co-showrunner J.A Bayona talks keeping Tolkien’s beauty in The Rings of Power. In a recent interview with SFX Magazine Bayona talked about how no matter how dark the story of The Rings of Power gets, it was always important to remember the beauty as well.
There may be eons of strife and hardship endured by the denizens of Middle-earth. However there is also a sense of beauty and hope that permeates Tolkien’s mythology. In the end, evil is not as all powerful as it seems. Love and compassion can always defeat it.
“When you read Tolkien’s books, you can tell how much he appreciates beauty, so the show is full of beauty,” said Bayona. “Tolkien is inherently optimistic, warm and emotional. This is a man who went through some of the darkest things in human history [in the First World War] and he didn’t come out of that and write a despairing, awful story.”
“[Tolkien] wrote a story about hope, and a little guy succeeding,” Bayona explained. “We always felt that it was rule number one that there needed to be true optimism and love, even in the darkest, scariest moments of the show.”
As far as this Tolkien fan is concerned, this is good news. I think of the period they are about to bring to life as one of the darkest periods in Tolkien’s mythology. From a time of relative peace and security things take a dark turn. Partly due to Sauron and the Ring, but also partly due to the simple nature of Elves, Dwarves and more so in this Age, Men. Yet if you’ve watched The Lord of the Rings movies, you know the Age ended in an alliance which defeated Sauron.
The One Ring did survive due to a moment of weakness on Isildur’s part. Thus evil was allowed to rise once again and yet once again was defeated. I remember there were some Game of Thrones fans who truly thought the series may end in a zombie apocalypse. In fact creator GRRM had to deny this as a possible ending. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the ASOIAF universe and Game of Thrones, but it’s not hopeful, optimistic, nor beautiful. Instead it is a grim world more reflective of our own terrible histories.
The Goodies and the Baddies
Tolkien’s mythology on the other hand is designed more as… well, myth. Tolkien’s story is set across three Ages, each marked by the powerful evil that had to be conquered. That evil is somewhat reduced each time, but so is are the powers of good that face them. What always has to be taken into consideration with Tolkien’s work is that he viewed Eru Illuvatar (God, Creator Allah, Jaweh etc) as a caring and compassionate God. Evil itself was the result of the free will of Eru’s creation. Yet as Eru explains to the original evil Melkor, way back before the world was even created, no matter what evil schemes he can dream up, Eru can essentially turn them back towards a better future. Ergo, in Tolkien’s Universe, good always wins in the end.
Evil can never be completely defeated due to free will. However, it is lessened each Age until the world contains only mortal mankind. I’m not religious, but in Tolkien’s Universe there really is someone watching over everyone. Eru’s hand is often seen taking action in the chances of Tolkien’s story.
Chanced meetings that roll the stone forwards are Eru’s way. Such as Gandalf meeting Thorin by sheer chance in the the time just prior to The Hobbit. The fellowship going through Moria where they meet Gollum, who otherwise would have been missed. The kidnap of Merry and Pippin was what brought Aragorn to Rohan, and so on and so forth. It is even debated among fans that there are a few times Eru directly intervenes. Most famously, Gollum tripping into Mount Doom. Tolkien himself felt that no one could have actually thrown the Ring in willingly. Certainly Frodo could not, and would not have.
Tolkien was a genius to me, so I won’t say The Rings of Power will hit those heights. However I hope it gets close.
Do you agree with showrunner J.A Bayona, and little old me, that keeping Tolkien’s beauty in The Rings of Power is essential to the premise? As always, share any thoughts below.