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The Return of the King

Ye gawds, I'm glad I saw it.  The whole trilogy.  I feel absolutely vindicated in saying it's this generation's "Star Wars" trilogy.

Yes, there were some things left out of the movies.  I wish - oh, how I wish - Peter Jackson had included the whole sequence involving Tom Bombadil - Old Man Willow, Tom himself, Goldberry, and the Barrow-Wights. 

Bree and the acquisition of Bill the pony might have been nice - particularly Sam's shot at Bill Ferny with the apple core. 

Shelob should've been in the second movie, not the third, and the orcs of Cirith Ungol could have been fleshed out a great deal more. 

The Sacking of Orthanc, with Wormtongue throwing down the Palantir and earning the wrath of Saruman.  The Breaking of Saruman's Staff, for that matter. 

Denethor's Palantir, and the visions which drove him to madness - especially the coming of the Black Fleet.

The unfurling of Aragorn's banner as the Black Fleet arrived.

Perhaps even the Scourging of the Shire - though I'm with Peter Jackson on this one: it didn't really add much to the story beyond wrapping up what happened with Saruman and Wormtongue, and giving the Four a chance to return as heroes, conquering once again.

Yes, all of these could have been added - though to do so would have probably made the trilogy about fifteen hours long.  I'd have been willing, and more than willing, to sit through them.  I think most people would be.

A thought occured to me while I was sitting in the theater, talking with a few of the others who were also there waiting.  The conversation had turned to comparing The Lord of the Rings with the Harry Potter stories, and how both were faring on the translation between book and film.  It seems to me that there's a growing trend among audiences - a preference for grand, even epic tales is emerging... or rather, re-emerging.  People have flocked to the Tolkein trilogy, despite the length of each of the movies, and the general consensus among those I've spoken to seems to indicate that they'd have enjoyed it even if the movies were longer - they'd prefer it if the films were even more true to the books, even if it ran over four or even five hours per film.  The Harry Potter films, likewise, seem to have audiences wanting the movies to be more true to the books, even at the expense of running longer than conventional "wisdom" says films can succeed with - and those movies are facing an even worse situation than Peter Jackson's movies did.  The first one remain fairly close to the book - though Peeves was omitted - but the second one left out even more.  I can't see how the third one is going to avoid even more glaring omissions, and beyond that - yeesh.  Those books have been getting longer each time, and the writing more densely-packed.  The director(s) are going to have a problem keeping Goblet of Fire under three hours, I think.

So here's what the group I was talking came up with.  For those movie-makers working on epic stories such as these, it might be an idea to consider returning to the days when movies had an intermission - remember those? - and go with longer running times.  Had the Lord of the Ring movies gone to, say, four or five hours apiece, I'd be willing to watch them, even at a ticket price of, say, $10 or so - and I wasn't alone in that.  It would certainly allow directors such as Mr. Jackson to tell the stories they're capable of, in the fashion that the stories deserve.  So, am I nuts, or am I onto something here?

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*chuckles softly*

Well, at least I know now what not to look forward to by way of movie scenes. :)

Re: the issues with Saruman, it shocked Christopher Lee that he was cut from the first seven minutes of the film; however, per Peter Jackson's statement, "The problem is that the sequence was originally shot for The Two Towers, as it is in the book. Since The Two Towers couldn't sustain a seven-minute 'wrap' after Helm's Deep, we thought it would be a good idea to save it for the beginning of the Return of the King.

"The trouble is, when we viewed various ROTK cuts over the last few weeks, it feels like the first scenes are wrapping last year's movie, instead of starting the new one. We felt it got Return Of The King off to an uncertain beginning, since Saruman plays no role in the events of ROTK (we don't have the Scouring later, as the book does), yet we dwell in Isengard for quite a long time before our new story kicks off.

"We reluctantly made the decision to save this sequence for the DVD. The choice was made on the basis that most people will assume that Saruman was vanquished by the Helm's Deep events, and Ent attack. We can now crack straight into setting up the narrative tension of ROTK, which features Sauron as the villain."

*bah* Sent before I finished.

No, you're not alone in your feelings w/r/t having longer movies with intermissions. I'd happily sit through longer versions of HP or LotR movies. The only long movie I loathed was Reds. Then again, I don't remember anyone with whom I've spoken who liked it, and their aversion to the film was not solely related to its length.

I think that if it's a good story and a well-made movie that keeps moving, people will stay for however long it takes.

I don't think the intermission idea would work, since it would be involve more effort for the theatres to re-check ticket stubs on the way in for the second half, there are no reserved seats, etc. I think it would cause logistical problems and I think there are too many movie-goers who would try to get away with stuff.

Another solution might be to offer the movie in two versions in the theatres - one full-length "director's cut" and an edited-down, shorter version for those with short attention spans, small bladdars, or butts that tire easily.

Mm... the problem is, with the longer movies you really need an intermission - for the pit-stop breaks, to stretch, and of course to get refills. Personally, I don't think you'd get too many folks trying to play games - coming in half-way through a movie the length of, say, Gone With the Wind wouldn't be near the fun of seeing the whole thing.

Checking ticket stubs? Meh - the theaters I see now don't bother much with them, unless there's a complaint, in which case it's an excuse to harrass trouble-makers. There's usually a single chokepoint through which all audience members have to pass - and most theaters have both restrooms and concession stands beyond that point.

Reserved seating? That's for the audience members to handle - do it just like large groups do in other movies. Have one person watch the seats while the rest... "take care of business".

The two-version idea might work, too. It's something to consider, anyway.

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