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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Towers DVD unveils its secrets

By Stephen Dowling
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
The Two Towers comes with a host of must-see extras
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers has been released on DVD, having already beaten pre-order records at internet store Amazon.

Few directors have utilised the opportunities of DVD as much as the Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.

Fans of the Fellowship of the Ring have had two DVDs to contend with already. One has been packed with behind-the-scenes elements, another crams dozens of extra scenes into the three-hour film.

Now it is the turn of the Two Towers, with the first DVD version offering some wonderful moments - and some not necessarily from the film itself.

The featurettes are an exhaustive insight into the making of the film, including the chaotic battle at Helm's Deep - and how an old quarry half an hour from Wellington, New Zealand, became a battleground.

The stuntman's recollections provide some hilarious moments.

Director Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson gives a behind-the-scenes look at how he made the film

Bringing Gollum to Life shows the amazing work that went into creating the twisted, scheming Gollum - and how much this apparently computer-created character relied on the charisma of actor (and voice provider) Andy Serkis.

A surprising addition is the short film The Long and the Short of it, directed by Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee) during a break in filming. This, even better than the behind-the-scenes clips, shows what sheer fun it must have been working on the film.

Fans will however buy this DVD just as much for the tantalising glimpse of the final instalment The Return of the King, released in December.

It seems to promise that the final climactic battle for Minas Tirith makes Helm's Deep look like a skirmish.

Suddenly, December's wintry weather cannot come too soon.

Have you bought the DVD?

What did you think of the extras? This debate is now closed. Please see below for a selection of your comments.

People have a choice: either buy the first version now or wait until November for the extended DVD. You don't HAVE to buy both. We did last time but that was because we WANTED to (free will, and all that!) and we'll probably do the same this time round. At least the marketing is clear that that will be an extended version in November, it's not like they're springing it on us!
Elaine, UK

Irritatingly, for a movie that was released in theatres with DTS-ES and Dolby Digital EX 6.1 audio, the DVD only has Dolby Digital 2.1 and 5.1 sound mixes. I appreciate that the movie is a shade under three hours long - and kudos to the guys at Pacific Digital on the transfer to DVD, a superb job - but a DTS sound mix, or at the very least a Dolby Digital EX mix, would have been appreciated by those of us with digital surround sound systems. I mean, if George Lucas can do it for his latest Star Wars movies ...
William Anderson, Scotland

Enjoyed very much the extras on the DVD. Particularly enjoyed the short film "The Long and Short of It." Better yet was the tongue-in-cheek behind the scenes to the making of the "The Long and Short of It." It appears that the most striking thing about Lord of the Rings is the friendships and memories that were created throughout the entire process. Peter Jackson is to be commended - hopefully with an OSCAR! And the cast and crew are brilliant. Good job. Looking forward to the final movie this December.
Gay Carroll, California, USA

I bought it, put it in, and spent the better part of a day revelling in the extras. Now I have a deeper appreciation of the extraordinary effort and talent that went into the making of a movie I saw four times in the theatres.
Robert del Valle, USA

I congratulate the marketing of this DVD. Anyone who is stupid enough to buy both versions of the DVD obviously has too much money and deserves to be ripped off like this!
Paul, UK

I'm waiting to buy the four-disc extended version, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to rent the two-disc DVD. I was very impressed with the extras, especially the preview of Return of the King, and the making of the Helms Deep sequence. It just shows how much passion and effort went into making it all. Bravo!
Gill, UK

Neither of the films released so far are a patch on the books - but don't despair, because they're still the greatest films ever made. Anyone who expected the film to match the books is crazy, it simply wouldn't be possible. The two types of media are poles apart.

I won't be buying this DVD, I will wait for the November special edition to arrive. But I did rent it, and it's as fantastic as I had hoped. The DVD copy is as good as it gets, and the surround sound is crystal clear and carries the atmosphere of the film superbly.

Bravo to Mr Jackson and his team for another fantastic effort. Roll on The Return of the King!
Michael Ward, Leigh, UK

I thought the DVD was amazing. Well worth the wait. The special features on the disc also showed a remarkably relaxed Peter Jackson in the editing room for the Return of the King. I thought Sean Astin's short film was incredibly bad however.
Peter B, Scotland

I bought the DVD on Sunday whilst away for the bank holiday weekend - apparently Sainsbury's had it on sale on Friday! The horrible thing was that we didn't have a DVD player with us, so had to wait two days with the film in my hands before I could watch it.
Richard Geary, UK

I have been to most of the places where the movie was being filmed. Had a chance to be an extra but turned it down due to work commitments. Now I regret it. By the way, DVD was excellent. I will also buy the Extended Edition in November.
Ricky Simona, New Zealand

I think it's a bit of a con releasing the theatrical edition and then the special edition a few months later. I would recommend people rent this edition and then buy the "proper" version when it comes out.

