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Feature: The Return of the King

More to come…

It’s a movie that has grossed in excess of $1 billion, but until the Extended Edition hits DVD, none of us will have seen the whole story…

Peter Jackson delivered magnificently on his promise to make The Return of the King the fitting climax to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and likewise, the extended cut DVD, due out this fall, will become the ultimate telling of the epic Tolkien story. But strangely enough, Jackson himself seems to prefer the theatrical cuts of the films, calling them the definitive versions.

“If I had packed more scenes into The Return of the King,” explains Jackson, “it would have diluted the overall emotional effect of the story. The extended cut DVDs are aimed more for people who want to see as much material as possible.”

Not surprisingly, Jackson’s view is not shared by many of his collaborators, especially the actors, who all seem to feel that the extended cuts are by far the preferred versions to watch. Certainly Viggo Mortensen feels that way, since many of his key scenes as Aragorn got lost on the cutting room floor in the theatrical version. “To me, the extended versions are the legitimate versions,” says Mortensen. “If I were to watch the films, I wouldn’t even bother looking at the theatrical versions, because the extended versions are a much more complete telling of the story.”

Christopher Lee, whose natural disappointment at being cut out entirely from The Return of the King is quite well known, will now also be pleased. His climactic confrontation scene with Gandalf is restored, as is his literal fall from power, when he is pushed by Grimma Wormtongue off the balcony of Orthanc tower, only to land impaled, Dracula-like, on his own machinery of destruction.

Producer Barrie M Osborne also prefers the extended cuts, noting that on the DVD, “We can reintroduce many of the scenes we trimmed, which were usually scenes that explained more detail about a character. To have those scenes back in the film is really very gratifying, because it will help link the films together. Now, you’ll be able to watch all three movies, and see the whole arc of the story, from beginning to end.”

While Jackson is still toying with exactly how much footage to put back into The Return of the King, the projected running time will be about four hours and 15 minutes, meaning almost a full hour of additional scenes will end up in the extended cut…

by Lawrence French

Get the full feature, the extra scenes detailed and Orlando Bloom on the last film in
Ultimate DVD #53

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd
The Return of the King © New Line Cinema
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #53, see below for ordering options
Ultimate DVD #53
May 2004
ships from Apr 8 2004
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