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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

ROTK EE at the AMC multiplex in Edina, MN (a suburb of Minneapolis).

Posted on 2011.06.30 at 21:56
Tags: ,

Unfortunately -- I assume because the Transformers movie just opened -- the new EE of ROTK was shown in a theatre smaller than the one in which they showed FOTR two weeks ago. As I mentioned last week, I missed TTT because of the weather forecast, but a woman in line Tuesday night told me TTT had been in a big theatre, too. Only ROTK was put into a smaller venue. Therefore I can't say just how much or how little ROTK's high definition compared to FOTR's, not with fairness. The crispness and clarity of the new FOTR was striking, sometimes stunning, but FOTR was projected onto a really big screen. For this showing of ROTK, I couldn't say the print looked better than when the film opened in 2003, except in a few places. I guess I will have to wait and compare the old EE to the Blu-ray here at home.

Whether the high definition was evident or not, it was a beautiful print of the film. The screen was smallish, but it was a lot bigger than our TV, and the sound system was excellent. It was a pleasure to see the EE scenes at last on the big screen, well, a pleasure to see the EE scenes I like. It was a joy to see scenes like the Houses of Healing (all of them), Eowyn and Aragorn's EE scenes, Faramir and Pippin's talk in the citadel, Faramir's longer exchange with Denethor before his [totally futile] charge on Osgiliath. After the writers trashed his character in TTT, in ROTK -- but especially in the EE -- Faramir recovers a great deal of his book shine. I also loved even better on the big screen Eomer finding Eowyn on field of the stricken. Karl Urban is stupendous in this scene, a scene beautifully conceived apart from the performances. His abandoned shock and grief wrung more tears from me than any other scene Tuesday night.

One sort of scene where I did notice the improvement high definition made was in very dark scenes. In the orc scenes in Mordor and Cirith Ungol, I felt like I could see a lot more detail, detail of face and costume and setting, so that what seemed like a murky chaos had more narrative clarity. It also helped in dark action segments like the attack on Osgiliath. This is a section I thought was really improved in the EE. I finally could tell what was supposed to be going on in the attack, when and where. The greater detail in the high definition print made the EE improvements even better.

In one instance, an EE scene I loathe was actually improved by seeing it on the big screen. I have always hated the film's Mouth of Sauron scene because Aragorn commits the outrage of killing an emissary at a parley, something only a Morgoth would do. I still hate the scene, but, on the big screen, the mouth of the Mouth of Sauron -- very like the mouth of a monstrous moray eel with terrible dental hygiene -- is so disgusting, so completely, obscenely repulsive, it makes Aragorn's reaction more understandable. He didn't lop off the Mouth's head because of his news about Frodo, he did it because he couldn't bear the sight of that mouth. (The other EE scenes I dislike I did not like any better on the big screen.)

Another thing I appreciated with new eyes, because of Peter Jackson's engaging opening remarks about the horse charge at Waterloo, but enhanced by the film's excellent quality, was the spectacle of the horses on screen. For instance, I dislike the suicide charge on Osgiliath very much, but, this time, I forgot all about it, focussing instead on the sight of the horses. As would again be the case in the charge of the Rohirrim on the Pelennor, the close-ups of the horses as they ran were so superb, vividly capturing their labour and their glory, I could not take my eyes off them when their striving, snorting heads and shoulders were on screen. No wonder JRRT loved horses, and mourned the loss of their common presence as the twentieth century rolled on.

One last thing. I want to mention how gorgeous the score sounded. All the scores are tremendous, but the one for ROTK is especially complex. Howard Shore, you are a musical genius.



jan_u_wine at 2011-07-01 03:47 (UTC) (Link)
Maybe it was a universal *smiting* of the hobbits: 'our' ROTK was also shown in the smaller theater. In all truth, I think I get much more pleasure from *your* pleasure than I took from my own, and all of your points well made, from MoS to the beauty of the horses and their 'labour and glory' (what a wonderful phrase!)

And Shore's score.....how many thousands of words have been written already about this score? And none, no matter their beauty or passion, can ever even begin to touch the truth of it.

