Thursday, November 7, 2013

Give-Peter-Jackson-Money Day

So, Tuesday saw the release of the EXTENDED EDITION of the first HOBBIT movie. And of course that means I had to run an errand to Best Buy to pick it up that same day. Except that they didn't make it easy. When the first film came out on dvd earlier this year, it had its own display stand. This time it was tucked away among the other new releases. Last time they had a stack of copies; this time only a few. Disappointingly for me, they only had two options: blue ray and three-d, and they were out of the blue-ray, having apparently only stocked about four or five copies of each. What I wanted was the dvd: while we have a blue-ray player, I wanted the option to watch this on my computer when travelling. But I certainly didn't want anything in three-d; not only do we not have the right kind of screen for viewing it, but I don't like three-d effects (hard on the eyes).

Which means that, while I want to support our failing megamarts as much as the next guy, I had to pass and made my way up from Tukwila to Renton to the Frye's there, where I found they'd re-arranged all their dvd section since the last time I was there (late August/early September). Once again I was unable to locate where they had the dvd I was looking for, but a helpful employee showed me the spot, and their (modest) display on an end-cap which had all three options: dvd, blue-ray, and three-d. I got the dvd and over lunch did a quick skim through the new/extended scenes, watching the whole thing through that night. Now I'm working my way through the extras, which take up three whole disks by themselves ("Appendix Seven" and "Appendix Eight", respectively).

I know some will be looking at all the new material on this extended edition carefully; thought I'd just quickly list the ones I noticed. All are Spoilers, so avoid if you're planning to watch the extended edition for yourself and haven't yet.

--the Thror/Thranduil scene is slightly longer, showing how the quarrel arose between the elves and dwarves.
--we're shown in a few glimpses how the Men of Dale attempted the defense of their city
--Old Took's party is briefly shown, fireworks and Belladonna and (very) young Bilbo and all. The whole thing only lasts a minute or so.
--we see more of Hobbiton on the day of the Unexpected Party, including Bilbo buying the fish he never gets to eat for his supper that night.
--Bofur's wound and disability are briefly explained
--we get just a little bit more set-up coming into Rivendell.
--the banquet scene at Rivendell continues longer, at first along the same lines as before, with the dwarves very much out of water, but eventually they cross the line to boorish and crass. Who knew they'd been on their best behavior at Bilbo's? We do get to hear another dwarf-song (The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon), not as good as either of the ones we've heard before. later we get glimpses of dwarves bathing in fountains (a scene that in Tolkien's book appears at the Carrock).
--we see Bilbo wandering Rivendell, delighting in the place, and a pleasant little conversation between Elrond and Bilbo. This is by far the best part of all the new material.
--we're told explicitly that there's hereditary madness in Thorin's line, to which his grandfather and then his father both succumbed. I found this interesting, since I made the argument in HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT that Thorin's behavior once he sees the hoard is best explained as a kind of madness. There's also mention made of the Ring of Thrain, the last of the Seven dwarf-rings, and its unknown fate (a clear set-up for events to come in, I assume, the next movie).
--the Great Goblin has another song, but this is one of those cases where less would have been more.
--we see onscreen something we've been told in the ancillary material: that Nori is a thief. We see him nick a salt-cellar at Rivendell, and the goblins who capture him empty out a bag of elven candlesticks and the like.

There are a few other bits, but that's most of it. Some are great, like Bilbo's solitary ramble delighting in Rivendell. Some are bad, like the dwarves acting like members of the Drones Club, or the extra bits of the Great Goblin. Most of the rest are nice little bits, helpful (like the bit about Bofur) but not essential.

All in all, I'm glad to have this.  And of course it whets my appetite for the second film, now only a little over a month away.

More as I work my way through the film-Appendices.

--John R.


Timrod said...

Thanks for posting this and saving me the trouble of acquiring it myself. Curious though, you mention something about ancillary material wherein it is insinuated that Nori is a thief; what is this ancillary material to which you refer? Something in the book?

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Timrod

By 'ancillary material' I meant the movie tie-in books by Weta Workshop, Brian Sibley, and Jude Fisher released about the same time as the first HOBBIT movie, about a year ago now.

In particular I was thinking of the passage in Sibley's OFFICIAL MOVIE GUIDE where Jed Brophy, who plays Nori, describes his character as "a kleptomaniac -- well, let's not mince words, a thief!" (p. 102). Later he expands upon this:

". . . as far as Bilbo Baggins is concerned, he [Nori] cannot understand why he [Bilbo] has been chosen for the job of burglar. Nori is a thief and there is a saying: set a thief to catch a thief, meaning that one thief can always identify another. Nori is not convinced that Bilbo's particularly good as a thief -- especially since he's managed to take some stuff from Bag End that Bilbo hasn't even noticed has gone missing! Apart from which, why employ a thief at all when there's already one in the company?" (p. 103)

Despite being told (offscreen) this was part of the character's background, there's no actual evidence for it in onscreen in the theatrical relaease. But now there is, in the extended edition, twice: once at Rivendell (when Nori nicks a salt-cellar) and once at Goblin-town when their captors empty out his sack of loot, including a 'Second Age' Rivendell candle holder, which the Goblin-King austentatiously tosses aside ('couldn't give it away').

Hope this helps