Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Special Extended Edition (2001)

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Released 12-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Booklet
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Audio Commentary-4
Featurette-Introduction To Extras (2);From Book To Script;Weta Workshop
Featurette-Storyboards and Pre-Viz: Making Words Into Images
Featurette-Designing Middle-earth; Costume Design
Storyboards-The Prologue; Abandoned Storyboard Sequences (2)
Featurette-Pre-Viz Animatics (2); Fellowship Of The Cast
Storyboard Comparisons-Nazgul Attack At Bree; Bridge of Khazad-dum
Featurette-Bag End Set Test; Middle-earth Atlas; New Zealand as M-e
Gallery-28+14 + 7 + commentaries
DVD Credits
Featurette-A DAy In The Life Of A Hobbit;Cameras in Middle-earth;Scale
Featurette-Big-atures; Weta Digital; Editorial: Assembling An Epic
Featurette-Digital Grading; The Soundscapes Of Middle-earth
Featurette-Music for Middle-earth; The Road Goes Ever On...
Featurette-Editorial Demonstration: The Council Of Elrond
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 218:47 (Case: 200)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:22)
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Jackson
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Elijah Wood
Ian McKellen
Viggo Mortenson
Sean Astin
Sean Bean
John Rhys-Davies
Billy Boyd
Dominic Monaghan
Orlando Bloom
Case Gatefold
RPI $79.95 Music Howard Shore


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English dts 6.1 ES Discrete (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Greek
English Titling
Smoking Yes, amusingly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

A few things before we begin this review, mostly about what you will or will not find in it. First of all, you will not find commentary about why this film is the best thing to come out of the Hollywood system in a long time, or what makes this story one of the best ever written. Instead, you will find only comments about why this film, previously released on DVD as a two-disc set, has now been expanded to four discs, and whether a total of four discs is really necessary. You will not find comments about why this film is the only one I've seen in several years that can truly claim to be suitable for audiences of all ages. You will find comments about whether some added sequences of violence, such as Boromir being flung away by the Cave Troll's chain, really alter the film's character for better or worse.

What is important to know is that the initial cut of The Fellowship Of The Ring ran as long as four and a half hours, and that director Peter Jackson was contracted to deliver a commercially viable version of the film. In essence, this meant that the MPAA had to see it as being suitable for teenage audiences, and it had to run at or under three hours. The second of those problems is fairly easy to address if you keep a clear head about what is important to the story and what isn't, but the first is getting more and more absurd, along with America's political climate. Either way, quite a substantial amount of footage was left on the cutting room floor, but you won't find all of it here - there's a difference between doing it right and just being vulgar, as Stephen King has said.

Approximately twenty-eight additional minutes of footage can be found in this version of The Fellowship Of The Ring, and contrary to some reports, it is not all mere extensions to the battle sequences. Other sequences such as the Hobbits observing Elves making their way towards the coast so that they may return to Valinor, or more exposition in Hobbiton, are among the restored footage. The real question, as with any Director's Cut or Special Edition (two badly overused terms in my opinion), is whether the film and the story benefits from the inclusion of this footage. Given that the one complaint a friend of mine in America heard once the first screening was over was that it wasn't long enough, one would think that it would be very easy to extend the film to four hours. However, the film in its theatrical cut treads a very delicate line between being bogged down in exposition and not having enough exposition for the battles to make sense.

If you're not an avid reader of the novels and don't wish to know about the added content in this version of the film, I suggest you skip to the transfer quality section of this review now.

Most of the additions to this cut of the film are fairly subtle - despite what the running time would have you believe, there really is only an extra twenty-eight minutes of footage here once the PAL speedup is taken into account. Some additions such as an extension to the attempted crossing of Caradhras are pretty small, but others such as Gandalf addressing Boromir in Black Speech during the council of Elrond are quite impressive. Whole new scenes such as Bilbo writing about Hobbits, Aragorn visiting the tomb of his mother, or an extension of the Fellowship's departure from Rivendell, are included. However, I have to draw the line at the listing of names from the fan club, which is the last Chapter on Disc Two and takes up a whole nineteen minutes! (PS. I do not count this listing as part of the extra footage.) Please, if you're going to include this instead of nineteen minutes of actual film footage that could have enriched the film even further, then put it in a separate featurette where I don't have to look at it.

