It’s that time again, where I watch the entire filmography of the director of the film I’ve been assigned for Cinema 52. Unlike Tony Scott or Robert Zemeckis, however, the director of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring can’t seem to ever release just one cut of his films. So, not only am I cramming twelve movies into one exhausting weekend, but specifically the longest available version of each film. That’s right, it’s not just the complete Peter Jackson… it’s COMPLETER JACKSON. Let’s do this.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)
IS THIS A PAINFULLY LONG PETER? Well, this explains how I ended up behind schedule. The Special Extended DVD Edition of Fellowship is listed in many places as being 208 minutes, but with the elongated credits personally thanking every person ever born since the dawn of humanity, it comes to a staggering 228 minutes, because even professional websites see through what a goddamn scam that is.
THE ALTERNATE CUT:
I’m going to break the Completer Jackson format for this movie, since I’ve been talking about Fellowship‘s plot, style, and special effects all year, and will continue to do so, considering how this website requires me to watch it once a week. However, I’m used to seeing the theatrical cut over and over, and this is the first time in the history of the Cinema 52 experiment that an assigned film has an alternate version*, so how will my fragile mind be affected as the illusion of familiarity is violently shattered?
Mostly a lot of, “Hey, that’s different.”
Or, “Hey, that’s worse.”
Having just finished reading the book earlier in the week, I had high hopes that this cut would actually change some story points back to the literary version, but I knew deep down this wouldn’t be the case. I expected a bunch of extra shout-outs to nerdy details from the book that didn’t add anything to the overall story of the film, and I expected correctly.
The Sackville-Bagginses?! THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.
Still, there are some improvements. Mostly this doofy shot of Sam.
“What’s that, flower? Kill them ALL?”
Aragorn introduces himself as a friend of Gandalf in this cut, which is nice, considering I straight-up thought those two met at Rivendell until I read the book. Plus, Gandalf is more of a dick to Pippin, even threatening to bash his head in at one point, so that’s fun! Also, to my surprise, they actually included a Hobbit song. Well, part of one. Sam gives us a taste of his portion of the Ode to Gandalf, where he honors the old wizard’s talent for fireworks and croons a tune of “silver showers.” These showers were described as golden in the book, but the line has been changed in the extended film for reasons unknown.
“And his rusty trombone blasted true,
with the might of a donkey’s punch.
He’d slay angry dragons and smite flying camels,
and toss all our salads for lunch.
Everything in Lothlorien is longer. Hooray? There’s an added scene where Galadriel hands out gifts, and big time Tolkien fans seem to absolutely love that she gives Gimli three of her hairs, but my favorite gift was the bread that makes you shit a lot.
Poopin’ Pippin, just what this movie needed.
Overall, I find the Special Extended DVD Edition to be a fairly cynical and calculated cash grab. More movie, buy it! It’s probably closer to the book, buy it! YOUR NAME MIGHT BE IN THE CREDITS, BUY ONE FOR ALL YOUR FRIENDS, OH GOD, I’M JUST CUMMING MONEY AT THIS POINT. And, like Cinemanaut John pointed out in regards to Avatar in 2D versus 3D, it creates an unnecessary confusion as to which is the definitive version, which, spoiler alert, is going to be Peter Jackson’s problem for the rest of his career except for that movie about the bones.
FELLOWSHIP‘S PLACE IN THE PETER JACKSON CANON:
Despite how utterly bored I am by The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s fascinating to see how Peter Jackson’s previous films got him to this point. Bad Taste showed his skill for practical effects and cinematography on a tight budget. Meet the Feebles showed his willingness to put a lot of effort into a bad idea. Braindead showed his ability to mix humor with unrestrained action and gore. Heavenly Creatures showed he had a serious side and could merge effects with emotions seamlessly. The Frighteners showed what he could do with CGI and his first boatload of studio cash. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was practically an inevitability.
Jackson was meant to find the Ring.
I don’t like this movie.
*We’ve decided ’round these parts that an alternate cut of your assigned Cinema 52 film doesn’t count as an official viewing. And while I’ve got you here, subtitles yes, redubbed audio tracks no. Filmmaker commentaries are no good because they talk the entire time, while we lean towards allowing RiffTrax commentaries as they tend to speak in the quiet spaces, so it’s much like watching the film with friends. And now you know.