I just finished a rewatch of the Lord of the Rings trilogy extended editions, something I was saving for after I finished season one of The Rings of Power. And I’m glad I did because I was able to appreciate the trilogy that much more, with the events of Middle-earth’s earlier age as captured in the series adding an extra weight and significance to what happens in the movies.
Some stray thoughts on each movie as I went through them…
Fellowship of the Ring
- This film is so indelibly etched into my being, not to mention my favorite films of 2001 and of all time. There’s so much I could say about it—so many memories it created for me—but just one is that one of my first dates with the woman who’d become my wife was an all-day marathon of all three Extended Editions during a blizzard worthy of the Caradhras Pass.
- Ok, one more: our wedding processional was a combination of “Concerning Hobbits” and “The Breaking of the Fellowship” from Howard Shore’s magisterial score.
- I’ve bounced back and forth about whether this one or Return of the King is my favorite of the trilogy, but I’ve landed back on this one.
The Two Towers:
- While some of the extended footage that didn’t make the theatrical version made sense as cuts, dropping Faramir’s flashback absolutely didn’t. It provided useful context for both his relationship with Boromir and his father, added color to Boromir’s character, illustrated Faramir’s motivations, and helped set the stage for the Denethor drama to come. I get that it was a long-ish scene, but they could have easily trimmed several minutes from the battle of Helm’s Deep if we’re being honest.
- This remains my third-favorite of the trilogy despite having some great moments.
The Return of the King
- Listening to Annie Lennox’s “Into the West” as the credits rolled provoked a deep sense memory of sitting in the theater seeing this for the first time. In a stunned stillness I attempted to absorb the enormity of the epic journey that had just concluded.
- This time around I was able to better appreciate:
- just how long and exhausting the journey was for Frodo and Sam
- the ring as a metaphor for addiction (Gollum as a troubled addict, Frodo slowly getting hooked, Sam as conflicted loved one)
- the full evolution of Aragorn’s arc from reluctant ranger to confident king (also as a model “warrior poet” a la William Wallace in Braveheart, though for some reason much more appealing???)
- the courage of Merry and Pippin as they faced constant peril and/or underestimation
- Gandalf’s struggle with leading and inspiring others while harboring his own doubts and guilt about sending Frodo to his likely demise