On Tuesday (12 November 2002), the extended version of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released on DVD. The standard theatrical release came out a few months ago, but this was the one I was waiting for — more material, worth the price I was going to pay.
The bold idea, of course, was to really show this movie. In fact, it was about as good an excuse as any to hold the first true "Movie Night" in my house. Chris and I used to hold movie nights all the time in our apartment, but due to lack of time, space, furniture, and the fact that at times my home looked more like the aftermath of a F-5 tornado than a house pretty much kept large events at bay.
This release was reason enough to drag out a considerable number of people to my home, sit down, and listen to the movie at a volume that would deafen most teenagers. The subwoofer was turned up so much the floor shook. I’m sure that if my windows didn’t have brass strip accents, they would have rattled. The room was dark, and everyone had goosepimples. It was great.
We paused the movie a couple of times, one for the when Virgil’s pizza arrived, a second (much longer) time when our Chinese food arrived (it had been far too long since our last Chinese dinner), and one last time when the first disc ended.
Yes, the "first" disc. The extended version is on four discs. No, the movie itself doesn’t extend across all four — just the first two. Why so long? Well, the movie itself is 208 minutes — that’s pretty long, even for a DVD. Tack on a small army of extra audio channels, and suddenly you’ve got too much information for one measly little DVD disc.
So we took a slight break. I popped out the first disc, swapped in the second, and pressed play. And then I crossed my fingers.
Why cross fingers? That’s to compensate for my rather bad luck. You see, I had the set still in the A&B plastic bag, and sealed in its wrapper. I hadn’t opened it. I wanted to preserve it so that its first real viewing would be in front of my friends. Naturally, that meant that it wouldn’t work.
Have I ever mentioned that Murphy is my best friend?
At first, the disc took an inordinately long time to load. My first thought: this wasn’t loading. There, that was my problem! Oh well, my luck ... the disc finished loading and the title came up on the display. Huh — how ’bout that, no problem! Well... so I thought, until I heard:
Them: "Geoff, you doofus! You put the first disc in!"
Me: "No, I didn’t, that’s the right one!" (I check the discs, just to make sure.)
Them: "Then why is the first disc’s contents on-screen?"
I scratched my head. The first disc was in the case. I popped the disc out. Disc Two.
Me: "Ha! This is the second disc!"
Them: "Ha! You should have checked your copy before inviting us over!"
They had a point.
It appears that A&B received a batch of bad copies of the movie. Somehow, I should have expected this. In fact, I pretty much did. This is how much luck tends to go. But where there’s a will (or a great deal of stubbornness), there’s a way. A nearby Blockbuster also helps.
Not surprisingly, their copies were all rented. Audrey, however, took charge, and asked if there were any copies "lying around" that we could rent. Nada. Audrey didn’t stop, and had them check other stores. One of the nearby Blockbusters had one copy remaining.
A mere viewing of the movie wasn’t enough. No, we had to engage our own quest for the ring. Audrey, Adrian, Calvin, and myself braved the treacherous Fire Lights of the Tenth Road, the decaying Bridge of Bow, a hurried run past the edge of the Forest of Glass Towers, and onto the hedonistic Avenue of Drunken Morons, finally arriving at the Blockbuster of Mount Doom, er, Royal. Obtaining our movie, we headed north on 14th Aisle of Laggan, before turning into the Hamlet of Kensington, and finally to Hobbiton, I mean, my house.
Lights, DVD, action!
We resumed our movie, revelling in the visual and aural bombardment. The cats wisely stayed out of the living room. The movie finally ended at half-past midnight, a full hour and a half after it should have.
But such is the nature of a quest — you never know when it will truly end.