Amazon will produce a LoTR TV series
November 14, 2017 10:51 AM   Subscribe

 
I'm here for the tales of the Ent Wives.
posted by drezdn at 10:58 AM on November 14 [28 favorites]


Who's hoping for French Stewart as Tom Bombadil?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:58 AM on November 14 [22 favorites]


Just to be clear before the jokes start - this only covers material from LOTR and the Hobbit. The film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material have never been sold.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:00 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


The film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material have never been sold.

Booooooo.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:03 AM on November 14 [9 favorites]


"The dwarves delved too greedily and deep.."
posted by jadepearl at 11:04 AM on November 14 [54 favorites]


General Kelly as Wormtongue.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:05 AM on November 14 [7 favorites]


Join Frodo and Sam as they solve mysteries, fight criminal agents of Mordor and protect their beloved Shire in Hobbit CIS.

Hilarity ensues when Sam and Rose are forced to move in to Bag End with confirmed bachelor Frodo in the wacky fun-filled Full Hobbit Hole.
posted by jabo at 11:05 AM on November 14 [18 favorites]


The films did a respectable job of simulating the endless pages of walking where nothing happens in the books, but you can only do so much with approximately 65 hours of feature film.

Really looking forward to another sixteen years (roughly) of landscape-chewing.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:07 AM on November 14 [8 favorites]


I could do with a hard-boiled detective Middle Earth AU. There are several Harry Potter hard-boiled detective AUs that I quite like.

This whole thing gives me a sinking feeling, though.
posted by Frowner at 11:07 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


Deadline had an interesting piece about it yesterday:
Here is the curious part of Amazon’s announcement on a multi-season commitment to turn the JRR Tolkien conceived The Lord of the Rings into an event TV series. Amazon has not tried to enlist the help of, or even reached out to Peter Jackson.
posted by Petersondub at 11:10 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear before the jokes start - this only covers material from LOTR and the Hobbit. The film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material have never been sold.

I wouldn't rule that out right away. The Tolkien Estate is involved directly in this deal, rather than Middle-Earth Enterprises. The Estate absolutely could offer Amazon the rights to Silmarillion materials. In fact, I don't know if it's even legally permissible for the Estate to re-license anything directly related to the Hobbit or LOTR (even prequels or sequels that might overlap with materials in the appendices) without MEE getting on board.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:10 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


The film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material have never been sold.

Which is kind of a shame, given how rich the stories of the pre-ages and the first age are. Galadriel could kick serious arse on screen. The Lanisters have nothing on Feanor's oath.

But it's also kind of not a shame, given how badly the Hobbit went.
posted by bonehead at 11:11 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Really looking forward to another sixteen years (roughly) of landscape-chewing.

I think you're being sarcastic, but I would be so happy for a show that was literally just hobbits walking in a forest with occasional tavern stops.
posted by Think_Long at 11:12 AM on November 14 [37 favorites]


Sorry, correction, New Line is also involved, and they currently hold film rights that have been granted to them by MEE.

But my point about the Tolkien Estate -- which holds all literary rights, including to The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales -- being involved still stands.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:12 AM on November 14


The films did a respectable job of simulating the endless pages of walking where nothing happens in the books, but you can only do so much with approximately 65 hours of feature film.

In fairness I feel like this is a more apt complaint about The Hobbit series than Lord of the Rings. Granted: I am biased. I am the kind of person who would (did) go to every one of the LotR movies opening night, including an all-day "watch the first two special editions then the third on release day" thing. I have more than once watched all three special editions in a day. So IMHO LotR is fine.

The Hobbit: A Series of WTF more of this? though? Christ, Peter, what did you do?
posted by tocts at 11:12 AM on November 14 [9 favorites]


Children of Hurin! Children of Hurin!
posted by drezdn at 11:13 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


I'd quite like a non-Jackson version of LOTR because, let's face it, the films have the aesthetic qualities of a Thomas Kinkade painting
posted by The River Ivel at 11:14 AM on November 14 [20 favorites]


Are these related or not to the stand-alone Han Solo film?
posted by beerperson at 11:18 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


It seems like people are very keen to find the next Game Of Thrones.
(Is that what they mean by event tv series?)

Which I'm fine with because it increases the odds that eventually HBO will chuck millions and millions of dollars at a 10 season long tv show of every (real) Dune Book.
HBO would love to do the last few books where the sex nun and a clone from season one who gets extra trained in sex get sex addicted to each other and live on an invisible spaceship whilst al the other sex nuns from the diaspora fight burn planets and everyone sits on dogs.
How much more HBO event TV can you get?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:20 AM on November 14 [27 favorites]


If they do get the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales there would be a lot of material to draw from.

Without it, I'm trying to think where they could go - I guess you could show the attempted reclamation of Khazad-Dum by the Longbeards or maybe get a little weird and show us Aragorn's reclamation of Mordor following the war of the Ring. I don't know, i'm not very creative today.

Feeling both interest and trepidation.
posted by nubs at 11:21 AM on November 14


Downton Abbey with Hobbits. That's what I like.

Or maybe Poldark with Hobbits. After returning home from his adventures in The Hobbit, and while he's waiting for The Lord of the Rings to get properly started, Bilbo must deal with the endless petty schemes of those shameless bastards the Sackville-Bagginses.

Alternately, in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, there's a storyline involving an Ewok who discovered a crashed starship, figured out how to get off her planet, and is now running around the galaxy being your best friend and wild-eyed murder teddy.

So hobbits in space might be cool.
posted by Naberius at 11:22 AM on November 14 [9 favorites]


Finally a format for people that feel the extended editions of the films are just too rushed.
posted by borkencode at 11:24 AM on November 14 [18 favorites]


The Hobbit: A Series of WTF more of this? though? Christ, Peter, what did you do?

When Jackson took over production of the films from Del Toro the production schedule never got changed. He admits himself he didn't know what he was doing, was rushed, and didn't have a clear vision.

I still think the biggest mistake made was trying to get three movies out of The Hobbit; it's one good three hour movie, I think. Two well made films if I'm feeling generous.
posted by nubs at 11:26 AM on November 14 [11 favorites]


For The Hobbit, I saw the first in theater, the second I watched on HBO and bailed out mid-way, the third I never bothered. "Butter scraped over too much bread" comes to mind.

