Just six weeks ago, it felt like a Rings of Power drought. Now every day there’s a new batch of interviews and reveals. These are via Time Magazine writer Eliana Dockterman. Dockterman was able to shadow and interview the showrunners and key cast at San Diego Comic-Con.
Below are summaries and links to four articles that emerged from that for your reading pleasure.
The Secretive, Extravagant, Bighearted World of The Rings of Power, the Most Expensive Show Ever Made
Tears are streaming down Ismael Cruz Córdova’s chiseled cheekbones. Somehow, hardly anyone notices. I’m at San Diego Comic-Con, halfway through 96 hours spent shadowing the cast and creators of The Rings of Power, Amazon’s highly anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel series. Tomorrow, franchise superfan Stephen Colbert will debut a trailer for the series to 6,500 screaming attendees, many wearing pointy wizard hats. But tonight, at a private dinner, journalists are getting an early preview of the video in a golden faux forest constructed by Amazon for the occasion.
After a day spent among the convention crowd in 80-degree heat, sweaty, sneaker-clad members of the press mingle with actors dressed in cocktail attire: Córdova has chosen a sharp suit with a black leather harness pulled tight across his chest. A 16-person choir and 25-piece orchestra—fronted by a violinist decked out in Middle-earth regalia—perform music from the series.
11 Rings of Power Secrets We Learned From the Cast and Creators
Spend some time in Middle-earth and you’ll learn a lot of secrets. I shadowed the cast and creators of the much-anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel series, The Rings of Power, for four days at San Diego Comic-Con in July. During my conversations with the showrunners, executive producer, and several members of the cast, I did my best to pick up clues about where the series may be headed—along with details about the immense production behind the epic saga.
If you want to watch the series without knowing anything about what might happen in the show, know that this story containsminor spoilers. Stop reading now. But if you want some background on the series and how Payne and McKay cooked up a story from Tolkien’s notes, forge ahead. I’ve seen two episodes of the show, and the information in this story comes primarily from the appendices.
[Editor’s note: Having read the article, I don’t consider any of this to be much of a spoiler for anyone who’s been casually following press reports and has a passing knowledge of Middle-earth’s Second Age.]
The Rings of Power Exclusive: Producer Says Fan Theories About Sauron Are Wrong
Fans have spent months speculating when and how he might appear in the show. They’ve combed the various trailers and publicity shots. Some theorize that fans have already seen his image—or at least his Annatar guise. But executive producer Lindsey Weber told TIME the prevailing fan theories may be on the wrong track.
[Editor’s note: This is potentially a spoiler, though I think fandom very quickly discarded the Sauron identity theory that Weber discusses with Time. It would have been much more interesting to address the other (much more compelling) rumour that’s doing the rounds right now. Unfortunately, they don’t even touch on it.]
This Fan-Favorite Character Is Joining the Second Season of The Rings of Power
McKay and Payne leaned heavily on the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, which trace the rise of Sauron, the creation of the one ring, and the battle between Sauron and the last alliance of elves and men for the soul of Middle-earth. Elves are immortal in Tolkien’s world, so Lord of the Rings fans can expect to see familiar faces like Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo). (Both characters also appeared in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.) But a fan-favorite character has been missing…
[Editor’s note: I guess this could be a minor spoiler for some so I’ve hidden the character’s name behind the link below just to be safe!]
Ringers are good people indeed. I have learned via many interactions that Tolkien fans have a rather keen emotional wisdom. Let’s be honest, you don’t get through 1200 pages of LOTR and upon finishing “The Grey Havens” not feel deeply, terribly moved. Your heart hurts but you don’t know why at first. The mastery of Tolkien is right there: how he moves your very spirit is ephemeral, yet undeniable. Within this fandom people intrinsically understand that they are in good company. When strangers meet, Tolkien is an immediate touchstone of commonality. We love sharing that love, especially at Comic-Con.
In my career as a wedding officiant I have joined many couples together whose first date was solidified over Tolkien. It’s kind of delicious when I add his poetry to their sacred vows. How unique is it, then, that a tweedy, conservative Oxford don inventing his own languages could have such an aspirational effect on Humanity? I’d like to examine this ephemeral quality, for it is worth seeing with fresh eyes, and it always leans into kindness. Saying that J.R.R. Tolkien has made us better humans is to understate it. This is his grace, given to us, his readers.
We are a thoughtful, global group of people from various cultures and backgrounds who easily identify with this altruism and pay it forward by sharing love of Tolkien’s works.
It’s why we built this site.
If you draw a straight line from the 1937 publication of Bilbo’s story to where we stand now in 2022 on the cusp of a massive new TV series The Rings of Power you will find us — the fans. We are everyday people who sank deep into the books, enraptured by J.R.R. Tolkien’s words, re-reading everything ad nauseam. For generations we shared his words with our little ones at story time (a profound engine of furthering literacy, lest we minimize it).
