Movie Reviews

Lord Of The Rings Extended Editions: 10 Most Important New Scenes And How They Change The Story

Summary

  • The extended editions of the
    Lord of the Rings
    movies provide important context, character development, and story details missing from theatrical versions.
  • Scenes like Bilbo working on his book, Frodo and Sam seeing the Elves leaving Middle Earth, and Gandalf explaining Gondor’s decline add depth to the narrative.
  • Key deleted scenes like Faramir’s flashback, Legolas and Gimli’s competitions, and other interactions enrich the characters and storylines.

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The extended editions of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies include many important scenes that change or at least provide valuable additions to the story. This is why it is so difficult to watch the theatrical versions after having seen the extended ones. While some people might be skeptical about the four-hour runtimes, once they have seen certain scenes, it is clear how important they are to the narrative. Jackson, like most filmmakers adapting a beloved novel, was forced to cut elements from J. R. R. Tolkien’s complex world to make the story work in a movie theater.

However, the movies still lose something with every deleted scene. The most important examples of every extra scene in the Lord of the Rings extended editions provide more context for several characters’ storylines, further develop settings and relationships, provide a clearer picture of Middle Earth’s tone, and address famous moments from the books that people wondered about when they were missing. Most people would prefer to watch the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings when the abridged versions are lacking such major story elements.

Movie

Theatrical edition runtime

Extended edition runtime

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

2h 58m

3h 28m

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

2h 59m

3h 43m

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

3h 21m

4h 11m

10 Bilbo Working On His Book

The Fellowship Of The Ring

Following the foreboding prologue recounting the history of the One Ring and the previous war, Fellowship of the Ring makes an abrupt change when it transitions to the cheery setting of the Shire. The second scene of the extended edition details this change a little bit more by showing Bilbo (Ian Holm) working on his memoir and having him narrate the Hobbits’ lifestyle, dialogue which is lifted directly from the book. This description drives home the point the scene is trying to make about Hobbits being detached from the violence and politics of the rest of Middle Earth.

However, Bilbo’s character, if nothing else, lets the audience know that the simple Hobbits still have the potential to be great heroes. There are various references to Bilbo’s adventures in the Lord of the Rings movies, but showing his study littered with maps as he works on his memoir is an illustrative one. The “Concerning Hobbits” scene is ultimately an effective way to introduce the Hobbits and their place in this world, with subtle nods to their surprising nuances.

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9 Frodo & Sam See The Elves Leaving For The Grey Havens

The Fellowship Of The Ring

The scene where Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) see the Wood Elves bound for the harbor to leave Middle Earth forever is a melancholy one that conveys some sense early on of the tone Tolkien strove to achieve in his books. It is before Frodo and Sam have even run into Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), which is possibly why it was cut, to not confuse audiences about the geography of the Shire. However, the early appearance of the Elves sets up a bigger motif that will continue throughout the trilogy.

Somewhat separate from the literal threat of the series is the story of one thing ending and another beginning. Before the Council of Elrond happens, and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) officially informs everyone that the One Ring has been found, the Elves are already leaving. They know that their age in Middle Earth is ending. Sam says that “it makes [him] sad” to see them go, which is the very point. This scene’s inclusion illustrates the series’ theme of the bittersweetness of this kind of change.

8 Éowyn & Aragorn Discuss His Lineage

The Two Towers

This scene provides some vital context about Aragorn and explains how he carries himself throughout the series.

Éowyn’s (Miranda Otto) conversation with Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) includes some exposition that non-readers would probably never have gotten, because the other characters presumably already know some of this information. The conversation starts because Éowyn is naturally curious, prompting her to ask Aragorn about his age. The scene therefore reveals that Aragorn is more than 80 years old, as a member of the otherwise lost Dúnedain race.

This scene provides vital context about Aragorn and explains how he carries himself throughout the series. It is easier to see how he interacts with other functionally immortal characters as an equal when he also has the wisdom of a long life. The conversation generally enriches Aragorn’s backstory by revealing something about his past and how he became the depicted character — through decades of brutal battle experience.

7 Théodred’s Funeral

The Two Towers

The funeral for King Théoden’s (Bernard Hill) son Théodred (Paris Howe Strewe) is powerful and illustrates the losses due to the conflict with Sauron like few other scenes in the trilogy. While they are still royalty, Théoden and Éowyn are mortal humans who have some understanding of the families of soldiers who would die in this war. The grief in this scene is something that isn’t entirely reconcilable with the immortal Elves, whose sadness is always different in the movies.

Éowyn’s lament is one of the scene’s key elements; it is also a unique display of the culture of one of Middle Earth’s kingdoms. Additionally, including this one scene addressing Théoden’s son’s death helps his character, so it doesn’t look like he moved on from this so quickly. Overall, Théodred’s funeral shows just one life lost in a ravaged kingdom, with everyone present heartbroken and exhausted. The only other part of the trilogy that can match it in terms of its harrowing nature is Frodo and Sam’s despair as they near the end of the journey.