Can't wait for you to get your blu-ray.....
mechtild at 2011-07-01 04:19 (UTC) (Link)
This hobbit did not relish such a smiting. I wanted that big screen. Ah, well. As I said above, the screen was exponentially bigger than the one in our living room. And the audience bigger. *g* Actually, there was a decent crowd for this one, and it wasn't just the illusion created by a smaller room. I asked the woman who'd been to TTT about the crowd last week; she said it was the smallest, but the weather was terrible. The best part about the audience was their attentiveness. They still laughed at Gandalf beating Denethor with his staff, something I cannot comprehend finding funny, even if I'd never read the book, but they were intelligently appreciative otherwise. And during serious or contemplative scenes, they didn't make a sound.

I bought my Blu-ray months ago, actually. I got a notice from Amazon that it's been shipped, too. Maybe it will come before the 4th. I don't plan to watch it right away, though. I'm strange that way. Have to sort of circle around a new purchase for a while, one that I'm excited about, letting its presence in the house make itself felt gradually before I open it up. :)
jan_u_wine at 2011-07-01 05:35 (UTC) (Link)
lol! I am the same way. The more I've looked forward to something, the slower I am to *warm* to it. It's some sort of backwards paradigm or somesuch.

I have to say that there were some people at our screening who were very difficult to figure out....lots of inappropriate laughter. But maybe I'm just an old poop and the thing is supposed to be hysterical.

All I can say is: there were moments I wished I had G's staff. There were definitely some in the audience that deserved the business end of it.

mechtild at 2011-07-01 13:02 (UTC) (Link)
All I can say is: there were moments I wished I had G's staff. There were definitely some in the audience that deserved the business end of it.

Ha ha! I would love to have seen you swinging it around. You'd probably look like Marigold Gamgee having at the Ruffians.

More seriously, I'm grateful our crowd only laughed at things people were meant to laugh at. Sadly, I think PJ probably did mean clocking Denethor to be a laugh in the middle of an anxious situation, "to relieve tension". What a shameful moment in the adaptation. As you know, I have been in other ROTK audiences where I've wanted to climb through the rows and KILL certain inane viewers. :)
jan_u_wine at 2011-07-02 01:32 (UTC) (Link)
shameful sums it up nicely.........
gilli_ann at 2011-07-01 09:23 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, Mechtild, you make me actually want to see the ROTK EE again! And that's saying something, as I think I saw it once - I had a fit and seizure about the dreadful Crossroads scene and never got over it. But, with the healing of time....perhaps... :D

Had to smile at the new and better explanation of Aragorn's beheading of the Mouth. Makes sense to me!

Thank you for a very interesting write-up! I'm glad you did get to go see RotK even if you had to give up on TTT. Were there many in the audience, was the room full?


mechtild at 2011-07-01 13:13 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Maeglian, I forgot you are Gilli Ann!!! Yes, the Crossroads scene makes me want to pound my head into the seat in front of me. I've got used to it, limiting myself to headache-inducing eye-rolling, but it's still an amazingly badly written scene. First they have Frodo as an amnesiac ("I don't think I'll be coming back"), then reinforce him as a schmoopy, listless wimp who couldn't lead himself or anyone through the Gaffer's back garden, much less Mordor (Sam having to comfort and encourage poor ineffectual Master, yet again, then having Sam, not Frodo, notice the king's floral crown, and taking away Frodo's beautiful line refusing to believe the evil powers would conquer forever). Grrr.

But enough of that. There is much to love in the EE of ROTK, overall. I do think it's a great, great film, however imperfect, and however much it continues to diminish the character of Frodo.
shirebound at 2011-07-01 13:02 (UTC) (Link)
How thrilling to see this in the theater. Eeeeeew, that Mouth of Sauron! Poor thing needed a dental plan.
mechtild at 2011-07-01 13:06 (UTC) (Link)
He needed a *major* oral make-over. A horrible blood-red, glistening tongue behind that circular picket of filthy teeth, too. Maybe he could have a tongue transplant? How this physical transformation happened to a human being, once a great king of men, a man of Numenor, I don't know. It's not as though he became a wraith. Heck, even the wraiths had normal dentition. :)
pearlette at 2011-07-01 14:02 (UTC) (Link)
Aragorn's thoughts at the Black Gate as he swiftly ponders their dilemma:

This wretched mouthpiece of Sauron thinks to taunt us and flaunt the capture and torment of our beloved friend Frodo in our faces. This is the basest emissary I have ever dealt with, but I am of Númenor and I shall not sink to his level.

Oh, what the hell. He's an ugly bastard.

Off with his head!

