I may consider doing a shorter “no-frills” version without most of the narration and roadshow trappings, once the main project is done. In some cases it would be relatively trivial to do. On the other hand, I’m not just throwing the narration in for the sake of it; each use of it (there are five or six total) serves a purpose.
At this stage, I’m using narration:
- in the prologue,
- at Rivendell,
- on leaving Lake-town,
- for the battle flashback, and
- for the epilogue.
The first and last serve to bookend the film and create scenes from whole cloth. I can’t see them working without the narration.
The second and third are used to reinforce the montage style of the sequences in question, and suggest the passage of time. I find that the Rivendell sequence in particular feels far too rushed without the White Council scenes, whereas it should be one of the slower parts of the film; using some quick dissolves and narration, I’m able to make it feel like a longer stay without actually lengthening the sequence. It also allows me to give Elrond an introduction that doesn’t depend on either (a) the viewer having previously known him or (b) the nonsense with Radagast and Azog.
The battle flashback (to clarify, not all of the battle will be shown this way, just the parts after Bilbo is stunned) uses it in a similar way, to give some narrative distance and set it apart as a flashback, and similarly doesn’t really work without it.
I may add some in one or two more places — I still haven’t decided on how best to bridge films one and two, even whether to cut the Eagles entirely, and a narrated montage might be one option, although I don’t want to have too many of them. I’m not wedded to keeping the Lake-town one; but one reason for it, to be honest, is just so that there isn’t an enormous gap between bits of narration, and the next one isn’t jarring.