6 Gandalf Tells Pippin About Gondor’s Decline

The Return Of The King

Gandalf’s explanation about the decline of Gondor over time equates to some more context about why it is so important that Aragorn reclaims the throne. The circumstances of Gondor arise based on there being a single, divine lineage of kings who must rule for the kingdom to flourish. Gandalf’s exposition reveals a long line of corrupt lords who ruled, with Denethor (John Noble), the latest Steward of Gondor, only being symptomatic of a bigger problem.

This scene raises the stakes of the “return of the king,” making it more necessary than ever. If humans are to rule Middle Earth after the Elves depart, then Gondor needs to be as strong as it once was. This scene is a necessary addition to the story by providing just a bit more information about Aragorn’s storyline, as well as revealing more about Middle Earth’s history within the movies.

5 Faramir’s Flashback

The Two Towers

Late in The Two Towers, the audience knows that the corrupt government of Gondor is a problem. However, Faramir’s (David Wenham) flashback featuring Boromir (Sean Bean) reveals that Boromir was given direct orders by his father to take the One Ring by force when he attended the Council of Elrond. It completely changes the meaning of everything that happens with Boromir in Fellowship of the Ring and proves how corrupt men have become and why their kingdom needs to be saved.

Additionally, the flashback contributes to Faramir’s characterization in a valuable way by actually showing his relationship with Boromir, rather than Faramir just talking about it in the present. While Denethor is generally terrible to his second son, it is clear that Faramir and Boromir were close and had a loving, supportive relationship. It helps explain Faramir’s initial animosity toward Frodo and Sam for being even minimally involved in his brother’s death before he realizes the truth and helps them escape.

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4 Legolas & Gimli After Helm’s Deep

The Two Towers

The recurring joke of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) competing against each other in every battle to see who can kill the most Orcs constitute some of the funniest moments in the movies, making it surprising that they weren’t all included in the theatrical versions to being with. In addition to Gimli updating Legolas at the beginning of the battle, they meet after it is over to compare their final counts. Gimli wins by only one Orc.

However, Legolas is determined to catch up and shoots another Orc who he claims is still alive, demonstrating how competitive the two are. At least one other scene showing Legolas and Gimli’s friendship was cut (the drinking game from Return of the King) when these are some of the story’s most valuable moments. As the Elves and Dwarves are set up as historic rivals in this series, all the scenes that demonstrate how Legolas and Gimli have overcome their initial distrust of each other are important.

3 Faramir & Éowyn’s Relationship

The Return Of The King

The scene between Faramir and Éowyn being left out leaves both their storylines as loose threads.

Like in the source material, Faramir and Éowyn meet and fall in love when they are both recovering from severe injuries after the final battle. They are later married and attend Aragorn’s coronation as a couple. Presumably, after the conclusion of the series, they would have lived somewhere in Gondor due to Faramir being a respected leader there, while Éowyn’s brother Éomer (Karl Urban) would have become the King of Rohan after their uncle’s death.

Faramir and Éowyn are both shown to be discontented people who have to let go of an old, flawed dream. Éowyn wanted to be with Aragorn, who was always in love with Arwen (Liv Tyler); Faramir wanted to impress his father, who never deserved his love. The scene between Faramir and Éowyn being left out makes both their storylines lose threads. There are some problems in the book with Éowyn, who is a skilled warrior, settling for domesticity. However, her and Faramir’s romance provides the two characters with some closure and a happy ending.

2 Gandalf Tells Aragorn Sauron Fears Him

The Two Towers

After his return, Gandalf tells Aragorn that Sauron fears the heir of Númenor and what it could mean if he reclaimed his throne and led the human armies to victory. Throughout the scene, Aragorn silently accepts everything Gandalf says, contributing to his characterization. Establishing that Sauron does view Aragorn as a threat also further illustrates the importance of this storyline when the audience might believe all that matters is that the One Ring is destroyed.

The conversation also sheds some light on the status of Frodo’s quest, as Gandalf states that Sauron would not yet have even thought it possible that the armies of Middle Earth planned to destroy the One Ring. Gandalf also believes that Frodo is on his own, but Aragorn tells him that Sam accompanied him. It is a strange moment that proves Gandalf does not know everything and perhaps leaves him marveling at the ways of Hobbits once again.

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1 Saruman’s Death

The Return Of The King

Saruman (Christopher Lee) is also an unfinished storyline in the theatrical version of Return of the King. He simply disappears after the victory at the end of Two Towers and is never seen again. While the additional scene in the extended edition of Return of the King is different from the book — in which Saruman flees the battlefield and infiltrates the Shire — it at least assures the audience that he has been defeated and that his story is done.

Despite his loss, Saruman still stands proud and refuses to help Gandalf. The scene is a classic demonstration of the moral fiber of the heroes since they are willing to give both Saruman and Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif) a second chance. However, Grima kills Saruman and is then shot by Legolas. Scenes like this give fans a more complete version of the cinematic retelling of The Lord of the Rings, making it well worth it to watch 12 hours of footage.

  • lord of the rings

    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a Fantasy film by director Peter Jackson and is based on The Two Towers book by author J. R. R. Tolkien. A sequel to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, this installment continues Frodo’s journey to take the One Ring to Mount Doom to destroy it.

    Release Date
    January 15, 2002

    Runtime
    179minutes

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