There you go, job done.

mechtild at 2011-07-02 01:24 (UTC) (Link)
Ha ha! I'm surprised that wasn't the real dialogue, the second part, that is. :) The line they wouldn't have been able to resist would have been, "There you go, job done." It has the same ring as that immortal line given to Legolas in the EE, "game over."
pearlette at 2011-07-03 22:24 (UTC) (Link)
True enough! :D. I'd forgotten about that stupid drinking game - probably because I've only ever watched the RotK EE twice.
mechtild at 2011-07-04 00:12 (UTC) (Link)
Not your favourite DVD in the world, was it? ;)
pearlette at 2011-07-04 10:01 (UTC) (Link)
NO. Not by a long shot! And it could have been so awesome. Peter, Peter, Peter ...

I did enjoy seeing the FotR:EE and TTT:EE in a London cinema in November 2003, just before the theatrical RotK came out. The EEs are astoundingly beautiful on a big screen. :) That was, of course, still during the glory days of the fandom.

But, in all honesty, Mechtild, I got BORED during my last viewing of RotK (the theatrical version). This was at the Royal Albert Hall last September with a live orchestra playing the score. It was the music I found enthralling and which produced the emotion in me ... and the audience reception. Not so much the film itself. Honestly, I'm pretty much RotK'd out for a lifetime. ;)

I'll watch the FotR:EE with pleasure though. It's by far the best of the bunch. It flows so nicely as a film! RotK:EE irritates me. It's way too bloody long, and the film feels uneven. I wouldn't mind it being so bloody long, if the film narrative felt smoother and the additional material was a great deal more pleasing and closer in spirit to Tolkien.
mechtild at 2011-07-04 13:02 (UTC) (Link)
I would have loved to have seen that at the RAH. WOW. I will agree with you that the music will survive the films, I think even the art design (all of it-the sets, costumes, props, scenic concepts, etc.) will survive the films as such.

"RotK'd out for a lifetime." Ha ha, but, yes, I can see that happening. After the lights came up after the ROTK showing Tuesday I had a thought, for the first time, "is it too late to cancel my order for the EE's on Blu-ray"? It was too late, indeed. But if there'd been time I'd have canceled it. I would have waited and got it cheap, used. I really would like to have the set, but they duplicate so much material.

RotK's is the roughest script, especially in the way you say: not producing a smooth-running story line. That doesn't even address the departures from Tolkien's material. I did think the EE ran much more smoothly in just that way, except for a few additions that were simply "hunh?", like the crossroads. But mostly I thought they made the story smoother and more intelligible. I was surprised the team picked up that Oscar for best adapted screenplay, even in a sweep. Truly. I think they must have got it as an appreciation of what a task they tackled, rather than the actual results. :)

A positive thing that came of seeing the ROTK EE last week: it was the first time I experienced a real enthusiasm to see the new Hobbit films. I really hope they're good. Having struggled with my response to the adapting of LOTR, I think that is behind me now and I will be able to see the Hobbit films as films, not in terms of how faithful they are to the book. I do love the book, and admire it as a children's classic, but not remotely do I love and admire it the way I love and admire LOTR.
pearlette at 2011-07-04 13:40 (UTC) (Link)
Awww, it's a Good Thing to have the films on Blu-Ray, Mechtild ... at least you can fast forward through all the heretical and the snoozy stuff, LOL.

The art design was wowzers.

I think they must have got it as an appreciation of what a task they tackled, rather than the actual results. :)

That's what I thought at the time, i.e. whilst I was watching the Oscars in March 2004 (with a bunch of fellow Frodo-lovers). That was a great night ...!

Although these days RotK feels less satisfying to me as a whole than FotR and even TTT, the film has some amazing set pieces that I adore. One of my favourite scenes is that aerial shot of Minas Tirith with the Nazgul dive-bombing the white turrets.

I'm looking forward to The Hobbit, certainly, but like you I don't feel passionate about it the way I do about LotR. I won't be following spoilers for the plot in any great detail. I don't really care, truth be told. I mean, I DO care, because The Hobbit is a classic and I want the films to be good, and to at least honour the spirit of Tolkien. And I'll certainly be annoyed if Evangeline Lilly's Mary-Sue Elf bint gets in the way too much! But I won't be discussing the film earnestly for months on end before December 2012.