Not content to stay within boundaries of academia or late 50’s coterie intellectual circles, Tolkien fandom erupted as a popular juggernaut during a 60’s counterculture movement and a college campus craze. Young people came to Tolkien in droves. A “Fantasy” section appeared in retail bookstores. A couple of generations further on and the Internet would give rise to new ways of sharing our enthusiasm. Moving from small-press newsletters printed in a garage to massive online message boards was key to the burgeoning fandom. We were keeping the fires lit: TheOneRing.net was born.
It is no small thing to have a community – this is truly a family to us. Being in the arms of this fandom is very real. Unwavering hours of work by an all-volunteer staff have made this happen. We don’t make money off any algorithm that leads viewers to an ecosystem of negativity. Our Discord is a guaranteed good time; and that’s the way we like it. Why approach it this way, cultivating community above all else? Easy! It’s all for the inexhaustible fun we have sharing Tolkien – and no kinder group of souls could one hope to meet.
That one time we drove across-country from Los Angeles to Atlanta? It was fueled by donated coffee and a 24/7 livestream we called “The Road to Dragon*Con”. We were embraced by many strangers who would meet to break bread with us, ready to laugh and discuss the Professor’s legendarium. Fans guided us to new places we had never seen; and town-by-town we mapped a constellation of generosity across the land.
Now, I admit to being the Lisa Simpson of my family; raised Methodist but later embracing a mild form of Buddhism. Conversant in theology, I soaked myself in the deep-rooted Catholicism that Tolkien lived by. I read the Humphrey Carpenter Biography and explored his published Letters. There was no theological take I wanted to miss in his writings. So during this jolly Road Trip we chatted with a minister somewhere in the forests of Georgia and detoured for a Second Breakfast. Tolkien was the mortar between the bricks of that egalitarian conversation, believe me. We talked about the triangulation of Frodo, Sam and Sméagol; and how Tolkien crafted this narrative as a demonstrable extrapolation of The Lord’s Prayer. The quiet Southern Baptist and the talkative gay man who had just met one another were suddenly busy discussing aspects of forgiveness. It was amazing. Two people who were miles apart on political sensibilities, reductively speaking, yet there we were; breaking bread together in true Fellowship. What did we achieve? A small moment of enlightenment. What did we not do? Tweet clown emojis at each other.
This experience galvanized my views. I knew Tolkien’s spirit can and truly does bring people together; and we nurture that environment here, ongoingly.
You should have been in that room. The conversation was unfiltered, passionate, and quite clarifying. We needed those clarifying statements and it was great to hit on a lot of BIG THEMES and LORE DETAILS, too.
The audience was with us every step of the way: no newbie was left behind. Somehow I feel the wisdom of those next to me elevated the conversation and offered a refreshing tonic. Here is the entire Panel Presentation (panel starting at 19:11):
You hear it in Anna Maria’s voice when she says of the Professor (at 1:10:33) “Let’s look at thematically ‘What is the macro of what Tolkien stood for?’ He stood for Love. … Let’s look at his actual texts, his works were about Fellowship: his works were about what happens when there is discord between differing peoples. This man is laid to rest next to his wife with the names BEREN and LÚTHIEN inscribed upon the tombstone – I’ve been there, I’ve seen it – this man stood for Love. And if you read any of his works with the openness and kindness that we know he valued; that’s what you take away from it. And I think that would be really lovely for us all to keep in mind going forward.”
Willie Jenkins “KnewBettaDoBetta” had a genius way of putting a button on that. He will suffer no fools. And when Matt “Nerd of the Rings” offered his closing thought on how disparate people so easily set aside their differences for Tolkien – I knew the ongoing threads of altruism would weave us closer together.
I met many cast members of the upcoming show. It was not just an opportunity to ask them questions as a reporter or a documentarian. I sat before an array of hardworking, genuine people who have their own enthusiasm for Tolkien. They were ebullient. They want fans to enjoy this creative experience on its own terms. I was perhaps a bit clumsy in relating to Markella Kavenagh and Maxim Baldry how the TORn community is different. I wanted to underscore our open-minded approach and methods of moderating, yet as my sentences faltered Ismael Cruz Cordova was keen to reach across the table: “I think I know something about that, brother, and I appreciate you.” Sophia Nomvete was a revelation. Her heart is overflowing with sharply drawn wisdom. Telling her how we felt about protecting the actors from unwanted toxicity, Kellie Rice calmly said: “Don’t worry, we’ve got your back,” and Sophia gently wept at the reassurance.
Look, we are at the intersection of a literary legacy and a pop culture behemoth with this new show, The Rings of Power. There will be much invigorating discussion for the next few years and we will keep it healthy and egalitarian. We will be watching ROP with no small amount of excitement. I look forward to comparing notes with other lore-masters to parse what works (and what does not).
