What Could Have Been
Last night, despite having to do a bit of overtime, I was able to pop in a Features disc from the ROTK Extended Edition DVD Set into my new Sparkle DVD player for a bit of LOTR goodness. I watched several featurettes, all of which were quite interesting along the topic of bringing the Tolkien novels from the page to the script.
The coolest part involved an alternative yet ultimately abandoned scene which had the Dark Lord, Sauron actually taking to the field and battling Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in combat. This was of course not in the books, though it was felt by the filmmakers at the time that they needed a suitable act of valor for Aragorn to accomplish on the battlefield before the Black Gate (since the creepy Mouth of Sauron character really wasn't a fighter).
So it was that they had this whole thing with Sauron appearing before the outnumbered Men of the West, first materializing as an angelic being of dazzling beauty. The apparition is supposedly that of Anatar, which was Sauron's guise thousands of years before when he tricked the races and created the One Ring. As the scene goes, Aragorn soon sees through the holy light, and Sauron reveals himself (pretty much as he was in the Battle of Golgoroth at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring). There are actual scenes showing Aragorn and the warriors of Gondor and Rohan battling a gigantic armored Sauron (though we don't see soldiers getting knocked into the air as in the FOTR battle) which was kinda neat.
In the end though, Peter Jackson and the writers felt that the whole thing just wasn't right, since it took the focus of the story and the weight of the problem to Aragorn, instead of to Frodo the ringbearer. So, the whole thing was eventually scrapped, with Aragorn's personal opponent being changed from Sauron to an Armored Battle Troll with CG, and the roles of the armies of men being relegated to fighting to distract the Eye and its forces from the real threat of the ringbearer.
Personally, I kinda liked the whole Sauron vs Aragorn thing. In the end though, I guess ROTK is better with what was eventually used. Just another cool little detail and footnote in this wonderful series of films. Can't wait to get deeper into the EE dvds and see what else I can discover.