That said, the behind-the-scenes features are brilliant, you get the impression that the making of this film was a life-changing experience for all involved.
Simon W, UK

I suppose it was predictable that New Line would face us with the dilemma of buying now or holding out for the stretched version later. I expect I'll be like the other willing victims and buy them both.
Christopher Wells, UK

In response to Sue C (Australia), I've spotted Peter Jackson in the Battle of Helms Deep as the Uruk Hai are using the battering ram to attack the gate. He throws a big rock at them from above. Not seen him anywhere else yet.
Rodti MacLeary, UK

Unlike the person calling himself Henry from London, I think having the four-disc extended version with all the bonus material is fine because it caters for those people who have a more avid interest in the exact elements involved in a film from the early stages of pre-production through to the finished article. All these people whingeing about having to buy it twice - be a little more patient and wait until November when the four-disc comes out. Just because the cinema version is out now doesn't mean you have to go and buy it.
Paul M, UK

Well, I was going to wait for the four-disc version, but from what you all are saying, I'm not sure I can wait. The extras are calling me....
Emily Carding-Allen, UK

What can I say, I'm a sucker for extras. I was bought the first LOTR by my partner as a present, and then she bought me the four-disc extended version. I paid for the second LOTR with my own cash, and will indeed be purchasing the four-disc set in November. Looks like New Line and Peter Jackson are learning their marketing tips from the king of marketing, George Lucas.
Simon Chriscoli, UK

I won't be buying the four-disc set. I enjoyed the film but it is plenty long enough for me as it is. The number of people saying they will buy both is evidence as to why two versions are being released. It's a shame that fans are being ripped off this way. Incidently, though I enjoy watching them, behind the scenes extras do spoil the magic of cinema. It's hard to be in awe when you know how it is done.

I bought it and I'm getting the extended set too. I love that the two sets are different and it's fun having the chance to sit at home and compare the differences. I wish all DVDs were done in this way as I'm bored with those that show the "extra" shots as a special feature that don't seem to really mean anything to the story that was originally thought of.

Wow! An amazing DVD! I still get goosebumps when the elves march up to the gate! The extras were good. I'm glad they put Sean Astin's film on there. I've been dying to see it since I heard about it! And after seeing the preview for the extended version, I think I'll get that one too. :o) 112 days until ROTK!
Tara, USA

I had to have it. I am a great fan of the Tolkien books and seeing them come alive was just a bit too tempting. So I bought it first thing in the morning the day it was released here. For those of you who can resist the temptation till the four-disc set comes out later in the year, save your money and buy that one instead. It is better than the two-disc with a lot more behind the scenes footage and the extended version of The Two Towers is a lot better than the theatrical version.

The extended version features a lot of good stuff that should not have been omitted from the theatrical version. I think the theatrical version was more geared towards commercial success. Having said that I still think Peter Jackson did a great job with the theatrical version. If you want more of Tolkien, buy the four-disc version. But if you can't wait then buy both. I will end up buying the four-disc version too. Whoever is in charge of marketing for the trilogy is an evil genius.
Usman, USA

I bought it at 8am in the morning. And all of the DVD is wonderful. I love it.
Steff Baggins, Canada

After the first installment of this trilogy, my boyfriend decided that we needed an entire new home theatre system to do the film justice when it was released on DVD. After watching it on our HDTV, I could not imagine any better film to justify $6,000. of electronics. It did not disappoint and neither will LOTR: TTT. I wanted to surprise my boyfriend with this DVD. I went to a midnight release gathering so I could be one of the first people (geek!) in Houston to have a copy. I returned home sometime around one in the morning with my shiny new widescreen DVD and LOTR gift bag. I sat there contemplating whether or not to watch it as I had to be at work for 08:00 and to make a long story short - I watched a few of the special features. December cannot get here quick enough for us.
Kristine, USA

I felt like a kid waiting for Xmas leading up to the release of this DVD. Then the video store rang up on Monday to say I could collect my order - Xmas had arrived early.

