I got the extended edition of The Return of the King a couple of months ago. Is there any other version? As Peter Jackson says in the commentary, these extended editions will be known as the definitive version of the film. It's uncanny how much an extra half hour can enhance the story and authenticity of the movies. It's a shame that Jackson was so compelled by Hollywood to cut these films down in the theatrical cuts but I think he did so knowing that the DVD editions were coming so soon after. A lot of time was spent on the DVD, continuing work on the movies after the movie was released. Jackson states that one shot was actually completed after the film won the Oscar for best picture, probably the only time such a thing has occurred.
Enough about him, let's get back to me. The other day, I decided to go back and start watching the Fellowship of the Ring. From the opening prelude sequence, I was surprised at how consistent the look and feel of the first movie compares with the third. These were truly one very long film, split into 3 dramatic parts. It's a fantastic achievement. God, I really can't stop blathering about it. In short, I think the films are fucking amazing.
I grew up reading the LOTR. One of my very first memories is watching the Rankin/Bass animated Hobbit and my brother telling me how different it was from the book. So I read it. I've reread the Hobbit and LOTR countless times, they are a part of me. They shaped so much of who I am, my dreams to be a writer, my fascination with fantasy roleplaying games.
Watching the FOTR two days ago, I was struck with the beauty of it all. The sequence in the Shire was so right, so in line with Tolkien both thematically and visually. Sitting on the couch watching it, I broke down in tears. I don't know what happened. I was overwhelmed with admiration and joy. I was also high but I don't think that had that much to do with it. I'd gotten teary-eyed before watching these movies but this time I just wept. I wept that something so perfect was in the world.
Back to the title of the blog. I was in my senior year of college when principal photography began on LOTR in 1999. I was 21. I remember being really excited that a live-action movie was being made and I followed the news of the shoot fairly regularly. College was going well, I was dating a wonderful girl named Mephistopheles. I was writing plays and producing my first full-length one called Online. But I have this mountain of regret.
I should have gone to New Zealand. I had next to no experience in film, but this was a dream project. I should have dropped everything, gotten on a plane and walked up to the office and told them I wanted to help make a movie. Do anything that was needed. Make coffee, drive cars or trucks, fucking shine Peter Jackson's shoes, anything. LOTR was a perfect meld of so many of my aspirations, I always wanted to make something, to write, to make a movie, to be creative, and the number one thing that inspired all of that was Tolkien. Why didn't I drop everything and go to make the definitive film version of a story that I had loved for so long?
I can tell you why. I was in school, with less than a year left. I had a car. A family. An awesome girlfriend who would eventually be my wife. I tell myself, if there was none of that, I would have gone. Or would I have? Would I have made that leap into the unknown?
I don't know. All I do know is that as I sit on my couch in the year 2005 and watch the work of Peter Jackson, I am so full of regret that I had nothing to do with the LOTR. It is arguably the greatest film in the history of cinema based on my favorite story of all time...
and my only contribution to it is that I cry because it is so beautiful.