I really wish we'd had Del Toro's version.
posted by tocts at 11:28 AM on November 14 [24 favorites]


It's fun reading the book "The Hobbit," watching the movie and then the 70s animated version. The 70s animated version rushes through so much, with some bits only making sense if you're familiar with the book.

I do think with all of the action sequences in the book, it would have been possible to get 2 good/great movies out of it.
posted by drezdn at 11:32 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Amazon has not tried to enlist the help of, or even reached out to Peter Jackson.

When oh when will we get Peter Jackson's take on Lord of the Rings?
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:32 AM on November 14 [13 favorites]


I don't fault Jackson for the way the Hobbit movies turned out and I still think that the original Jackson trilogy are classics. As others have said, he did the best with what he was given.

There's been a weird revisionism over the last couple years since the first Hobbit movie to just pretend like the LotR Films Are All Bad Film Actually but that's false and I'll take that argument to the grave.

There's so much ground to cover in Middle Earth there are about a half dozen stories off the top of my head I could imagine getting turned into a sustaining series. It will live and die by the project leadership, who need to have a clear vision about what kind of story they want to tell that has to be more than "the next GoT monster hit."
posted by Tevin at 11:32 AM on November 14 [9 favorites]


tobascodagama: Just to be clear before the jokes start - this only covers material from LOTR and the Hobbit. The film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material have never been sold.

From TFA: The series won’t be a straight adaptation of the books. Amazon said in a release that it plans to “explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.”

New LOTR fanfics!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


I'd be fairly excited about a season or two of Tom Bombadil: All Shrubbery, Great and Small.
posted by LionIndex at 11:38 AM on November 14 [18 favorites]


I am, I think, a more devoted than average fan of Tolkien's works, and while I was very excited about the Jackson films (the LOTR, not the Hobbit) when they were released, and I enjoyed them, they really haven't aged well. The sets are magnificent, the costuming is good, but much of the acting (even from otherwise very talented actors) is stilted and wooden, the script is often awkward and nonsensical, and the characterizations, particularly where they differ from Tolkien, don't really make sense.

I mean, why are the elves are moving and speaking at 3/4 speed? Why are the Nagzul sort of floating? Are they on wheels? And what's with the dwarf-tossing jokes? Even at the time, Legolas riding a shield down the stairs was cringe-worthy.

I look forward to whatever Amazon is going to give us. The involvement of the Tolkien Estate and Harper Collins indicates to me that material from the Silmarillion isn't entirely off the table. I would imagine that first we'll get maybe the period between the Last Alliance and Fellowship, Isildur's death, and the childhood of Aragorn, maybe the rise of the Witch King and the fall of Arnor.

If the Estate feels that they have made something that is in keeping with what they see as the spirit of the written work, maybe then they'll get to do some Silmarillion material.
posted by curiousgene at 11:38 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


tobascodagama: "I wouldn't rule that out right away. The Tolkien Estate is involved directly in this deal, rather than Middle-Earth Enterprises."

Yes, and Christopher Tolkien is vehemently opposed to any filmed version of his father's work. He will die at some point, and perhaps then the estate will be more flexible. But as long as he is alive, you are not seeing anything other than Hobbit/LOTR (the rights to which JRRT sold off decades ago).
posted by Chrysostom at 11:41 AM on November 14


OK, welp, clearly I seem to stand alone in that, I love the books and really didn't care much for the films. Not to be selfish, but I hope that they don't get the film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material, as it might lead more people to discover Tolkien's writing.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:41 AM on November 14


Yes, and Christopher Tolkien is vehemently opposed to any filmed version of his father's work.

Christopher Tolkien is on the board of the Tolkien Estate, which is directly involved with this deal.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:43 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


The Great Hobbit Bake-Off

incl. pipeweed
posted by clew at 11:43 AM on November 14 [11 favorites]


I will be very, very, very surprised if we see any film version of anything outside of Hobbit/LOTR while Christopher is alive, I will say that. He's spent decades railing about it, and I'm not aware of any kind of board coup or anything.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:45 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


OK, welp, clearly I seem to stand alone in that, I love the books and really didn't care much for the films.

No, you aren’t alone - I know there a lots of people out there who love the books and dislike/loathe the films.

I love the books, and I loved the films when they came out. I’m less enthused about them now, but I also don’t dislike them - it’s just that some of the choices made (Gimli as comic relief; The increasing stunt kills of Legolas; the weird way the Ents decide to go to war) that I could initially overlook now grate on me more and more.
posted by nubs at 11:51 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


They could focus on Aragorn bumming around during his 30 - 70s? As I recall he fought as a mercenary/volunteer for Rohan and Gondor. Plenty of space for building out some interesting stories.
posted by Eddie Mars at 11:52 AM on November 14 [6 favorites]


Christopher is 92 years old. Maybe he realized new adaptations are inevitable and decided he might as well exert some oversight and input before it's too late.
posted by Iridic at 11:52 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


OK, welp, clearly I seem to stand alone in that, I love the books and really didn't care much for the films. Not to be selfish, but I hope that they don't get the film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material, as it might lead more people to discover Tolkien's writing.

I really don't get this stance. If people who otherwise wouldn't have ever tried reading the Silmarillion will give it a go, I can't see how that's a bad thing. I would prefer that everyone read it prior to seeing any adaptation, but as I can't enforce that rule, let's try to popularise the works as best we can.

edit: anyway, I assume this 'prequel' is going to be Appendix B material, not Silmarillion ...
posted by wilko at 11:57 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Downton Abbey with Hobbits.

Grey's Anatomy with elves.

Sherlock, but with Gandalf.

Dr. Who with Gandalf (not my favorite, but really fits, I think)

The Good Place with orcs.

Cheers with dwarves.

Mad Men in Middle Earth.
posted by amtho at 12:00 PM on November 14 [6 favorites]


I hope that they don't get the film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material, as it might lead more people to discover Tolkien's writing

Buh?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:00 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


The axe swings and heads will roll as combative Kings fight to control the underground realm of Moria in Game of Dwarves.

Follow the gritty real life drama of the Took, Proudfoot and Underhill gang as they love, laugh and live in We Are Hobbiton.

Learn how merrily singing can keep your flower beds Orc free on Gardening with Tom Bombadil (now on PBS Create)!