And I certainly couldn't care less about Richard Armitage's Thorin having a shorter black beard rather than the long white beard Thorin has in the book. With Armitage in that role, there was no way PJ would ever have him looking ancient. Armitage is hot stuff, so a hunky Thorin is what we'll get. Fine by me. :D

I was watching a bit of PJ's King Kong the other day. That film also misses the mark for me. It had so much going for it ... Naomi Watts (whom I've always rated highly) was great as Ann, the relationship between her and Kong was brilliant, the film looks fabulous. But that loooooooooong middle section with dinosaurs chasing people ... PJ, I saw it all before in Jurassic Park, mate. I really didn't need to see it AGAIN. ;)

mechtild at 2011-07-04 17:43 (UTC) (Link)
I enjoyed much of King Kong, too. I thought the character work between the leads, Ann and Kong, was a delight, and some moments of cinematic vision were absolute enchantment. But I agree that PJ's boyish enthusiasm for monsters and mayhem overwhelmed his judgement. He allowed himself to be very self-indulgent, to the harm of the project he loved.

I haven't been keeping up on the Hobbit reports much, mainly because I know so few of the actors. I know many of the Dwarf actors are reputed hunks, so it's not surprising there will be some that will no doubt inspire a new truck load of slash, but starring Dwarves instead of Men, Elves and Hobbits. :) And I read about Evangeline Lilly being cast. If they want to show there were action Elf-maidens, which there were, although not in The Hobbit, she'd be good at that. She was very fit and athletic in Lost. And I'd rather they invented a character from scratch to be the film's token female warrior/hunter than transform a canon character to fit the bill. (I'm thinking of Battle-Arwen that almost was.)
antane at 2011-07-04 16:50 (UTC) (Link)
Greetings, my dear and Happy 4th! We were in a smaller theatre too. Agree with much you say here especially about Faramir and Eomer and Peter's intro. I am so impressed with the courage of the men. Have no problem with the Mouth losing his head. I have written *quite* extensively on this on my own blog so will just leave you a link - http://momentsofgracelotr.blogspot.com/2011/07/thoughts-on-films.html

I hope you enjoy and look forward to your comments!

God bless America, our troops from the beginning and all those who fought for freedom in the ages for far in the past!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mechtild at 2011-07-04 17:34 (UTC) (Link)
Howdy, Antane. It must have been Transformers - everyone reports moving to a smaller theatre for ROTK.

Have no problem with the Mouth losing his head. I have written *quite* extensively on this on my own blog so will just leave you a link

I scrolled up and down your list, Antane, but didn't see anything on Aragorn slaying Sauron's emissary at the parley. Which section was it in? I am sure my eye lit upon everything with the name "Aragorn" in it.
antane at 2011-07-06 00:23 (UTC) (Link)
I just meant that I had written quite extensively on my thoughts overall on the films, but now reading my reply I see how you got confused. To clarify, I did not speak of that at all in my piece. I was just responding to your thoughts of it. Sorry to confuse you, my dear!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)

mechtild at 2011-07-06 00:51 (UTC) (Link)
Not to worry, Antane. I just needed some reassurance. I've been known to miss things, reading through texts, only to find them staring me right in the face!
not_alone at 2011-07-06 22:11 (UTC) (Link)
>>Howard Shore, you are a musical genius.<<

So true! His LOTR score moves me more than any other music I know.

Thank you for the very interesting account of your ROTK EE viewing:)

mechtild at 2011-07-06 22:22 (UTC) (Link)
His LOTR score moves me more than any other music I know.

Me, too, Paulie. In fact, it may be my favourite orchestral (orchestral/choral?) music composed in the past -- century? I really think his was a monumental achievement. I hope he reworks his LOTR symphony one day. As it stands, it offers a goodly selection of music from the first part of the trilogy, but not enough attention paid to the second and third "movements" of the piece. I think he could add at least a half hour of music to the full piece without it being too long, so that he could include major moments from TTT and ROTK that are not heard in the present work.

Edited at 2011-07-06 10:23 pm (UTC)
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2011-07-09 03:32 (UTC) (Link)
I am so sorry you got stuck with a smaller screen--that sucks!!!

