LOS ANGELES — If you want to find out just how Gandalf and the Hobbits thwarted the evil white wizard Saruman in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," wait no longer than Dec. 14.
That's when the extended edition DVD of the 11-Oscar-winning movie hits stores, complete with 50 minutes of additional footage for the film — which is already three hours and 40 minutes long.
In addition to seeing that big battle — which eliminated Saruman, played by Christopher Lee, from the theatrical version of "Return of the King" — the movie includes romantic subplots and other scenes that director Peter Jackson wanted to include, but couldn't, in his lengthy epic.
"We're basically putting scenes back in which we know on some level are destroying the momentum of the story, making it slow right down, which is why we took them out in the first place," Jackson told The Associated Press last December, when the movie debuted in theaters. "But DVD seems to be a medium that allows you to do a certain amount of that. You have it in your living room, you can pause it, you can make a cup of tea, you can watch it over two nights. It's a much more forgiving environment to watch film in."
What else is in the 50 minutes of new footage?
"The whole relationship between Faramir and Eowyn, you don't get in the theatrical version but you learn about it here. She has had to live with an awful lot of unrequited love," said Stephen Einhorn, president of New Line Home Entertainment, which is releasing the discs.
Other new sequences include the hero Aragorn meeting the 'Mouth of Sauron' at the Black Gates. And Jackson makes a cameo appearance in one cut scene, as a pirate who is killed by a stray arrow when Aragorn and the ghostly Army of the Dead take over his ship.
The four-disc extended edition will retail for about $40, and will also include assorted documentaries about the fantasy trilogy, the special effects that helped create Middle-Earth and the symphony composed from the score by Howard Shore.