Memail me Amazon; I’m full of ideas.
posted by jabo at 12:03 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Downton Abbey with Hobbits.

Press Your Luck with Orcs
Let's Make a Deal with Ringwraiths
Bumper Stumpers with Ents
posted by uncleozzy at 12:06 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


I understand the power of branding in making something like this a success, and how expensive it is to produce for a relatively niche market of fantasy fans. I can't pretend I'm not going to watch it and probably enjoy it. It just disappoints because fantasy has such potential for broad exploration of colorful concepts and there's such a narrow orthodoxy of modes to how it gets presented visually, and so consistently militaristic in subject matter.

It's just that love to see a good screen adaptation of The Inheritance Trilogy or the Pern Harper Hall series or... like, ANYTHING with a slightly different tone and focus, you know?
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:06 PM on November 14 [8 favorites]


Downton Abbey with Hobbits.

Game of Thrones with dragons.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:08 PM on November 14


Game of Thrones without sex.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:08 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


Christopher is 92 years old. Maybe he realized new adaptations are inevitable and decided he might as well exert some oversight and input before it's too late.

Especially since we now have a whole generation whose experience of LOTR mainly comes from the Hobbit movies and the Shadow of Mordor series of video games. He might have come around to a belief that a serious attempt at a TV adaptation of, say, the Fall of Gondolin could be the lesser of two evils.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:09 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


You could also check in on the Istari, and see what happened when Saruman went East with the two blue wizards. The problem I see for all of this is that the further away they get from the familiar touchstones, the harder it may be to find an audience. Perhaps an interesting place to go would be to show Sauron the Deceiver coming to the Elves and teaching them the craft of ring forging, leading to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and the battle that open the movie versions of LotR.
posted by nubs at 12:12 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Ideal outcome: Basically, What We Do in the Shadows only with orcs instead of vampires.
posted by sourcequench at 12:17 PM on November 14 [20 favorites]


Glen Weldon has thoughts: To The Manor Beorn.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:19 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


I wish we were at a point with Tolkien similar to where we finally are with Lovecraft: Open acknowledgement that while there is a whole lot to love about the world he built, there's also a ton of problematic things in there and using "product of his time" to excuse them all can't quite cut it anymore.

As it is, while the 12 year old in me is thrilled with the prospect of MOAR Tolkien coming at me from the various glowing rectangles in my life, grown up me despairs at the fact that those of us who aren't beautiful (or comically non-beautiful -- eg, the way some of the dwarves and certain of the hobbits are presented), able-bodied, heterosexual white people are going to be looking at yet another tentpole series in speculative fiction that won't feature very many people like us doing anything that matters.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:23 PM on November 14 [19 favorites]


Glen Weldon has thoughts

Man, there's some deep cuts in there. Props.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:26 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Amazon said in a release that it plans to “explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.”

So, it's the story of Spock's adopted Numenorian brother's time fighting the Klingons?
posted by hanov3r at 12:31 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


How about just metal opera of Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth to cover the Silmarillion?
posted by charred husk at 12:33 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


>Gimli as comic relief; The increasing stunt kills of Legolas; the weird way the Ents decide to go to war

The inability to think of a way of showing Gandalf as powerful except to have him whack people with his stick...

But it's no harm to the source material to make trashy LOTR shows that people can enjoy or ignore, as they prefer. There's plenty of stuff in the movies that I think kinda stinks, but I'd have wept real tears of joy if I'd been able to see that stuff when I was twelve. Who am I to spoil anybody's fun? I'm paying for Amazon Prime and if they put this stuff out there I'm gonna watch it whether it's any good or not. I personally look forward to the inevitable Wood-Elves Vs. Predator crossover...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:37 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Isn't it about time to reboot Game of Thrones
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:41 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Grand Designs Middle Earth : Kevin McCloud talks to exasperated architects and builders while the Witch King of Angmar keeps asking for extra spires and pointy bits on Minas Morgul.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:48 PM on November 14 [6 favorites]


Frowner: "This whole thing gives me a sinking feeling, though."

So, Numenor then?
posted by caution live frogs at 12:49 PM on November 14 [13 favorites]


Cheers with dwarves.

I'd watch a Prancing Pony sitcom, and so would you.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:52 PM on November 14 [13 favorites]


The film rights to the Silmarillion and other ancillary material have never been sold.

This bodes well for the possibility of Mr P. Jackson covering The Silmarillion as a franchise of 36 x 3.5 hour movies.
posted by Wordshore at 12:55 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


I've said it before, but I don't really understand the economics of modern TV, and can't help but think we're in a bubble. I don't know how so many people can spend millions of dollars, multiple times what TV shows cost 20-30 years ago, on shows that have a fraction of the audience of the older ones.
posted by bongo_x at 12:59 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


I'd quite like a non-Jackson version of LOTR because, let's face it, the films have the aesthetic qualities of a Thomas Kinkade painting

I loved the LOTR movies for what they were, which is the best possible version of the books that Hollywood could've produced at the time. Because seriously, I do think they were. But that said, I always felt there was more bombast and running around than anybody needed, not enough of what I guess I'd call the elegiac. In other words, please do re-explore the three books of the trilogy, and take twenty-thirty-forty hours, however long it takes. But keep it the f*** away from Peter Jackson* and the like (ie: the Hollywood Big Concept types), give it instead to kind of filmmakers who aren't afraid to get lost in a sumptuous dream.

Here's hoping ...

* I do think Jackson did very okay with the trilogy, but was so traumatized by first his King Kong CGI wank-fest and then whatever the hell he thought he was doing with Lovely Bones that I never even bothered with the Hobbit movies
posted by philip-random at 1:02 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


I don't know how so many people can spend millions of dollars, multiple times what TV shows cost 20-30 years ago, on shows that have a fraction of the audience of the older ones.

The Fellowship will be adding a know-it-all hobbit named Alexa.
posted by drezdn at 1:04 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


I've said it before, but I don't really understand the economics of modern TV, and can't help but think we're in a bubble. I don't know how so many people can spend millions of dollars, multiple times what TV shows cost 20-30 years ago, on shows that have a fraction of the audience of the older ones.

The economics appear to be, if you put enough money into it, it can become a self-sustaining, money generating machine, somewhat proportional to the investment.

