Anonymous writes: I don’t know if I’m at the right address, but I’ve recently seen the brand-new extended cut of The Return of the King, in my professional capacity, and I thought I’d let know you know about it. I had seen the theatrical version once in the theatre, and two more times with my kids, and I must admit that the longer cut is far superior, for it ties everything you could consider loose-ends, it extends what you thought what great, and it adds awesome new scenes. Many characters benefit from this extended cut, but Faramir, Denethor, Eowyn and Merry really stand out.
After having watched the extended version, my favorite character became Denethor. His new scenes gave him such depth that I couldn’t help but wonder why in the world they had to cut them. We learn more about Denethor than about any other character, in my opinion, and that’s saying a lot. We learn new things about him not only from his extended and new scenes, but from Faramir, which I thought was a nice touch. Also, I must credit the actor who played Denethor for the coolest line in the whole trilogy: In this extended cut, when he learns that the first levels of the city are in flames and that the men are deserting them, he says something like ‘Why do the fools fly? They should stand and burn, for burn they must.’ Awesome. Oh, and he has a heated exchange of words with his son that stand out because it’s very dramatic. It even reintroduces Sean Bean as Borimir in a most unexpected way!
The House of Healing is back in as well, which is good, because it allows you to breath a little between the two big battles of the movie. Aragorn shows his healing skills, which allow us to realize that he IS really fitted to be king, and not just a wannabe. This new segment also has tender moments between Faramir and Eowyn while they’re recovering from their battle wounds, which serves a nice conclusion for both characters and allow the actors who play them to shine.
Of course you must have heard by now that Saruman has been reinserted into the movie, but let me tell you, you’re in for a treat! The sequence is over five minutes in lenght but I would have taken more…Saruman tries to rally Gandalf once again to his cause, but Gandalf doesn’t fall in the trap. Also, Gandalf finally gets the chance to establish himself as the ruling wizard of Middle earth, when he says something like ‘I am not Gandalf the Grey whom you betrayed, I am Gandalf the White and I cast you out of the order.’ From this point the sequence takes a dramatic turn and you’re on the edge of your seat until Saruman meets his fate. A sticky fate that turns him to dust!
A new character is introduced in the extended version: the Mouth of Sauron. He comes out of the black gate riding a huge black horse and basically he speaks for his master (who is after all a huge flaming eye!). The Mouth taunts the members of the fellowship and makes them believe Frodo has died after endless torture. He has particularly gruesome words for Aragorn.
What more can I say without dragging too long? The Paths of the Dead become Indiana Jones-like with new perils and booby-traps, there is a fight sequence with some pirates which was cool, because it shows you how Aragorn was able to take over the whole fleet of ships that bring him to Minas Tirith, Frodo and Sam’s journey becomes so much more dramatic and their trip across the burning lands of Mordor is extended a lot, there is a whole lot more to learn about the backstory of Minas Tirith, Aragorn confronts his archenemy Sauron in the flaming palantir and Gandalf even faces a new challenge when the mighty witch-king lands in front of him and confronts him (a sequence you must see before you die, it’s simply too cool).