Nonetheless, if you're like my friend and I, and felt that a hundred and seventy-one minutes after the PAL speedup just wasn't long enough, then this is just what the doctor ordered. The transfer is actually pretty nice, too, so let's dive right in...

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

The Fellowship Of The Ring is presented in its proper, accept-no-substitutes aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced as you'd expect.

The focus varies in this film - objects that are close to the camera are very sharp indeed, while those placed a little further away become blurred and indistinct. This would appear to be inherent in the way the film was shot, judging from the theatrical exhibition. This transfer represents the film in a beautiful, faithful way that only DVD-Video can deliver, with everything as sharp as the director intended. The shadow detail is excellent, especially during such dark sequences as the journey through Moria, and there is no low-level noise.

The colours in this transfer are impeccably rendered, with the bright, bold colours of the Hobbit or Elven worlds clashing beautifully with the dark, stale feel of the worlds of Sauron or Men. These colour schemes are delivered without any smearing, colour bleeding, or composite artefacting, and yes, the halos around the Elven characters are deliberate.

MPEG artefacts are not in this transfer, thanks to the dual-disc formatting, which in fact makes this presentation even smoother than was the case with the two-disc presentation of the theatrical cut. Indeed, the total bitrate of Disc One is constantly up at the maximum ten megabits a second allowed by the format, while Disc Two still only occasionally falls below this level. Film-to-video artefacts ranged from borderline imperceptible to minor, with aliasing on the Ring at 37:25 of Disc One, on the outside of Rivendell at 92:02 of Disc One, or on the book in Ian McKellen's hands at 26:12 of Disc Two being the most objectionable examples. Those were very minor and difficult to notice on a fairly standard CRT set, so those of you with scalers or line doublers will hardly see a thing in these places. Film artefacts were infrequent and minor, with only a few small white marks on the picture appearing during the introduction in Hobbiton. This is one of the best video transfers it has ever been my pleasure to review.

There are English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles present on this DVD. They are quite simply the most accurate subtitles of this variety I have seen to date. The burned-in subtitles of the theatrical print have also been replaced with a subtitle stream that is much more pleasant to look at and read, such as at 75:57 of Disc One.

Disc One is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 45:22. This is just after Ian McKellen says "Saruman...", and while it is noticeable, it beats the hell out of being placed in mid-battle.

Disc Two is also RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 52:23. This is just after Sean Bean says "'...the lords of Gondor have returned.'", and it is also noticeable, but it beats being placed in the middle of a battle.

The principal drawback of this extended edition is that Disc One has to be exchanged for Disc Two about halfway through the film - at 101:18, in fact. This is just after Billy Boyd says "Where are we going?", and a little disruptive to the flow of the film, although it is good to have an intermission in a film of this length.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are seven soundtracks on the two DVDs containing the extended version of the film. That's a total of about twenty-seven hours listening time, for anyone who is under the impression that reviewing these mammoth sets is all fun and games.

The first two soundtracks are renderings of the original English dialogue, a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack at 448 kilobits per second being the first and default. The next soundtrack is a 768 kilobit per second DTS 6.1 discrete soundtrack. There is also an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, 192 kilobit per second soundtrack for the benefit of those who are restricted to Pro-Logic as their only listening choice. Lastly, there are four audio commentaries, all recorded in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo at 192 kilobits per second, with the first of them being surround-encoded.

The bad news first - the same ill-advised pitch correction that was applied to the theatrical version of the DVD is present on the Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks of this film. The DTS soundtrack's extra resolution makes the artefacts from this process more obvious, with dropouts and pops being noticed at 14:19, 29:20, 39:38, and 75:26 on Disc One. A subtle dropout was also noticed at 46:57 on Disc Two, which was also quite noticeable on the Dolby Digital soundtrack. The Dolby Digital soundtrack also featured a series of quick pop-like sounds at 65:10 that I didn't remember hearing in the DTS soundtrack. While individual sensitivity is a factor in whether this artefact will bother you, my own insensitive hearing and the fact that I heard dropouts or stepping frequently in both soundtracks means it is hard to ignore.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, except when it is in one of the more obscure tongues of Middle-Earth. I was glad to note that they got the pronunciation of Celeborn's name right (in the Elvish alphabet, C has the same sound as K). The audio sync occasionally wavered at times, but it was mostly close enough that I didn't notice any real problems.