See: Why Amazon Just Spent a Fortune to Turn Lord of the Rings Into TV (Derek Thompson, TheAtlantic) - "There is no “Moneyball” for media. In entertainment, overkill is underrated."
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:09 PM on November 14


House Hunters Middle Earth: He wants a hobbit-hole out in the country; she prefers a small house in Bree.


Breaking Bad, Shire Style: The Gaffer has lived a quiet, unassuming life...but when he's faced with a life-ending illness, he'll use his gardening knowledge to create the best pipeweed Middle Earth has ever seen.
posted by nubs at 1:14 PM on November 14 [7 favorites]


It just disappoints because fantasy has such potential for broad exploration of colorful concepts and there's such a narrow orthodoxy of modes to how it gets presented visually, and so consistently militaristic in subject matter.

It's just that love to see a good screen adaptation of The Inheritance Trilogy or the Pern Harper Hall series or... like, ANYTHING with a slightly different tone and focus, you know?


There's like half a century of fantasy fiction that people keep not adapting instead of yet another middle earth retread. I'm not even a huge fan of the genre, and I find it irritating as hell.

I am however excited that Lin-Manuel Miranda is going to do a series set in the world of The Kingkiller Chronicles. Which I'm hoping means Rothfuss actually is going to publish the third book.

That one is only a minor-ish shift in type of fantasy story, but it is a noticeable difference and maybe it'll open the door to more varied stuff.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:14 PM on November 14 [7 favorites]


Cooking With Samwise Gamgee.

JUST. TAKE. MY. MONEY.
posted by Fizz at 1:21 PM on November 14 [12 favorites]


While I love LOTR, I do not understand why anyone thinks we need more of it, when the complete works of Guy Gavriel Kay are sitting right there. Seriously. Multiple novels, in multiple historic and potentially gorgeous locations, that slightly reference each other enough to consider them all as happening in the same universe and hence adaptable together. Come ON, Hollywood, what are you waiting for??
posted by dnash at 1:22 PM on November 14 [6 favorites]


what the fuck, nubs
posted by The Gaffer at 1:22 PM on November 14 [19 favorites]


There's been a weird revisionism over the last couple years since the first Hobbit movie to just pretend like the LotR Films Are All Bad Film Actually

I hadn't heard that. The Hobbit films were terrible wrecks compared to the LoTR trilogy, but I thought the consensus was that they weren't as bad as the Star Wars prequels whereby people started losing interest in the originals.
posted by Metro Gnome at 1:25 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Press Your Luck with Orcs
Let's Make a Deal with Ringwraiths
Bumper Stumpers with Ents


Duck Dynasty with Swamp Trolls!

Oh wait, that's just Duck Dynasty.
posted by Naberius at 1:26 PM on November 14 [6 favorites]


what the fuck, nubs
posted by The Gaffer


I'll....see myself out. *leaves for Utumno*
posted by nubs at 1:28 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Can't we have some new stuff? I'm sure there's plenty of half decent GOT-ish series Amazon could have a got at.

I've not watched the LOTR films for a long while and I suspect that they may have not aged all that well. And the Hobbit yeah... watched the first... and that was that...

May be it's all a heathern/anglican plot to stop Tolkien being canonised
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:29 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


You could also check in on the Istari, and see what happened when Saruman went East with the two blue wizards. The problem I see for all of this is that the further away they get from the familiar touchstones, the harder it may be to find an audience. Perhaps an interesting place to go would be to show Sauron the Deceiver coming to the Elves and teaching them the craft of ring forging, leading to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and the battle that open the movie versions of LotR.

The blue wizards could be cool since there's so much left unexplored in even the deepest recesses of the unpublished material, but the treatment of the barbaric Easterners is already one of the most racist bits of the whole corpus, and considering the tiny scrap of official text we have for that bit amounts to them getting becoming seduced by the culture somehow and founding proto-Hinduism, anything beyond the most basic version of the idea would probably be excruciatingly racist and awful.

I would be extremely down with something covering the ring-forging, and you could possibly extend it to the fall of Numenor, which has a lot of fun moments as well.
posted by Copronymus at 1:35 PM on November 14


Why the fuck is everything a prequel?!! Ugh?!! So tired of this shit. I'm sure its marketing and money or something but damnit, I'd love for someone to take a risk and move beyond canonical time-lines from franchises.

Disney is showing that this can be done successfully with Star Wars films, but television is always stuck in permanent prequel-itis.
posted by Fizz at 1:38 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


When I was younger I would have been over the moon at the idea of a LotRs TV series but now I'm feeling more than a little burnt out on medieval-ish fantasy and wish they'd give it break for a while.
posted by octothorpe at 1:39 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Why must all fandom related posts on mefi generally revolve around bitterness, gatekeeping/book purists and "I'm so cool because I never really liked the thing anyways".

Am I allowed to say I'm optimistic without everyone seeing me as an unrefined pleb? Because yeah, I'm kinda excited. Mostly because as far as fantasy entertainment goes, we are very lacking in high budget stuff that's neither exploitatively gruesome, overly sexualized or horribly post-modern and smug.
posted by InkDrinker at 1:52 PM on November 14 [6 favorites]


Why the fuck is everything a prequel?!! Ugh?!! So tired of this shit. I'm sure its marketing and money or something but damnit, I'd love for someone to take a risk and move beyond canonical time-lines from franchises.

Yeah, I think when people start playing with franchises they get risk averse pretty fast; prequels seem less risky, I guess, because you are giving a lot of assurance to the fans that you are going to stay within the lines because you can't do anything that breaks the known facts; you try to tell a story set before or in between the larger ones.

And not that those can't be good stories, but fuck - let's swing for some fences here, and go into the future a bit. I would love to see Middle Earth about 100 years into the Fourth Age, as Aragon's life and rule begin to come to an end. He's trying to reunite Gondor and Arnor, he's got problems still to the East, or maybe pick up on the scanty notes about The New Shadow?
posted by nubs at 1:52 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Fellowship is the only good movie of the 6. They get progressively worse, until the end of the Hobbit series where it's just pointless and boring. How can a series hope to be any better?
posted by orrnyereg at 1:59 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Though I just remembered the Pukel men of Dunharrow and realized that Time Team: Middle Earth would be pretty amazing. Phil Harding would not be at all out of place.
posted by orrnyereg at 2:03 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Storage Wars, but with Smaug
posted by oulipian at 2:06 PM on November 14 [17 favorites]


I love LotR, despite - gasp - not having read the books (they are quite long).

