Are you having Middle Earth withdrawals? Do you find yourself at times wishing you had lots of hair on the top of your feet because you’re ready to see the two Hobbit films now? Well fear not because this summer, to coincide with the Blu Ray release, AMC theaters will be bringing the extended versions of the fantasy trilogy to their screens for the summer. According to an article at IGN, it’s not certain how long they will actually be in theaters:
The One Ring is reporting that AMC theaters will begin showing the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on June 14; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on June 21; and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on June 28, all beginning at 7:00 p.m. local time. During each Fathom event, theater audiences will view nearly an hour of additional feature footage per film with additional and extended scenes that were carefully selected under the supervision of director Peter Jackson. June 28, 2011 is also when the trilogy appears on Blu-ray.
“The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Trilogy is a visual masterpiece that returns to the big screen to be experienced the way Peter Jackson intended: with the additional feature footage for each installment,” said Dan Diamond, vice president of NCM Fathom. “Combined with all-new introductions to each event by Jackson, the exceptional quality of digital cinema and the one-of-a-kind experience the movie theater offers, The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Event marks a new landmark in cinematic history.”
The first Hobbit movie doesn’t come out until late 2012, so I don’t know about the rest of you but that seems about five years away. I’ll be checking out all three of the extended versions (being called the director’s cuts for the theater release) when they hit theaters. I definitely need to re-watch Fellowship of The Ring in the cinema again, because I recall hating it the first time, and now it is my favorite of the three. Personally I think it has something to do with the crappy seats in the theater I went to and sitting through a three-hour movie in them.
2 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings: Big Screen Return – The Extended Editions”
“The Lord of the Rings” is so secure at the pinnacle of all fantasy that any review of it risks presumption. The measure of this work’s greatness can be found in the thousands of lesser works it has inspired, some in imitation, most in homage–all pale reflections of the world, the wisdom, the wonder of Middle Earth.
Over the years, I have re-read this masterwork at least two dozen times. Yet it never ceases to delight me with new revelations. Over time, these revelations have evolved from discoveries about the book to reflections about myself. This is art in its highest form: it inspires, indeed, demands self-understanding.
In my younger days, I was drawn to the clash of armies, the glory of battle, the valour of Aragorn and Eowyn, the sacrifice of Theoden and Faramir. But as I have aged, it is the suffering of Frodo and Sam that most moves me. The deepest courage is not found in battle, but in the act of bearing the heaviest burdens alone, beyond help, beyond hope, beyond endurance, beyond even despair–“that which we are, we are; /One equal-temper of heroic hearts, /Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will /To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
This work is perfect in its completeness. It lacks nothing and is endowed with themes both timeless and universal.
Consider the role of pity. We contemplate this theme for the first time when Gandalf reflects that Bilbo spared Gollum’s life for pity. Then consider Frodo’s first meeting with Gollum: “now that I see him, I do pity him.” Or Gandalf’s rebuke of Denethor, “…for me, I pity even [Sauron’s] slaves.” Faramir’s pity for Eowyn–“do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart”–lifts despair from her soul and permits her to live and to love again. And the pity between Frodo and Sam is the bond that endures at the last when even flesh and spirit crumble. Not least, Tolkien commands our pity: and we, in the act of offering it–to Frodo, to Sam, most especially to Smeagol–take the world of Middle Earth as our own.
Consider also that the little people do the bravest deeds and tread where the great dare not: the quest of the ring is undertaken not by Aragorn, nor even by Boromir, but by a timid hobbit from the Shire, whose quality is not in his pedigree or his strength of arms, but in his will and his strength of character. “If you do not find the way, no one will”, Elrond tells Frodo, and, “This is the hour of the Shire-folk”. Sad that since Tolkien wrote his majestic work, his erstwhile followers and imitators have fallen back on such tired cliches as swashbuckling heroes and impossibly clever heroines. The magnificence in Tolkien’s creation is not to be found in the strong, but in the humble. It is about a gentle hobbit like Sam, who likes his beer and tends his garden and thinks simple thoughts, but who would stare down death while fighting orcs and trolls and giant spiders, not because he thinks himself noble or brave, but because he is far beyond the noble or the brave. Frodo and Sam are names for you and I.
Consider finally, the sacrifice: Gandalf’s sacrifice in Moria, Boromir’s sacrifice at Amon Hen, Theoden’s sacrifice on the Pelennor fields, Aragorn’s readiness to sacrifice himself times beyond count. But the theme of sacrifice is most profoundly embodied in Frodo. He willingly assumes a burden that endangers not only his life, but his soul. His ordeal through Mordor and his piteous struggle up the slopes of Orodruin successively leave him with no possibility of relief, of return or, towards the end, even of release. He has long left behind any hope for himself. He goes on because he alone is charged with undoing a great evil and must destroy it or die in the trying. Beyond the terrible burden of the ring, he bears the more terrible burden of his duty to all the peoples of Middle Earth. And at the last, when he saves Middle Earth, he does so for others, but not for himself.
In the end, “The Lord of the Rings” is not about highbrow thematic concepts, mythic saga or epic heroism. While it is all of these things, it is also something better and simpler: a story for you and for me, centred not on impossible superheroes, but on little people–“The Odyssey” reshaped for the common folk. The enduring power of this work is ultimately founded in its simplicity. In “The Lord of the Rings”, Tolkien successfully reaches the heights that all great art attains: he captures the essence and purity of transcendent truths; yet brings them home to the simplest and most innocent of sensibilities–a timeless creation not just for us but ultimately of us.