Over the past few weeks, I have found within myself a strange, growing... blase-ness... about the extended version of The Return of the King. This is, of course, something that kind of threw me for a loop. Since the release of the theatrical version, I had been dying to see the extended edition. For some reason, however, something in side of me kind of made me feel less and less excited about it as its release date approached.
Of course, this did not effect me terribly much from a behavioral perspective... when the set came out, although I didn't have enough money to purchase it, I bombarded the local videostores in search of a rental copy. I did this compulsively, and with a horrible sinking feeling when I realized that none of them had any. It's like there was a desperation just under the surface. Yet, whenever I thought of anything Lord of the Rings-related, I would think of the extended version of ROTK and have a sort of... I don't know what it was. Kind of an indifference to it. Nevertheless, as soon as I had enough money in my pocket to purchase it comfortably, it was a done deal.
Now, I have no problem admitting that for the past four years, my life has somewhat revolved around these films and their music. I attribute the release of The Two Towers at the end of 2002 with my ability to get through one of the most trying times in my life. The inspiration and sense of spiritual contentment that I would get from these movies and their scores can not easily be measured. Why, then, would this "whatever" attitude show up right now?
I realized very clearly what it was last night. I went on a short errand, and made a stopover at the Tower Records I used to work at to see if they happened to have the Superbit edition of Spider-Man 2, which had been eluding me. They did, and while I was there, I took a gander at the now-meager soundtrack section (how depressing... that was once the greatest collection of film music available on Long Island, and I had regulars that would come far and wide to see what it was I had managed to get in for that month), and I saw the Silva Screen recording of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, a 2 disc set I had read about months ago, but hasn't been been available in this country until now. Silva is a company that specializes in film music re-recordings, and they have a lot of compilations. They are often criticized for their habit of putting the same tracks on different comps, so if a collector goes through their Silva CDs, they will find many selections in common among their discs. However, some of their re-recordings, particularly those of Nic Raine conducting the film music of John Barry, to be outstanding. They have produced two "holy grail" albums for Raise the Titanic and Walkabout; Raine himself is an orchestrator for Barry, so he has a keen grasp on that composer's work.
The Silva edition of LOTR consists entirely of re-recordings of the album tracks (no new material here), but there was a specific attempt to make a very different recording than the original soundtracks. While there are some standouts - the album opens with a track called "The Fellowship" which is a legitimate alternative interpretation, the booming Fellowship theme and delicate accompaniment to the soprano in "Forth Eorlingas" is awesome, the instrumental version of "Gollum's Song" is divine - for the most part this new CD begs for Shore's more flowing touch for the more active music. I don't regret having made this purchase, but I would dissuade any casual listener from it.
However, listening to this version of the music forced me to consider the scores, and what made them so satisfying not just as film music, but as a musical work in the first place. One of the main elements that the sequel scores had going for them was that of anticipation. For a film music enthusiast, the Gondor theme, which is heard quietly under Boromir's speech at the Council of Elrond, again briefly in the extended version and again twice in the extended version of The Two Towers, was a piece of music that was full of potential energy. The bold and forceful version heard as Gandalf and Pippin enter Minas Tirith was like taking a veil off of the theme, and its euphoric presentation during the lighting of the beacons was the climax of a particular aspect of the score or the entire trilogy. By sowing the seeds two years earlier, Shore was able to create something that rewards that type of scrutiny, as well as working perfectly as dramatic accompaniment. This gives this aspect of the films a depth that is seen in the costume and production design, that is a sense of completeness about the world the film takes place in.
This type of thinking brought me to my final revelation about why I was feeling so weird about the extended version of ROTK: EE.
For three years, I have had the delivery of these texts that I was able to sink my teeth into on so many different levels... the art, the scope, the myth, the story, the characters, the music, the design, the unity... and the effect these films have had on audiences was phenomenal. I know, damn it, because I saw these films with quite a few. The extended versions were no less revelatory, often satifsying the Tolkienite in me without sacrificing the weight of the epic.
And this is it.
There will be no more.
Sure, there's been talk of trying to make a movie of The Hobbit, and I'd love to see it done by Jackson and his people. I'm a big Ian Holm fan anyway, as many of you know. But, as good as The Hobbit is, it's not The Lord of the Rings. And at some point this weekend, I will see and hear new LOTR material for the last time. And there's a part of me that really wants to stave off that moment as long as possible. My very anticipation had converted itself into apprehension.
However, listening to the Silva record, and viewing the fifth DVD in the ROTK box set that is devoted to Howard Shore and The Lord of the Rings symphony, I found myself, once again, in a fever to see this movie. Naturally, I won't be able to for two days now... but maybe that's a good thing. When I get home and finally cue it up on the machine, I'll be back to where I was when the third film first came out...
"Frodo, quick! Come here! Hide! There's another one of those dorky fans!"
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Speaking of dorky fanboy stuff...
Tim found this item while in Barnes & Noble searching for Cranium expansion packs. He had it gift wrapped by people who were doing a charity thing for abused women - the irony of it being a game about a voracious sexual predator was something we both relished later - and brought it to me last night as a holiday present (I've already promised him an optical mouse because his old school ball mouse is totally fucked up, and I'd forgotten how annoying those were anyway).
There are three questions per card of varying difficulty, a DVD with scenes from the films - this is actually really cool because all of the Bond films except for Casino Royale, which doesn't really count, and Another Thunderball... er, I mean Never Say Never Again... are the same company, so there aren't the type of licensing problems that limited the choices on the original "Scene It" game - "Q Cards," each of which have a gadget on them that will move you forward or back or effect other players or something (like a "Chance" card in Monopoly, only with Q stuff). The best part, though, are the game pieces themselves. There is Bond, of course, an Aston Martin DB5, a martini glass and a chick with a bikini and a gun.
This game is great, although I only know of two people I know who have a prayer of matching Tim or I, and that would be Dave and suitboyskin (who has the martini glass reserved). So far, this is the king of the holiday gifts I got, mostly because it's so specifically such a perfect gift for me to have gotten from Tim.
"Hock. Big Hock."
* * *
My brother has been doing the whole "I'm turning into a sullen teenager" thing which is driving my parents up the wall, but I am finding rather amusing. I, of course, don't have to live with the sullen teenager, so I don't have to deal with his antics on a regular basis, and so I can enjoy his obnoxious behavior repercussion-free. I suppose perspective is everything, and I remember being his age and thinking that everything I did had the most grave import, and that it was important to remind everyone around you how sophisticated you were. Usually, all you accomplished was demonstrating that you had some sort of bead on pop culture that your parents may not have, and that your "highly individual" way of thinking was actually rather pack-like in many respects. This is certainly the case with Zach.
What can I say? Teenagers are funny when they're not in your way.
My parents' dog, Willie, loves me. The funny thing is that lately he has begun to purr when he's happy. I've never met a dog that purred before.
This creature is a mutant dog.