I loved the films, even the extended editions (but not the awful Hobbit films).

I love the LCG from Fantasy Flight Games (though I am getting rid of my near-complete collection because it is taking up too much room, is too rules bloaty and fiddly, and because Arkham Horror is my new LCG obsession).

I loved Shadow of Mordor and have barely put down Shadow of War since I bought it a week ago.

So I guess what I am saying is, I am exactly the sort of pudgy-headed mouth-breathing LotR toe-dipping non-canon faux-fan idiot pretender that a TV series like this has been designed for, and so will watch the hell out of it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:07 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


NPR's Glen Weldon gets in with the joke ideas:
The hunt is on for the series that will be the Maude to Lord of the Rings' All in the Family. The Empty Nest to its Golden Girls.

... The She-Ra to its He-Man.

We have some ideas.

1. The Tom Bombadil Mysteries

Everyone's favorite immortal forest-spirit and his wife Goldberry caper through The Old Forest solving animal-on-animal crimes while singing tra-la-la-la!

It's ... it's less annoying than it sounds, the singing.

2. Hangin' With Mr. Bombadil

Everyone's favorite immortal forest-spirit and his wife Goldberry kick it with some of Arthedain's surliest, most hardened teens. They provide straight talk, and tough love ... and singing. Lots of singing. So, so much singing.

3. CSI: Numenor

Join Nindamos's brilliant but troubled medical examiner as he solves crimes and snippily dismisses his assistant's concerns about rising sea levels.

4. B.O.M.B.A.D.I.L.

Join the men and women of B.O.M.B.A.D.I.L — The Benevolent Order of Merry, Bucolic Agents of Divine-Ish Law — as they defend the Kingdom of Arnor's borders from those who would upset the natural balance, using only their wits. And singing.

5. Survivorman: Rhovanion

Test your survival skills against the Ranger men call Strider, or Longshanks. How does he survive in The Wild? Where did he learn so much Elvish lore about herbs and berries? And why does his hair look so good when he hasn't showered in months? Is that the Numenorian genes or what?
There are 5 more on the linked article.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:17 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Ideal outcome: Basically, What We Do in the Shadows only with orcs instead of vampires.

If Amazon has half a brain they will film in NZ, use many of the same locations, and keep the aesthetic of the original trilogy (and the Shadow games). Also, they will have Taika Waititi direct the orc episodes, as you suggest.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:17 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Why the fuck is everything a prequel?!! Ugh?!! So tired of this shit. I'm sure its marketing and money or something but damnit, I'd love for someone to take a risk and move beyond canonical time-lines from franchises.

Conan the Barbarian == the Fifth Age after everyone has forgotten Ainu and fallen to worship of things like Snake spirits. In my head at least. The fate of the Blue Magicians fits perfectly into that context.
posted by bonehead at 2:18 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


"....also starring: Kristen Bell as Goldberry."

....ring-ding-a-dillo!
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:20 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I love prequels because they usually take a story I adore and show me how all the things lead up to that story.

I absolutely love Dune but Frank went a bit looney after like the 3rd it 4th one, honestly.

Point is, I loved the Brian & Kévin books, Prelude to Dune, that were a trilogy of the events in the years immediately before Dune, each one focused on a major house... Harkonnen, Corrino, Atreides. It made the dynamics of Dune much more understandable.

I'd watch the fuck out of any backstory or prequels for LOTR and Dune.

(and several other books but let's not get greedy)
posted by sio42 at 2:22 PM on November 14


Came to grouch about too little or none of Tom Bombidil

Join the men and women of B.O.M.B.A.D.I.L — The Benevolent Order of Merry, Bucolic Agents of Divine-Ish Law

Please please please, call and drop hints to your show runner buddies!
posted by sammyo at 2:27 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


real entwives of beleriand
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 2:28 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


.
posted by filtergik at 2:30 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, we'll still have the books.
posted by Coaticass at 2:30 PM on November 14


sio42: "Point is, I loved the Brian & Kévin books, Prelude to Dune"

...That's a bold position to take.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:33 PM on November 14 [11 favorites]


sio42: "Point is, I loved the Brian & Kévin books, Prelude to Dune"

...That's a bold position to take.


Favorited so fucking hard I snort-laughed coffee out of my nose.
posted by Fizz at 2:41 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I'm feeling more than a little burnt out on medieval-ish fantasy

It doesn't have to be medievalish, especially if you go back to the mega-scale architecture and ludicrously accomplished craftselfship of the First Age.
posted by Iridic at 2:46 PM on November 14


It doesn't have to be medievalish, especially if you go back to the mega-scale architecture and ludicrously accomplished craftselfship of the First Age.

It could be very Thor in outer-space style. Hmmm...
posted by Fizz at 2:50 PM on November 14


The Fellowship will be adding a know-it-all hobbit named Alexa.

Clearly you don't have an Echo...
posted by madajb at 2:50 PM on November 14


I absolutely love Dune but Frank went a bit looney after like the 3rd it 4th one, honestly.


Is that around the time that Paul’s children turn into sand worms? I didn’t make it past that one.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:57 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


"Fear and Loathing in The Shire"
posted by I-Write-Essays at 2:59 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


"Fear and Loathing in The Shire"
We were somewhere around Buckland, on the edge of the Old Forest, when the pipeweed began to take hold.
posted by curiousgene at 3:03 PM on November 14 [22 favorites]


Is that around the time that Paul’s children turn into sand worms? I didn’t make it past that one.

I don't want to continue the derail but God Emperor of Dune was kind of phenomenal, at least in my opinion. I loved this far futurist Arrakis and the exploration of how Paul's lineage has gone so far.
posted by Fizz at 3:05 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


Joke's on you. The series is just going to consist of the approximately ~20 hours of dwarf songs that couldn't fit into the movies.
posted by schmod at 3:19 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


BAD TOOK AND THE CRIME ELVES or nothing!
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


We Need to Talk About Sméagol
posted by middleclasstool at 3:27 PM on November 14 [16 favorites]


holy shit autocorrect corrected Sméagol
posted by middleclasstool at 3:28 PM on November 14 [16 favorites]


Who's hoping for French Stewart as Tom Bombadil?

