The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring - Extended Edition - Blu-ray Review

Aside from having a title which necessitates what must be the longest article header in history, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Rings - Extended Edition Blu-ray, adds in something like fifty minutes of extra footage for the film, when compared to the original theatrical release back in 2001, now seemingly aeons ago.

The benefits this new cut of the film delivers extends further beyond the fact that Hobbit fans get more, more, more. Director Peter Jackson - returning to the editing suite, relaying the music, finishing the special effects - has obviously put great thought into delivering a vision that, whilst not cinema-friendly, is closer to the narrative laid down in Tolkien's epic tomes and, therefore, more satisfying for fans of the source material. Increased background, such as the time spent explaining what exactly Hobbits are, will give them scant little new information, but it does give the film a more developed and respectful air. It's now more than an hour to the point where the Hobbits bump in to Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in The Prancing Pony Inn, the bulk of the extra time spent laying down the ground rules of Middle Earth to an even greater degree than before.

There are narrative and character benefits to the extra material too. The attempt by the group to go over Redhorn Pass, eventually leading them into the Mines of Moria, seems better explained, the threat better realised, the decision by Frodo (Elijah Wood) to take the group underground all the more fatalistic and emphasised: it is ultimately his decision which forces Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to confront the Balrog that has been there all along, something the original cut of the film rather lost along the way.

The main beneficiary of this cut from a character point of view, is not someone otherwise considered a main player of The Fellowship. Sean Bean's Boromir receives a huge bulk of the extra development time available. His relationship with Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) feels real and warm, where in the original cut it never did, better explaining the decision he makes in the film's closing moments. Boromir's departure from the plot, which once, Jackson had almost made an afterthought, is instead now the emotional apex, the point where the corruption of The Ring is realised to fatal effect and where man, finally, overcomes it.

For all its highlights (and there are many - the re-mastered, re-recorded Howard Shore score is exquisite), The Fellowship Of The Ring has always felt like a film with nowhere to go after the group exit the mine. With the extended run time, it is now a film with nowhere to go and an hour in which do it in. The extended Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) scenes make the forest section easier to endure but there still seems little of import here when compared to the standout Moria sequences.

The odd scripting choices, which always rankled, are also still here to take you out of a piece of literature and in to a Michael Bay film. 'Ride hard', Aragorn tells Arwen (Liv Tyler), presumably with appropriate Dewey Cox song playing in the background. 'If you want him, come and claim him', Arwen tells the wraiths moments late, like an announcer in a supermarket with a limited edition hot offer to promote. Considering Jackson's attention to detail it is still remarkable that he never spotted the fact that these lines, and a handful of others, just didn't fit.

And so, in extended form, The Fellowship Of The Ring is exactly as it was before: half a masterpiece and half a slightly-flawed adaptation. There's more of both, and an attempt to reconcile the latter, which ultimately endures despite Blanchett's best efforts. It's an outstanding work, a film to go back to again and again and a great start to the trilogy. But it's a few Hobbit hairs short of being a perfect film, no matter how much in love with it we all are.

Look further...

Explore Shore's fantastic music on Cinema Life.

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