The Return of the King

I’ve been laid low for the last 48 hours with flu, but curiously that hasn’t meant that I’ve been stuck in bed. In fact I’ve found myself sleeping for 4 hours getting up for 2 or 3, and so on. I’ve tried reading, but that doesn’t work, so I’ve mostly been watching the bonus features on the The Return of the King (Extended Edition) DVD. I’d watched the film itself on Thursday, with some friends, and now I find that dipping into the various documentaries is exactly the right speed for my fevered brain at 4 in the morning. Among the high points:

  • Home of the Horse Lords, about the horses in the film – their selection and training, and the extraordinary actor-horse relationships that developed. The dedication of the equestrian extras. The breathtaking work of the stunt rider who doubled for Gandalf on Shadowfax. Stunning.
  • In the sequence about the world-wide premieres of RotK (towards the end of The End of All Things), the Norwegian event was unexpectedly special. It was held in a sports arena, with a huge screen, and before the film was shown 200 volunteers reenacted the key scenes from the first two films.
  • The Abandoned concept material about a version of the battle at the Black Gate in which Aragorn would battle Sauron. WHAT?! How could they even think of betraying such a key element of Tolkien’s vision by rendering immaterial evil as concrete? Fortunately, sanity was restored.
  • The documentary material on Cameron Duncan, a teenage New Zealand film-maker who succumbed to cancer while LotR was being filmed. Peter Jackson introduces a tenuous connection with the film (to do with the closing song), but he didn’t need to do that. After pulling off such a stupendous achievement, he’s entitled to put anything he wants in the DVD extras.
  • Odd things, like the fact that the scene with Sam and Frodo on the stairs (when Frodo sends Sam away) was shot in two sessions a full year apart.

So that’s how I’m spending my time. Well, that and watching Tottenham’s 5-2 win over Everton.