The music in this film consists of a score by Howard Shore and some contemporary numbers by Enya. The contemporary numbers are more distracting than anything else - I can think of dozens of contemporary artists who would better suit this film, such as Storm or Isengard (yes, there really is a band by that name). The score music, on the other hand, is pure magic, although it doesn't quite have the John Williams quality of evoking images from the film when played separately. When the Fellowship are fleeing from the Balrog (34:40 on Disc Two), Shore lets loose with everything in his playbook, making one of the most memorable blendings of on-screen action and musical prowess outside of the Star Wars saga.

Do you have a receiver that can decode DTS signals? Then you're in luck, because this is one of the best demonstrations of why you've invested the cash in such hardware that the format has seen to date. The surround channels are used constantly and aggressively to support all manner of sounds from the music through the sounds of the environment to flying arrows. Both soundtracks use the surrounds for such moments as when Ian McKellen puts on the terrifying aura at 26:39, when birds fly by at 51:31, or when Sauron says "build me an army worthy of Mordor..." at 66:18. These are just the occurrences on Disc One, mind you. The surrounds really go berserk during the battles in Moria or at Amon-Hen. A loud crunch was heard in the right surround channel at 28:10 when Sean Bean smacks a goblin around the head with his sword; an even louder crunch was heard at 29:17 when the Cave Troll accidentally knocked away a goblin; and the subtle sounds were also in full force with an arrow flying through the right surround channel at 36:17.

The subwoofer was also aggressively used to support the action, which it did without calling undue attention to itself. Sauron's steps at 3:23 on Disc One are my favourite example of the subwoofer usage, but the aforementioned sequence with the Balrog at 34:40 will test your subwoofer like one of the recent Black Sabbath DVDs should have. I should warn, however, that this disc will quickly show up any miscalibration of your subwoofer, especially if it is an active subwoofer with its own volume and crossover frequency controls.

As to which of the soundtracks I preferred listening to, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The Dolby Digital soundtrack makes it more difficult to hear the artefacts that were introduced by the pitch correction, but the battle sequences seem more alive in the DTS soundtrack. The Dolby Digital soundtrack also seems a little more muffled or congested, so the DTS soundtrack is the marginal winner. Neither of them is the optimal experience of the film, however, due to the pops, which indicates that the pitch correction was done quite badly even in comparison to the previous two-disc set.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Lots... of... extras... (panting)

Discs One and Two

Menu

The menus on Discs One and Two are themed around the concept of Bilbo's memoir writing, with an introduction, animation in the scene selection menus, a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and 16x9 Enhancement. This is almost a new standard in how menus should be done.

Audio Commentary - Peter Jackson (Director/Producer/Writer), Fran Walsh (Writer/Producer), and Philippa Boyens (Writer)

This Dolby Digital 2.0 features the writing team talking about the immense challenges they faced in adapting Tolkien's work to the silver screen, and quite a lot of good reasons are given for the variations. It is also quite entertaining, with numerous bits and pieces pointed out that even those who are overly familiar with the world of Middle-earth would probably miss on the first twenty viewings. We are also treated to a wealth of technical information, such as how those shots with four foot tall Hobbits and seven foot tall Istari were accomplished. As commentaries go, this is one of the very best you're likely to find on a locally made DVD. One thing one will see on this DVD during the audio commentaries is that a subtitle stream appears to let the viewer know who is speaking at what time, so one doesn't lose track, a feature that I wish all audio commentaries would incorporate.

Audio Commentary - Grant Major, Ngila Dickson, Richard Taylor, Alan Lee, John Howe, Dan Hennah, Chris Hennah, and Tania Rodger (The Design Team)

I've never found audio commentaries by set designers or make-up artists to be very entertaining, and this Dolby Digital 2.0 audio commentary is not going to go down as an exception. It may be more interesting to people with an interest in this area of filmmaking, however.

Audio Commentary - Barrie Osborne, Mark Ordesky, Andrew Lesnie, John Gilbert, Rick Porras, Howard Shore, Jim Rygiel, Ethan Van Der Ryn, Mike Hopkins, Randy Cook, Christian Rivers, Brian Van’t Hul, and Alex Funke (The Production Team)

The same applies to this Dolby Digital 2.0 audio commentary. It is interesting enough if you're into the rigours of producing a film, but otherwise it could be a bit dull, although some of the comments made by the editors are worth a listen.

