Thursday, February 10, 2022

Characters old and new in Amazon's The Rings of Power

So we have finally gotten some solid tidings regarding Amazon's The Rings of Power series, courtesy of this Vanity Fair article which, though long, is in-depth and wonderfully informative, hence a must-read. I shall do my best to extract the core elements from it. 

Galadriel, presumably during the War of Wrath seeing as her armor
is marked with the star of the House of Fëanor
The Rings of Power "will juggle 22 stars and multiple story lines, from deep within the dwarf mines of the Misty Mountains to the high politics of the elven kingdom of Lindon and the humans’ powerful, Atlantis-like island, Númenor. All this will center, eventually, around the incident that gives the trilogy its name." However and per necessity, the writers are condensing the millennia-long timeline of the Second Age since, as one of the show's writer so aptly puts its, "if you are true to the exact letter of the law, you are going to be telling a story in which your human characters are dying off every season because you’re jumping 200 years in time, and then you’re not meeting really big, important canon characters until season four. Look, there might be some fans who want us to do a documentary of Middle-earth, but we’re going to tell one story that unites all these things." Who are these characters?

  • A millennia younger Galadriel still reeling from the War of Wrath that ended the First Age that was itself and end to the War of the Jewels which saw basically her entire family – naturally excepting her father Finarfin and her husband Celeborn – killed. She is described as being "far from the wise, ethereal Elven queen that Cate Blanchett brought to Peter Jackson’s acclaimed films", instead being as angry and brash as she is clever, and certain that evil is looming closer than anyone realizes and determined to save the future.
  • Halbrand, a new character not invented by Tolkien who is a fugitive from his own past and encounters Galadriel in rather wet circumstances (i.e. they are both struggling for survival on a raft in the stormy Belegaer.).
  • Prince Durin IV of Khazad-dûm (which later became the Mines of Moria).
  • Dwarven princess Disa of Khazad-dûm, a new character not invented by Tolkien and presumably Durin IV's sister.
  • Arondir, a new character not invented by Tolkien and a silvan elf in a forbidden romance with the human Bronwyn.
  • Bronwyn, a new character not invented by Tolkien who is a single mother and village apothecary in southern Middle-earth (which implies she might be Haradrim, since Tolkien described that people as Southrons) who has a forbidden lover in Arondir.
  • A much younger Elrond, whom the show describes as politically ambitious which might be accurate seeing as he is eventually  appointed regent of Lindon by Gil-galad, and The Silmarillion demonstrates in no uncertain terms that elves are far from above political ambition.
  • Two as yet unnamed Hobbit ancestors of a race called Harfoots but who are themselves new characters not invented by Tolkien.
  • All the rest of the big names like Celebrimbor, Isildur, Gil-galad, Sauron, and many others.

Beyond this, there is the matter of whether the series will stay true to the Spirit of Tolkien and not pivot into Game of Thrones style grimdark. A question I think McKay, one of the show's writer, answers by saying that goal is to "make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary. We talked about the tone in Tolkien’s books. This is material that is sometimes scary—and sometimes very intense, sometimes quite political, sometimes quite sophisticated—but it’s also heartwarming and life-affirming and optimistic. It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness." A clear sign that the writers fully understand what makes Tolkien great and that we are in no danger of mistaking Middle-earth for that cesspool of a continent called Westeros. What is my overall opinion? Same as before. Ultimately the show will either be a masterpiece or a confirmed failure; it will either be worthy of Tolkien, as the movies were, or it wont. As says the Vanity Fair article, it is "a TV series that, if it works, could become a global phenomenon. If it falls short, it could become a cautionary tale for anyone who, to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, delves too greedily and too deep." But these images, article, and the fact that the writers appear faithful to the high ideals and nobility of spirit that characterizes Middle-earth gives me high hopes for Amazon's The Rings of Power.

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