‘Rings’ DVD treats fans

By Tracy Douglas

The special extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King does not disappoint, especially for those who are fans of the books by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Most importantly, the extended versions of all three The Lord of the Rings films come as a reward for committed fans of the books. The films are filled with extra references to events in the books that would excite fans.

The Return of the King DVD has 50 minutes of added footage, which helps to make sense out of some loose ends in the theatrical version. The DVD shows the deaths of Saruman and Wormtongue, thus tying up the storyline that was left open in the first version.

The two special feature DVDs include documentaries about the costumes, sound, and adaptation of the book to film. They are filled with interesting information, and reading them will guarantee a win in any The Lord of the Rings trivia game.

The film opens with the story of how Gollum gained possession of the ring. The beginning is a departure from the book, but it works because the story of the film is fundamentally about the One Ring.

Will the ring get destroyed or not? That is the motivating force of the whole storyline. The ring even becomes personified because it has its own music.

As the story continues, the movie follows the journeys of two parties to separate places. The journey of Sam and Frodo is intercut with the journey of the rest of the Fellowship. Sam and Frodo make it into Mordor, the land of Sauron. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry and Pippin ride to war in Gondor.

Symbolism also runs throughout The Lord of the Rings.

Aragorn’s remade sword becomes the symbol that makes him the King. It is also a phallic symbol, and interesting in that regard because it implies that he is not a whole man or King without his sword.

Return of the King shows how director Peter Jackson won an Oscar for Best Director.

For example, the director makes use of physical reflections that have typically been a visual way of showing that a person has multiple sides to them.

In a scene where Smeagol talks to his alternate personality Gollum, the Gollum personality is shown as Smeagol’s reflection in the water.

The most philosophic moment of the film comes when Gandalf discusses death with Pippin.

“Death is just another path,” he tells Pippin. It is a sentiment that harkens back to Peter Pan when Peter says “To die would be a great adventure.”

It is a sentiment voiced in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when Dumbledore tells Harry that “To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Fantasy movies seem to be more open to the concept of death than others.

The film departs from the book in several cases, which may upset some die-hard fans. But the important thing to remember is whether or not the filmmakers remained true to the spirit of the book, which they did.

What really matters is that the spirit is there, even if the director changed a few things.