Honestly they should just go all in. Andy Dick as Gandalf. Louis Anderson in a dress as Galadriel. Micheal Cera as Sauron. Then have them all play it completely straight.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:41 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


The series is just going to consist of the approximately ~20 hours of dwarf songs that couldn't fit into the movies.

I would find this to be completely acceptable, TBH.

Also acceptable: Gangs of New York but it's Bullroarer Took versus the goblins.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:42 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


I await the numerous Aaron Sorkin styled walking scenes... so many
posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:45 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Shire Nine-Nine
posted by amtho at 4:09 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


Tokien spent a lifetime creating lore, maps, geneaologies, a world so deep and rich in its own made up stories that one could really do something wonderful with it.

It would be nice to see Amazon go for broke and create a TCU akin to Marvel's MCU. The scope is massive, though.

How do you make it all fit together? Or should you even try?

You do have one single unifying point that new generations of fans only aware of the movies will appreciate: Sauron.

Following Sauron's path up to the end of the Second Age when you tie it in to the opening scenes of Jackson's Fellowship has so many stories, and many could stand alone, and could jump around Sauron's timeline.

I feel First Age stuff can be way too epic in scope with which to start the show; it almost feels like it should be a second series after several seasons of establishing the Second Age.

And also, Sauron IS the Lord of the Rings, so you could certainly title the series that and just go with each season being a different story wherein Sauron is involved, however small a role.

I'd like to see it all start with LOTR: Akallabêth. It has Sauron in physical form and ends with his body destroyed as Numenor sinks into the sea; and it shows that Sauron survives to take up the Ring of Power.

It makes for a lynchpin for future seasons where they are pre- and post-Akallabêth, so some seasons have Sauron still in physical form (and now introduce First Age stories like Beren and Luthien, Turin and Nienor), plus darker stories of when Sauron has the One Ring. Finally, let's have a season devoted to Isildur, which has the closest relationship to the current movies.

I think I've gotten my expectations up. I need to stop reading about this, forget about it completely, and try to be pleasantly surprised and somewhat hopeful it'll be something amazing when it comes out.

Yeah. Let's do that.
posted by linux at 5:12 PM on November 14 [9 favorites]


I think they should go all in for the slashers. Shoot "The Very Secret Diaries" version of Fellowship. Sam will kill him if he tries anything.

I loved the books and loved the original trilogy of movies. Yes, the Hobbit films were a mess but you know what, I will watch even them. When any of these come on TV my wife and I will generally stop everything and watch. That can easily lead to a lost weekend if we're not careful.

There's just a wealth of material to be explored. Tolkien tossed off so many mentions of other events as the original tale progressed and there's plenty of material in the appendices. I know it's blasphemy to the purists (you should see the discussion over on the ASOIAF forum - they're apoplectic). But Amazon must shoot in NZ and for the love of Bombadil, use WETA.
posted by Ber at 5:14 PM on November 14


Framing sequence set in the trenches, where fictionalized Tolkien uses lessons drawn from his stories about elves to solve problems.

Alternately set it post WWII and have Tolkien and Lewis get into bar scraps with Arthur C Clarke.
posted by Artw at 5:20 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that they haven't hired anybody yet, written a word of this, produced a single scrap of concept art, etc., etc. Only the youngest among us will actually live to watch this thing on their Neural OptiVisors.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:54 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


I dislike the Peter Jackson movies as a fan of the novel, but I do think there's a TV series worth of material in just the White Council chapter of LotR, where Gandalf lays out how the current mission is the culmination of decades of planning and forays against Sauron's forces. Lots of material to explore between that and the Appendices.

But when you get right down to it they've bought the rights to script and televise a fanfic.
posted by graymouser at 6:03 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Iron Hills 90210

Bojack Rohirrim

Rick and Melkor

Pimp My Pony

Walker: Dúnedain Ranger
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:18 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


Why are you folks so hung up on Second Age media? They might go with reality shows.

The Smith of Wooton Major could be a competitive forgery show.

Farmer Giles of Cooking Ham
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:47 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


I just finished rereading Silmarillion, and between Akallabeth and the supplementary stuff in RotK, i was surprised to realize how much second age material is actually written down and all official-like. My impression had always been that there was very little, but it's just sketchy enough that it could serve pretty well as an outline for a show. So while it would be cool to have some version of the first age depicted visually (Ungoliant! some Avari mofos! two whole episodes of Thingol and Melian just looking at each other deep in a hoary wood!) that would be hella unwieldy and sprawling, THEREFORE THUS do i FORETELL that it shall be some tale of the second age, encompassing Celebrimbor and the ring-making and ending with the sinking of Numenor and the Change of the World and a really short scene of Ar-pharazon chillin on Valinor Beach and then the Last Alliance and Sauron getting his damn finger sliced off. Isildur struts offstage, pursued by an orc. Overhead shot of Gladden Fields. Fade to black. Cliffhanger. Then another LotR trilogy starring North West and Ryan Gosling's kids.

Howbeit, i FORETELL that there SHALL BE an episode about the Oath of Feanor that will be an allegory of the Republicans' obsession with repealing the estate tax. Because they're the same thing, only different.
posted by Zerowensboring at 7:14 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


I'd settle for "Lord of The Rings" but with colorblind casting.
posted by thivaia at 7:28 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


And maybe gender-swapped.
posted by thivaia at 7:29 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Reality shows? Then RuPaul's Wizard Race.
Same set-up, same challenges, same judges, except as a wizard competition.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:41 PM on November 14


Same set-up, same challenges, same judges, except as a wizard competition

Fizban the Fabulous
posted by nubs at 9:19 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I dislike the Peter Jackson movies as a fan of the novel, but I do think there's a TV series worth of material in just the White Council chapter of LotR, where Gandalf lays out how the current mission is the culmination of decades of planning and forays against Sauron's forces. Lots of material to explore between that and the Appendices.

