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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

How Amazon’s ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ goes beyond the movie series, not just with its $1 billion budget

Here is what we know about Amazon's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power so far from promo images, teaser and other official material

Written by Kshitij Rawat | New Delhi |
Updated: January 24, 2022 8:11:08 am
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere with eight-episode season 1 on September 2, 2022. (Photo: Amazon Studios)

Amazon’s much-awaited Lord of the Rings series recently got an official teaser and a rather unwieldy title, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The lavish production is based on JRR Tolkien‘s magnum opus but has the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Peter Jackson’s iconic trilogy of films in the early 2000s. It became a humongous sensation that surprised even the biggest cynics. It was hugely successful both critically and commercially and changed the cinematic landscape. The third film alone won 11 Oscars, equaling the record for most Academy Awards for a single film set by Ben-Hur and Titanic.

The series looks like Amazon’s attempt to recreate the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which might have concluded rather ignobly but before that, it had set new standards for fantasy adaptations and big-budgeted episodes that rivaled full-fledged movies.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power certainly dwarfs both Jackson’s LotR and GoT when it comes to the money involved. Amazon bought the rights from Tolkien Estate for an incredible $250 million. The series, said to last five seasons, is expected to cost a total of 1 billion dollars, making it, by far, the most expensive TV production of all time.

Here is what we know about it so far from promo images, teaser and other official material:

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Creative team

JD Payne and Patrick McKay serve as the showrunners. JA Bayona, known for directing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and The Orphanage, will direct the first two episodes. Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos), Justin Doble (Stranger Things), Helen Shang (Hannibal), among others are also part of the writer’s room.

Cast

As you’d expect from a production of this magnitude, the cast is simply huge. Robert Aramayo, Joseph Mawle, Morfydd Clark, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, Maxim Baldry. In December, a press release announced further additions to the cast which included Peter Mullan, Sir Lenny Henry, Cynthia Addai-Robinson and Benjamin Walker among others. Out of these, we only know for sure that Morfydd Clark is essaying the role of Galadriel, the elf-queen that Cate Blanchett played in the trilogy. It is her voice that we can hear in the teaser. We do not know the roles of other actors.

What is the story about?

This is where it gets interesting. While it has Lord of the Rings in its name, The Rings of Power is set before the events of Tolkien’s tome. The author did not just write a story, he actually built an intricately detailed world called the Middle-earth with its own peoples, races, culture, a pantheon of gods, and so on (while taking help from real-world stuff). He also created entire languages (he was also a philologist) from scratch with their own grammar. Thus, there is a lot more to explore in Middle-earth than just Frodo and Bilbo Baggins’ story.

The LOTR films were set at the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. As the War of the Ring ended, the Third Age came to a close and the Age of Men dawned. Amazon’s LOTR is set in the Second Age. The synopsis and the teaser posit that the story will centre around the forging of Sauron’s Rings, so the Dark Lord will be involved, and not just as a giant eye but in his corporeal form. The series will adapt the full story of Sauron’s rise to his (first) fall in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men in which he was defeated and killed by Isildur. Although he died, his soul survived as it is tied to the One Ring.

Sauron forged a total of twenty rings, by which he meant to seduce the rulers of all races of Middle-earth to evil and control all the peoples through the One Ring, the ring that controlled every other ring of power. Three rings went to Elves, seven to Dwarves, and nine to Men. The nine Men turned into wraiths that were later called the Nazgul that we saw terrorising the Fellowship in the film trilogy.

The full synopsis of the series reads, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and one of the greatest villains that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared reemergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the farthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”

Expect different aesthetics and feel

The series would want to dissociate itself from Jackson’s films by having a distinct aesthetic and look and feel. This is necessary, otherwise the series would feel like an extension of the films. We do not really know how the series would look as there is no trailer yet, but judging by the insane budget the makers have at their disposal, only limit is their imagination.

Release: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere with its eight-episode season 1 on September 2, 2022.

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