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Khaldun
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on: January 13, 2021, 02:27:23 PM

Apparently confirmed that this will focus on the Second Age--Numenor, the forging of the Rings of Power, the Last Alliance. Not a terrible choice.
Korachia
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Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 03:04:34 PM

It gives a lot of leverage in telling the story. This will be on my radar.
Khaldun
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Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 04:09:04 PM

Yeah. I mean, when you think of the way Tolkien describes Numenor in the Akallabeth, it's a pretty loose sketch rather than a fully-realized story. Rather Old Testament Kings of Israel stuff--Sauron as a charismatic seducer, corrupt and idolatrous kings, Byzantine court politics, but underneath it also a genuinely paralyzing fear about what happens to Men when they die. This isn't a world where God speaks to mortals even through a Moses but there are other beings around who know angels personally and know exactly what death means to them (basically, rezzing in a boring zone forever), which makes the very very remote and non-disclosing God of Tolkien's mythology even more frustrating for Men, especially Numenoreans.

Could be a way for them also to actually get into places like Umbar and the survival of some evil Numenoreans who really would be the opposite numbers of the Dunedain etc. Lot of places they can depict, lots of interesting story elements. I think they have the rights because this is all in LOTR in the Appendices in minimal ways, but even if the have the Silmarillion rights, staying away from the First Age is a good idea. I don't think there's a proper way to make the First Age look right visually--to give it the sense of scope and power and grandeur (even evil grandeur) that makes the Third Age look like a nursery school romper room.
Teleku
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Reply #3 on: January 15, 2021, 08:44:57 AM

I think they have the rights because this is all in LOTR in the Appendices in minimal ways, but even if the have the Silmarillion rights, staying away from the First Age is a good idea. I don't think there's a proper way to make the First Age look right visually--to give it the sense of scope and power and grandeur (even evil grandeur) that makes the Third Age look like a nursery school romper room.
So I agree it's highly unlikely Hollywood could come up with a proper way to portray this era in the way it deserves.... but man, ever since I saw the opening battle scene in Fellowship, I've always wanted to see what a depiction of the Silmarillion would look like on screen.  No way to do it as a movie, it would have to be some 10 part one of series on HBO Max or whatever.  But yeah, they'd have to shoot it and act out the entire thing in a very different way than most films do.  Pure mythological epic power in how all the characters interact with each other, not just the battles.  So many scenes from that book still stand out in my mind that would be glorious to see on screen (but again, they look amazing in my mind.  I'm sure the results when given to some random Hollywood hack would be less than so).   

It's a pipe dream, but seeing a well done take of this era is probably the number one thing I want from TV before I die.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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Khaldun
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Reply #4 on: January 15, 2021, 11:05:06 AM

That battle scene WILL in fact be in this series--it's from the Second Age, not the First Age. It's only treated in the last small part of the work collected in The Silmarillion, it's the Last Alliance of Men and Elves. It's a bigger battle with more power players in it than the battles of LOTR but the participants aren't that dramatically different than the LOTR folks--Aragorn is pretty much of the stature of Elendil and Isildur (it's why he can wield Anduril and summon the Army of the Dead) and the elves involved are pretty much comparable (or the same) as those in LOTR. The only big players in LOTR who are not around are actually the Wizards, who don't show up until a thousand years later.

Whereas the First Age? The elves involved are godlike by comparison--Galadriel and Cirdan are the only ones around in the Third Age who are from that time, and they were minor players back then by comparison to Feanor's children or many others. The great among the First Age elves go one-on-one with balrogs and even dragons. There's a dragon that makes Smaug look puny by comparison. There are armies of balrogs and many dragons. Sauron is around as much more powerful vampire who is nevertheless dwarfed by the power of his master Morgoth. Shelob is a puny little child of Ungoliath. Morgoth's fortress and lands makes Mordor look like a child's toy. Even the human beings back in the First Age make Aragorn, Isildur, etc., look like toddlers in terms of their power and skill. When the First Age ends, it ends because the gods themselves decide to listen to the pleas of Elrond's father and come to Middle-Earth in person to fight Morgoth--but even though there's a lot of Valar who come to fight him, the fight isn't just over in a flash but goes on for a good while and essentially destroys the entire landmass of northern Middle-Earth as it was in the beginning.

That's pretty hard to visualize in a way that gets all of that across to an audience.
Teleku
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Reply #5 on: January 15, 2021, 01:31:48 PM

That battle scene WILL in fact be in this series--it's from the Second Age, not the First Age. It's only treated in the last small part of the work collected in The Silmarillion, it's the Last Alliance of Men and Elves.
I know man.  ;)  I just meant in that, when I saw that battle on screen, it was actually really close to how I envisioned it, so have forever held out hope for similarly good portrayals of older battles since.  I am a LOTR Nerd, and the Silmarillion despite all odds is probably one of my most favorite novels of all time.  I fully understand the issues going into this, haha.