I'll also buy this version on VHS, so I can watch it on the old TV in my study and I'll get the extended version when it's released.

The biggest disappointment from me is that here in Oz we have to wait until Boxing Day for Return of the King to hit the screens while the lucky Yanks get to see the two extended versions on the big screen back to back, followed by ROTK.
Jennie, Australia

The two-disc set is lovely, the film is richer than I remember but the four-disc set... I can't think of any other film which has had so much care lavished upon it. Now I wonder if there will be a 12-16 disc boxed set of the whole thing when it is all done. The most memorable book gets an unforgetable movie - thank you Peter Jackson and friends.
Stephen Graham, UK

Okay, I should know better.. The four-disc version of the movie is only a few months away, and it will be a longer cut of the movie and have more detailed, in-depth extras. And I will like the four-disc version of The Two Towers more than the two-disc version, no doubt. But why wait? This may "only" be the theatrical release, but what an "only", huh? The battle of Helm's Deep is still an amazing sight, surely the best battle sequence ever committed to film - at least until Return of the King hits in December.

Gollum is still an amazing achievement of cinema (a sterling performance from Andy Serkis as well as an amazingly well done job by Weta) and the rapport between Aragorn, Legolas and Gimili goes from strength to strength. And it's a hell of a great story too. The preview of Return of the King is worth a lot of the asking price alone (especially if you're waiting for the last movie as much as I am) and the rest of the extras (although they are not made specially for the disc, but were previously featured either on TV or on the official website) offer good candid interviews and some splendid behind-the-scenes footage. In short, yes, I should know better but I've just watched Fellowship and The Two Towers back-to-back and it rocked.
Barry , UK

Well, what can you say? It's been the best movie of the last two years and after Return of the King comes out that will be the best movie in existence. Everything about the movies is great. You are not going to get anything better than these.
Mr Christmas, UK

I am seriously tempted to buy this two disc version, but I was given the four disc Fellowship for Christmas last year and I will definitely be holding out for the four disc Towers. The two extra discs are well worth it.
Stephen, Barbados

I have heard that Peter Jackson is in two scenes in TTT but haven't been able to find him as yet (partially due to the fact that I get sucked into the story so much each time I have watched, that I don't have the time to be critical of who is or isn't in a scene) so if anyone can point me in the right direction, I'd appreciate it.
Sue C, Australia

Like some people I bought this on Saturday from my local Tesco's and spent the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend watching both films back to back and all the extras. There is so much infomation in the extras that its difficult to absorb it all. Clearly this was planned from the beginning and adds so much to the film.
Stuart, Newcastle, UK

Gollum was robbed of an Oscar! The film itself was awesome! Better than the first. My backside is numb but who cares, it was worth every penny and the wait.
Sohail Ahmed, UK

I actually auditioned for the part of Sam - which obviously I didn't get - so watching the various documentaries on Disc 2 is a strangely bittersweet experience for me, as it is abundantly clear throughout how special and enjoyable an experience it was for all concerned. To have been a part of that would have been wonderful, but then again I was crap at the audition so it's no surprise I got no further! This failure notwithstanding, these films have now become my absolute favourites.

Every element is there for fans of all genres - action, adventure, romance, tragedy, comedy - all handled with absolute aplomb. As a viewer you are utterly swept away by the splendour of Middle Earth and drawn in by the plight of Frodo and company, and such is your absorption of the experience that the three hours passes very quickly. Anyone who complains that the film is too long needs to ask themselves how badly their expectations and attention span have been affected by the usual diet of 90-minute trash in our cinemas.

These films have everything going for them - great writing, superb direction, strong performances, spectacular locations, eye-popping effects, and bucketloads of atmosphere, all helped along by Howard Shore's magnificent score. And if the extended DVD of "The Fellowship Of The Ring" is anything to go on, the extended version of "The Two Towers" promises to be very special indeed. The production of these films is an historic achievement and deserves true recognition. Oh, if only I hadn't been crap at the audition...
Richard Beenham, UK

I bought The Fellowship Of The Ring in both the two- and four-disc versions. Having been so impressed with the latter, I shall also be doing the same for The Two Towers and The Return Of The King. Both the films themselves and the extras included are significantly different in each set. (For a start, the film is half-an-hour longer!)
Chris White, U.K.

