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The Red Book of Westmarch, Book I - The Return of the Shadow

kerr

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What is it about? The first of a six-part edit made to bring Peter Jackson's adaptations of "The Lord of the Rings" as close as possible to the original book by J.R.R. Tolkien, this covers the first half of "The Fellowship of the Ring".
Original film name: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
New film name: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Book I - The Return of the Shadow
Film studio name: New Line Cinema
Edit crew name: kerr
Date original film was released: 2008
Date edit was released: January 2009
Original runtime: 208 minutes
New runtime: 65 minutes
Amount of time cut/added: approx. 144 minutes cut, 4 minutes added

Changes:

- There is no prologue. Like in the book, this edit begins on a less serious note (Bilbo's party etc.), and only later do we learn the importance of the Ring. Parts of the prologue have been inserted elsewhere, which I'll point out when we get there.
- New title sequence. Just to give the edit a unique feel, really. Before the company credits and film title (which has been changed to "J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings"), Christopher Lee recites the Ring Verse.
- "Book I - The Return of the Shadow" title added over Frodo reading in the forest.
- Gandalf's ride through Hobbiton has been reworked to remove Bilbo's narration and include some shots from the theatrical version. Just because I preferred the theatrical version - it gives a better introduction to both Gandalf and Frodo, and Bilbo's narration that replaced those scenes in the EE is really quite pointless. In order to make this work, a continuity issue arises: After they ride over the bridge, they are seen riding through the fields (which replaces a shot from the theatrical that was used in an earlier scene in the EE), then in the next shot they are riding through the marketplace seen to be on the other side of the bridge. I don't consider it that big a deal, though, since the continuity of that sequence was rather murky to begin with.
- Bilbo is not seen panicking over having "lost" the ring. As in the book, the importance of the ring is not emphasized until after the party.
- As Gandalf reads Isildur's account, the Battle of the Last Alliance from the prologue is seen, unnarrated. In order to remove the narration, the sequence has been shortened slightly.
- Removed the shot of the Black Rider on the hilltop after Frodo and Sam see the wood-elves. Frodo and Sam don't know as of yet that they are being hunted. In order to follow the book, neither should the audience.
- Removed all the Isengard sequences. As in the book, that encounter is retold in Book II, and we have no idea of what's happened to Gandalf until then.
- Merry doesn't distract the Black Rider with the bag of vegetables. Both because it's not in the book, and (mostly) because I find it silly.
- The Hobbits do not encounter a Black Rider on their way to the ferry. The Riders are heard, but not seen until one comes chasing after Frodo as he runs to the ferry. To make the Black Riders more frightening and less incompetent. Also, not in the book.
- Shots of "scary" inhabitants of Bree have been cut. Peter Jackson seems to think that Bree should be a frightening place, but it wasn't in the book, so I've tried to make it a bit less ominous.
- The Inn of the Prancing Pony has been recolored. Originally, it was tinted with a sickly yellow. I've made it a bit warmer to make the inn seem more pleasant.
- Shots of "scary" people at the inn have been cut. Again, to make Bree a little less ominous.
- Cut Sauron's line "I see you!". Not in the book. In fact, in the book, the Eye is not even aware of Frodo until Amon Hen, and doesn't "see" him until he claims the ring at the Cracks of Doom. In PJ's movies, it seems that Sauron discovers Frodo all the time, which undermines his role as a villain. So in this edit, he just says to Frodo that he "cannot hide", but without discovering his exact location.
- Removed shots of sleeping Hobbits that were intercut with the Black Riders. A cheap and unnecessary way to heighten tension.
- Arwen doesn't catch Aragorn off his guard. To lessen Arwen's importance and make her seem lees like Xena the Warrior Princess and more like the elf maiden she's supposed to be.
- Added subtitles for "Frodo Fîr" ("Frodo is dying.") and "Be iest lîn" ("As you wish").
- Cut Sam's lines "What are you doing!? Those wraiths are still out there!". To quote faneditforum-member spelledaren, "Why is Sam so stupid?"
- Cut the Witch-King's "Give up the Halfling, she-elf!" and Arwen's "If you want him... Come and claim him!". Again, I feel it makes Arwen too much of an action-heroine.
- Arwen doesn't summon the flood at the ford. Both to lessen Arwen's importance, and because it's not in the book - where it was Elrond and Gandalf who summoned the flood.
- Cut Arwen's line "What grace is given me, let it pass to him". Both to lessen her importance, and because I haven't the slightest clue what it's supposed to mean.
- As Arwen cradles the unconscious Frodo in her arms, we fade to "End of Book I". Like the book, this edit ends with Frodo falling unconscious at the fords of Bruinen.

Intention for this fanedit: To separate Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy into six parts that adhere as closely as possible to the six books of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings". This is done by both restructuring the films to match the narrative structure found in Tolkien's book, and by removing as much as possible of the material that has no basis in Tolkien's vision of Middle-Earth. For Book I, that chiefly involved removing the prologue and the Saruman subplot, as well as to end the edit at the fords of Bruinen.

