Lord of the Rings, The: Book III - The Treason of Isengard
Return of the King
- NTSC DVD-5
- The edit begins with Aragorn facing off against the Uruk-Hai on Amon Hen, and we see the entire fight sequence at Parth Galen (with Frodo’s appearances cut)
- “The Two Towers” title added over an overhead shot of Uruk-Hai storming down towards Boromir.
- Most shots of hobbits throwing rocks have been cut.
- Aragorn’s fight with Lurtz is shortened – Lurtz doesn’t lick his own blood off Aragorn’s dagger, nor does he pull Aragorn’s sword deeper into his own stomach.
- Removed any mention of Aragorn letting Frodo go during Boromir’s death scene – as in the book, Aragorn never encountered Frodo.
- Cut Aragorn’s line “I do not know what strength is in my blood”.
- The three hunters run into the woods, and we cut to the running montage from TTT, with “Book III – The Treason of Isengard” title added. We follow Aragorn and co., without seeing what’s going on with Merry and Pippin (yet).
- Gimli’s goofiness has ben cut throughout.
- All the scenes in Isengard have been cut.
- Cut Legolas’ “The red sun rises… Blood has been spilled this night.” It’s a good line, but too confusing, since we don’t know about the battle at this point in the edit.
- The scenes in Rohan (Eomer’s banishment etc.) have been cut. Sadly, I couldn’t get these scenes to fit anywhere. (Also, they’re not in the book.)
- The three hunters find the orc pyre, and Aragorn tracks the hobbits (shortened, and with the intercut hobbit footage removed). After Gimli’s “Fangorn… What madness drove them in there?” we jump back in time to the hobbits being carried by the Uruk-Hai. We now follow the hobbits exclusively until otherwise noted. The orcs are attacked, and the hobbits escape and meet Treebeard.
- All the Treebeard scenes have been rearranged and recut extensively to better link the various scenes.
- Several cuts made to the first Treebeard scene. Merry says that they’re hobbits earlier, and Treebeard believes him. The scene ends with “I am on nobody’s side, because nobody is on my side. Nobody cares for the woods anymore.”
- After this we cut to Treebeard saying how the trees have grown wild and dangerous The scene continues with him talking about how they lost the entwives, after which…
- …Treebeard starts to sing “The Dreams of Trees”. Just as he finishes his song (“…and say my land is best.”) we cut to…
- …the destruction caused to Fangorn by Saruman. Treebeard yells out in anger, and we cut to…
- …Treebeard talking about how Saruman once used to walk in his woods. They spot Saruman’s army marching out from Isengard, and we cut to…
- …Treebeard laying the hobbits to sleep, as he says that he has “business in the forest” etc. Cut to…
- …Treebeard and the hobbits arrive at the entmoot. “Now we must decide if the ents will go to war”, says Treebeard, and we cut to…
- …Pippin struggling not to fall asleep. “You can’t take forever!” says Merry. “Don’t be hasty”, replies Treebeard. Cut to…
- …Pippin tries to convince Merry to return to the Shire. “There won’t be a Shire,” says Merry. Cut to…
- …Treebeard turns to face them. “We have just agreed.” As in the book, the entmoot decides to fight. This line cuts to…
- …The huorns starting to move.
- The ents march for Isengard, and we cut back to Aragorn and co. searching for the hobbits in Fangorn. Again, we now follow them until otherwise noted.
- Cut Gimli’s line about squirrel droppings.
- Elvish subtitle changed from “Something’s out there” to “Aragorn, something is out there”.
- The flashback to the battle agains the balrog has been extended with the part that opens the original film.
- Shortened Gandalf’s talk about the ents waking up. Most of that information is redundant at this point.
- Shortened Gandalf and Aragorn’s nighttime talk in the plains of Rohan, to remove unnecessary dialogue and cut Gandalf calling Saruman “Sauron’s puppet”.
- Theoden is not possessed by Saruman, and Gandalf does not exorcise him. This causes a slight continuity error, since I’ve cut Gandalf casting off his cloak to reveal himself to Saruman – so in one shot, he is cloaked, and in the next he’s not, although there is enough time between the two for him to theoretically have removed his cloak.