Even better than the 2 disc set for the Fellowship, the brief look at Return of the King plus the informative behind the scenes extras on the making of The Two Towers make this one of the DVD buys of the year. The behind the scenes extras show the incredible effort and care taken in bringing this much loved trilogy to the screen.

The only possible complaint is that like Fellowship a 4 disc set will arrive in the shops months later (Nov. 2003) and this is previewed as part of the extras. It would have been much better to have both sets available at the same time to allow fans to choose which one they'd want without having to wait for their preferred version.
Stuart, Scotland

I can answer Stuart's idea of releasing both sets at the same time like this: to create the Extended (4-disc) version requires much more work - the director and editors have to assemble a new cut, Weta have to create the additional special effects for it, the composer has to write new music especially for it, the actors, writers, producers and effects guys have to record their commentaries and a huge array of behind the scenes documentaries have to be put together. I'm willing (just) to wait until November for all of that.

Meanwhile of the features on the 2-disc version - the making-of featurettes are from the movie website (only without low-quality block-o-tastic RealPlayerness) or from TV specials, and the theatrical cut of the movie already exists. The question really is why wasn't the 2-disc version released months ago?

At least New Line have always been open about the different versions, unlike (say) Terminator - which I notice is coming out yet again in yet another different release.
Neil, UK

Great second part ..loved every bit of it. Have to say that this 4 Disc thing is a waste of time! Most DVD films have now too much rubbish about the making on them. Extras should be on the first Release. But what a film!
Henry, London UK

I loved the extras, bringing Gollum to life was my favourite part. I personally appreciate the film that much more, knowing just how much work went in to it. It's also nice to see how much the cast and crew enjoyed making the film.
Kelly Marie, u.k

I will be buying both, like many others I presume, which is probably why the DVDs are released at different times.
Fiona Skene, UK

Well, I guess I can see the bits I missed when I fell asleep the first time through at the cinema.
Mike Gallagher, UK

Great DVD but it's a shame that the public are being ripped by the release of the extended version in November. This is unfair and hits the fans in the pocket.
Barry Hurley, UK

Liked the extra features, and, of course, loved the film. I will probably also buy the extended edition when it comes out as the way Peter Jackson adds extra scenes will (almost) make it a new film.
Mike, UK

We've pre-ordered the DVD a month ago and it has not arrived yet. I can hardly wait to see it. I think this film was even better than the first.
Elaine, Scotland

This is excellent. I never got to see it in the cinema and I am truly sorry I did not make the effort. The best part was that we managed to purchase it on Saturday (23rd August), three days before it was released.
Iain, UK

Couldn't wait until November for my special edition pre-order, so bought this as well - awesome and can't wait for Return of the King....I feel a big box of tissues will be required.
Jo, UK

I managed to get hold of a pirate copy of the Two Towers back in March... It was pirated from the Oscar judging version and it is perfect with fantastic sound and picture, but after seeing the good extras that are on the official release i'm quite tempted to part with £15!
Chris W, England

I shan't be buying a DVD of a very inferior telling of the tale than the book. As an avid fan of the book for more years than I care to remember, I was heartily dissapointed by the movie. Editing the storyline due to time-constraints of fitting such an enormous work into two or three hours I can understand, but changing the nature and characters of some of the principals (not to mention adding scenes which just don't occur in the story) is unforgiveable. I don't know why, but I dragged myself to the screening of the Two Towers and came out wondering whether I had just watched a film or played a video game.
Chris , Germany and UK

We finally got to watch our copy on Sunday and it was much better than I remembered. I don't know why other than I spent the time at the cinema pointing out bits that were not in the book (and there were a lot of them.) I just wish Aragorn would comb his hair a bit more,just every now and then.
Donna Hutchings, England

Superb! Superb! Superb! The wait was excrutiatingly too long but well worth it. The film goes without saying, the extra bits - funny, endearing, scary, breathtaking. The teaser for Return of the King - WOW - the wait will be almost too much to bear! By the way there is nothing wrong with Aragorn's hair!
Helen, England

I won't be buying this DVD. I'll be buying the special edition DVD in a few months.
Sarah Woolley, UK

Since I bought the Special Edition of The Fellowship of The Ring, I find myself compelled to wait for the November release so I don't ruin the set! I'm looking forward to it though!
Darren Clarke, UK

I said I was going to wait as well - but it called out to me while I was doing the boring grocery shopping and I couldn't resist... Oh well, looks like I'll have two copies of this one as well!!
Stuart W, UK