Audio Commentary - Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, and Sean Bean (The Cast)

Now this is more like it, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio commentary featuring the actors talking about the challenges and results of their performances. Some actors tend to dominate the audio commentary, and Liv Tyler only seems to speak during moments when she is on-screen, but this is well worth a listen. This and the first audio commentary alone make the extras collection worthy of five stars.

Disc Three

All of the featurettes presented on this disc are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio and 16x9 Enhancement unless otherwise noted. The featurettes also have English subtitling that is extremely accurate, and the lengthier ones have some very good chaptering.

Featurette - Introduction

This one minute and sixteen second featurette contains writer/producer/director Peter Jackson describing what one will find on Discs Three and Four of this set, and exactly why. It makes quite an excellent introduction to what audiences can expect of this four-disc edition, and it makes it clear that Jackson is a big fan of the format, which explains why he had the whole process of making the films documented.

Featurette - J.R.R. Tolkien - The Creator Of Middle-earth

This one featurette earns the whole collection a five-star rating by itself. Running for twenty-two minutes and twenty-six seconds, it goes into some detail about who Tolkien was, what inspired him to write The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Silmarillion, as well as how he perceived certain things in his own work, which vary wildly from how others often perceive them. Some film footage is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with photos of Tolkien in a ratio somewhere between 1.44:1 and 1.66:1, all of which are composited beautifully into the overall scheme of things. The historical World War I and II footage is in poor condition as one would expect, and a cross-colouration effect may be seen in one interviewee's shirt at 6:45, while the shadow detail of the film footage is poorer than that of the main feature, but this is a real goldmine for those who want to better understand the story. It spells out in dramatic terms why the novel continues to find an audience with people of all ages and all walks of life, even nearly fifty years after it was first published.

Featurette - From Book To Script

This twenty minute and two second feature, again featuring film footage in 2.35:1, explains in great detail all the challenges of translating a novel with as much depth as The Lord Of The Rings into a workable feature film, or films in this case. Christopher Lee, a man who has apparently read the novels yearly for the better part of fifty years and actually met Tolkien, does a wonderful job of summing up how well done the translation really was.

Featurette - Storyboard And Pre-Viz: Making Words Into Images

This thirteen minute and twenty-nine second featurette uses a combination of 1.78:1 storyboard and Pre-Viz images with 2.35:1 film footage to help show how the film was planned.

Early Storyboards

This submenu contains three featurettes, the first of which is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 2.35:1 test footage with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, which show early conceptions of three sequences from the film. In order, they are The Prologue (7:35), Orc Pursuit Into Lothlórien (1:32) and Sarn Gebir Rapids Chase (1:42). The latter two storyboard collections are presented only in 2.35:1, 16x9 Enhanced.

Pre-Viz Animatics

This submenu contains two featurettes, which are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. They are; Gandalf Rides To Orthanc (1:07) and The Stairs Of Khazad-Dûm (2:18). They are very crude, but entertaining to watch, especially considering they are accompanied with the score music by Howard Shore.

Animatic-To-Film Comparisons

This submenu contains a storyboard to film comparison of Nazgûl Attack At Bree (1:44) and the Pre-Viz to film comparison of The Bridge At Khazad-Dûm (2:37). Both are presented with choices of split-screen comparisons, or viewing either the film or storyboard/Pre-Viz separately.

Featurette - Bag End Set Test

This six minute and thirty-three second featurette is a good demonstration of why crew members rarely appear in their own films for more than a few seconds. It essentially revolves around director Peter Jackson and his crew playing out shots between Gandalf and Bilbo in order to make sure the dimensions of the set are okay, or something.

Featurette - Designing Middle-Earth

The first choice on the Designing And Building Middle-Earth menu, this featurette runs a hefty forty-one minutes and eleven seconds. This featurette covers the designs of Hobbiton, Bree, Weathertop, Isengard, Rivendell, Moria, Lothlórien, Amon-Hen, and the massive amount of props that were in use. It gets a little slow in places, but again, it reveals quite a lot about how much detail there is in the novel, and how much work went into bringing it to the screen.

Featurette - WETA Workshop

This is the second choice on the Designing And Building Middle-Earth menu if you go through them counter-clockwise (I will list the next two in that order). This forty-three minute and three second featurette concerns itself with WETA, the New Zealand firm that was engaged to create prosthetic devices and apply make-up, build armour, as well as fashion weaponry. This is one of the most fascinating featurettes on the disc.