This new adaptation, at the very least, promises to offer a richly mounted artistic interpretation of Middle-earth. Let’s see if they play it unironically. Let’s see if they adapt it with all the seriousness and clear regard for the metaphysics it deserves.
At a delightful accidental meeting on the train, Rings of Power showrunner Patrick McKay came up and asked me what I would most like to see in their series. I immediately pulled a quote from Letter No. 203 where Tolkien states: “But I should say, if asked, the tale is not really about Power and Dominion: that only sets the wheels going; it is about Death and the desire for deathlessness.” I leaned in on that final phrase. Patrick knew exactly what I was getting at. He looked up thoughtfully for a moment and said: “I think we’ve got you covered.”
If the prevailing headwinds are any indication they might just pull off something magical. Or at least we can enjoy the ride and flog the keyboard when necessary. Seriously, we have been bitching and moaning about Faramir dragging those two hobbits to Osgiliath all these bloody years now. We enjoyed PJ’s gargantuan adaptations but had plenty to criticize. Likewise we will have ample time to praise/gripe/puzzle over Amazon’s time compression, 3rd Age characters showing up too soon; and much more. We will debate but never denigrate.
Twenty-odd years later, as an observer of pop culture and especially Tolkien’s considerable legacy, I say unequivocally we have something special in this fandom.
Let’s keep it going. And my warmest regards to all who help maintain this community. Well done.
The Rings of Power at San Diego Comic-Con created a tsunami of cast interviews, video snippets and press write-ups. Unfortunately, they’re scatered all across the internet.
So some of the fine folks on our Discord server have been working assiduously to collate everything for easy reference. Courtesy of their hard work, everything we can find in one place for your reading and viewing pleasure. Big thank-you to Tim B. Ranatuor, WheatBix and Amaurëanna for getting all these links together!
Group interview with Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Tar-Míriel), Ema Horvath (Eärien), Ismael Cruz Córdova (Arondir), Daniel Weyman (The Stranger), Maxim Baldry (Isildur), Robert Aramayo (Elrond), Trystan Gravelle (Pharazon), Megan Richards (Poppy Proudfellow), Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot), and Owain Arthur (Durin IV)
Group interview with Benjamin Walker (Gil-galad), Lloyd Owen (Elendil), Leon Wadham (Kemen), Morfydd Clark (Galadriel), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Charlie Vickers (Halbrand), Markella Kavenagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot), Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfoot), Sophia Nomvete (Princess Disa), and Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo).
Group interview with Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Markella Kavenagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Arondir), and Benjamin Walker (Gil-galad).
Individual interviews with Benjamin Walker (Gil-galad), Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfoot), Markella Kavenagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot), Leon Wadham (Kemen), and Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn).
The LA Times
Behind-the-scenes at SDCC stuff (might be paywalled!)
‘I can’t believe we’re doing this!’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ stars drink in first Comic-Con
The Times tagged along with ‘Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ stars Sara Zwangobani, Tyroe Muhafidin and Owain Arthur at San Diego Comic-Con.
“I have never experienced a Hall H and I’ve been wanting to come to Comic-Con my whole life,” said Sara Zwangobani while riding in a van to the San Diego Convention Center to take part in the Comic-Con 2022 panel for her upcoming show, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” “These are my people! I can’t believe we’re doing this right now.”
Photos: behind the scenes at Comic-Con with the cast of ‘Lord of the Rings’
LA Times photographer Jay Clendenin embedded in the Rings of Power group for Comic-Con. He captured a full range of images from life inside the Comic-Con bubble, from cast members’ morning glam routine to the mayhem of Hall H to the afterglow of a successful bow at the year’s biggest fan gathering.
Group interviews with Markella Kavenagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot), Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo), Charlie Vickers (Halbrand), Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfoot), Sophia Nomvete (Princess Disa), Daniel Weyman (The Stranger), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Arondir), Ema Horvath (Eärien), Maxim Baldry (Isildur), Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Tar-Miriel), Trystan Gravelle (Pharazôn), Sara Zwangboni (Marigold Brandyfoot), Owain Arthur (Durin IV), and Megan Richards (Poppy Proudfellow).
Ema Horvath (Eärien) interview
Charles Vickers (Halbrand) interview
Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo) interview
Megan Richards (Poppy Proudfellow)
Owain Arthur (Durin IV)
Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn)
Benjamin Walker (Gil-galad)
Markella Kavanagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot)
Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot)
Group interview with Markella Kavenagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot), Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo), Charlie Vickers (Halbrand), Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfoot), and Sophia Nomvete (Princess Disa).
Group interview with Morfydd Clark (Galadriel), Benjamin Walker (Gil-galad), Lloyd Owen (Elendil), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), and Leon Wadham (Kemen).
“The set of Númenór, which they’d built on the back lot, is absolutely extraordinary,” Owen said. Wadham, who has worked in the same New Zealand studio on other projects, added, “I thought I knew what I was walking into. I turn up, and there was a city with a wharf with boats in water on the backlot. It was transcendent.”
