OBJECTIVE: Watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring once per every week of 2014.

WHEN: December 13, 2014, 7:05pm. (Week 50, December 7-13.)

WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.

FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV.

COMPANY: Former Cinemanaut Becca in and out.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just woke up, slept terribly, rereading my notes on the special features.

So you know how I watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring every week even though I hate it, as part of a regrettable science experiment? And to keep it interesting, I did some really dumb things, like count how many times Frodo blinks, or watch another movie at the same time, or watch it upside down? Well, while I was doing all that horseshit (and making you read about it), I could have been watching the special features on the Extended Edition DVD. I could have done a commentary a week and split up each of the behind-the-scenes docs into, like, twenty viewings. Instead of counting how often each character says “the.”


Fool of a me.

Anyway, I watched approximately 21 hours of special features this week. That’s not even all of them; I just did the four commentaries (Director and Writers, Design Team, Production/Post-Production, Cast) and hit “Play All” on the two Appendices discs, which most definitely doesn’t play everything but I think 21 hours is enough to sacrifice for you people.

Right, so how did packing my head with Fellowship knowledge change my view of the film? Brace yourself for a series of disjointed ideas!

Supposedly the script was being rewritten daily during shooting, which I find generally hard to believe on a film with this kind of budget, but also explains why so much of it confuses me.

“‘Samwise runs directly into the water like a dipshit.’ Uh, Pete, can we talk?”

The scene where big Gandalf hands little Bilbo his hat and stick? I always thought that was some crazy motion control camera thing, but it’s just two different hats and sticks and they smoothed over the transition with CGI. And it still looks seamless, even when I was angrily trying to spot it this time.

No joke here. That is amazing.

I have stopped viewing Peter Jackson as some tortured genius trying to make a brilliant epic; he just wants to have fun. A lot of stuff I think is goofy, he thinks is goofy too, because goofy things are fun. He describes the old wizard fight as “hilarious,” so dammit, he’s in on the joke.

This is silly? No!

That “Ring World” effect that people mock for looking like the smudge tool in Photoshop? They just filmed fire and made the video morph to the pattern of the flame. That is awesome and I appreciate it a lot more now.

Fire Blur

After they tweaked it a bit, of course.

The scene of the moth flying up to Gandalf is used to cover up the transition from CGI Gandalf to real Gandalf. It reminds me of how the DeLorean changes from model DeLorean to real DeLorean by driving behind a lamppost in Back to the Future Part II.

Moth Switch


Here’s that same trick in BTTF II.

Two things you need to know about the following shot: those ruins are completely CGI, and Bill the pony is two guys in a horse costume.

Spinny Camera Whee

More movies with horse costumes, please.

So apparently the scale doubles for the Hobbits wore creepy rubber masks of the actors’ faces in wide shots, and now that I know this, I’m weirded out whenever I spot them.

Hmm, not so bad in the dark from far away…

AUGH! AUGH! What the hell?! AUGH!

Peter Jackson added birds to the close-up shot of the Argonath because if it did exist in real life, the helicopter used to film it would spook the birds. I cannot tell if this idea is actually effective or just silly because, come on, we know it’s fake.

Was Peter just stretching for a “bird’s eye view” joke?

All the stone statues are foam. I will admit that I thought they actually bothered to carve gigantic rocks for the movie, because, as we’ve already established in this article, I am dumb sometimes.

“Call the stone-cutter, we need a gigantic head for all of thirty seconds!”

This dead Sean Bean? Rubber dummy. Not real Bean. He’d already left.

Wish I could pull this trick at my job.

Richard Taylor. He’s the head of Weta Workshop and the most delightfully passionate nerd I’ve ever seen. He has no volume control, is excited by everything from a gigantic cave troll sculpture to a leather glove, and he describes every single prop in the dorkiest way possible. (“Glamdring, the sword that Gandalf wields so heroically and magically at times.”) I wish they could have made him a character in the movie so he could run around pointing out the designs of the architecture and the weaponry and such.

“Look, I’ve found a Dwarven axe, an elegant but practical blade
perfect for chopping off limbs and striking fear into goblin hordes!”