Quote
That's pretty hard to visualize in a way that gets all of that across to an audience.
This is what I was trying to get at before.  I have some amazing visuals in my head for these events..... but I doubt those will ever make it to screen.  It would require a director to take a tale and tell it from a god like perspective, and nobody really does that.

Somebody could do an amazing job at this whole series.... but most will probably do shit.  Best to let it just die in obscurity, but god, I can still dream.  Again, I love the Silmarillion.  Not just as a Tolkien/Fantasy book, but as one of my top books of all times.  I'm well aware this puts me in 'send them to the camps' territory, but here I am.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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Phildo
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Reply #6 on: January 15, 2021, 01:57:55 PM

Just chiming in to say that I really enjoy the Silmarillion as well.  You're not alone.
Khaldun
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Reply #7 on: January 15, 2021, 04:00:13 PM

I like it quite a bit too. I actually love thinking about the dangling storylines that it opens to imagine, really. Maglor is still wandering around the shores. Ungoliant is still alive somewhere in the south of Middle-Earth. The entire East by the Second Age is pretty open to imagination (especially since Tolkien's few notes on it are horrible rubbish and best forgotten). The culture of Numenor and the cities it founded in Middle-Earth is really open to imagination, especially as they developed further in the Third Age.

I think Tolkien does really well also with establishing the mythic scale of the First Age--it really does feel more Old Testament compared to the more Beowulf/Norse saga feel of LOTR.
 
SurfD
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Reply #8 on: January 15, 2021, 11:12:43 PM

This is what I was trying to get at before.  I have some amazing visuals in my head for these events..... but I doubt those will ever make it to screen.  It would require a director to take a tale and tell it from a god like perspective, and nobody really does that.

So basically, what you are looking for is the "Hard Fantasy" equivalent of 300, dialed up to way past 11?

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Velorath
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Reply #9 on: January 16, 2021, 03:26:14 AM

Had to refresh myself on who is behind this:

Quote
In July 2018, it was announced that writing duo JD Payne and Patrick McKay would develop “The Lord of the Rings” for Amazon, serving as the series’ executive producers and showrunners. While it was a big move forward in terms of the series’ development, this particular news was a shock, especially because of the scale of the series. Prior to the news, Payne and McKay’s IMDB pages were empty, save for their uncredited writing job on “Star Trek Beyond.” But Star Trek” producer J.J. Abrams was reportedly one of a number of high-profile producers who recommended Payne and McKay for the position.

Given that the article also says Amazon had to commit to five seasons (and the first season has 20 episodes), I'm somewhat baffled that they handed this thing over to a couple unknowns based partly on J.J. Abrams recommending them. Between that and the fairly unknown cast (the only name I recognized was the replacement Naevia from Spartacus)  Amazon seems to have made a fairly big financial commitment in order to get the rights to do the show and then entrusted it a lot of people without a proven track record. They've got J.A. Bayona directing the first couple episodes and he's at least directed some fairly good movies, but also Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. There's a couple writers who've done a few episodes each of a number of good shows, but the rest seem to have some fairly thin credits, worked on a good show or two but maybe only did 2-3 episodes, and there's a guy who wrote 11 episodes of Game of Thrones.

I don't know, it could end up being good. Certainly I'd be surprised if Amazon allowed something this high profile to be a complete failure. On paper though I'm just not seeing anything to suggest that anyone involved in this is up to the task of creating new stories set in Middle-Earth that are going to satisfy Tolkien fans, or fans who only know the Peter Jackson movies.
NowhereMan
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Reply #10 on: January 16, 2021, 04:54:23 AM

I had not been aware of this and am a bit nervous we're going to get LotR the series without any attempt to communicate how it's different from the world of the Third Age. Will keep hoping this covers some of that, playing through Shadows of Mordor got me all excited about LotR stuff again, especially an interesting look at fleshing out those big names: Sauron, Shelob and Celebrimbor. That does give me hope that there are some stories worth telling in the Second Age that won't just strip out the 'majesty'. I guess my biggest worry is they try too hard to avoid the mythicness of it making it hard to connect to and shoot too much for relatable characters and motivations.