KEVIN POLOWY: So, huge cast, but you guys spent a year and a half together–
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: Yes.
KEVIN POLOWY: –shooting this in New Zealand. What kind of bonding experience was that? I mean, you hear stories from the original trilogy, the hobbits all got matching tattoos. Did you guys get matching tattoos, by the way?
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: I was really close to getting one. Not that I know of, I don’t think there are any, but I wouldn’t rule it out. I mean, we’ll see. We’ll see.
KEVIN POLOWY: But what was the bonding experience like among you guys?
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: Well, we lived– we lived so close together. We were there for nearly two years. And we’d have dinners together. We’d go around to people’s places. We had karaoke nights. It was really– we had to be each other’s friends, family, and colleagues in a time where we couldn’t get to each our actual real life friends and family and colleagues. So it was quite an experience. Really, really grateful for the camaraderie, for sure.
BENJAMIN WALKER: Because we were kind of stuck together in New Zealand, and I was there with my family, we became the home where everyone came and had Sunday lunch every Sunday. And when other people were away from their families, it was a way to kind of bond with your castmates, but also have that familial attention, and just feel like a person. So that’s an honor to do. I mean, they’re all nice people, and I enjoyed hosting.
NAZANIN BONLADI: To be in New Zealand– if you’re going to be stuck anywhere, let it be New Zealand. And we understand how blessed we are, because we, at one point were the only show in the world that was filming, because we were in the safe haven that was New Zealand at the time there was no COVID there. So we are very, very fortunate.
And because of the pandemic, the island was shut off from visitors. So we didn’t get to leave the Island or come back, you know, or have visitors. So basically we were stuck there for a good part of two years. And we had to lean on each other and depend on each other. So by default we became family. And, you know, and that’s what a fellowship is, is people who have to sort of support each other through an adventure.
TYROE MUHAFIDIN: Every Sunday we’d go for dinners and things like that, and we’d always socialize, because we were sort of the only people we had. And we were all really, really there for each other in times that we needed each other. And it was really great. I was actually quite lucky because under 18 I’m allowed a chaperone, so I brought my mother along with me. And she kind of ended up being everyone else’s mom.
MEGAN RICHARDS: We had to become, not just each other’s colleagues, but friends and family and support systems. And it really did ring true. I have such a love for this cast, and I really hold them deeply within my heart. And we would have, like, dinners together, where like, 20 of us would try and like, get a table, which is impossible in a restaurant. You know, just so many things like that. And, you know, we’d like, go on holidays together or we’d have, like, Sunday lunches. And, yeah, no, we were really, really close.
LEON WADHAM: Yeah, there’s a true fellowship, no question. So many people came from all over the world and spent a lot of time far from their homes to make this. And I think that encouraged a strong bond. They had to create a family. Whereas I am an Aucklander? I was shooting in my home. And I didn’t start until the midpoint because it took the first half of the shoot to build Numenor. So by the time I met everyone, they were already a family, and they invited me in.
BENJAMIN WALKER: This is going to be the most eclectic fellowship we’ve ever seen, right. It feels like the series is progressing, when it comes to ethnicity, when it comes to gender. I mean, how much of a sort of like point of pride was that for you guys, as creators of this series to sort of– to bring new faces and a new world into this world that’s created, that’s existed for so long, but we’ve never seen look quite like this?
CYNTHIA ADDAI-ROBINSON: It’s a huge point of pride. I mean, I think we’re talking about a global show and a global audience. This is now the reality. This is not about taking the narrow view. And, to me, this is about inviting people in and being expansive. And if you’re going to tell this story in 2022, this, to me, feels like the only way to tell it, the only way to represent it. And I think people are going to be really happy.
They’ve been hungry to sort of see full representation in this world. Because at the end of the day, this story is very much about people of all different backgrounds coming together for a common cause, to fight the common enemy, and that very much relates to where we’re at today. So that, to me, is just, like, the natural progression of things. It’s just what I would expect it to be.
MARKELLA KAVENAGH: It’s just, you know, really exciting to have– for it to be more representative of the world that we live in. And I just hope that the industry, not just our show, but the industry just continues to become more inclusive and representative of the world we live in. So I’m really grateful to be a part of that.
NAZANIN BONLADI: Every woman has agency on this show. Every female character has– is not there to serve the male characters around her. But every one of us has autonomy in our storylines. I am not only the mother of a rebellious teenage son or in a forbidden romance with an elf, the very handsome Ismael Cruz Cordova, but I also am a healer and a leader of sorts in my own right.
MEGAN RICHARDS: It’s just nice. It’s just such an inclusive atmosphere. And, I mean, I can’t even– I can’t wait for the time when that’s not even a question anymore, you know. Like, it’s just so nice that the modern world that we’re living in today, it really is reflected within in the world that Jodie and Patrick have created.