Design Galleries

This set is designed into two major groups - the Peoples Of Middle Earth group, and the Realms Of Middle Earth group. The claim is that there are something like over two thousand photos in the galleries on these discs, and I'm not going to dispute this fact after sifting through most of the sub-galleries. They can be viewed in lots of nine, from which a photo can be selected to be viewed as a close-up, but there is no annotation or numbering, which is a pity.

Featurette - Costume Design

The last of the choices under the Designing And Building Middle-Earth menu. This eleven minute and thirty-two second featurette details how a team of over forty seamstresses put together the elaborate sets of clothing worn by the specific characters and races from Middle-Earth.

Middle-Earth Atlas

A sort of interactive, follow-the-journey feature much like what was used on Lawrence Of Arabia, this extra shows the name and relative locations of places in Middle-Earth, describes what went on there, and then shows film footage when they are selected.

Featurette - New Zealand As Middle-earth

Actually, this is a collection of featurettes that can be played separately or as one, with noticeable pauses between each location. This collection, all nine minutes and forty-seven seconds of it, shows which parts of New Zealand stood in for what location in Middle-earth, and some raw footage of the crew visiting the locations as scouts.

Disc Four

Again, all of the featurettes presented on this disc are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio and 16x9 Enhancement unless otherwise noted. Once again, the featurettes also have English subtitling that is extremely accurate, and the lengthier ones have some very good chaptering.

Featurette - Introduction

This twenty-nine second featurette features Elijah Wood merely reminding the audience of the functions that have been included on this disc to make watching the content easier.

Featurette - The Fellowship Of The Cast

This thirty-four minute and forty second featurette shows individual members of the cast describing their experiences on the set. Christopher Lee's familiarity with the world of Tolkien is shown off at 25:22 when he recites Sauron's poem in its original Black Speech version. Matte lines can be seen around Sean Bean when he raises his hand at 20:15, giving away the optical nature of the composition of some shots in the featurettes, so it is not edge enhancement. This is another excellent featurette that shows just how big a deal making this film really was.

Featurette - A Day In The Life Of A Hobbit

This thirteen minute and ten second featurette delves into the arduous process of making human actors look like Hobbits, as well as a little more about the rather interesting process of scaling them down.

Featurette - Cameras In Middle-Earth

Forty-nine minutes and forty-two seconds of waxing lyrical about the enormous challenges of photographing as well as setting up shots on location in New Zealand.

Photo Gallery - Production Photos

Eight pages of photos featuring actors being touched up, notes being read, props being adjusted, and so forth.

Featurette - Scale

The Visual Effects has three separate options on it. This is the first, showing every single trick that was used to keep the ratio of sizes, with four-feet Hobbits, four-and-a-half-feet Dwarves, six-foot-seven Elves and Men, and seven-foot Istari all having set-switching, forced perspective, and blue-screening used to keep their size ratios looking okay. For fifteen minutes and thirty-six seconds, it sometimes repeats what is said in other featurettes, but when it does so, it expands and further explains things.

Featurette - Bigatures

Selecting the Miniatures option from the Visual Effects menu takes one to yet another submenu where this is the first option. Have you ever read initial reviews of this film going on about how "fake" the "CGI" Rivendell or other such sets look? Well, this featurette is basically a big "shut your head and talk about something you know" to the authors of such dross, as it shows how shots like Rivendell or the Argonath were really accomplished - using extremely large and very life-like scale models. This is basically sixteen minutes and nineteen seconds of how many ways one can use polystyrene to represent something on film.

Photo Galleries

Six photo galleries showing bits and pieces of how the Bigatures and scaling effects were used in the film are under this sub-sub-submenu. This is the second option from the Miniatures sub-submenu.

Featurette - Weta Digital

This twenty-four minute and fifty-three second featurette is among the most interesting in the set. It explains in both simple and technical terms how CGI was really used in the film, and it was generally in combination with a few other techniques, such as the aforementioned Bigatures. It gets too technical at times for its own good, but it is worth looking at to see early early versions of the Cave Troll, a number of which feature visible genitalia.