Software used:
- Adobe Premiere Pro CS4
- Adobe After Effects CS4
- Adobe Photoshop CS4
- Womble MPEG Video Wizard DVD
- AutoGK

Additional comments: This fanedit primarily intended for fans of Tolkien's work. Its intention is not to improve the films in and of themselves, and viewers unfamiliar with the book will probably be left confused and unsatisfied, and would be better off watching the originals.

Also, there is a rather noticeable technical error about 5 minutes in: The dialogue only plays from the right channel for about one minute. This is because I realized a bit too late that I wouldn't be able to edit in 5.1 - I re-ripped the audio from the EE, replacing the 5.1 soundtrack with a 2.0 one, but since I don't have the theatrical DVDs at my current location, my rips of those are still in 5.1, which causes audio problems for the sequences where I've used theatrical footage. Hopefully this does not detract too much from the experience, and the issue will be resolved for the DVD version.

Release info:
65m. PAL XVID
720x304
2.0 stereo, 192 kbps MP3

Maybe downloadable from Fanedit.info
 

white43

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Just finished watching this and I have to say I'm impressed.

The new titles and Christopher Lee reading out the ring verse is impressive, this was blended perfectly into the start - well done - it looks very professional.

Now I have to say, this is so seemless, that I didn't even notice things missing until like the last ten minutes. Even then it was because I remembered things were missing - not that I'd noticed. The sound, picture and editing are simply flawless.

Even your added bit of subtitle matches the other perfectly - I thought it was original - in fact, I had to read your list of edits to notice what had been cut as I noticed nothing!!!!

Fade and end credit - really professional looking.

If this is the taste of things to come with this edit - I'll be the first in line.

5/5 easy. Well done Kerr.

ps. Are you a professional editor?
 

boon23

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this is hereby approved.
We are ready for the DVD :)
 

kerr

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:shock: Wow! Praise doesn't get much better than that... Thanks for your incredibly kind comments, white43 - your review really made my day! If you enjoyed Book I, I think you can safely look forward to the remaining five as well, as the technical quality should hopefully be rather consistent throughout (though the editing does get trickier for the later ones). And no, I'm not a professional editor (yet, anyway). In fact, almost all of the editing was done on my laptop using Womble MPEG Video Wizard, which is far from a professional editing software, so I'm surprised and pleased that you made that assumption. :)

Thanks again, and I hope you'll enjoy the next five as much as you did this one. As mentioned earlier, Book II and III will probably be released back to back, shortly.

this is hereby approved.
We are ready for the DVD

Sweet! I'll get right to work :)
 

Aztek463

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Sounds very interesting. Any chance of an NTSC release?
 

AvP

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Aztek463 said:
Sounds very interesting. Any chance of an NTSC release?

whats wrong with PAL? ;)
 

Aztek463

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Us Yanks don't believe in formats that can be pronounced normally ;)
 

Xammer

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Is this similar to the earlier "book cuts" by Phillock and vivsavage?
 

kerr

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Xammer said:
Is this similar to the earlier "book cuts" by Phillock and vivsavage?

I haven't watched either of those, but from what I've read; yes, it's similar, but I believe my version are more heavily edited than at least Lord Phillock's.

Aztek463 said:
Sounds very interesting. Any chance of an NTSC release?

Probably not, but if the demand for one is high enough, I might reconsider.

I've managed to sort out the audio issue that is present in the XVID, and can thus start working on the DVD, which will include motion menus and a few bonus features.
 

kerr

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Don't most players handle both PAL and NTSC anyway?
 

Aztek463

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Not in my neck of the woods :D

No worries, I can always convert it to NTSC.
 

ThrowgnCpr

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kerr said:
Don't most players handle both PAL and NTSC anyway?

lol, if I had a nickel for everytime I heard this :) In the USA, DVD players (and also the televisions themselves) only play NTSC. So while the eastern hemisphere all has the luxury of being able to play any disc, its not that way over here. You will get a LOT more viewers for your edit if you make a NTSC version available, but of course that is all up to you.
 

kerr

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Ok, thanks for the info, ThrowgnCpr. I guess I'll have to consider converting this to NTSC, then.
 

ThrowgnCpr

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I think its a good idea. Like I said, you will get a LOT more viewers if you make an NTSC version available. The USA makes up a big chunk of fanedit.org's visitors
 

Xammer

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Can't US users just play the DVDs on their PCs (like I do, even if I live in Europe)? Why all this fuss about burning a DVD-R?
 

ThrowgnCpr

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watching movies on your computer sucks. I spend enough time sitting in front of this thing, sorry. I will not watch movies on my computer.
 

Gieferg

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I was also surprised by the fact that US players/TV sets have problems with PAL, as even old, piece of crap equipment here in Europe dont have any problems with NTSC. But that's the way it is. My project is also in PAL and I really doubt that I will ever do a NTSC version.

And watching movies on computer in fact sucks big time.

I'm looking forward to see effects of your work Kerr, and I hope that you'll be able to finish what've you started :)
 

white43

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Xammer said:
Can't US users just play the DVDs on their PCs (like I do, even if I live in Europe)? Why all this fuss about burning a DVD-R?

Not exactly the cinematic experience is it?
 
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