I meant to blog on this earlier. Last Saturday, I stayed in and watched the documentaries on my Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition DVD. I have to amend that and say I watched some of the documentaries. There is over 6 hours of extra material on there, although I only watched about half of it.
The more I watched, the more impressed I became. The filmmakers spared no effort or expense in making this film. They cut no corners. Every prop in the movie was made just for the production. They didn’t pop down to the local grocery and say, “This looks enough like a hobbit widget.” Plus they had to make everything twice, in two different sizes to make it look like the hobbits were smaller than human. And of course, there were the thousands of gallons of latex for masks and prosthetics and such. There were the armorers who worked full-time for months making real weapons. They actually found the spot for Hobbiton and planted gardens there a full year before filiming so that it would look natural.
Another interesting tidbit in the DVD documentary was the revelation from the screenwriters that every time they attempted to veer too far away from the book, they felt themselves writing it back to the text. On the one hand, you could say the Lord wanted the film not to lose its evangelical and mystical appeal. Or you could say that a master of literature and language labored for decades on the story, so it’s unlikely a few screenwriters are going to improve on it in a few months.
The only thing missing so far from the documentaries is a discussion of the use of Tolkien’s languages in the movie. Seeing as how language is so central to Tolkien’s motivation, it would be a strange omission. Hopefully it’s either on the rest of this DVD or will be on the Two Towers DVD.