Featurette - Editorial: Assembling An Epic

This twelve minute and forty-five second featurette shows Peter Jackson and the crew talking about all of the technical considerations that went into putting together both cuts of the film. It doesn't change my mind about the fact that this is the version we should have seen theatrically, and that the extended version should have been twenty or so minutes longer still. Nonetheless, it is somewhat enlightening about the process of shooting and editing feature films.

Editorial Demonstration - The Council Of Elrond

This interesting feature is based around six windows showing what the introduction claims are thirty-six shots used to comprise the Council of Elrond, of which we see ninety seconds here. A seventh window shows the final film, but one can move from window to window and change the sequence of shots, or so I gathered from the aforementioned introduction.

Featurette - Digital Grading

This twelve minute and eleven second featurette basically confirms my theory that the colours were deliberately altered in most locations in order to change their emotional impact. I'll start at the beginning - the process of digital grading involves scanning your negative into a computer, whereupon one alters the colours and lighting of the film in order to change the look and feel of the finished film. It can also be used, as it was in this case, to make multiple negatives from different times and sources look consistent, or to give Elves that ethereal glow. Most of the featurette is in the usual 1.78:1 aspect ratio, with some split-screen comparisons between two 2.35:1 representations of the film - one ungraded, and one graded.

Featurette - The Soundscapes Of Middle Earth

This is the first option from the Sound And Music submenu. It is also the first featurette I noticed that was presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, as a sound effects demonstration really should be. During its twelve-minute and thirty-nine second length, it goes into how various sounds in the film were created and changed to the state one hears in the finished film.

Featurette - The Music Of Middle Earth

This featurette is also presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and covers the writing of the score music during its twelve and a half minute running time.

Featurette - The Road Goes Ever On...

This seven minute and twenty-seven second featurette reverts back to a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It basically covers the premieres of the film, with a few bits and pieces about what the cast and crew thought at the time, as well as the fact that the making of The Lord Of The Rings as a whole, and the DVDs, is far from over.

In Conclusion

One of the biggest complaints I heard about the original two-disc release of this film was that the featurettes were not at all interesting, and generally just extended press kits, which is to some extent true. While some featurettes on this DVD can get boring, especially if you view them in a twelve-hour stretch as I have just done, they are all very insightful, giving one a previously unparalleled look into the making of a great story and a great film. The only thing I am disappointed about here is that we do not get any of the amazing theatrical trailers that I saw while waiting for other films, ones that made me promptly forget which film I was waiting for in a lot of cases. Nonetheless, this is quite simply the best extras package Region 4 is going to see until (possibly) the release of The Two Towers around this time next year.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As of January this year, a friend of mine who lives in the USA had sent me a copy of the Region 1 boxed set, and I have had the opportunity to compare the two versions a number of times.

    Although the Region 4 version has a very smooth, pleasant-looking transfer without the jerky motion that is inherent in NTSC representations of films, the Region 1 version is, in my experience, a much more pleasant view simply because the audio has not been tampered with. It is also worth noting that the artificial sharpening present in the Region 1 version of the theatrical DVD does not appear to be as big an issue in this case (perhaps someone sent New Line a bad review).

    As much as it pains me to say it, the Region 1 Gift Set is by far the better choice. It also represents better value for money.

Summary

The Fellowship Of The Ring contains many things such as reinforcements of the need to believe in oneself, the admiration of loyalty, the refusal to give in no matter how bleak things look, and a demonstration that a simple life can be the best and worst thing under the right circumstances. Things that I would far prefer to teach my children, assuming I slipped and had any, than what passes for values or ideals in contemporary children's film and literature. The extended version makes a good thing even better, the last nineteen minutes notwithstanding, with exactly the sort of detail that audiences missed during the theatrical exhibition. This is the version that should have been shown theatrically.

The video transfer is of reference quality.

The audio transfer is problematic, thanks to the pitch correction.

