“Rings of Power” weaves fascinating introduction, controversial decisions


Image courtesy of IMDb

Josiah Anderson, Sports, A&E Editor

Author J.R.R. Tolkien published his first series, “Lord of the Rings” (LoTR), in 1954, and since then has enjoyed immense success both on paper and on the big screen, grossing close to $4 billion. What many do not know, however, is the history behind creating the illustrious world of Middle Earth and the stories woven together to create the fictional tapestry that is LoTR. Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay’s The Rings of Power (RoP) television series, now released on Amazon Prime, is one such series. 

As the name suggests, RoP takes place in the time when Celebrimbor, the high elf, forged the Rings of Power. This includes the One Ring, which is the catalyst of the LoTR trilogy as the dark lord Sauron the original story’s main antagonist forged it.

While Sauron continues his role as the antagonist, in this new story, we see a shift in focus to some of the older role-model characters in the LoTR series, including the much loved elven mentors Elrond Half-Elven and Lady Galadriel. 

Within the first episode, there are many things both hard-core Tolkienists and those new to the world of Middle Earth can enjoy. Chief among these are the visuals. With the price of each episode averaging out to $58.1 million, it is no wonder both the CGI and practical effects are beautiful. The immaculately designed elven sets raise a sense of nostalgia for those who viewed Peter Jackson’s LoTR movies. For those who have not, they are simply pleasing to the eye and succeed wonderfully in illustrating the world Tolkien created. Filmed in New Zealand, it is no wonder the landscape is breathtaking and feels entirely like a different world to most American audiences. Quite simply, it is the type of landscape no computer could generate with the same gravitas. 

While the graphics received many accolades, the story itself has undergone many changes and alterations from Tolkien’s original writings. While these changes work well in progressing the story, many fans feel it is disingenuous to the story he created. Perhaps one of the greatest adjustments is the filmmaker’s choice to make Galadriel a sword-wielding master rather than the sorceress she was in the Silmarillion and LoTR books. 

Many fans find themselves frustrated by this change, yet one could easily argue that because of Tolkien’s vague and nondescript magic system, giving the elven lady such powers could be treacherous to the plot, potentially creating a string of magical solutions in a way similar to the classic example of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone “Because Love” moment at the climax of the story. A move which J.K. Rowling receives much flak for, as it solved a problem with an illogical and non-foreshadowed solution. 

While character alterations, alongside other changes and additions, such as the characters Arondir and Bronwyn and their subsequent storyline, have shifted its projected path from Tolkien’s original script, they have also added suspense and aided in constructing context for the story. 

In many ways, throughout the first episode, the non-canonical — or not part of the original world additions of these characters have succeeded where The Hobbit did not. In the process, it added several new storylines and characters which influenced the plot in a distinctly modern way, rather than remaining close to the themes of the prose.

Yet, even as the world of Middle Earth has a treacherous history of subverting the canon, the first episode has succeeded in setting up both a story and a world in which these non-canonical changes could benefit the narrative as a whole. 

For those who wish to see only a rendition of Tolkien’s exact works put into a visual demonstration, which Peter Jackson’s LoTR succeeded in almost perfectly, this is not the series for you. Rather, it’s a must watch for those who wish to see a captivating story unfold in an unparalleled fictional world. One full of magic, life and interesting characters as they mostly, but not entirely, follow the plot of an ingenious writer and the father of modern fantasy.


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