- Final word of Eowyn’s dirge (“Bealo…”) has been cut. It sounds like the beginning of a new verse (also when seeing the translation), so the dirge works better without it.
- Shortened the scene with Gandalf and Theoden in front of Theodred’s tomb. It’s a wonderful scene, but I feel that parts of it (“No parent should have to bury their child”, Theoden crying) do not belong in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.
- The subplot with the Rohirric children has been cut. Since I had to cut the first part of the subplot, there was little reason to keep it at all. We now cut from Theoden mourning his son to Gandalf saying “This is but a taste of the terror Saruman will unleash” (originally referring to the attack on the children’s village, now referring to Theodred’s death).
- Theoden’s line “I will not risk open war” has been cut.
- Theoden’s line “When last I looked, Theoden, not Aragorn, was king of Rohan” has been cut. As in the book, there is no tension between Theoden and Aragorn.
- Going to Helm’s Deep is not considered to be a bad idea. Although not stated explicitly, we can assume that Theoden goes to Helm’s Deep to face the enemy from a more defensible location, and not to hide as in the original
- Aragorn and Eowyn’s scene in the stables has been cut
- Gandalf does not specify the hour of his return.
- The scene where Eowyn gives stew to Aragorn has been shortened. To make it less obvious that Aragorn thinks the stew tastes awful, which is very out of character for him.
- The warg attack has been cut. Not in the book, and the “wargs” look nothing like the wargs described by Tolkien.
- The arrival at the Hornburg has been altered, so that we see Theoden, Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn arrive simultaneously with Eowyn.
- The children reuniting with their mother has been cut.
- Aragorn does not urge Theoden to send for help. Theoden should not, and does not, bear a grudge against Gondor.
- Legolas doesn’t tell Aragorn that he must sleep.
- Legolas does not despair before the battle.
- Cut Theoden’s line “How did it come to this?”
- Gimli does not try on chain mail. Stupid comedy moment. And why would he try what has to be a size XL chain mail? Besides, he was already wearing armor.
- NO ELVES AT THE BATTLE OF THE HORNBURG!
- Cut Gimli striking an orc in the groin.
- Cut the orc carrying the torch. He looks ridiculous, and I find it hard to believe that master archer Legolas was unable to bring him down. Now, it’s assumed that the orcs placing the explosives lit a fuse while they were at it.
- Cut redundant multi-angle shots of the exploding wall.
- Cut Aragorn being thrown off the wall by the explosion, since he has to stay on the wall for his next appearance.
- Cut Legolas’ shieldboarding trick.
- No dwarftossing.
- Trimmed the shot where the orc’s giant ladders are raised. In the original shot, the ladder that Legolas shoots down was to near the wall to possibly fall in the opposite direction.
- Theoden does not despair during the battle. I’ve tried to make Theoden a stronger character, like in Tolkien’s book.
- Legolas does not shoot a dead in a futile attempt to raise his “orc-slaying” score. Stupid comedy moment that doesn’t fit Legolas’ character. Also, I’m not sure if people in Middle-Earth knew what a nervous system was.
- Cut to the flooding of Isengard, and Merry and Pippin looting Saruman’s store.
- The crew rides to Isengard, and they reunite with Merry and Pippin.
- Cut Gimli’s “Salted pork…?”
- The subplot with having to discover where the final battle will take place has been removed, since it makes absolutely no sense. Gondor has two major cities – Minas Tirith and Osgiliath, one of which has been attacked already. Gandalf, and everybody else, should know what Sauron’s next move will be.
- Cut Gandalf’s reaction shot after Grima stabs Saruman. His expression doesn’t really fit, and cutting it makes Legolas react a bit faster.
- Cut Aragorn hesitating before drinking after Theoden’s “Hail the victorious dead!”
- The drinking game has been cut. Pointless comedy.
- Theoden does not doubt himself during the celebration at Edoras. Again, to make Theoden a stronger character.
- Gandalf and Aragorn’s conversation during the feast ends with Gandalf’s “Do we know that?”. I hate how PJ always tries to make Aragorn wiser than Gandalf, so I cut Aragorn’s words of consolation here.