NAZANIN BONLADI: I never, in a million years, thought that I would be in something like this. And now we’re hoping that when people watch Arondir and Bronwyn fall in love on screen that they can see a Afro-Latino man and a Middle Eastern woman fall in love and have a love story, and be romantic leads, and in this genre. And that means the world to both of us, and all the people of– marginalized people in our cast.
KEVIN POLOWY: Despite, you know, “Rings of Power” taking place in the Tolkien universe, fantasy world long ago with creatures of all types, there’s a lot of themes that are going to be relevant to what is actually happening in the real world. Like, what can you say about that aspect? Like, what is it about the show that reminds you of the reality that we all live in?
CHARLIE VICKERS: We all live with. Well, I think that’s the beautiful thing about Tolkien is that the essence of his work, sort of will forever be related to what we go through, and what endures in human life. There are stories within the show that are stories of hope and stories of love and stories of loss, and the fight between good and bad. And I think that within this vast world of high fantasy, it’s these human stories that sort bring you in and really make you feel things when you watch the show.
BENJAMIN WALKER: There are a lot of connections you can draw between refugees or the climate crisis. But I don’t– that’s not the intention of the show. It’s just Tolkien. He understood the human experience in a deep way, and that translates into his work.
TYROE MUHAFIDIN: Just sort of those ideas of, like, family, friendship, you know, sticking with the people you know and you love, and no matter what goes on, they’re always going to be there for you.
LEON WADHAM: Certainly in Numenor there is a hunger for legacy at all costs. And I don’t know how much more I can reveal about that, but certainly ambitious to a fault is something that is said about the people of Numenor. They’re really proud. They have big dreams. They want to leave an imprint on this land before their time on Earth is over. And not everyone on that island knows where to draw the line.
– There can be no trust between hammer and rock. Eventually one or the other, or she’ll be back.
Nanzanin Boniadi (Bronwyn) interview
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” star Nazanin Boniadi teases what fans can expect in her character Bronwyn. May be geo-blocked depending on your location, but you can try watching it here!
In order to get into Hall H for the Rings of Power panel, which was scheduled to be the first panel on Friday, July 22 at 10:30am, a group of fans needed a plan to camp out in line. Staffers from TORn, members of the Discord community and a bunch of fans from the UK banded together to have group members take turns standing, or sitting, in line, starting at Midnight Wednesday night, all day on Thursday, and overnight into Friday morning.
It was a blast to see the trailer, but the special footage that accompanied some of the cast discussions really showed us what type of show this is going to be, and those subwoofers that blow through the room during the first video emphasized the Power of the Rings.
Here is an accounting for the exclusive scenes shown to the 6500 fans in attendance.
Ring Verse video and sound:
The panel began with Bear McCreary conducting a small orchestra with choral and violin solos of several minutes of his newly created music for the series, which was released a couple of days ago. Once the music ended, Stephen Colbert was introduced as the moderator, and very soon we’ll be giving a rundown of those cast and showrunner Q&A sessions in a separate article. But the first group of guests comprised the show runners and producers of the show. One said that the thing he had most wanted to see on screen was the moment when Sauron puts on the One Ring and invokes the Ring verse for the first time, sending a ripple across all of Middle-earth, a moment when the Elves especially, realized they’d been had.
Shortly after this, we got our first Exclusive video footage, and it is this moment recreated for us in Hall H.
The sequence opens with the image we’ve all seen, of Finrod walking up the grassy hill to see the Two Trees, and at this point the black curtains on the side walls pull back to reveal the screens that stretch more than half the length of the hall (approximately the distance of two semi-trucks back to back). This allows us to see the mountains and valleys to either side of the main image of the city and the Two Trees.
But then we push in closer to see the trees better, and they are fading. As the light begins to dim, and the leaves fall, there is a giant shadowy figure of Morgoth in the sky. We are then transported to a realm of burning ground that seems to be disintegrating, and the Ring Verse appears in a golden circle on a black background.
We hear the first line, read by Morfydd Clark, ‘Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky’, a quick glimpse of an elven realm, and the Ring Verse enlarges and rushes towards us as a giant burst of sound emanates from some very large subwoofers at the front of the stage, the whole room shakes and you can literally feel the blast on your face.
She reads the second line, ‘Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone’ and a quick glimpse of Moria in it’s glory, then the same rush of the Ring verse rushing towards the screen and the burst of sound from the speakers, just a wave of sound rushing the screen.
Next comes the third line, ‘Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die’, and a look at Numenor from above, and again with the Ring Verse and Sound bursting through the room.
And finally, we get the final lines, ‘One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie’ and a glimpse of destruction before the final burst of sound with the Ring Verse.
And thus, everyone in the audience, and everyone who came back onstage were just dumbstruck by that experience. It was one of the most visceral experiences to ever happen in Hall H.
Elrond and Durin IV’s relationship:
Elrond and Durin IV, set up like a prize fight as Elrond walks past male and female dwarves singing and chanting, but not necessarily in a good way, then big cheers when Durin IV enters. Again, very much like the bravado of two competitors before a big fight.
