Plenty of additional footage differentiates the Lord of the Rings theatrical vs extended editions. One year after the theatrical cut of each Lord of the Rings movie, an extended version arrived on home media. These editions add tons of new footage to all three movies, elevating the Lord of the Rings extended editions’ length from the theatrical runtime of 9 hours and 3 minutes to 11 hours and 36 minutes. The new footage consists of deleted scenes, longer versions of sequences already in the movies, and the Lord of the Rings theatrical vs extended debate still rages on.
Sometimes, LOTR extended edition changes provide an extra line of dialogue. In other situations, an unseen conversation introduces a whole new layer to various Lord of the Rings characters. The movies are known for their massive casts of characters from Middle-earth. In The Lord of the Rings extended editions, many of these short-changed characters get their due. Peter Jackson, who directed all three Lord of the Rings films, stated he prefers the theatrical versions since the LOTR extended editions are mostly for the benefit of fans who want to see everything excised from the final cut. Here’s everything different in the Lord of the Rings theatrical vs extended edition.
The Fellowship Of The Ring Extended Edition Scenes
The Lord of the Rings theatrical vs extended edition length for The Fellowship of the Ring (which was the best Lord of the Rings movie according to some fans) adds 30 extra minutes to the movie’s runtime. A good chunk of this footage consists of minor scenes setting up future plot points that don’t become important until the later installments, such as when Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) is spotted singing a love song in honor of his relationship with Arwen (Liv Tyler). Another added scene depicts Aragorn visiting his mother’s gravestone, with Elrond trying to convince him to become the new King of Gondor.
Several shots tacked on in The Fellowship of the Ring‘s first act shed new light on the Hobbits and help to introduce the main characters, particularly Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin). Sam’s budding relationship with local barmaid Rosie Cotton, the woman he’ll eventually marry after Return of the King, is explored to some degree too. These scenes allow the audience to learn more about Hobbits in general before the true adventure begins in the extended edition vs. the theatrical.
A key scene included in the extended edition involves Frodo, Sam, and the Wood Elves. The pint-sized duo is camping when they spot Wood Elves leaving for the Undying Lands where they can live forever. The real significance of this scene is that it hails directly from the books. Another noteworthy addition comes when Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) hands out valuable gifts to the Fellowship of the Ring. Seeing each character receive their new items, like Legolas’ bow and Gimli’s lock of hair, isn’t essential to the plot, but is still a neat inclusion, giving audiences a chance to learn more about the main characters’ magical items.
The Two Towers Extended Edition Scenes
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ended differently from the book, and this doesn’t change despite the additional footage. The super-sized cut boosts The Two Towers‘ theatrical runtime from 179 minutes to 223 minutes in the Lord of the Rings theatrical vs extended edition. This version adds more to the scenes with Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) during their encounter with Treebeard the Ent (John Rhys-Davies). Earlier in the film, when the Uruk-hai are taking the Hobbits to Isengard, Merry seems ill, so Pippin begs their captors to give him water. Instead, the Uruk-hai offers some of their booze and laughs the request off.
Much of Saruman’s preparation for the attack on Helm’s Deep remained on the cutting room floor, including burning the forest of Fangorn, encouraging the villagers to attack Rohan, and building a dam. One deleted scene present in the extended edition is a flashback that answers questions regarding the motives of Faramir (David Fenham), providing insight into his relationship with Boromir (Sean Bean) for the first time. Boromir died prior to Faramir’s first appearance, so the flashback allows them to feature in the same scene, and it’s here we learn that their father, Denethor (John Noble), much prefers Boromir over his younger brother.
A new Aragorn scene reveals a few personal details in the book that aren’t directly addressed in the theatrical version of the trilogy. Aragorn is said to be 87, and this fact explains how he became such an experienced warrior. Knowing Aragorn’s true age affords the viewer a better understanding of the character. Lastly, King Theoden’s son is given a proper funeral in the extended edition; in the theatrical version, the film merely cuts to Theoden mourning Theodred after asking where he was.
The Return Of The King Extended Edition Scenes
With 51 minutes of extra footage, the final film in the trilogy has extensive new content comparing the Lord of the Rings theatrical vs extended edition, which brings The Return of the King‘s total runtime to 4 hours and 11 minutes. The fact the movie was already 3 hours and 20 minutes long explains why so much was cut, even though many edits feel like they belonged in the theatrical version. Among the changes are longer battle scenes at Helm’s Deep and Isengard.
The extended edition also gives Eomer (Karl Urban) one of his best scenes in the trilogy. A deleted scene shows Eomer’s horror as he discovers his sister Witch King-killing sister Eowyn (Miranda Otto) lying on the battlefield. Another example of a major character missing out on their most important scene is Saruman (Christopher Lee). Saruman is an antagonist in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers but the theatrical cut doesn’t end Saruman’s story. The extended edition includes Saruman’s death scene. Saruman dies after being pushed off a balcony, where he is impaled by a spiked wheel below the Tower of Orthanc.
Before this, when the heroes join the Rohirrim in pushing back Saruman’s orc army, the enemy troops flee into the forest, implied to have been killed by the Ents inside. One character cut completely from the theatrical cut of The Lord of the Rings was the Mouth of Sauron (Bruce Spence). The Mouth of Sauron is a disfigured creature with an unsettling appearance who lies and tells the heroes Frodo is dead, but Aragorn isn’t fooled and chops off his head. Some argue this was out-of-character for Aragorn, but Jackson claims the scene lacked effect.