- Pippin does not “catch a glimpse of Sauron’s plan” in the Palantir.
- Theoden does not question why Rohan should come to Gondor’s aid.
- Cut Gandalf’s line “Three days ride, as the Nazgul flies.” 1, it’s a weird thing to say, 2, Nazgul can’t fly, 3, the Nazgul’s “fell beasts” haven’t been introduced yet.
- Gandalf and Pippin ride for Minas Tirith. Fade to “End of Book III”.
Changes from the first version
- Redone title sequence
- Instead of opening on Aragorn on top of Amon Hen, we open on the Uruk-Hai assaulting Boromir
- Used the theatrical version of Boromir’s last battle
- Reinserted Boromir’s line “Frodo… Where is Frodo?”
- Cut Boromir’s line “Our people… Our people”
- Changed the transition to Boromir’s funeral boat from a straight cut to a fade
- Fixed a slight continuity error regarding Gimli’s position after the three hunters find Pippin’s “Leaf of Lorien”
- Reinserted some more of Aragorn’s tracking
- Cut the line “Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!”
- Recut Merry and Pippin’s escape
- Reinserted Treebeard’s lines “Your part in this tale is over” etc., to make Pippin’s line about returning to the Shire more natural
- Fixed the continuity error regarding Merry’s jacket during the entmoot
- Cut the sci-fi animation after Gandalf’s “death”
- Cut Gimli’s line “You’d find more cheer in a graveyard”
- Cut Gandalf’s mumbling after Hama asks for his staff
- Cut Theoden line “Gandalf?” after his “transformation”
- Several small tweaks have been made to the Battle of the Hornburg to improve the flow
- The “dwarf-tossing” scene has been reworked
- Cut Aragorn and co.’s ride through Fangorn, so that we stay with the hobbits’ POV longer
- Used the theatrical version of the “Green Dragon” song
- Cut some of Pippin’s spasms while holding the Palantir
- Recut the scene in the stables to make the removal of some lines flow better
- Redone end “credits”
- Audio transitions have been improved throughout
The book cuts keep delivering. Quite a lot has been trimmed this time, and while all of it is brilliant editing, I find the whole Ent-encounter a bit confusing. Just as brumous mentions in their review, the scenes become a montage, rather than something coherent. A small thing, considering the task and material Jackson gives.
Cutting around the elves during the battle is brilliantly done. I did my best to spot just one in the background, but Kerr appears meticulous!
All in all, as I'm reading the books at the same time, I begin to wonder why Jackson changed the characters as he did. Kerr's edits really do try to correct this and so far it is stellar work.
Review by Brumous — June 11, 2011 @ 4:43 pm
Book III is a mixed bag. There are some changed scenes that are big improvements over the original, but other alterations are less successful. Overall, I cannot say this Book III edit is an improvement over the original.
The reassembling of Merry and Pippin’s abduction and escape, and the tracking by Aragorn & co., is marvelous. Instead of rapid intercuts, we get a more continuous story flow. It makes more sense and the emotional beats are strengthened.
However, cutting Merry and Pippin’s encounter with the White Wizard in Fangorn was a mistake IMO. It has so many repercussions on characters and motives, and cutting it makes several following scenes more confusing and less satisfying. The consolidation of the Ent scenes does not work so well either. It plays like a random montage instead of an involving progression.
I found the Rohan sequence difficult to watch. It is filmed in desaturated browns and grays; the mood is unrelieved poverty and grief. The original provided a lot of needed breaks from that by intercutting among five or so different story lines. Cutting most of those storylines is an improvement, but I think keeping the intercuts with the Ent sequence would have helped both threads.
The Helms Deep battle is significantly reduced, and the silliest comedy lines are cut, which gets the sequence closer to the spirit of the book. But Tolkien only spent 10 pages on the battle; it’s an important event but not a central climax. So I would have liked to see the battle cut more, especially to make the two sides a little more even so that the humans could plausibly defend against the orc army.
Kerr’s choice of ending is good, highlighting the final loss of innocence and ending on a note of suspense. Technically the edit looks great and I cannot detect any flaws. Rating: 8/10 based mainly on the “improvement over the original” factor.