The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Special Extended Edition Peter Jackson

Almost a decade has passed since the announcement was made that New Line was financing a three-film series on The Lord of the Rings and that the reigns had been handed to unknown New Zealand director Peter Jackson, whose most mainstream success to that point had been the Michael J. Fox vehicle The Frighteners. Fans of Jackson's Heavenly Creatures cheered, while those more in the know, who imagined Gandalf romping through the backstage of Jackson's adult-oriented puppet parody Meet the Feebles, snickered. Now the journey is complete, the press has been massive and the superlatives cupboard is not only bare but journalists have to reach for the top shelf where we hide the novelty compliments, the ones that only come with a dose of sarcasm: greatest film in the history of the medium, greatest director since Cecil B. DeMille (in itself both pretentious and meaningless since 95 percent of Jackson's audience has never seen a DeMille picture and wouldn't know him from Rufus T. Firefly). How about simply the greatest creative accomplishment since the publication of its source material, J.R.R. Tolkien's life work? Once again, Peter Jackson has taken one of the most successful theatrically released epics in history, added nearly an hour in length as an extended cut, and made it better. To do it with this third instalment is his neatest trick yet, since in theatres The Return of the King (despite all those Oscars) was the most disjointed of the three films. Now balancing out all those "endings" are new beginnings (a relationship between Eowyn and Faramir), more endings that come at the beginning (the resolution for Sauroman and Wormtongue) and more of the touching character moments that have fleshed out each of Jackson's Special Editions. In terms of chronicling the technical achievement, which has been documented in early editions of these discs, Return's two discs of Appendixes take on two forms: chronicling the end of the process, particularly for the actors, and the race against the clock to finish the most ambitious film of the three. (An anecdote that Peter Jackson hadn't seen the finished film at the Wellington world premiere is certainly lent credence by the time crunch outlined in these extras.) The overwhelming amount of material isn't meant for a weekend's play — these are important historical artefacts that chronicle the creation of simply one of the greatest moments in film history. Peter Jackson filmed the unfilmable. He brought to life one of the greatest stories ever told. He did it in a country so beautiful it couldn't be made anywhere else; in the process he single-handedly created a New Zealand film industry. He did it in the face of unbelievable odds, made himself extremely rich, and pleased film executives, film geeks and casual fans. And unlike Tolkien, it wasn't his life's work. He's just getting started. (Alliance Atlantis)