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– by Campbell Clark

With Amazon recently securing the rights to a live action Lord of The Rings series it has left us here at LRM wondering what exactly we can expect from this huge deal. Initially, I think we were all thinking a remake of some kind, which seems far too soon, and shall we say needless?

A couple of things have made us reassess this view.

The Silmarillion Rights Issue

Firstly, this deal was being shopped around not only by Warner Bros, but the Tolkien Estate were also involved and this I feel is potentially important. Amazon also said that this series would be a prequel series to Fellowship of the Ring, however before we get too excited, it does seem from reports that Amazon does NOT have the rights to The Silmarillion.

For one, they would have surely mentioned this to generate excitement, and secondly the Tolkien Estate have always resisted the sale of rights to this historical record detailing the entire history of Midde-earth. Now, we think most fans of Tolkien would absolutely love to see a TV series dedicated to that massive tome. This could be a damn shame, because it seems to be the period most ripe for adaptation considering it is a collection of histories and myths, or partially completed tales rather than a full on narrative.

I guess what we are saying is that there is far more content for a writer to work with and not be locked down too much by the canon of events which are told in very broad strokes. Alas it is fairly clear that we should not be expecting anything from The First Age of Tolkien’s world, despite all our wishes and prayers to Illuvatar otherwise, unless there are some surprising future announcements.

So what in the hell does that actually leave Amazon to work with? We already had 3 movies (Far too many) detailing the events that precede LoTR in The Hobbit trilogy. These movies covered the re-emergence of Sauron from his guise of residing in Dol Guldur as the Necromancer, which is probably again the most fully detailed part of the story which leads eventually to The Lord of The Rings.

It’s certainly left us scratching our heads, and perhaps you as well. Well, I have been poring over the material and doing a lot of research for the last couple of weeks to try and shed some light on what we might expect from this show.

I have been reading the books since I was 11 years old, and I have managed to read The Silmarillion around four times. In this article, I originally planned to give readers who may not have managed to get through that history manual a bit of background on the events of the First Age and the Second Age of Tolkien’s universe.

Can’t do it. I failed. The content is just far too vast and detailed to succinctly summarize it in anything less than 3500 words or so (as I said, I really tried). So if you want to get some background on how all the main players we are going to discuss here came about? I’m afraid the only answer is to read the book for yourself or check some of the many good summaries you can find elsewhere on the net. It’s still a lot to read through, though.

Rights are complicated with a novel like this. You may think that without The Silmarillion rights, there would be no way they can go back any further than what we have already seen in cinema screens, however we must take the appendices of The Lord of the Rings into consideration.

Much of the events which lead towards LoTR can be found in these appendices, and whilst some of this is duplicated in The Silmarillion, that does not change the fact that it exists as part of the novel and therefore, should be able to be filmed…We think? Only Amazon, New Line, and the Tolkien Estate has any real insight into the restrictions of the rights deals, as you’d imagine.

The Second Age, after all, ends with the defeat of Sauron by the last alliance of Men and Elves, therefore we have already seen the Second Age depicted on film in the prologue before The Fellowship of the Ring. Actually, we even saw some small glimpses of the forging of the Rings of Power, which happened not long into the Second Age as well. Our thinking then, is that as long as the story is fundamentally tied to the Rings of Power and specifically mentioned in the appendices, then its viable. It’s a theory!

We also think that since the audience is already so familiar with the basic story of LoTR, that the prequel series would focus on the War of the Rings itself, because it’s familiar already. It would be perhaps too much to ask for a show detailing the forging of the Rings, because the further back we go into the history, the less things seem connected to The Lord of the Rings and the more they seem connected to The Silmarillion.

On Page 2 is our best guess for where the producers and writers could come at this project from. I should also point out that we think the success of Game of Thrones is the catalyst that prompted Amazon to spend $250M on just the rights alone. We are also thinking of a period which could contain some of the more adult drama and morally grey characters that GoT has, as opposed to the very black and white view of good and evil portrayed in the movies. Well, I think we have found a definite contender here, but perhaps Amazon has other ideas?

If you want more detail about how Tolkien’s story got to this point and the events covered in The First Age (Literally from back as far as the world being ‘sung’ into existence), then as said above, please feel free to research into it. Of course you may already be familiar with Tolkien’s works. If so, a little reminder won’t hurt. It’s a fascinating and detailed story and though a hard read at times. I would recommend The Silmarillion to anyone with an interest in the writings of Tolkien.

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The Corruption Of Numenor

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  • newscynic

    Brilliant. This is the way to go. I hope you are right – the only sad part is limited roles parts for elves and other fantastic creatures.

    • Well they could cross cut it with the story in Middle-Earth as Gil-Galad pushes back the Nazgûl to Mordor?

      • Brian Moran

        Plus, if this was the way they went, then the final season(s) would cover the War of the Last Alliance, so we’d see the exploits of Gil-Galad and Elrond, as well as Oropher.

        I would also love to see the adventures of Isildur as a strong, good man. Using him as the epitome of weakness was one of the few things I disliked in the film trilogy.

  • Brian Moran

    As someone who has read the Silmarillion seven or eight times, and has dabbled in summarizing it, I would love to read, at some point, that 3500 word version you spoke of.

    • I didn’t say it was good

      I scrapped it 4 times ha

  • Saranac

    They need to get the rights or no dice….