But when you get right down to it they've bought the rights to script and televise a fanfic.
posted by graymouser at 6:03 PM on November 14 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


And my brethren and sistarii of the City of Black Togas, the oldest and rankest town in all the Nine Universes, I ask you: *where* is that red-headed mountain of a man? *Where* is his rodent-skin clad skulking twin? Why do the Old Lords taunt us with these inferior entertainments, when the truest tales - the most heroic tales - the most appalling tales - pass among us as idle street chatter, gossip in alley and temple? Where, I ask, is the hovelscreen visualization of the Mystic Twain?
posted by mwhybark at 11:46 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


@NiveaSerrao:

My other pitch is MORDOR, HE WROTE:
Tolkien's wife Edith solves mysteries in Oxford while he writes books.
posted by Wordshore at 12:27 AM on November 15 [20 favorites]


Full Hobbit Hole

Actually, that's the (ahem) tent-pole for Amazon's new service, Prime After Dark.
posted by MikeKD at 1:05 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


(I loved the LotR books and the movies. Disliked the Hobbit movies though...)

While everyone upthread is lamenting "why don't they adapt this or that awesome fantasy book instead" I'd like to call for an utterly original series written specifically to work with the format. No more "the casting doesn't fit the books" or "the best parts are all unfilmable" or other (actually reasonable) complaints.
posted by Harald74 at 4:06 AM on November 15



Storage Wars, but with Smaug


I'd watch a Middle Earth version of Pawn Stars all day.
posted by omegar at 4:48 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]




Christopher Tolkien has resigned from position of Directorship of the Tolkien Estate

Wow. Guess that means all bets are off.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:13 AM on November 15 [4 favorites]


An original series would be nice, but I'm still willing to throw out there that it's a goddamn crime that The Gentlemen Bastards* series hasn't been adapted. Yeah it's an incomplete series, but the books are very standalone. The first book could easily be a 2-3 season TV show with a proper ending (e.g. no real need to go on if it doesn't make sense), and it'd be fucking enthralling.

(* the super short summary that doesn't do it justice is: fantasy Ocean's 11 in a faux-mediterranean-medieval world with a lot of not-quite-explained interesting history and with a lot of unexpected left turns)
posted by tocts at 5:44 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]


The inability to think of a way of showing Gandalf as powerful except to have him whack people with his stick...

There's plenty of melee combat where he uses both his staff and sword, which he also does in the books, but...

- In Bilbo's house, when accused of wanting the ring for himself, Gandalf appears to grow, casting a shadow, and deepening his voice

- At Rivendell, he speaks the black speech of Mordor, to a similar effect

- On the bridge of Khazad-dum, he projects a protective field around himself as he stands against the Balrog, also he breaks the bridge.

- Has a magic throw down with Saruman in Orthanc, loses. They both are holding their staves but never actually touch each other with them, rather use them as a visual of projecting power.

- Speaks to the moth to send a message to the King of Eagles.

- He casts Saruman out of King Theoden, which, ok maybe there's a single whack there, but it's obvious he is using his power, and his staff is a movie visual shorthand of projecting that power.

- As the soldiers of Minas Tirith flee Osgiliath, Gandalf rides out to meet them, and projects light to fend off the Nazgul.

There are probably a few other events in the films that I could mention, but yeah saying he only whacks people with his stick is a pretty uncharitable view.

The Hobbit films were definitely rushed and mishandled, but I recommend anyone watch the special features of the development of the LOTR trilogy. Great care and detail was taken, from Peter Jackson, to all the folks at WETA. The films aren't without flaws, but they are very well done, especially for the early 2000s. With studios wanting to avoid risk, it's amazing they were made at all.

I do recommend the Maple Films fan edit for The Hobbit. It does its best to trim out all of the added crud and get them as close to the book as possible. FAQ
posted by Fleebnork at 6:57 AM on November 15 [9 favorites]


Oh good because male actors really need more and better roles.
posted by allthinky at 8:09 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Dude blows a mean smoke ring.
posted by Artw at 8:12 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


I do recommend the Maple Films fan edit for The Hobbit.

Wow, I'd never heard of that. Definitely going to check it out!
posted by dnash at 8:33 AM on November 15


Faintdreams: "Christopher Tolkien has resigned from position of Directorship of the Tolkien Estate"

Wow. This whole thing makes a lot more sense now.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:47 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]


The Other Istari: Following the adventures of the other two wizards who fucked off to the east and did nothing of note.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:54 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


As it is, while the 12 year old in me is thrilled with the prospect of MOAR Tolkien coming at me from the various glowing rectangles in my life, grown up me despairs at the fact that those of us who aren't beautiful (or comically non-beautiful -- eg, the way some of the dwarves and certain of the hobbits are presented), able-bodied, heterosexual white people are going to be looking at yet another tentpole series in speculative fiction that won't feature very many people like us doing anything that matters.

It's just that love to see a good screen adaptation of The Inheritance Trilogy or the Pern Harper Hall series or... like, ANYTHING with a slightly different tone and focus, you know?


Good news on this front is that NK Jemisin's multi-Hugo winning The Broken Earth series is getting an adaptation. For those unfamiliar - the main character is a mixed race, middle-aged mother struggling with trauma, and a major love interest is a bisexual, polyamorous black man. Plus it's just a really good fantasy series, with elements that haven't been rehashed hundreds of times over the past 50 years.
posted by parallellines at 9:13 AM on November 15 [8 favorites]



Christopher Tolkien has resigned from position of Directorship of the Tolkien Estate


And in that article is this very interesting little bit of who has what rights:

Another important thing to note here, and another piece of the puzzle, is that the television rights to “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” were NOT sold when J.R.R. Tolkien sold the movie rights in 1969. Those rights were for motion pictures.
posted by linux at 9:53 AM on November 15


Hmm, with Christopher Tolkien no longer being a roadblock that might open up all of the properties. If I were Amazon/Bezos I'd secure WETA for effects and costuming immediately. Then start shopping for writers and directors. There's a host of fantasy authors that would love a crack at some of these tales. And I'd definitely approach Guillermo del Toro and Patty Jenkins with the question "which of these stories would you like to tell".
posted by Ber at 11:50 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Christopher may have retired (and at 93 years old, I can't blame him), but according to Companies House, Christopher's wife Baillie is still there, as is J.R.R's younger sister Priscilla, along with Christopher's son Simon, and other Tolkien grandson Michael. I think there's a balance here of conservative and liberal in terms of feelings regarding adaptation that might produce good results.
posted by curiousgene at 1:35 PM on November 15


I like the movies but there is definitely more to LOTR than what happened in them, and I agree they haven't aged well - also I'm not sure I'm able to forgive Jackson for having David Bowie express interest in playing Elrond, but reject him in favor of that dude from the Matrix.