Durin IV announces the challenge, to break rocks until one or the other cannot. If the Elf loses, he is banned from ALL Dwarven realms, if he wins. . .Durin IV sniggers, as if to say that is very unlikely, and then the big rocks are carted in.
Durin IV gives a big swing and easily splits his rock, Elrond hesitates just a moment and then gives a big swing as well. . .fade to black
Elrond and Galadriel’s relationship:
Elrond greets Galadriel, and then each looks at the tapestry of a ship sailing into the sunset, and mentions in somber tones what it is supposed to be like, of a song welcoming one to this realm. The moment is very contemplative, and almost fearful on the part of Elrond.
Then in a lighter tone, Elrond says he expected Galadriel to be covered in mud and dirt, she replies “more like frost bite and troll blood”
Galadriel and Halbrand saved from the sea:
We got context of that regal ship sailing into the Numenorean port. It is Elendil’s ship, the circular sails have the sunburst sigil on them, and two guests were aboard, the rescued Galadriel and Halbrand. Elendil recognizes Galadriel as one of the Eldar, and she asks what ship this is, he tells her and it does not ease her mind. Halbrand then asks where it is they are going, he doesn’t recognize anything about the port.
But Galadriel does, she recognizes the carved stone faces they sail by, the glorious waterfall next to what may be a statue of Ulmo, and announces to Halbrand that it is the island nation of Numenor. This sequence also gives us a heavy dose of the grandeur of the music Bear McCreary is creating for Numenor.
Arondir in chains:
The Arondir scene where his ankle is chained is an Orc prison gang thing, several elves, and maybe some men are all chained and working at what looks like a quarry. The Orcs have those white membranous cloaks (could it be flesh?) on to protect them from the sun, but they don’t work well
We see one Orc wince from sun exposure and retreat to a covered area made of wooden beams and canvas. Arondir looks at another elf, giving a signal, and they and other prisoners attempt a jailbreak using the long chains to whip the Orcs off their feet.
The prisoners cross their chains and then take turns smashing with their hammers where the chains intersect. One chain breaks and that prisoner takes off running and scales the walls of the pit, until he is shot down.
Thus comes the scene where Arondir pics up an axe and leaps high overhead, but not to attack an Orc. No, he goes for the wooden crossbeam and collapses the structure protecting the Orcs. . . fade to black
Nori and the Stranger
Nori appears at the top of the burning crater and looks down to see the ‘Stranger’ curled up in a fetal position unconscious. Her friend Poppy comes up from behind and tells her to get away from the edge, it’s dangerous. Nori says that they should help the man below, and Poppy says that they can’t, he’s a giant and it isn’t safe.
At that moment, the edge of the crater collapses and Nori falls into the crater, landing amongst the flames. As she scrambles to regain her feet, she realizes the flames don’t burn, they aren’t hot. This gives her enough courage to approach the figure at the center of the flaming crater.
She slowly reaches out to touch him, while Poppy pleads for her to stop. Nori pokes his face and nothing happens, and again Poppy pleads for her to come back. Nori says that we can’t leave him here, not for the wolves to get, and then suddenly he wakes enough to reach out and grab her arm.
Nori turns back to him, stunned and surprised, he looks just as perplexed and starts to cry out, the camera cuts back and forth between them, while the cries of surprise or pain or confusion escalate, the fire goes out. And then, Nori is able to pull away, and the Stranger falls unconscious again, and the flames return.
Poppy urges Nori to get out as fast as she can, and Nori says we have to help him, and Poppy retorts ‘how are we to carry a giant’, but Nori says that they can, that this is who they are, and Poppy reminds her ‘no, this is who you are’.
This last interchange between Nori and Poppy is very much like the Shire we know, where most of the Hobbits never go anywhere and never have any adventures, and then there are the Bagginses and Tooks, who do go places and have adventures.
Thus ends the Dispatches from Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, at least as far as the exclusive video content goes. There will be a synopsis of all the cast and showrunner Q&As forthcoming.
Last night TheOneRing.net and Amazon Prime Video hosted a “Rings of Power” off-site party at San Diego Comic-con.
The setting was lovely and looked very Middle-earthy with trees growing inside the venue surrounded by moss, rocks, mushrooms, and even a few birds’ nests filled with eggssess, precious. Showrunner Patrick McKay joined the party, and TORN staffer Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway talked Tolkien lore with him. Jed Brophy stopped by, too.
Golden Mallorn leaf tickets were given out at TORn’s Booth 1220 in the convention center for trivia answers. These ticket holders got to meet 20+ Rings of Power actors and have posters signed by them all. Five Middle-earth costume winners also got Mallorn tickets. Actual set-worn costumes were displayed throughout the venue, and immediately after the party, they were bubble wrapped and crated and flown back to the set.
