Mon, 07 Mar 2005

The Two Towers: The Purist Edit

They gave me back my story.

Ever since I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in elementary school, I've loved Middle Earth. Like many people, I waited with anticipation and dread for the movies by Peter Jackson. Would he mangle it as horribly as Bakshi? Would they actually be good movies? The Fellowship of the Ring came out, and I was, by and large, pleased. Jackson had omitted some things and rearranged some others, but the result was good. There was Tolkien's work, on the big screen and amazing faithful to the text.

Then came The Two Towers.

At the time, I wrote up a page about what I thought of the movie. Though that writeup is now lost, it can be summed up pretty succinctly: I didn't like it. Jackson took great liberties with the story, adding bits that were never there and changing bits that were, sometimes for no apparent reason. It was bad in a very annoying way, because the parts that were right were very good. A lot of people had the same reaction as I did, and there was much complaining.

At least one person did a bit more than complain. The Two Towers: The Purist Edit is a reedit of the movie, in a similar spirit to The Phantom Edit. It removes the worst of Jackson's additions--Aragorn's warg battle, the dwarf jokes, the Elves at Helm's Deep, among others--and fixes some of the changes--the Ents now make the right decision, for instance. I can't emphasize how pleased I am with this edit. It's much closer to the books that I've loved for so long.

It's not perfect. It's from a screener copy from one of the big awards ceremonies, so it occasionally has "For your consideration" written across the bottom of the screen. Because it's essentially from the theatrical version, the editors didn't have all the extra footage in the Extended Edition to draw on, which was too bad in several cases. While a lot of the editing is pretty good, some causes feelings of abruptness and draws attention the fact that things were excised. In a couple of instances, people have their lines dubbed over. Since the lips no longer match the words, the dubs are painfully obvious. The editors did a good job of removing the elves from Helms Deep. That means that they cut out a lot of footage, though, and the battle doesn't have the same grandiose feel to it as in the original movie. It still works, but it's not the same. Because of all the various cuts, the Purist Edit runs about 40 minutes shorter than the theatrical release. And not everything was fixed. Fir instance, Helm's Deep is still won by Gandalf riding in with the Rohirrim, not by the Ents and Huorns.

But the Purist Edit is still a vast improvement, story-wise over Jackson's telling. It's a lot closer to the movie I wish he'd made. Thank you, whoever you are, for making this edit.

Phil! Gold