There is a lot of stuff in LOTR, and part of it is an exciting tale of adventurers and a massive war, and that's what Jackson basically brought to the screen. But there's also a severely melancholy streak throughout the whole thing, a story about elves disappearing forever and the Scouring of the Shire, and generally about the profound and lasting damage caused by war, and I never really felt that story got a fair shake in Jackson's version. I don't know that an Amazon series would really have a shot at telling it well either, though.
posted by whir at 4:52 PM on November 15 [7 favorites]


Perhaps the Amazon version will focus closely on the greivances of the Southrons and the Orcii, whose respective cultures have been so terribly impugned by the Men of the West and the Elves, as is typical when plebian and antiaristocratic economic collectives successfully exert their will and stand in the way of anti-meritocratic, individualistic, and hertiable-privilege economies. All power to the Southron Soviet! May their allies, the long-suffering Orkani, come into their own in the fullness of Bezos! The will of the populace is represented by the will of the Single Eye of Amazon!

(yes it's incoherent ok I mean c'mon looka what I gots to work wit heah)
posted by mwhybark at 8:02 PM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Last year I had the opportunity to listen to the 13 hour BBC radio play adaptation of The Lord of the Rings from 1981.

Somewhat abridged, but quite good I thought.

And guys: Bill Nighy voices Sam.
posted by adept256 at 5:19 AM on November 16 [4 favorites]


I've done a couple of listen throughs of the BBC radio version and can totally recommend it (the last time was during a number of long hikes through the English countryside which was proper good)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:39 AM on November 16 [1 favorite]


But there's also a severely melancholy streak throughout the whole thing, a story about elves disappearing forever and the Scouring of the Shire, and generally about the profound and lasting damage caused by war, and I never really felt that story got a fair shake in Jackson's version

Yeah, that is missing from the films - I think Jackson made an honest effort to try to capture the damage the experience caused everyone, but it doesn't get a lot of attention/focus. I know when I read Ebert's review of ROTK, which ends with this line:" .. and I felt something for Frodo, who has matured and grown on his long journey, although as we last see him it is hard to be sure he will remember what he has learned. Life is so pleasant in Middle Earth, in peacetime." I was outraged - how did Ebert miss the fact that the end of Frodo's arc is bittersweet at best? He is so damaged by what he experienced - by the cost of his task - that he voluntarily boards a boat to pass to the afterlife. He cannot find rest or joy in Middle Earth anymore.

But, after my initial enthusiasm for the films passed and I could look at them with more clarity, I realized that unless the audience was familiar with the books, the significance of that scene at the Grey Havens with Gandalf, Frodo, and Bilbo is lost (and to be fair to the audience, it was the fourth ending of a 3+ hour long film).

I still think the films are pretty remarkable - Jackson & crew took on a Herculean task, and did pretty darn well, and I have greatly enjoyed watching the extended editions with the commentary by Jackson, Phillipa Boyens and Fran Walsh - you realize just how much of themselves they poured into it, and they are also reasonably frank about the things they think they didn't do right or failed to do properly. And I honestly don't know how you take a story as large as LOTR, with the sizeable fanbase, and condense it into a series of films without losing some important bits. And there are ideas and themes that books are better at conveying than film.

For all that LOTR is the creaky, flawed grandfather of modern epic fantasy, there are some things it does that I find fascinating that the other epics (and extruded fantasy products) don't seem to do; the core of the story is about the corrupting nature of power, the quest is to destroy the magic MacGuffin, not to find a mystical weapon with which to thwart the big bad. And the history of Middle Earth is about the slow decay/removal of power - from the Valar being present on ME in the early days and the battles with Morgoth, to the fall of Morgoth and the rise of Sauron (one of his lieutenants, a Maia - a class of being a step down from the Valar), and then the LOTR chronicles the fall of Sauron and the departure of the Elves. Middle Earth becomes a place of less powerful beings over time.
posted by nubs at 8:54 AM on November 16 [8 favorites]


That same thing is what keeps LOTR relevant from my perspective. I also think it's ripe for reinterpretation. By virtue of Tolkien's perspective -- and, at least as importantly, his audience's -- as the beneficiary of a colonialist empire, the succession of ages necessarily falls into a "decline and fall" framework, no doubt greatly inspired by Gibbon. Yet despite writing from a colonialist perspective, Tolkien still leans in the direction of "well, but is it really all bad if some of these things fade away?"

Christopher's work since his father's death has mostly looked backward to the past, finishing the unfinished tales as it were. And I actually do find something admirable in his resistance to adaptation and reinterpretation and expanded universes and all that.

But nonetheless I have high hopes for a future where writers of colour can tackle stories set in the fourth age about a gradually decolonising Middle-Earth. Maybe Elessar becomes known as a great king not because he expands the "power and glory" of Gondor but because he's the first leader of Gondor -- king or steward -- to deal fairly with the Woses and Haradrim. Maybe there are conflicts over the abandoned elf realms of Lothlorien and Mirkwood between those who want to exploit the natural riches there and those who would rather let Greenwood the Great heal itself.

(I mean, let's be clear, there's going to be a lot of abysmal dreck that leans hard into the worst things about LOTR as well. But there's a possibility for better things as well.)
posted by tobascodagama at 9:56 AM on November 16 [4 favorites]


I do recommend the Maple Films fan edit for The Hobbit.

Me too. One of the cool things about it is that it's very clear that it's a better film.

Anyway, Game of Thrones has spoiled me for mere Hobbitry. I can't help thinking about GoT as happening right next door to Middle Earth. I like the tone of it a lot, and it conveys the painfully "serious doings" that go on in parts of the Silmarillion & LOTR much better than the Peter Jackson movies could as family movies. I mean, what the hell have those Dunedin been up to for all those years that Sandor Clegane would care about? Also it's much less likely to use magic as an everyday plot device (dragons!) and that's a good thing.
posted by sneebler at 6:49 AM on November 18


I can't help thinking about GoT as happening right next door to Middle Earth.

Well, I think GRRM's project was explicitly to call some epic fantasy tropes into question by presenting them in a more "realistic" medieval European setting, so that makes sense—basically all of those tropes can be traced back to Tolkien and LOTR in one way or another, maybe with the occasional bit of Arthur Conan Doyle or Fritz Lieber in there..
posted by whir at 9:44 AM on November 18


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