Highlights of the food and drink that flowed throughout the evening were the blackberry sparkling cocktail and the mini poke ice cream cones surrounding a mountain from which smoke poured out.
An expanded trailer that does not disappoint was played in a separate room on loop.
It was a wonderful evening, and hopefully the first of many ”Rings of Power” parties. (Emmys party perhaps?)
The initial posters released by Amazon spawned a million questions, and then the Vanity Fair articles explained some things but spurred even more questions. Just before the teaser trailer, we released a staff “what we want to see” post, with some very specific hopes and questions; and now we find out if any of those were answered. Watch the trailer below, and then read on to see what the staff reactions were.
The world felt familiar and in line with my expectations of what Middle-earth and Númenor should look like. I felt there was visual continuity from the films. It’s difficult to tell much about the story, though there are hints, and I’m intrigued to find out more. Especially about the man in the fiery crater. Also, I’m curious what the meeting of the Elves in the golden woods was about.
Specific things I wanted to see that were shown:
Númenor. I also wanted to know what time-period it was, but of this I’m still unsure. In the last days, Ar-Pharazôn makes sacrifices to Melkor, and the skies become blackened with smoke by the unceasing fires. The skies in the trailer are blue, yet there is a tall tower that is sending out flames, yet it is not the domed tower that the Silmarillion mentions. Could this be the temple of Armenelos, indicating the later days? Or is this the port of Rómenna where the Faithful lived? My guess is Rómenna because the capital city was inland.
Khazad-dûm, I think, in the scene where Durin IV breaks the stone, but the background is out of focus, so we don’t get to see the scope of it or the West Gate.
Galadriel and Elrond. Galadriel’s fierceness and athleticism were as I expected from the hints and photos given prior to the trailer, and also in line with how Tolkien described how she acted in her youth. Though the ice wall immediately reminded me of Game of Thrones. Elrond was a surprise because he looks so angry or troubled, and I would not have imagined him having a contest of strength with Durin. What he is wearing is very cool and unexpected.
Gil-galad! His appearance is satisfying because his countenance and clothes are similar to the way he looks in the War of the Last Alliance in the film, so there is continuity.
A Hobbit–Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot. She has the look of a Hobbit, and her rustic clothes seem appropriate. I also wanted to see where the Harfoots lived, but we weren’t shown that. Nori speaks of wandering, so maybe there isn’t a settled community yet.
Weaponry. Arondir’s shooting skills seem in line with what we know of Elves from the films. Though it was too dark to make out his bow clearly, the shape, especially the ends of the bow, are similar to the Bow of the Galadhrim that Galadriel gave Legolas in the film version of FotR, and his arrows are also shaped like Legolas’, so I wasn’t taken out of Middle-earth as it was imagined by Peter Jackson and WETA. We also saw him with some kind of axe. In the battle scene, we got visuals of Elven helmets, armor and shields–gold, as in the Last Alliance in the films, but differently shaped. And we saw Galadriel’s dagger (Who else is waiting for a reproduction?) and the top of her sword slung on her back.
How people will sound. We only heard Nori, and she had a sort of Irish accent. I thought there was a hint of Elvish voices in the music, like in Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings, so I’m hopeful there will be Elvish/Dwarvish/Númenórean languages spoken at times.
Thoughts from Deej:
I liked what I saw, and it piqued my interest in seeing more, which is the whole point of a teaser trailer. I’ve seen a few responses from fans saying it looked too generic and ‘cheap’ – I could not disagree more. To me, it looked very much like the Middle-earth we’ve become accustomed to, just different locations and characters. I do hope that there are more physical sets and ‘bigatures’ (like The Lord of the Rings) and less CGI (like The Hobbit), but at this point, nothing about the show looks cheap.
From Madeye Gamgee:
My broad desires were to alleviate concern, particularly by demonstrating faithfulness to Tolkien and his source material; and to create a hunger to see more. For me, the teaser trailer was more successful in the latter area. We saw some iconic and exciting moments: our first-ever glimpse of Númenor, with Meneltarma looming in the background; Galadriel in her full Nerwen/Amazonian self (how’s that for an ironic nod to the money behind this project?); some wondrous, ax-swinging (and singing!) dwarves in their halls of stone; and some really beautiful scenic shots once again cementing the convergent glories of New Zealand as Middle-earth. There were snippets of intriguing characters that seem to have stories to tell, starting with the only words spoken in the entire teaser from young “Nori” Brandyfoot/Markella Kavenagh, alluding to “wonders in this world beyond our wandering” (a very pre-Tookish sentiment!). What is Dwarf Queen Disa singing about? Who is Silvan Elf Arondir fighting, and why is he chained? Why does Durin IV weep, and what is Elrond’s mission among the dwarves? Is that an “ice troll”? What in the world does that meteor portend, and who is this “Stranger” that may have emerged from it? This is a world that seems packed with beauty and history, danger and mystery, all waiting to be explored.
