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Outrage or Opportunity? All We Know About Amazon Prime's "Rings of Power"

by The Nerd Habit 3 months ago in tv
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Will it be worth a watch? Or has too much changed?

by Jerah Rose

Since 2001 it has been impossible for me and millions of other fans to get enough of the Tolkien universe on screen. The Fellowship of the Ring brought Middle-earth to us in a way that had never been seen before. The Hobbit movies received endless criticism for the CGI and added storylines. But we all went to see them anyway. My household owns the extended editions of those films because it's more Tolkien on the big screen.

Amazon Prime may be preparing the small screen for more of Tolkien's world with The Rings of Power, but this is no less exciting than the previous six films. With one of, if not the single, largest budgets in episodic television history, I'm hopeful the show will maintain the extraordinary quality of the Jackson films.

The budget has been astronomical so far. Amazon Prime spent $250 million to win the rights to Tolkien's Appendices to The Lord of the Rings. From the purchase of the rights to date, Vanity Fair reports that the government of New Zealand, where The Rings of Power is being filmed, estimate it has cost $426 million in production costs for the first 8-episode season.

The Rings of Power will focus on the events of the Second Age of Middle-earth. The events of The Silmarillion are considered the First Age of Middle-earth. The events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are the end of the Third Age. So the stories we will see in The Rings of Power will take place between The Silmarillion and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings.

There isn't much material to work from considering that Amazon only has the rights to the Appendices and anything written in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings that references the Second Age. Amazon Prime will not be allowed to use any of the History of Middle-earth series or his Unfinished Tales, for example, as source material to flesh out on screen.

For this reason, The Rings of Power will have plenty of storylines invented for the show. Fans are already divided on how they feel about this. With the release of the first cast photos, there has been discontent over character appearances and expectations. But there are still those of us who can't wait to see what they will do with the show.

In this interview with Vanity Fair , Patrick McKay and JD Payne, showrunners of The Rings of Power, share more of what we can expect. I was thrilled to see that they are doing their best to keep the CGI minimal. I always felt the actors in the makeup of the LOTR trilogy were far superior on-screen than the CGI orcs and creatures that could have been done with makeup.

I love that this ideal has even carried through to the promotional material. In a now widely shared video, we see that the incredible title sequence release with Galadriel reciting the famous lines about the rings was not CGI at all. It was all careful filming of the actual logo being filled with molten silver. Here is the originally released clip.

And here is the clip of the behind-the-scenes filming for the title sequence.

However, my favorite quote from the article is where Payne explains what most deeply devoted Tolkien fans have been worried or upset about. Much of the fanbase has been concerned and even preemptively angry about the show containing storylines made by the writers themselves rather than taken from Tolkien's original works.

In the article with Vanity Fair, Payne says, "In his letter to Milton Waldman, it's letter 131…[Tolkien] said he wanted to create an interconnected mythology that still would leave room for 'other minds and hands wielding paint and music and drama.' He wanted other artists to come after him and continue to push the boundaries of expanding what Middle-earth could be. It's a terrifying but awesome responsibility to take the man himself up on his wish and continue his work in building out Middle-earth."

It won't be all made-up stories, though. The show still intends to cover the major events of the Second Age. Some of the stories they will cover include the forging of the rings of power, the rise of Sauron, and the rise and fall of Numenor. I say, add in all the extra content you want! I can't wait to see how they tell the story of Sauron's rise to power after Morgoth was defeated! Extra stories are just a bonus as far as I'm concerned!

The trailer just released on Superbowl Sunday also shows us one of our main characters, an ancestor of the Hobbits of The Shire. Nori Brandyfoot, played by Markella Kavenagh, is a Harfoot hobbit. The Harfoot hobbits existed in Middle-earth long before the Shire, though they are the ones who eventually colonized it.

This article from The Ringer was a fantastic read as an introduction to the different types of hobbits and the role of the Harfoot hobbits in The Rings of Power. The most notable difference mentioned is that while Tolkien himself described them as more similar to the hobbits of the Shire, preferring to settle in one place for long lengths of time. However, the Rings of Power intends to portray them as nomadic. This change isn't significant enough to upset me, but it may be to some Tolkien purists.

I loved Joanna Robinson's (The Ringer) perspective that the hobbits have always been the most relatable creatures in Tolkien's works. Because of that, they serve as a surrogate audience within the books, which means that we see more of the world of Middle-earth and beyond through the stories, songs, poems, and interactions the hobbits have with elves, men, wizards, and dwarves.

There has been a lot of outrage and uproar in the Tolkien fandom and communities over the things that will be changed. One of the largest points of contention, for some reason, is the introduction of a dwarf princess…with no beard. Others are concerned the work won't hold true to the writing, which is a fair worry as it is a fresh creation within the world.

But I choose to see a world of opportunity instead. I can't wait to watch Galadriel's quest for Sauron and find out how he is portrayed. I am beyond excited for Galadriel to be shown on screen for the power that she is rather than simply the fair, wise, and stoic ruler of Lothlorien we see in Peter Jackson's films. I'm impatient to see more of Numenor and the Dunedain, who were gone before the time of the original films.

Let us know what you think! Are you outraged over the changes that will be made in Rings of Power? Or are you excited for the opportunity to expand the Tolkien universe? Check back here to stay up to date as we learn more leading up to Amazon Prime's September 2, 2022, premiere date for The Rings of Power!


About the author

The Nerd Habit

The Nerd Habit is a collaborative group of writers who love all things nerd. We write about the latest happenings in nerd/geek culture as well as short fiction.

Our 2022 Team:

Christopher D. Horton, Hani Masry, Jerah Rose, Whitney Thompson

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