Media previews

For discussion of Amazon's new television show "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power"
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Eldy
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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

Varking (an r/LOTR_on_Prime moderator and sometimes TORn member) shared this link in the TORn Discord server this morning. It's the most detailed account I've read of the recent Amazon/influencer confab in England. An excerpt:
The story they want to tell in season one is about the “why”. Why does everyone get fooled? Why did the rings get pitched? Why was the deception and seduction so effective?

They want to tell a story where "when shit happens, it matters, because you as a viewer understand why it happened."

They have 22 “main characters” in season one. They felt like they found 22 needles in 22 haystacks. This was the first time I felt like there were PR speak going on. And to be fair, they may truly have felt like this is the case but to a simple dwarf like me it felt sort of like a bullet point they wanted to hit. And I could be misreading that but I can only tell you how I felt.

They said “if it does not sound like Tolkien, it's not in our story”.

“Its not about us having an idea and then slapping LotR on top of it”.

“We didn’t want the show to be political. When you watch it years from now you shouldn’t be able to pinpoint when it was filmed.”

Some of the main themes of the show are “fear of death and a desire to live forever”.

“You’ll learn how everyone views the world fundamentally different.”

The show is about “different varieties of good”.

“Even our villain is the hero of his own story”.

“We have everything we need to do the story justice.” They have heard the chatter about how they don’t have enough rights to do a good job with the story.

“If the words didn’t appear somewhere written by Tolkien, then they aren’t in our script”. This will make me use The Digital Tolkien Project’s resources to check this myself once the show is live. If you haven't seen or used this amazing site to look up where words were used you can find it here: https://search.digitaltolkien.com/
A bunch more at the link, but this was the part that was most interesting to me. I'm intensely skeptical of the idea that the script only contains words written by Tolkien, based on what we know of the rights situation and of the presence of original characters. (I'm not opposed to OCs, but like, c'mon.) But what do I know?

I am very curious, and I'll admit excited, to see what answers the show offers as to why people were fooled by Sauron and why the Rings were made. I feel compelled to point out that, according to Unfinished Tales at least, most people outside the Mírdain were not fooled, but the showrunners ("McPayne"; I love it :P) presumably have to stick to what we're told in LOTR, which is a bit different. The idea of the Three Rings being a solo project of Celebrimbor's, for example, is not as clear as in UT.[1]

Their comment about death and the desire for deathlessness being major themes mirrors Tolkien's own statement about LOTR in Letter 203. This is encouraging to see.

---

[1] Elrond says that "Celebrimbor was aware of [Sauron], and hid the Three which he had made"; but Gandalf claims "the Smiths of Eregion" as a group heard Sauron speak the words of the One Ring's inscription when he first put it on (FOTR, II 2). Based on UT, Galadriel and Celeborn, Celebrimbor still held all Three Rings himself at that point.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Obviously, all this should be taken with a major dose of skepticism. That having said, at least some of it sounds encouraging, particularly the statement about some of the main themes being a fear of death and a desire to live forever. Conversely, I actually find the statement that "If the words didn’t appear somewhere written by Tolkien, then they aren’t in our script” most concerning. Tolkien wrote so little about this actual time period (particularly in the works that they actually officially have rights to) that if they really only used words "somewhere written by Tolkien" then it would require a major effort in jury-rigging words into places they don't belong. But I don't believe that it is true.

The most bizarre thing that I saw at the link is this:
I was told that while they can’t go into specifics on the Durins, they are alive at the same time due to the dreaded “time compression”. You know that thing everyone seems to dislike? I was told that when I watch the show it will be explained and they feel as a dwarf-lover I will be content with the justice they do with the Durins story and how they handle the aspect of reincarnation.
Huh?
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

Clearly, they prayed for discernment, and God told them that Durin II–VII were not actually reincarnations, because Durin I never died but instead wandered off to become Tom Bombadil.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I knew you were going to say that. :D
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Dangweth Pengolod

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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

Hey, it's one of those "either you laugh or you cry" things. :rofl:
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Just by way to explanation, there is a person at another site that both Eldy and I post at who has been making a series of bizarre arguments about Tolkien's work, including that Tom Bombadil is actually Durin the Deathless.
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Dangweth Pengolod

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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

There's an interesting interview with ROP's dialect coach just posted today by Inverse, most of which is basically what you'd expect, but one part jumped out at me:
In the first of five planned seasons for The Rings of Power, the show makes heavy use of Elvish, Dwarvish, and Orcish (“black speech”), in addition to English flavored with British and Irish palettes.
Conspicuously absent from this list, and from the rest of the article, is any mention of Adûnaic, either by name or obliquely through reference to Númenor. Possibly an oversight by the article, or perhaps an indication the show won't feature that language. A curious choice, if the latter.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Is it, though? It would seem to me to be a reasonable choice to use English as a stand-in for Adûnaic, just as in The Lord of the Rings itself, Tolkien used English as stand-in for the Westron, which itself is derived from Adûnaic. What am I missing?
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Dangweth Pengolod

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Re: Media previews

Post by Alatar »

I agree with Voronwë...
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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