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Khaldun
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Reply #11 on: January 16, 2021, 08:03:39 AM

It'll be interesting to see where they start. The very early Second Age isn't really described much by Tolkien--the vast destruction of the War of Wrath was still cooling. I guess if they wanted to go early, they could show Men settling in Numenor and building a beautiful, wise and powerful kingdom, and the Elves who remain building up Eregion and being good buddies to Men AND Dwarves. (That's another thing the series can do, almost has to do: show Khazad-dum in its full glory--it's already significantly built up by the end of the First Age, though under attack by orcs all the time.)

I would guess they might just do that in a prologue like the first LOTR did.

Then I think after that you've got your dramatis personae:

Celembrimbor
Sauron, in the guise of Annatar

That's a key early relationship. Annatar/Sauron comes along to teach the Elves the art of crafting Rings of Power and then works with them to make the Seven and the Nine. In the meantime, Sauron builds what must at first have been a rather small and hidden secret base in Mordor to secretly forge the One Ring. But however they depict it, Celembrimbor has to be one of the few who doesn't trust Annatar, because he learns the art of ring-forging but makes the Three entirely on his own and secretly from Sauron.

The making of the Rings also lets them introduce:

The nine men who become Ringwraiths. We literally know nothing about them--Aragorn says as much. So that's interesting! I've always assumed they were Numenoreans, so this could be the first way we get introduced to the politics of Numenor, which will have to dominate the second major plot arc of the show. But they could also be from Umbar, Harad, and the East, which would make some sense also.

The seven leaders of the Dwarves who take the rings surely have to represent the seven houses--so it's a chance to really dive into dwarf-lore, to show us other places besides Khazad-dum.

Then probably in the end of the first season, you've got the putting on of the One Ring, Sauron revealing his armies (which likely have to include men from the East, so there's another subplot they could explore if they're so inclined), and the beginning of his war on the Elves.

There's a good subplot in that about the Dwarves--we know they resist the power of the Seven but they bugger off during the war with Sauron--Khazad-dum shuts its gates, and the Dwarves get embroiled in a completely separate war with orcs at Gundabad. (The balrog doesn't come into play until the Third Age, though.) Lots of good drama in that--the failure to unify and the origins of the hostility between Dwarves and Elves. The Elves are very nearly destroyed, so there's a good half-season or full season of episodes right there if you want, about the war and about it growing more desperate all the time. We know the proto-Ringwraiths are on Sauron's side the whole time--they could be his generals over combined forces of orcs, trolls, and men. (Maybe even a dragon or two?) Good chance to explore the power of the Rings, too--the Three Rings have to be sort of the only thing that keeps the Elves alive. Then you've got the Numenoreans showing up to save the day--that's a great season ender.

Sauron still has power in Mordor after--so that sets the stage for the next season--the Numenoreans grow arrogant, they think they're hot shit, better than the Elves, the saviors of Middle-Earth. I kind of think of them in this point basically like the United States after World War II, with the Elves being Europe. Or maybe worse, like the US at the end of the Cold War. But there's a significant time gap here before you get to the next turn. When you get there, you then you get to see Sauron humbled and taken prisoner, deserted by all of his armies, and the whole great storyline of his corruption of Ar-Pharazon. Sauron is still good-looking, he establishes a cult of Melkor/Morgoth (so here there's a fucking great chance to do a deep dive on the legendarium--I mean, if you join that cult, it's because you think Morgoth was right!) and starts to sacrifice good Numenoreans who are faithful to Eru. That could be some great shit if it's done right.

And then you've got the Last Alliance, which could easily be the final season.

slog
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Reply #12 on: January 25, 2021, 08:05:29 PM

Not getting my hopes up too high on this, but I can't wait to see what they come up with.  The source material isn't the easiest to work with.

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Threash
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Reply #13 on: January 26, 2021, 12:36:23 PM

Just the fact that they are going for 20 episode seasons tells me they are probably not gonna be all that high quality.

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Khaldun
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Reply #14 on: January 26, 2021, 03:21:18 PM

Yeah, that's hard to really make sense of unless they're planning a whole bunch of weirdly talky bottle episodes where people just sit inside a simple interior and talk about forging Rings of Power. I hope they learned at least from watching Game of Thrones self-immolate that if you wanna be a fantasy epic, you gotta bring the epic pretty consistently and that fans will know full well when you're cheaping out on them by sending the inconveniently expensive CGI dire wolf out of the scene again. There are a bunch of expensive set designs and CGI exteriors that they can't skimp on if this is gonna work: Khazad-Dum in its glory, Eregion, Mordor, Numenor, probably Umbar, plus costumes etc.
rattran
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Reply #15 on: January 27, 2021, 08:40:24 AM

Video wall tech should make a lot of that stuff cheaper.
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