I had to borrow an image for this post because of some reasons set forth below, but I like this one because it reminds me of one of my few photo manips
Fate was contrary last night and today as to my internet ( and my complete incompetence in figuring out how to download BOTFA EE and the I Tunes Extras – I think it’s happening now, though I’m not quite sure). But I couldn’t wait, so, with infinite patience, and using a different, and slower modem, I streamed the film and hand-picked some of the extras to watch. ( From what I can see on the web, I should have selected some additional portions, because I missed a few things, like the You Tube BTS portion on filming Thorin’s death (link now available on Me and Richard)
I was keenest to find extras featuring Richard Armitage ( where is that death scene, anyway?), so those were the portions I sought out. While there can never be enough of him in these BTS extras, there was plenty of screen time – him as him, and as Thorin – so I wasn’t disappointed. And who knows? There may be more I haven’t gotten to yet.
Some of what he spoke about in the extras, he’d already mentioned many times in interviews, but actually seeing how, for example, he constructed the “Thorin’s recovery” scene was fascinating, In fact, the whole way that scene evolved, Peter Jackson’s creative process in thinking about it and changing his ideas, was a treat.
Something that jumped out at me watching the Extras, was how relaxed and fun-loving Richard Armitage could be, compared to how distant he seemed in the AUJ extras. Here, he seemed almost as playful as in the DOS extras, notwithstanding the seriousness of some of the interview portions. I think this had a lot to do with having a year or so and one release under his belt, since most of the Extras were filmed during the pick-up period.
I’ve seen maybe four of the segments, and found myself laughing out loud at some of the antics and mishaps, not all of which had to do with Richard Armitage. There’s a bit when Thranduil and Bard are negotiating with Thorin in front of Erebor. Thorin’s elk, a horse named Moose, was going off script, and eventually, some directorial changes had to be made to solve the problem. I don’t know which was funnier- watching the horse, or watching the solution.
As most of you know, we finally get to see the dwarves in the goat-driven chariot in the EE, and there is a very funny bit – even the actors cracked up, with some dialogue between Dwalin and Kili.
Also outstanding, but not funny, were the BTS segments showing the practice, graphics and then executing the final showdown between Thorin and Azog.
The bit on the iconic “out from the gates” scene (my favorite) when the 13 dwarves join the battle, is as exciting in planning as it was in the actual film. My positive feelings about this scene was affirmed when the actors, themselves said they, too, knew it was a scene they’d been waiting waiting for throughout the shoot. And some questions were answered, especially why, though we’ve seen the dwarves donning and wearing full battle gear when in Erebor, they were virtually unprotected in the actual battle.
Undeniably, when filming and editing these extras, Peter Jackson had in mind that this was not only the cast and crew’s farewell after a long journey, but ours as well, and he didn’t stint at all employing what was, I thought, successful sentimentality. I actually wept more watching parts of the Extras than I did in the film, itself. Very poignant was the filming of Bilbo’s goodbye to the Dwarves – all six versions, and Graham McTavish’s last shot, as well as his good-bye to cast and crew.
There were also some scenes from previous extras, and, near the end, a montage of some of the earlier extras, including Dwarf boot camp, scenes filmed in Mirkwood and others. It reminded me a little of the old Kodak commercials ( These are the Times of Your Life) which, without fail, choked me up.
One segment of the Extras is a chronicle of the last day of shooting, documented by Jackson y on his Facebook page with photos and blurbs throughout the day. Watching it today was almost like reliving that day ( fans were posting like crazy), especially the post of Richard Armitage’s last shot and the wonderful candid photo of a group of dwarves, including Armitage, bleary-eyed and maybe a little drunk, at the end of the wrap party.
What the Extras also showed was even more footage that didn’t make it into the final extended edition, including some scenes with Beorn and Gandalf, and as you’ll see in the Thorin’s death scene You Tube video, some unselected content.
Overall, even with my really inferior and incomplete viewing experience, I love, love, love how Peter Jackson took fans with him on the entire journey of making these three films. Today’s experience frankly washed away some of the recent Richard Arimitage fandom dirt , especially since Thorin Oakenshield, the least warm and fuzzy character in the trilogy, seems to have a particularly warm and fuzzy effect on the Armitage fandom.
As to the Extended Edition of the film, itself, it was better with the additional footage, especially all the battle scenes. I still think the funerals should have been in the theater cut of the film, but I am underwhelmed by the funeral as it is. I’m not sure why. Maybe I just don’t like Dwarven funeral rites, or maybe, including more of the characters as mourners would have suited me more.
On the other hand, I can understand the choice to downplay the funeral, and even to cut it, because it is far less emotional than Thorin’s death scene or Bilbo’s good-bye, which bookended it. Maybe a schmalzty funeral would have been too much.
Either way, I think fans are going to be very satisfied with the extras, and fairly happy with the EE, which is an improvement over what I thought was already a good film.