Big news for fans of Lord of the Rings lore – we might well be getting an adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s fake history book The Silmarillion in the near future.
Following Warner Bros’ attempts to find a home for a television show set in Middle Earth, Amazon has taken up the torch, and announced that the series won’t be a new retelling of the classic adventures of Frodo, Samwise, Aragorn and Legolas, but rather, a prequel, bringing us things we’ve never before seen committed to film.
Because a prequel series worked out so well last time.
According to Matt Galsor, speaking on behalf of the Tolkien Estate:
“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings. Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”
Okay, so this is definitely going to be The Silmarillion – or, at least, selections from it. Fans have been yearning for an adaptation of some of the long and rich history of Middle Earth ever since The Fellowship of the Ring hit theaters, and television seems like the perfect place to make this happen.
The Lord of The Rings movies have always pushed their luck as far as movie experiences go. Three hours is a long time to convince people to sit still in movie theaters, and that runtime stretches out endlessly if you watch the extended editions of the movies that went direct to DVD and Blu-Ray.
Even The Hobbit ended up as a set of trilogy of three-hour movies, in large parts because some chunks from The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and other parts of Tolkien’s were mixed in to pad out the runtime.
Radagast the Brown, for example, is only ever referenced in stories that were published while Tolkien was alive, but enough has been gleaned from his old notes and short stories that Peter Jackson managed to craft an enormous story arc for the character.
That said, a big part of the problem with The Silmarillion and other Tolkien works is that they’re not entirely complete. Tolkien’s big history project doesn’t have a prose narrative, instead sounding more like a dusty old school textbook, with names and events described in a detached manner.
So whatever Amazon has up their sleeves, it’ll involve taking some liberties with the source material. This isn’t uncommon for the franchise, but it does lead to troubles some time.
Right now, Tolkien fans are in the middle of a debate surrounding the newly released Shadow of War video game, which is set firmly in the Lord of the Rings universe, taking specific inspiration from Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the books.
In Shadow of War, there’s been a fair bit of messing with the established canon. There’s a new “good” ring of power, and Shelob the giant spider is apparently capable of transforming into a sexy lady for reasons unknown.
If Amazon wants to win over established fans of Lord of the Rings, this new show will need to show a little more respect for Tolkien’s original continuity, while also deviating and embellishing his works where necessary.
It’s a fine line to tread, but if this new show sticks the landing, this could well be the best thing to happen to the Lord of the Rings franchise since it won all those Oscars back in 2004.