The design on The Rings of Power won’t match The Lord of the Rings movies for legal reasons. As per the Vanity Fair article with showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. To be fair, any fans who expected otherwise should really have known better. The Lord of the Rings movies are fully licensed and so are the designs used within. Also, characters like Galadriel and Elrond will not look exactly like their counterparts in Peter Jackson’s movies. However where possible, Amazon has tried to keep come consistency also.
In creating this new story, McKay and Payne’s goal was, in McKay’s words, “different but familiar.” While the series is not a precise continuation of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, it shouldn’t clash with the cinematic world fans have come to know and love. Actors like Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) and Robert Aramayo (Elrond) were cast, in part, because they could age into the older versions played respectively by Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving in Jackson’s films. Even Benjamin Walker, who plays Gil-galad, bears a striking resemblance to Mark Ferguson, who appeared as the Elven king in a nonspeaking cameo in The Fellowship of the Ring’s prologue.
It’s worth remembering, if only for legal reasons, that this is not the exact same world. The production design, though similar, is not trying to match the Jackson films. For example, King Elendil’s legendary broken sword, Narsil, which debuted on one of Prime Video’s promotional posters, does not look identical to the one eventually reforged and used by Viggo Mortenson’s Aragorn in The Return of the King.
Actually Narsil is the perfect example here. You can still buy Narsil replica’s. The sword’s a trademarked design owned by New Line who made The Lord of the Rings movies. If Amazon copy that design, then there’s a legal issue. However they can design their own sword, call it Narsil, and sell their own replica’s. The only way to keep the same design would be for Amazon to buy the rights to those movies. That’s a crazy expense for this reason alone, and the show already cost a fortune. However elsewhere the design of The Rings of Power may throw up some inconsistencies fans struggle to get over.
Barad-dûr Not Built?
The Amazon show has an advantage in that its prime locations—like Númenor, the Elven cities of Lindon and Eregion, and the intact dwarven city of Khazad-dûm—didn’t play into Jackson’s films. In The Rings of Power, one of the most identifiable Middle-earth landmarks, the great tower of Barad-dûr, where Sauron’s flaming eyeball sits, hasn’t been built yet. Nor has the Black Gate of Mordor or the Doors of Durin.
The Doors of Durin granted are not built until Sauron’s forces grow. However Barad-dûr was absolutely built (almost fully) in the land of Mordor prior to the Forging of the Rings. If you remember the lore from the movies, Sauron forged the One Ring in secret within his own lands in the fires of Orodruin, Mount Doom. I know this show will squeeze thousands of years into a much shorter time frame, but we surely aren’t going to see Sauron build Barad-dûr within a year or two? In the books it took Sauron 600 years to complete his fortress, though he didn’t complete it until after he had forged the One Ring, using it’s power. One wonders if that is being accelerated for the show dramatically?
Led Zeppelin….Wait What?
Still talking about design inspiration,
The pair were quick to point out that the Jackson films were not their only inspiration. “The universe that this show wants to be in is Tolkien’s—and that’s an umbrella over Peter’s films—and Led Zeppelin, John Howe’s paintings, and The Hobbit cartoon,” McKay says.
The rest I can understand, but Led Zeppelin? I’m a huge Zep fan, so I am fully aware of songs they have which have lyrics linked to Tolkien. However what kind of inspiration could that provide form a design point of view? We already know Howard shore is back on scoring duties, so The Rings of Power should at least sound like The Lord of the Rings. Even as a Zepthusiast, I can’t see any place for the greatest band of all time on the show? Very strange, and intriguing.
The design on The Rings of Power won’t match The Lord of the Rings movies for legal reasons. Is there anyone who is actually surprised and disappointed by this? Sound off below as always.