This special DVD edition is sumptuous indeed. It follows the pattern set by the special 4-DVD set of The Fellowship of the Ring released last year. Once more there is substantially more footage to bring the film's running time up by 42 minutes to just over 3½ hours. Most welcome is the extra material relating to Treebeard and his Ents, sorely missed by this reviewer in the original theatrical release. Clearly it is these extended DVD releases that will be ultimately remembered. Two DVDs cover practically every facet of the production process. In the substantial, almost ½-hour feature devoted to the development of Howard Shore's score for The Two Towers, it is revealed that Shore came back to compose more music for the DVD film's extra 42-minutes.
This feature on the music is fascinating. It covers the extreme complexity of the process, with a large team working to tight deadlines employing, for instance, copyists labouring literally around the clock; using advanced communications to enable director Peter Jackson, at work on the sets in New Zealand, to virtually sit-in and comment on the recording process at London's Abbey Road Studios. Shore comments on the necessity to carry The Fellowship of the Ring themes through to blend seamlessly with the new The Two Towers music (and ultimately, to The Return of the King) and carry the narrative forward.
Chief of the new The Two Towers themes is the 'Rohan Theme', the main signature piece. It has a marked Nordic feeling in-line with the production design. In fact a Norwegian fiddle that has a distinctive 'folk' timbre was used to evoke a 'real' sound world of Rohan. Another theme is redolent of Éowyn's issues and challenges; then there is a further theme which underlines the schizophrenia of Gollum/Sméagol; and for the denizens of Fangorn, a theme orchestrated with wooden sounding percussion: marimbas and wooden logs etc.. For the 'Battle of Helm's Deep', it was necessary to produce a tapestry of music that suggested the fluctuating tides of war. A substantial part of the feature is devoted to the development of the music for voices both solo and choral, from the guttural roarings of the Uruk-hai, to the celestial chants of the elves.
An excellent production wholeheartedly recommended and a set to treasure. I look forward with great anticipation to the release of its equivalent for The Return of the King – maybe we will then see those outtakes that showed Christopher Lee as Saruman.