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.