I saw the extended DVD edition last night in Chicago on the big screen.
I read somewhere that the extended DVD is in some ways a different movie than the original theatrical version. That is very true. The original theatrical version forsakes some characterization for a streamlined plot. Many of the extended DVD version’s new and extended scenese added to characterization. We especially get “new” scenes that add to the characterization of Aragon, Gimli, Bilbo, Boromir, Galadriel, and Celeborn. Celeborn actually gets more than one line! He is even the one who gives the Fellowship their elven cloaks and their boats, so that they can outrun orcs that are after them. The whole Lothlorien scene has much new material added in, so that it is much closer to the book. Galadriel no longer seems so mysterious and perhaps sinister. We now get to see her more caring and lighter side, especially in the gift giving scenes and in her greeting the Fellowship. we even get to see Nenya during the mirror scene, when she tells Frodo to bear a ring of power is to be alone. We get to see wonderful interaction between her and Gimli, both when she first greets the Fellowship and when she bestows her gifts (Merry and Pippin get daggers, Sam gets the rope, she talks to Aragon about Arwen, Legolas gets a bow). In fact, Gimli’s characterization is also much improved. Before, I felt like he was just a stock character. Now he is rounded, with more lines throughout the movie. Lothlorien itself now feels more like a sanctuary than a mysterious, dangerous forest. The other major changes are in Hobbiton, with the opening scene being very much different– Bilbo writing his book and talking about Hobbits, with humorous scenes of Hobbits interspersed, including a Hobbit getting wax out of his ear, and a snippet of Sam gardening. Though, for some reason I can’t touch upon, I liked the theatrical version’s opening better. We also get to see Bilbo’s dread of the Sackville-Bagginses in this opening scene and during the party. There is also much more interaction of Bilbo with the guests at the party, as well as a humorous scene between him and Frodo at the party. We also get to see the Gaffer, Sam, Frodo, Pippin, Merry, and Rosie at a pub. Though I didn’t really feel that scene added that much. In fact, I felt there was a little too much humor added into the Hobbiton scenes now.
There is a wonderful scene when Frodo and Sam first set out on their journey when they see Wood Elves going to the Grey Havens, and Sam mentions how it makes him sad and mentions the towers near the see. Great foreshadowing of Arwen’s plight and the plight of the Elves, and maybe even of Frodo leaving at the end of the books. We also get to see good interaction between Sam and Frodo when Sam tries to go to sleep on the ground under a tree and says he can’t. This is another instance where we see the very close relationship between Sam and Frodo. Although, no place do we outright hear that Sam is Frodo’s gardener.
The journey from when we first meet the Black Riders/Nazgul to Bree is pretty much the same. There are a few more lines at Bree here and there, but things are pretty much the same there.
There is more to the fight scenes with the troll in Moria and to the fight scene at the breaking of the Fellowship at Amon Hen. There are also new lines at the gates of Moria, with a funny exchange between Legolas and Gimli and between Gandalf and Pippin.
We also learn that the riches of Moria was mithril, which makes Frodo’s wearing a mithril coat much more meaningful. Gandalf even says that Bilbo’s mithril coat was worth more than the whole Shire.
There is much more of Boromir’s temptation by the ring, beginning with a new scene at the Council of Elrond, in which he almost takes the ring until Gandalf utters the Black Speech. Boromir seems much more sinister and tortured in this version. I really felt like he was a traitor in the midst of the Fellowship.
There is even more characterization of Gollumhttp://theonering.net/movie/char/smeagol.html. Gandalf tells us that his real name is Smeagol and that he has been tormented by the Ring. And we get to see that Gollumhttp://theonering.net/movie/char/smeagol.html followed the Fellowship down the Anduin, when the Fellowship makes a stop for the night.
We get more background on Aragon, seeing him at his mother’s grave in Rivendell, his interaction over Arwen with Galadriel in the Lothlorien gift-giving scene, his singing of Luthien and Beren after passing through the Midgewater Marshes.
There are many more humorous lines here and there throughout.
In some ways I liked the theatrical version better, with the much more streamlined plot, but in some ways I liked this one better, with much more characterization. In short, buy both DVDs.