...a word from which British stage actors can extract at least three syllables.

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Jian Cho

Hello. I was reading a review of the film Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by The New York Times and I came across a sentence which puzzled me.
Given that huge portions of the movie are devoted to exposition (there's a crushing amount of explanation required), Mr. Jackson has simmered the novel down to the most compact action-epic that could be made of it. As director and co-scriptwriter he understood that what propels the story forward are the battles between the forces of good and evil -- a word from which British stage actors can extract at least three syllables.

Movie Review - - FILM REVIEW; Hit the Road, Middle-Earth Gang - NYTimes.com
Which word is being referred to here? Is it "evil"? Or is it "battle"? Or is it something else?
Also, what does the critic mean by "British stage actors an extract at least three syllables from this word."? Does he mean that while pronouncing this word, British stage actors utter three sylabbles as opposed to the normal pronunciation of the word?
After pointing out which word he's referring to, could you please help me understand how that word could be pronounced differently by British stage actors?
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    This refers to the word "evil." The idea is that a British stage actor, if he wanted to emphasize that word, would stretch it out so that it would sound something like "eeee-ya-vil," which has three syllables. He would also probably make facial gestures to emphasize how evil something was.
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