The extras are, to put it quite simply, mountainous and comprehensive - there is not a single featurette out of the several dozen that I would leave until last. Now all we need are some trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Sunday, November 10, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
MovieHole - Clint M
AllZone4DVD - Kevin S
DVDownUnder - Matt G
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Jeff K
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))
Web Wombat - James A

Comments (Add)
Thanks for the review Dean.... - Alex H (My biography...in 500 words or less!) REPLY POSTED
Easter Eggs? -
AV differences from previous release? - REPLY POSTED
R1 wins...and is cheaper -
RE Audio - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Re: Momaw's comments. -
RE: Re: Momaw's comments -
RE Audio - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Poor Audio? It's just not good enough - frombrosis
Reason for audio problems - Ron
Audio problems - garumph (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Last Chapter 19 mins?? - Vieira4 (deleted bio) REPLY POSTED
Re: Last 19 Minutes - Kaiser Soze (I'm not stupid. You're not interested. But my bio is here anyway)
Why the high cost? - REPLY POSTED
A couple of replies - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
What about R2? - REPLY POSTED
PAL vs Bad Audio -
More Waffle - REPLY POSTED
Has anyone actually found this in the shops yet? - Craggles (Behold the mighty bio!!)
Not in Perth Either - Sorrow (bio - mechanical existence)
Definitely Available -
Re: A couple of replies -
RE: R1 wins...and is cheaper - joetrim (read my bionic)
Pitch Correction? - REPLY POSTED
Watched it last night... really disappointed -
Hopefully a re-issue - Corey (mmmmmmmmmm.........bio)
NEWSFLASH! Dean is a NERD! - REPLY POSTED
Re:NEWSFLASH! Dean is a NERD! -
Maybe in the box set... -
Tra la la la la la - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Re:Re:NEWSFLASH! Dean is a NERD! -
Re:Tra la la la la la -
Jesus H. Christ - SHUT THE HELL UP!! - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Re: A couple of replies (Last one) -
NEWSFLASH! Rodda is a Bryan Adams fan. -
Yes I like Bryan Adams, as well as many, many others... - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
I do believe he's serious... -
Re: I do believe he's serious... -
Re:Tra la la la la la - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Re: Tra la la la la la - garumph (read my bio)
Pointless Question of curiosity - Sorrow (bio - mechanical existence)
See Ya Jesus H. Christ - Good buy to bad rubbish. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
RE: I think I hear my momma calling me... - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Pricing - Kaiser Soze (I'm not stupid. You're not interested. But my bio is here anyway)
RE: Pricing - Adam B
Last Chance! LOTR 4-Disc - $50.96 & Star Wars Ep II - $25.36 @ Kmart Chatswood - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
The Worst transfer ever!! -
RE The Worst transfer ever!! - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
extended version improves the story - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Video transfer - grug (there is no bio.)
what is with international subtitles - quantix REPLY POSTED
Look at it this way -
whining about audio. - zincberg (the photos worth looking at my bio) REPLY POSTED
Great movie, pity about the audio and music -
Theatrical vs Extended Edition audio - Chris REPLY POSTED
Dudes...shut up..this is the best DVD ever! -
Poll results - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?) REPLY POSTED
Paul - about the score/leitmotifs -
Lighten up on F.O.T.R. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Are you *sure* they're pitch correction errors? - REPLY POSTED
More on the Audio problems - richie007au (don't read it. my bio is dangerous to your health)
Re: Lighten up on F.O.T.R - richie007au (don't read it. my bio is dangerous to your health)
RE Are you *sure* they're pitch correction errors? - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
RE Are you *sure* they're pitch correction errors? -
Re: Sony Amps as quality? - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
RE Are you *sure* they're pitch correction errors? - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Re: Sony Amps as quality? - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
H.T. Hardware/setup in our bios. Please please please. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Re: H.T. Hardware/setup in our bios. Please please please - richie007au (don't read it. my bio is dangerous to your health)
Re: H.T. Hardware/setup in our bios. Please please please - Khai L (My biodegradable bio)
re: H.T. Hardware/setup in our bios. Please please please. - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Is everyone having AUDIO Problems? - TonyH REPLY POSTED
Re: Is everyone having AUDIO Problems? - richie007au (don't read it. my bio is dangerous to your health)
Bought Zone 1 version - HelifaxNZ (Gonna have big fun on the bio!)
About those dropouts and pops -
I can hear it, he can hear it, you can't hear it... let's call the whole thing off - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio) REPLY POSTED
Audio artefacts on every system I've tried so far -
Pixels in the dark! - REPLY POSTED
RE Pixels in the dark! - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?) REPLY POSTED
Pixels in the dark, Read before you reply please. - REPLY POSTED
RE Pixels in the dark, Read before you reply please. - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
The Great Pixel Debate - REPLY POSTED
The DVDs I have also look horrible. - Charles Bracken
Re: Re: Last 19 Minutes -
WETA Workshop Supervisor -
Totally agree with Dean! -