No, I don't think you're missing anything, and I assume you're right that Adûnaic is what the article means when it refers to "the 'common' (English) tongue." I guess I'm hoping to nonetheless hear some Adûnaic proper nouns, though that wouldn't necessarily rise to the level of "heavy use." And, trying harder to set aside my preconceptions about Númenor than I was immediately after waking up, it would be weird for the show to switch between representing Adûnaic or Sindarin/Quenya as English (rendering the other with subtitles) depending on the native language of the speaker. For that matter, they might not have any native Sindarin speakers in Númenor at all, since Appendix F suggests pretty strongly there weren't any. Though, if they were to defy that, I think having different characters say, for example, Númenor vs Anadûnê would help make the Faithful vs King's Men cultural divide more tangible. Granted, it remains to be seen how much the show's depiction of the Númenórean cultural split will resemble the Akallabêth's, which isn't always the clearest depiction itself.
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Re: Media previews

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Exclusive First Look at the Orcs From Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power - IGN
“Well, I love Orcs,” Weber starts. “I love creature design, so I'm very happy to talk about this stuff. JD and Patrick — the showrunners — the very first page of their bible was about Orcs. They have a real passion for them, they love practical prosthetics and design, and they felt that they needed exploration given that this is the Second Age and thousands of years before the events of the Third Age. It was really important to them to treat them as their own culture and explore their world on its own two legs in its own right.”
“We spent a lot of time talking about what it would mean to be an Orc in the Second Age,” said Weber. “It felt appropriate that their look would be different, part of a wilder, more raw, Second Age, Middle-earth, closer to where the First Age ends. As we meet them, they're not yet organized into armies, they're a little more scattered and they've been scavenging. So it's just a different time in their total story.”

A different time in their story, indeed. As mentioned, the armies we see in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy – which this television series is not tied to – are yet to be created. “They [the Orcs] kind of disappeared,” notes Wilson. “Everyone thought, ‘Yay, they've been wiped off Middle-earth.' But really they regressed into the dark in small little groups, and hid away, and lived in tunnels and sort of under Middle-earth, because the only way they could hide, because of course they were hunted for so long. So this is really them coming back out as they reform under a so-called new leader who's going to lead them forward.”

It’s hard to imagine the Orcs outside of the swarms of warriors we’ve become accustomed to, but Weber dropped a major reveal for the series in regards to the Orc’s repopulation when teasing her favorite moment of the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. “There's some female Orcs that I truly loved,” she said. “But there's one Orc in particular, who's very, very tall and strong, who has a particularly enjoyable fight with one of our Elvin characters that I suspect will be, or hope will be a favorite among fans.”
Given that these Orcs look so much different from their future selves, Weber was able to break down how they approached their appearance. “The way I described it to my team, it's a bit like these are the baby versions,” he said. “They're not actually babies, but it's them coming out from the darkness. So this is early on. So for example, if you go to past films about them, you'll see them and they're quite battle damaged and scarred and all that kind, because there's been lots more battles. This is kind of before the next range of big battles. So there's a lot more smooth texture. There's still wrinkles, and lines, and shape, and form, but they're not so battle scarred, but they are dealing with some skin conditions because of their exposure to the sun. They're coming back out for the first time again. So it's all a bit new. That's why they're not as dark skinned, necessarily not as muscle-y and not as battle worn as you'd seen in previous productions.”

As with Jackson’s Lord of the Rings’ films, practical effects remain very important to the creatives behind Rings of Power And, like the Orcs, prosthetics and chemicals have evolved since Orcs first started ruining the lives of the Fellowship and their allies.
A lot more at the link. Also, pictures!

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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I beat you by a minute, but only because I only posted the link to the article (in a different thread), and not the pictures themselves.

I'm pretty impressed, I have to say.
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Dangweth Pengolod

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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

Ah, RIP me.

I agree with your comment in the other thread that the Orcs look quite good (i.e., bad). :D
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Re: Media previews

Post by Anduril »

Hard to outright screw up orcs. I even like the stylized Rankin-Bass cat-like and dog-like goblins. But - Takeaway one: they wanted to avoid them being darker for reasons, but if the designer's comments are canon this doesn't actually "fix" anything because the survivors will become that. Then simple biology means that later generations will also start off lighter anyway? Takeaway two, the explanation of lack of sunlight underground surely would apply to all dwarves too by their standards. Takeaway three, going by the books, I'm not sure anyone ever thought orcs were wiped out completely at any point after Morgoth's overthrow. Sauron nearly repented but hid out of fear/pride and did not answer the summons, they knew he was unaccounted for, and thus he must have had his servants also hiding.

The best non-movie-influenced orc designs I've seen were in a game mod, "The Last Days" (of the Third Age), for Mount & Blade.
Last edited by Anduril on Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

Anduril wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:23 amTakeaway three, going by the books, I'm not sure anyone ever thought orcs were wiped out completely at any point after Morgoth's overthrow.
I'm inclined to agree. In fact, the essay Of Dwarves and Men goes so far as to make incursions into north-central Middle-earth by Orcish survivors of the War of Wrath a significant part of the history of the Longbeard Dwarves and their Mannish allies in the early Second Age. Though this is (arguably) at odds with the final chapter of the Quenta Silmarillion, which states that "few [Orcs] remained to trouble the world for long years after" the end of the war.
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