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All Good Things …

17 Feb, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

This is my last “Lord of the Rings” column, I promise, as I have finally made it to the end of the extras on the Return of the King Extended Edition.

I just have one thing to say: “Damn you, Peter Jackson.”

I admit I cried the first time I saw Return of the King and during every subsequent viewing. It was very sentimental for me, having grown up with my dad forever reintroducing these books and stories into the lives of my siblings and myself.

But the amounts of tears I shed at the film itself is nothing compared to the crying jag that resulted from the extra features.

Watching the actors film their final scenes and get all choked up at the elaborate and heartfelt goodbyes the crew and Jackson gave them; watching Jackson get choked up filming his last moments with Elijah Wood; watching the entire cast marvel at the outpouring of affection the city of Wellington exuded at the world premiere of Return of the King; listening to stories of the massive amounts of dedication and years of passionate work the crew put into the three groundbreaking films — all these things brought out the waterworks.

Through all these extended edition DVDs, we've gotten to know these crew members, who, on most movies, are faceless in their importance. Watching the clips of the Academy Award show made me realize that I can recognize many of “Lord of the Rings” behind-the-scenes people, producers, art directors, et. al, because they've all been highlighted so much on the extended edition discs.

I don't know if my fellow geeks feel the same way, but because of these extended editions, I kind of feel like I could bump into Peter Jackson on the street and start a conversation like he was an old friend. He's so affable, seems so approachable and real.

And yet, damn him.

I thought the tears were over for Return of the King after the featurette “The Passing of an Age” on the extended set.

But no, I had to go and click on the “Cameron Duncan: Inspiration for ‘Into the West’ featurette.

It is simple. Peter Jackson tells the story of a young, very young (16 at the time), New Zealand filmmaker who had come onto his radar. Jackson wanted to enlist the youth in creating and filming a public service announcement on organ donation. When he contacted the teen, he was shocked to find him in the middle of a battle with cancer — a battle that the boy ultimately lost, but not before he visited the set of Lord of the Rings, forged a close relationship with Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh, filmed that PSA and created another short film, his final one.

The featurette includes an audio interview from the very private Walsh talking about Duncan's influence on her as she struggled to write the ending song for Return of the King. It's the first we've heard from her on any of these discs as I can recall.

More importantly, Jackson included all of Duncan's finished short film works here, as well as home-movie footage and an interview with the young man's inspirational mother.

It's a very touching way to end this “Lord of the Rings” journey. If you haven't watched it yet, I recommend it.

After all the money, the fame, the acclaim, the awards, the years and years of dedication, Jackson chooses to cap his masterpiece with a nod to what might have been.

It's an amazing gesture, I think.

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