One of the best moments cut from the theatrical Return of the King was Gandalf fighting the Witch King. Gandalf is losing, but the sound of the horn distracts the Witch King, forcing him to depart without killing the white wizard. Other scenes give storylines a chance to breathe. Eowyn and Faramir’s romance receives screen time, it’s shown how Aragorn, Legolas, and comic relief Gimli take the Black Ships and what happens after convincing the oathbreakers to help them, as well as how Aragorn’s mind wins over Sauron when he holds the Palantir. Return of the King easily had the most to gain from extended scenes.
Lord Of The Rings 4K Editions Vs Extended Editions
One does not simply stop re-releasing The Lord of the Rings. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Peter Jackson remastered The Lord of the Rings extended edition in full 4K and Dolby Atmos, revitalizing the trilogy. There are no new or extended scenes added alongside the 4K-restored LOTR version, with the emphasis placed firmly on sound and visuals, rather than material that might’ve been left in the editing suite. One massive change is bringing consistency to the LotR trilogy’s coloration since The Fellowship of the Ring‘s color timing utilized a totally different method compared to later installments. This created a more consistent look through the franchise.
Everything now looks the same, from the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring to Bilbo’s return home in The Battle of Five Armies. The blue-green tint added by previous remasters was removed. Every frame looks crisp, with Jackson scanning the original The Lord of the Rings 35mm negatives to create a higher resolution. There’s a pleasing balance between the natural warmth of film, and the crystal sharpness of modern technology, which is especially evident in close-ups. Some of the Lord of the Rings digital effects were adjusted since preexisting CGI can look bad in 4K. Peter Jackson explained the original effects aren’t being replaced, just brushed up and improved.
Are The LOTR Extended Editions Better?
The Lord of the Rings theatrical vs extended editions shows a definitive improvement. Very rarely are fandoms kept unanimously happy, but Peter Jackson managed to please Tolkien fans twice over with Lord of the Rings – first with the original movies, and then again with the extended editions. For the overwhelming majority of Lord of the Rings fans, there’s no going back after seeing the extended editions. Moments like the death of Saruman, for example, become glaring, impossible-to-ignore absences. Sauron feels less intimidating without the Mouth of Sauron, and Aragorn’s begrudging acceptance of his birthright loses poignancy without the flashbacks to his conversations with Elrond.
The deleted scenes in the LOTR extended editions aren’t trivial fan-service exercises – they add a new layer that makes The Lord of the Rings theatrical cuts feel naked in comparison. The only drawback is the length. It takes almost 12 hours to marathon every extended Lord of the Rings movie. The theatrical cuts weren’t exactly short, but the extended editions had to be split across two discs in most physical formats. However, this has led to many advocates arguing that this makes life easier, as those constrained for time can view the expanded cuts of Lord of the Rings in six sittings that take just under 2 hours.
All three movies have a satisfactory midway cut-off point, great care taken to ensure changing the disc disrupted immersion as little as possible. When each movie is shy of four hours, a break is a welcome introduction, even for hardcore fans. They’d take half a day to watch back to back, but the extended editions are the best way to experience Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Frodo and Sam’s journey walking from the Shire to Mount Doom is one of the most epic stories ever told, and the extended cuts are the closest cinema has come to truly capturing the scope and majesty of Tolkien’s original text.
Is The LOTR Extended Edition Available To Stream
For anyone interested in the differences in the story when it comes to the Lord of the Rings theatrical vs. extended editions, there is the option to more easily compare scenes by viewing both on streaming services. This is because–unlike a lot of other “extended” editions for movies are Blu-ray exclusives–these movies were released as separate entities from the theatrical home video releases. The theatrical editions are currently available on Netflix and HBO Max. As for the Lord of the Rings extended editions, they are available on HBO Max as well, making it extremely accessible for Lord of the Rings fans to watch and compare side-by-side.
Rings Of Power Proved More Middle-earth Isn’t Necessarily Better
The almost universally positive reception to the Lord of the Rings theatrical vs. extended editions and their bladder-challenging runtimes may have given the impression that there was an endless appetite for more Middle-earth content. However, both the follow-up The Hobbit movie trilogy and Amazon’s The Rings of Power proved that there could be such a thing as too much Tolkien. With a massive budget, Amazon’s Rings of Power was expected to create a much larger cultural impact than it did, and while season 2 is on the way, showrunners have already indicated they’re making some changes in their approach.
The series found an audience and was successful by the standards of streaming series, but also received mixed reviews and was somewhat overshadowed by HBO’s competing fantasy prequel House of Dragons. Amazon also embraced the maximalism of Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, with each of eight episodes running well over an hour in length. This means that The Rings of Power season 1’s total runtime was almost as long as all three theatrical editions, or two extended editions, with four more seasons to come. The unlimited time and almost-unlimited budget of The Rings of Power led it to abandon much of the advantages of a weekly television series.
This caused it to fall into an uncomfortable middle ground between TV and movie. While the Amazon series had plenty of strengths, such as Morfydd Clark’s portrayal of a young Galadriel, and helped to flesh out the world of Middle-earth, it’s hard to imagine it becoming an annual marathon tradition like the Lord of the Rings extended editions are for so many people. Ultimately, the comparative failure of the super-sized Hobbit trilogy and Rings of Power streaming series shows that what made The Lord of the Rings extended editions, so beloved was not their setting or length, but rather the level of craft put into each and every scene.
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