin with Disc Three: Part One: From
    Book to Vision
    We begin with an Introduction from director
    Peter Jackson who not only welcomes you aboard, but
    lays out exactly what you can expect from the two
    supplemental discs before you. In fact, he gives
    you several options of how you can best navigate
    through all of the enclosed material.
    J.R.R. Tolkien - creator of Middle Earth
    begins with Peter Jackson talking about the sheer
    wealth of information that Tolkien brought to his
    books. From there, we get a thorough background
    history on Tolkien who became an orphan at the
    very early age of 12. His Mother actually was the
    person who inspired him to read, and after her
    death, he was committed to continue with his
    literary studies. We learn of his studies of
    the English language at Oxford, as well as his
    involvement in the World War where most of the
    suffering he witnessed had a profound affect on
    his later writings. Tolkien Biography author
    Humphrey Carpenter tells us that Tolkien wrote the
    first installment of the book almost blindly, not
    knowing what its structure would be, practically
    shaping it all as he went along. The documentary
    also explores the phenomenon of the books, thanks
    to its underlying themes of human existence.
    (length: approx. 22 minutes)
    From Book to Script reveals how much Jackson
    is a real fan of the books, first reading the
    trilogy at the age of 18. Director of Photography
    Andrew Lesnie agrees -- this was the first book
    that really taught him how powerful words could be.
    We go down the line in interview after interview
    with cast members and filmmakers like Sean Bean
    (Boromir), Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and others who
    talk about their first experiences reading the books.
    The subject of proposing a three-film deal to New
    Line Cinema is discussed here, with added comments
    from filmmakers and cast members such as Christopher
    Lee (Saruman), who was actually in favor of the
    decision. The team responsible for shaping the
    script into a three film story talk a little about
    what the process was like. The cast members talk
    about the incredible writing process of the film.
    John Rys-Davies (Gimli) jokes about revisions of
    the script that were slipped under his door the
    night before a shoot. One of the most difficult
    characters for Jackson and his team was Arwen
    'Evenstar' Undómiel, a character that had a very
    small role in the book series. In order to make her
    a character with some weight, more material had to
    be added for her. The scenes around the table of
    Elrond was also difficult to shoot because of the
    amount of material that was in the book. We also
    learn how the evil encased within the ring had to
    be animated -- given its own character.
    (length: approx. 20 minutes)
    Visualizing the story contains a wealth
    of storyboards, animatics and animation to film
    comparisons. Here we go...
    Storyboards and Pre-viz: Making words into
    images presents Jackson, his effects and
    miniatures team as they discuss the amount
    of detail that was involved in order to shoot
    the film as fluidly as possible. Every single
    frame in this film was story boarded by Peter.
    This greatly helped the visual and effects team.
    Jackson took the storyboard process one step further
    by creating small models with little figurines so
    that camera shots could be more accurately conveyed.
    (length: approx. 13 minutes)
    There are three early storyboards that are
    really cool to watch -- especially for the fact that
    they play as individual movies set against music
    and dialogue. In addition to an alternate prologue
    (done with storyboards and CGI), there are two
    abandoned scenes that have been cleverly
    recreated for this DVD. Very cool!
    In Pre-Viz Animatics we watch how computer
    graphics laid out the blueprint for what was to be