I could just tell there was a greater sweep to distance shots. I didn't notice the greater clarity in the darker scenes--glad you did. Yes, Eomer finding Eowyn was really touching, even if it was sort of pay back for the mean things he said to her (this is what we call a Learning Experience. (-; ) Karl Urban's really become a fine actor. Heeee---beheading due to bad dental hygiene! (-: I still have not gotten the complete recordings CD's of the RotK soundtrack yet--I'm looking forward to when I do. The tune of the song in the Houses of Healing really sticks with me. Yes, all hail Howard Shore!!! (-:
mechtild at 2011-07-11 14:52 (UTC) (Link)
Hi! We've had house guests since last Thursday so I am behind looking at mail. It sounds like a lot of people found themselves in a smaller theatre for ROTK, it wasn't just me. You were lucky your screening remained in a larger hall. One thing in your comment puzzled me, Lavender:

What mean things did Eomer say to Eowyn? I can't think of anything except his EE remark that she, a woman, and a wannabe soldier without actual experience, wouldn't hold up in actual battle (same went for his assessment of the hobbit, Merry), but would run away, horrified and terrified, when faced with its reality. While that turned out not to be true, it was a perfectly normal assessment for the period in which they lived. I think it was clear he loved Eowyn and liked Merry, even if his societally conditioned reasoning was both erroneous and dismissive. I don't think he meant to be mean, however. But you may be referring to something else -- if so, what?
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2011-07-12 21:27 (UTC) (Link)
No, I'm referring to that. Rohan was depicted as having a history of warrior women and Faramir raved to Frodo about the brave warrior women of Rohan, so it wasn't unheard of in their time. So I'm not so sure about Eomer's acculturation, but there are a lot of different ways people handle their acculturations.

From the pointed looks, the scene showed he knew Eowyn wanted to fight, as well as Merry, and he wasn't informing her, but ridiculing her courage as less than his own, not just her strength, putting her down, and that was uncalled for. Though, in part, it was undoubtedly out of a desire for her to stay safe, it was a patronizing desire disregarding what he knew of his sister and her desires, especially when matched with ridicule. Every soldier starts inexperienced. The counter side to the horror of war is the comradeship that keeps your body and spirit safer, and by his stance, he was denying her that, and she went into battle without a comrade if it were not for Merry. The chances of a new recruit's survival is heightened if she is accompanied by experienced comrades fighting at her side, valued as a member of the unit. Eomer denied her that, and so, in part, the fear and pain he felt on thinking her slain was of his own making. Urban's acting makes me feel for him, but at the same time, I see Eomer as properly humbled and schooled in better respect for those he was considering lesser in courage and the disadvantage he placed them in.

I've heard some accounts on NPR of women in our armed forces today being shunned and isolated by their male comrades and coming home with more cases of PTSD as a result. Old Boys Networks--it's an ongoing real world problem, the brunt lying on those people they do not consider to be men like them (women, gay men, men of color, intersexed and transfolk, anyone different from the hegemonic unit.) The film depicted this dynamic well there.
mechtild at 2011-07-12 22:02 (UTC) (Link)
That was a deeply thoughtful reply, Lavender. But I wonder if movie Eomer is the same person as book Eomer, or movie Rohan women the same as the women described in the book. Except for Eowyn, and although they give her the line about women in Rohan knowing that they can die upon the sword, you don't see any woman of Rohan hold or wield a weapon, even in self-defense. I think the movie portrays Eowyn as exceptional, not typical. No women appear to be in their army. (I say 'appear' since many of the stunt riders actually were women.) So film Eomer could very well think film Eowyn's place is out of the front lines, or out of any sort of battle.

ETA: Recall, too, that at the battle of Helm's Deep, which Theoden is viewing as a very desperate affair, maybe the end for them, he ordered every able-bodied man and boy able to bear arms to the walls. We see old men, men with old injuries and boys that look ten or twelve years old, but no women or girls. There are a lot of women at Helm's Deep, as can be seen on the journey from Edoras and in the cave scenes, but not one is asked to fight, and none asks to fight. Whatever was the case in the book regarding women taking up arms, the film does not carry it over into its portrayal of the Rohirrim.

Aragorn, at least, in the film says the time will come when she may be defending Edoras by the sword, but it is not now. But perhaps you are right, and the film means to depict a martial life available to women in Rohan. That makes Eomer a male chauvinist pig, not just a man whose attitude is typical of his culture. It does lessen my appreciation of him as a character, to think of him that way, but perhaps that is precisely how they meant to portray him, bringing what is happening now for women in the armed forces into the world of Middle-earth.

Edited at 2011-07-12 10:14 pm (UTC)
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