Dec 16 2018, 6:54pm
and not because its just "more of the movie" and certainly not because its "more of the book". To me, the theatrical cut is much more the 90s action film, with so many character moments and pieces of drama trimmed in favor of action.
I like the extended cut better
That, of course, isn't to say that I'm against action: its one of the best aspects of these films. But I do like so many of the character moments: Aragorn's backstory, Sam beholding the star over the ashen skies of Mordor, Merry's simple courage - its great stuff.
Its not just individual highlights, either. With the editing on each film becoming more frenetic, I often find the extended cut, with which Jackson had more time to marinate, the better edited. A good example is the way the charge of the Rohirrim is intercut with the Denethor storyline: much better in the extended cut.
Another advantage of the extended cut is that each of the first two came out as the edit of the next film was taking shape, so Jackson could adjust it to build into the next film all the more seamlessly, and with the third film he could edit it with the perspective of the whole thing, creating a true "cap" to the trilogy.
The extended cuts are hardly an assembly reel - they're craftily edited, with just as much stuff still left on the cutting room floor as was re-inserted into the film. What they are is curated to the small-screen, where the experience is more comfortable and not as overbearing, and therefore the pacing requirements are completely different.
And as much as we love to criticise contemporary cinema as overlong and bloated, I personally find it much more problematic when a film is breathless or when a filmmaker lacks patience or confidencne in his film, not letting the camera linger enough to allow us to drink-in the images he (or she) composed so well, or not letting a theme or tone sink it as fully as it can.
Also, when you have a films that contains the kind of tragic overtures that The Lord of the Rings or the Quest of Erebor (i.e. The Hobbit) or even King Kong has, it can be conducive for the audience to be left worn-down at the end of it. One of my favorite things about the pacing of Return of the King is that, by the time Frodo and Sam limp up the slopes of Mount Doom, you the audience feel the weight of their fatigue, having covered so much ground with them.
At the end of the day, I just don't see how the extended cut of The Lord of the Rings is "bloated" whereas - say - the roadshow cuts of Lawrence of Arabia, Ben Hur or Once Upon a Time in America is a masterpiece. I think the length, particularly of Return of the King, makes them feel kind of avant-garde and helps them stand apart from other "epic" blockbusters.
As for adding more stuff to them, I don't think its conducive, with the exception of things that Jackson will at someday find he needs to weave the two halves of his sextet together. At any rate, we're not talking anything that should translate into a major change in running-time.
(This post was edited by Chen G. on Dec 16 2018, 7:02pm)