    filmed, including specific camera angles. The
    scenes presented here are Gandalf rides to
    and The Stairs of Khazad-Dum.
    Animatic to film comparisons give you
    a split-screen look at how two specific scenes
    look from original storyboard concept to final
    Finally, in this section, Bag End set test
    is a very nice treat to watch. In a yet unfinished
    wooden set, film production and set design members
    partake in a sort of blocking test. It's funny to
    watch Jackson scurry around the set (acting like
    Bilbo) as someone holds up a head on a stick that
    represents Gandalf.
    (length: approx. 6 minutes)
    Let's go to Designing and filming Middle Earth...
    Designing and building Middle Earth takes
    us through original book illustrations of trolls,
    Wizards and Goblins that create such a believable
    environment that you think it was all once real.
    We take a look at a team of designers who, before
    the script was finished, put together models and
    drawings that portrayed a totally believable world
    inserted in shots of actual New Zealand locations
    where the stories originated from. There are some
    very interesting home movies of the models being
    built, as well as the many drawings that were
    offered for feedback before sculpturing began.
    This is a very extensive featurette that goes far
    more into depth than I could describe here, but
    it represents the huge collaborative effort of
    creating the world of Middle Earth.
    (length: approx. 41 minutes)
    Weta Workshop takes us to Camperdown Studios,
    a place that Elijah Wood describes as "Willy Wonka's
    chocolate factory without the candy". Everything
    in the film that you saw was made here -- all the
    armor, all the weapons, the creatures and miniatures.
    I think you will be mesmerized as you weave through
    the very tight shop filled with an awesome amount
    of miniature models (that aren't so miniature).
    Some of the miniatures were the size of soundstages.
    All the masks, and yes, hairy feet were created
    here as well. My favorite part was watching the
    creation of the Cave Troll made out of plaster
    and skin. We also learn how impossible it is to
    create armor, due to all its complexities.
    (length: approx. 43 minutes)
    Costume Design introduces us to Costume
    Designer Nglia Dickson and her 40 seamstresses
    that created the costumes for the film. Nglia
    talks about how huge and complex the project was,
    being very thankful that a lot of designs were
    already in place before she came aboard. I was
    absolutely amazed to look at footage of a warehouse
    lined with rows upon rows of costumes. With
    original concept drawings in hand, Nglia takes
    us through each set of characters and how costumes
    (and their colors) were specifically designed for
    their race and personality.
    (length: approx. 12 minutes)
    There are two design galleries that
    represent the peoples and realms of Middle Earth.
    There is such a wealth of information here
    presented as a slide show that I cannot go
    through it all in one sitting. Let me just say
    that it is chock-full of original artist
    renderings from enemies such as Sauron, The Cave
    and Orcs to the characters that
    make up the fellowship. Then there are original
    drawings of all the realms of Middle Earth that
    include (among others) The Shire, Bree, Moria
    and Rivendell. So much material here and
    so little time.
    Middle Earth Atlas lays out a large map
    of the entire landscape as you use your remote to
    pick a location and see scenes from the film that
    show how that area was involved in the journey.
    New Zealand as Middle Earth lets you use
    your remote to pick particular locations on a map
    and see where they were filmed. For instance,
    Rivendell was filmed in Wellington, with
    its beautiful forests and landscapes. We watch how
    sets were built against these backdrops.

