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Ruminations on the <I>LOTR</I> Extended Edition from a Genetically-Predisposed Geek

29 Dec, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf

To paraphrase Triumph the Insult Comic Dog: “I am a huge nerd.”

Yes, I admit it freely.

Yes, I have been known to get inordinately (some might say) excited over certain DVD releases.

Yes, I told the president of LucasFilm at a preview screening of the original “Star Wars” trilogy's DVD release that I was so excited that “a little bit of pee came out.”

So yes, I have been looking forward, with great pleasure and anticipation, to the extended edition release of Return of the King. I've been looking forward to it since I got a sneak peek of the extras at Comic-Con this summer.

That excitement, however, dimmed a bit as I tried watching the extended edition with my family over the holidays. My geekdom is hereditary, so pretty much everyone in the room was also inordinately excited about this DVD release.

However, I noticed a new dynamic to the extended edition this time around — one that didn't play well in my particular bundle of fellow geeks. And it kind of ruined the excitement of watching this essentially brand-new movie for me. I actually got up and left the room a couple of times, ate food and talked to other non-geek people.

The annoyance was this: Every few minutes or so, someone — an uncle, aunt or cousin — would interrupt the movie to comment: “Now this is new, I don't remember this.

Then a debate would ensue as to whether the footage in question was added content or not.

Finally, I pulled out the insert that comes with the disc, which indicates new or extended scenes, and threw it in my uncle's lap just so that someone could be the arbiter of this ongoing discussion.

I eventually gave up, realizing that I will need to watch the DVD in its entirety either on my own or maybe with just one other (quiet) geek in order to truly appreciate and dive into it.

It made me think about the evolution of this series on DVD and how New Line's extended edition strategy has affected the DVD consumer and “Lord of the Rings” lover in particular.

I remember when the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring came out. My thoughts before I saw a screening of it: “Well, this is a really cool idea. Let's see how it plays out.” Then after: “That was awesome, a truly more immersive experience.”

New Line has never let its “LOTR” fans down with these extended editions. In fact, the studio has trained those fans to wildly anticipate these releases.

When the Two Towers extended edition was announced, I know I wasn't the only one pleased to hear they'd inserted even more minutes into the DVD than they had on the first film. My geeky people still talk about the added Boromir, Faramir and Denethor scene with great appreciation — even book purists like my uncle loved it.

By the time the extended Return of the King hit stores, my fellow geeks and I knew we would be getting something great. I personally was eagerly anticipating seeing the re-inserted death of Saruman, the houses of healing and the mouth of Sauron scenes.

These DVDs have really set the standard. New Line was extremely smart to work so closely and resourcefully with Peter Jackson to provide these alternate versions to such an avid, rabid fan base.

We'll keep coming back for more, that's likely.

It's almost sad to see the phenomenon ending.

But then again, as Jackson says in the introduction to the documentaries on Return of the King: “Just think, I may be back in 25 years recording something for the super special anniversary editions of these films. But then again, maybe we can do something a little sooner than that.”

Bring it on I say; just keep my family out of the room when I'm trying to watch it.

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