The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Version)

When you show your friends The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Version) they will go out and buy a home theater set up just to have it themselves

The trend started with laser discs and has really taken off with DVDs, adding material unseen in the theaters to a video release. All too often the extra material is little more than sweepings from the cutting room floor, there was good reason why most of this material was left out of the original presentation. With the Extended Cut of the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy director Peter Jackson shows adding material can make for an exciting extension of a film.

In this version of The Lord of the Rings you are drawn even deeper into the world of hobbits, wizards, elves, dwarfs and orcs. The added material compliments the original film so well most will be hard pressed to see where the additions were made. Sure, those that are familiar with the original can tell but the point here is the extra scenes and scene extensions actually fit into the story. The audience gets to see more of the typical lives of the hobbits, the beautifully executed 'gifting' scene at Lothlorien, a dream like shot of the elves leaving Middle Earth and even more action in the climatic battle scene. Rather than just tacking on footage these enhancements work so well with the original film that the extra time to this already long film will fly by for the audience.

Much to the chagrin of many on the net The Lord of the Rings is divided over two discs. Personally I do not find this a hassle in any shape or form. I remember classic films presented in theaters that had intermissions and this break between two discs just harkens back to those golden days. The reason for the division was to permit the most in quality of audio and video while providing a plethora of worthwhile extras. On the first two discs there are no less than four commentary tracks. The first is the director and producers, the second is the design team, the third is the production team and the forth is a collection of over 30 cast and crew members. Between the four commentaries the viewer gets a crash course on the making of one of he most ambitious productions in the history of film, one that filmed three films in a row over a period of close to a year and a half. Each scene is analyzed through the eyes of the experts that made the magic come alive. My personal favorite is the cast and crew commentary on track 7. While it is obvious that not all the participants where in the room at the same time, the commentary shifts from one group to another giving the feel of moving around in a very interesting cocktail party, a recollection here, a little story there, each personalizing the experiences these people shared during the grueling filming. You can tell that a real bound formed between these people.

Also on the first The Lord of the Rings disc is a funny little Easter Egg. The now infamous Jack Black/Sara Michelle Geller parody of the Consul of Elrond made for the MTV movie awards is presented. While this extra is definitely not for the kids most adults will not be able to keep from laughing at the perfectly made, warped spoof of this very serious scene.

Disc three is the first dedicated completely to extras. There are six different documentaries. Every step of the process is chronicled for the discerning audience. Proper homage is paid to Tolkien and how the arduous process of turning these incredibly detailed books into a film worthy of the author's vision. What will really impress most people is the lengths the production team went for realism. The sheer overpowering number of costumes, swords, masks and other props. Nothing was bought off the shelve, everything used by The Lord of the Rings was produced for them and all where meticulously checked against the books to ensure they were properly produced. Jackson didn't emulate the world of Tolkien, he literally created it.

The forth disc provides 11 more documentaries of the cast, crew and production. While a lot of material overlaps none will bore you. This The Lord of the Rings boxed set will keep your interest for hour upon hour. The audio of this set is in Dolby 5.1 EX and DTS seven channel ES. The sound was mixed louder than normal so you may have to turn down your amplifier. The video is incredibly clear and free of any noticeable artifact. When you show your friends The Lord of the Rings they will go out and buy a home theater set up just to have it themselves. This set is the new benchmark for how a DVD should be presented. The Lord of the Rings is a must own for everyone.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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