    Disc Four

    Okay, time to move on to Disc Four, Part Two:
    From Vision to Reality
    Once again we are treated to an introduction
    to all the material on this disc. Surprisingly, that
    introduction comes courtesy of Elijah Wood (Frodo)
    who tells us that this portion of the DVD covers
    everything from the film's production right on
    through the film's release. He also gives you some
    advice on how to properly navigate your way through
    the material.
    Filming The Fellowship of the Ring is
    divided into four main areas. Let us take a look
    at them....
    The Fellowship of the Cast, as you would
    expect, takes us through the casting process.
    Since none of these actors had worked together
    before, Jackson talks about being nervous once
    all of them got off the plane in New Zealand,
    meeting each other for the first time. In
    separate interviews, the cast members talk
    about leaving home for an extended period
    and meeting each other for the first time. You
    will have a big fat smile on your face as you hear
    the story of how Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Orlando
    Bloom (Legolas) first met. Ian McKellen talks
    about taking a year out of his life, away from
    home, making new friends. It turned out to be
    a kind of Boy Scout adventure for the men -- a
    real boys club. There are some great stories here
    told by the actors themselves, including one about
    Sean Astin (Samwise Gangee) being very nervous
    about a helicopter ride. Another story involves
    John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) taking a small group of
    12 out to a restaurant and ordering enough food for
    40 people. I love to hear Billy Boyd tell this
    story while doing a dead-on impersonation of the
    actor. This is simply just a fun collection of
    individual stories from all the cast members that
    truly show how much they love one another.
    (length: approx. 34 minutes)
    I heard the news today oh, boy! A Day In The
    Life of a Hobbit starts at 5am and takes us
    through the makeup and prosthetics that go into
    making a Hobbit. We see how the feet are attached,
    as well as the ears which absorb sound and make
    it difficult to hear. There are some really fun
    home movie footage of cast members in makeup
    eating and relaxing between film takes. We are
    also introduced to Elijah's smaller version of
    himself as we dwell into the art of staging a
    scene to show proper size proportions.
    (length: approx. 13 minutes)
    Cameras in Middle-Earth is a very lengthy
    look at how so many units of camera crew managed
    to shoot the entire epic in a remarkably short
    period of time. Jackson depended on the people
    that ran these units to be in places he could not.
    The documentary takes us through the many realms
    of the film as we visit location after location,
    watching how each segment was shot. Christopher
    Lee talks about the unusual amount of takes that
    Peter Jackson wanted from him, wanting to get words
    and mannerisms exactly right. Cast members recall
    trudging through the marshes where the water was
    absolutely freezing cold while Peter Jackson was
    by his trailer giggling about it all. It's
    interesting to watch how outdoor location shots
    of Rivendale had to be duplicated for later shots
    done inside of a studio. Lighting was a major
    importance here. Jackson talks about filming on
    the snowy mountaintops with helicopters bringing
    the entire cast and crew aboard...all except Sean
    Bean (Boromir) who refused to fly, and instead
    took a ski lift to the top. As the featurette
    draws to a close, we watch Jackson coordinate
    the huge fight that comes at the end of the film.
    It was an incredibly long shoot in blazing hot
    weather, and there's some great behind-the-scenes
    footage here that captures it all.
    (length: approx. 50 minutes)
    Production Photos contain about 72 stills
    that were taken on location.
    Let's take a look at the section devoted to
    Visual Effects...
    Scale simply deals with heights. There's
    a relationship of size between Hobbits and Humans.
    This featurette looks at things such as scale
    compositing, forced perspective, and creating
    sets that properly portray size. There's also a
    very interesting look at the big rigs used in the
    film and the small people that drive them. These
    big rigs were used to make the Hobbit characters
    seem smaller.
    (length: approx. 15 minutes)
    Miniatures begins with Big-atures.
    Miniature Director of Photography Alex Funke talks
    about the importance of using miniatures rather
    than creating them digitally. These miniatures
    models became the basis for some of the most
    jaw-dropping visual sequences of the film. The
    bigger the miniature, the more realistic that
    model is going to look on screen. We take a look
    at much of the miniatures used in the film and
    how they were combined with the live action
    (length: approx. 16 minutes)
    After you are through watching the above featurette,
    you can browse through hundreds of photos that
    make up the miniatures gallery. Presented
    in slide-show fashion, just about every realm from
    the film is represented here.
    Weta Digital takes us through the post-
    production process of adding visual effects to
    the film. This specially built facility was
    built to bypass huge costs, in order to create
    all the digital effects. Of course, you can
    be assured that you will be shown lots of
    digital computer effects in this segment,
    including the creation of the squid creature that
    grabs Frodo. My favorite part? Taking a look
    at how the original wraith kings (as seen through