But is it true to Tolkien? We don’t know yet, and it’s unfair to expect this from a one-minute teaser that gives us flashes of 20 different scenes. We saw no rings of power. We heard no actual dialog between characters. We have seen some action but know little yet of the forces and passions that are motivating it. We have been teased. There is what could be an aroma of Middle-earth wafting in from some hidden kitchens, and the scents we’re catching seem promising. I’m happy to stick with my spot at the table as we wait for more. With Dwalin, though, I’ll toss in a hopeful, “where’s the meat?!”
WeeTanya’s 2 cents:
The Teaser Trailer’s opening focus on the large statue was probably meant to make us remember the Argonath, setting up the feeling that we were looking at something thematically familiar and different at the same time — a port city of men? Where is it? I loved that we got to immediately see the vast scope of the world, and that the city felt old and abandoned even for a place that should have been thriving. Where is everyone? Are the humans of that port city long fled? The questions started to mount in my head immediately, and I honestly felt as adventuresome as Galadriel climbing up a cliff.
I loved where the Teaser Trailer took us. We saw a bunch of Elves meeting in a place that looked a lot like Lothlorien, rife as it was with all the golden Mallorn trees (Lindon? Eregion?). We saw one very concerned elf staring up at the sky — who is that? Is it Cirdan, is it Gil-galad? Some breakdowns have already named him Gil-galad, but I am leaving room that it could be Cirdan — I’ve always wanted to see my favorite elf on screen.
The Teaser Trailer gave us a glimpse of Arondir — the way he looked and moved made me feel as if he was spiritually akin to Legolas and Tharanduil’s folk. It’s hard to imagine anyone faulting his grace (OK, I can imagine it) or likeness to other Peter Jackson-themed Sindarin elves. I hope we get to see more of his elf eyes tracking foes in the wood.
I enjoyed Galadriel’s adventures tremendously — she’s climbing the side of a mountain in the Northern Wastes, and hanging out near a waterfall that dwarfs the ones we already know (Rauros, Henneth Annun). She’s in a cave, encountering an albino … troll thing. She’s riding a battle-clad horse at the head of an army. I AM PROPERLY TEASED! I want to know more, these are adventures that probably happened between the words in the Unfinished Tales, and I want to know all about it.
Notes from Elessar:
So here we go.
As I stated I in our preview article I wanted to see the world in action. We got that. A lot of it really for a one-minute teaser trailer. What we saw looks really cool and I walked away pleased with what I saw. We didn’t get a lot of dialogue other than the narrator’s voice. So that was a bit of a bummer, but I’m sure we will get a full trailer this summer. So as someone who went in a bit reluctant, I’m pleased for now.
I wanted, first and foremost, to see Elves acting like Elves, which of course, covers many behaviors and actions, but it is the Action I was most interested in. Early in the teaser trailer, we see Arondir in the midst of a battle, arrows in the ground around him. He is seen reaching out to grab an arrow flying towards a second figure lying on the ground, turns it and let’s fly back to where it came. That sealed it, that was the Elven skill with a bow we have become accustomed to, and it made this teaser trailer for me. But then we got more of Arondir being amazing, when near the end he is seen leaping through the air with an odd looking ax in his hands, about to pounce on something or someone, all while having his ankle in chains.
My second point was wanting to see Dwarves, be it miners, builders, fighters, or anything that shows their culture and the realm of Khazad-dûm. We don’t get too much of the scope of their realm, but we do see Durin IV a couple of times. In one scene, he looks rather emotional, but the next time we see him he is splitting a mighty boulder in one blow, sending sparks out. This act is witnessed by at least three, elder looking dwarves with very long, grey beards (Gandalf would be jealous). Finally, we see Disa singing, which turns out to be how the dwarves find out where to dig, and more importantly, where not to dig, which we know they don’t always heed that warning.
There were no answers as to why Galadriel was in the ocean and needed to be pulled onto a raft, but we do see her looking pissed off when the man on the raft touches her hair to reveal her Elven ears. It would be interesting to see what happens next, does she begrudgingly tolerate it, or does she attack him?
As for my wish to see more of Lindon, we got that, with the scene of seeing Gil-galad, looking fabulous, but worried as he watches the meteor shoot through the sky. And later, we see a beautiful gathering area near the edge of a cliff where numerous Elves are meeting, for either a ceremony or a gathering to discuss important matters. Either way, Lindon looks quite lovely, with the golden leaves of white birch trees and waterfalls.
And finally, there was zero information as to why the Two Trees were the first image we saw from the production, but there were indications that there may be flashbacks into the first age, but the writers are walking a tightrope when it comes to that material. This teaser trailer did what it was supposed to, it intrigued me and left me with tons more questions about what we might see next, and that is a very encouraging thought.
Watch TORn Tuesday today at 5pm PT, 8pm ET with special guest Joanna Robinson, the author of many of the articles that announced Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power to the world.