Have loved both films at the cinema. I waited 25 years for this to go on film. Happy to wait another year or so to get the definitive collection of all three films on DVD at the same time.
David, UK

I have rented all of the LotR DVDs so far, as well as seeing the movies in the cinema. As for buying them - I'm waiting for the inevitable three-movie box set once they've all been released.
Ash, England

There's no use complaining that fans are being ripped off by two seperate releases. You can either buy one or the other, or both. You have a choice. If you want to see more than is healthy for you (like myself) then just wait for the extended version.
Steve Blackwell, UK

I am greedy and so I bought the DVD on Saturday (WHSmiths did a naughty early release) and I will buy the extended edition as well in November. Growing up my dad read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings to me and I was hooked. I remember seeing the Lord of the Rings cartoon that was released and thinking that it was the most incredible thing in the world! At the time it was, but Peter Jackson has surpassed my wildest dreams with the Fellowship of the Ring and the Two Towers! I sat on Saturday and watched both films back to back and I am counting the days till the Return of the King is on at the flicks! 80 to be exact!
Andi Dawson, UK

As usual the UK tightwads are complaining about being ripped off. Thankfully the more gregarious US contributors do not raise this point.
Alan M, UK

I am not usually someone who goes out and buys right on the release date. But come the evening of the 26th I was gripped with this urge to GET THE TWO TOWERS.... NOW. It was well worth it - first to see the fantastic film again, and second for the special features. What amazes me, and is proof, I think, of the film's power, is that even after seeing all the 'making of' and behind-the-scenes, the film sucks you in to that world and doesn't spit you out until the credits. I was not a fan of the books before, but the films have converted me, hooked me and will haunt me for ever.
Julia, USA

I wish people would applaud the DVD company for telling us there will be an extended version. Don't forget, most other DVDs that get a second, special edition release are secretly released without warning. Oh, by the way, unless you are familiar with computer games shops you probably won't know this, but you can trade in old DVDs at most of these shops. Last year I traded in my first copy of the Fellowship a couple of weeks before the extended version was released.
Dave C, UK

If you enjoyed the films ect. the props are at the Science Museum in London from Sept.16 till Jan.
Elizabeth, London

These first two films have been the joy of my life for two years. I can't thank Peter Jackson and all the actors and actresses and everyone involved enough. My friend and I have watched so many times we know much by heart. I think they make more aware of what is really true.
kay e burch, United States

I don't think it is 'stupid' to buy both versions, nor do you need to be 'loaded' to do so. Its only a dvd!! Its not a con, just a novel way of releasing such great movies. Can't wait for return of the king - my favourite book.
Mike Hughes, Pom in Oz

No one is being ripped off by releasing the theatrical version now and the extended one later. They announced publicly that they would be releasing them this way, it's not like anyone is being conned into buying 2 movies. It is up to people which version they wish to own so I wish they would stop complaining about New Line offering customers a choice. I only wish other films on DVD were released with as much care and attention as Lord of the Rings has been given.
Matt, UK

Yes.......Good film. Thoroughly enjoyed it at the pics - fell asleep when I watched it on DVD. What a rip off bringing out another 4 DVD version in November.
David Bell, UK

I have the four disc edition of the fellowship on dvd and i loved the extras! I can't wait for the four disc dvd of two towers to come out! I'm really excited!
Paige, UK

I can't believe the amount of you who are saying we are been 'ripped off' - as pointed out by a few people, there are NO duplications in the extras on the different versions. The 4 disc versions are geared towards hard core fans. I bought the 2 disc version for my wife and will be getting the 4 disc one in November - hope it's as good as FOTR.
Graham, UK

I'm currently in the UK and luckily was able to buy the DVD a day early at Mascot (Sydney) Airport before flying out or I'd not have been able to see the film for a month. It still peeves me that region coding is still so prevalent - had I bought the DVD in the UK I'd have all bar wrecked my laptop player by watching it! To make things worse, there have been dozens of DVDs I'd have liked to buy whilst here but can't. The sheer stupidity of this regional coding baffles me.
Chris Lewis, Australia

Top quality entertainment from the very start. Gutted they didn¿t show Shelob in the preview of Return of the King though¿..
Mick, UK

I by the LOTR DVDs as much for the special features, as for the film itself. I lapped up the features in this release, and will get the extended version in November for both the extra 30 minutes of film, and the 2 discs of completely different extras that will be presented (based on the FOTR release).
Richard, UK

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