    Frodo's invisibility) was shot. You see the live
    actors reaching for what would be Frodo. Coool!
    (length: approx. 24 minutes)
    Let's look at Post Production: Putting it all
    Editorial: Assembling an Epic introduces
    us to Editors John Gilbert and Peter Skarratt who
    talk about the immense size of the film project,
    and the huge amount of footage that ended up in
    the editing room. There were eight units producing
    footage daily, and it was up to the editors to
    sort through 5 million feet of film, bringing it
    down to 4 million feet. One of the most difficult
    scenes to edit was Arwen's horse chase scene. There
    were just hours and hours of footage with horses
    that had to be trimmed down to just a few minutes.
    There's also discussion about the scenes that were
    deleted from the film early on and now being
    reinserted in this DVD.
    (length: approx. 12 minutes)
    You couldn't ask for anything better than this!
    Anyone interested in filmmaking will indeed cherish
    Editorial Demonstration: The Council of Elrond,
    which consists of 36 different takes and illustrates
    the challenges faced by the editorial team. Six
    windows play above the final cut of the film. Each
    of those six windows will highlight a take that
    was selected by the editor as the one used in
    the film.
    Digital Grading talks about shooting footage
    on location, which looks all too real, and nudging
    it up a bit -- adding elements that make it look
    sort of unworldly. This is done by taking a film
    negative, scanning it, and then manipulating the
    image with a variety of tools. Once you add colors
    and highlights it gets scanned back onto the negative.
    Supervising Digital Colourist Peter Doyle takes
    us through raw footage and shows how individual
    sequences were manipulated. Graded and ungraded
    images are compared inside-by-side windows.
    (length: approx. 12 minutes)
    Let's take a look at Sound and Music...
    The soundscapes of Middle-Earth is all
    about the sound design of the film. There was
    a wealth of sound effects that had to be created
    in the studio. Using high-tech equipment, a
    small team of artists created sounds that transported
    the audience to Middle Earth. There are several
    examples here how sounds were created for many of
    the key sequences. You'll be surprised how plungers
    and rubber floor mats became very useful. The
    biggest challenge was creating the screams of the
    ring wraiths. How was it done? It was actually
    the screams of Fran Walsh.
    (length: approx. 12 minutes)
    Music for Middle-Earth introduces us to
    composer Howard Shore who wrote the music that
    guided our emotions throughout the film. Shore
    worked on the film for nearly two years. We
    watch the composer on the soundstage of Skywalker
    Ranch (where I personally stood not more than 1
    month ago), where he conducts the orchestra. We
    learn how a dialect coach helped put together a
    song sequence sung by Viggo Mortenson (Aragorn).
    What surprised me is that he made up the tune
    himself and was simply looking for the words.
    The Abbey Road studio is the setting for a chorus
    of young boys that added the sweet, emotional
    passages to the film. Later, shore talks about
    writing a score as if it were an Opera, bringing a
    certain kind of grandeur to the soundtrack.
    (length: approx. 12 minutes)
    The Road goes ever on is the perfect closing
    featurette as it looks at the promotional aspects
    of the film, particularly the premiers where cast
    members were treated like royalty by their adoring
    fans. There's some quick footage from Elijah's
    home movies as the cast arrives at a French premiere.
    Featured here are hordes of fans, grand speeches
    of thanks and lots of flying confetti. Peter Jackson
    talks about the film being more than just a job --
    it was a breathtaking experience where friends came
    together and created something really special.
    (length: approx. 7 minutes)
    DVD-ROM content basically takes you to
    New Line's website that promises updated Lord
    of the Rings
    Easter Eggs? Check out the reviews on
    other websites. After spending hours on this
    review I just did not have the strength to search.
    I do know there are 2 eggs hidden somewhere in
    this package.
    What is not here?
    With all the added material that is available
    here it is utterly surprising to find a lack of
    promotional materials. There are no trailers
    nor TV spots nor poster stills. Forgiveable?
    I suppose so.
    Final Thoughts
    Seriously folks, my head is spinning. I must
    have spent 10 hours on this review between watching
    the film itself and going through two discs of
    supplemental material. By far, this is the most
    extensive project I have ever worked on -- and it's
    no wonder -- Lord Of The Rings is the most
    elaborate cinematic epic ever, and the journey is
    just beginning.
    One might look at this 4-disc package as being
    complete overkill for the average fan. Fortunately,
    it isn't the average fan that this set is geared
    towards. This is a visual encyclopedia that shows
    every aspect of the film's journey from pre-production
    to promotion.
    Most of all, this set is the product of a huge
    amount of care and dedication that started with
    Peter Jackson and his team who provided this
    wealth of supplemental material right on down to
    New Line Cinema that has produced one of the most
    beautiful transfers ever to be seen on DVD. It is
    that reason that I let myself age a full day while
    writing this review. Consider it a homage to the
    magnificence of this set!
    Release Date: November 12, 2002
  2. Thomas J.

    Thomas J. Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 19, 1999
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  3. Travis_S

    Travis_S Supporting Actor

    Jan 14, 2001
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    St. Louis, Missouri
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    Absolutely cannot wait for this set. Great review, Ron!
  4. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

    Dec 20, 1999
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    [​IMG] Great work, Ron. Can't wait to get this one for myself.
  5. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

    Jul 27, 2001
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    Thanks, Ron...once again, another great (and comprehensive) review![​IMG]
    Before I knew it was a movie, I thought all the talk about "insomnia" was referring to the sleepless nights I'll have while trying get through all four discs in this set!
  6. Aaryn Chan

    Aaryn Chan Supporting Actor

    Jul 5, 2002
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    The review is as long as the extended cut itself. [​IMG]
    Wow, for 35$CDN, this set worth more than every penny!
  7. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

    Jul 25, 2000
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    Holy Sheet Ron, great review. WOW! I cannot wait. This and Clones less than a month away.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
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    Georgia (the state)
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    Patrick McCart

    I already got the 2-disc one, but I'll have to get the 4-disc set as well.

    Who thinks this will be DVD of the year?
  9. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

    Jun 18, 2001
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    A review like this forces me to reconsider broadband...we've now gone from whetting the appetite to full-blown delirium.

    Rewatchability is not going to be an issue here, at least not for a long time. There's so much here, it'll be hard enough to digest all of it the first time around.

    Wow, have HTF's highest recommendations seemingly done the impossible lately and leapfrogged each other for the title of best dvd of the year?
  10. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

    Jul 1, 2000
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    Thanks for all the care you put into this Review Ron, I myself am purchasing the 5-disc Gift Set. This is the most exciting DVD package ever.
  11. michael deakin

    michael deakin Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 20, 2000
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    Michael Charles Deakin
    Thanks Ron.
    I can't wait for this title. I had to skip some of your review, Has i haven't seen the movie yet. I put off buying the first version for this one. So im probably the last person on Middle earth to have seen it.
  12. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

    Jul 29, 1999
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    Los Angeles
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    The best, most complete review out there, Ron. Thanks! I'm peeing myself waiting for this.
  13. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

    Apr 8, 1999
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    David Scarpa
    Nice Review Ron, thanks. I can't believe I'm getting this for $16.24 Shipped from Best Buy, thanks to a $10 Digital Coupon ! This has become my most prized Disc and my greatest Deal !
  14. Dalton

    Dalton Screenwriter

    Aug 19, 2001
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    Rhode Island
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    Once again an excellent in-depth review. I was already getting this but now i am dying with anticipation. Keep up the good work. Your reviews are some of the best on the net!

  15. Shawn Shultzaberger

    Shawn Shultzaberger Supporting Actor

    Dec 2, 2000
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    I thought that I might be able to get away with just purchasing the first one that came out. Now I have to convince my wife that I need the 4-Disc set. [​IMG]
  16. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Feb 16, 2001
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    Albany, NY
    Well, I'm pumped. I only skimmed through your review as I want to discover the stuff for myself, but awesome screencaps[​IMG]
  17. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

    Jun 13, 2002
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    Excellent review Ron. My favorite one! And the pictures do help.[​IMG]
    There's still a month until this comes out, but I can't believe it's so soon. I've been waiting for the "Ultimate" dvd experience. Somehow, I just knew it would be with this film. So I've spent the last years (in my spare time) dreaming up this set! Can't wait to get my hands on this!
    And is there a server problem with this site? I saw that there'd be a review tonight, and tried coming on here since about 7:30!! I tried for 3 hours but always got a "Cannot Find Server" page! But I did get here at 10:30, and I'm happy.
    If there was one thing disappointing about this review was that there's no picture of the packaging!! Where are all the fold-outs and everything? I'm really interested to see how this is packaged, and though Ron never promised images, it's almost a given that he'll take shots of the sets with any type of elaborate packaging.
  18. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

    Dec 11, 2001
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    Well, I was gonna pass on this release until the packaging was show some months ago. Then I was hooked. Glad it's reference. Great review Ron. I'll give the two disc to my brother-in-law when I get this. Don't have to have the theatrical cut on this one. That may be the first time I've ever said that.
  19. Travis Hedger

    Travis Hedger Supporting Actor

    Mar 24, 1998
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    I now know what to get the wife for Christmas! [​IMG]
  20. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

    Dec 15, 2001
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    thanks for the review, ron!


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