A couple of weeks ago saw those wonderful performances at Radio City Music Hall, of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, with live orchestral accompaniment. Various TORn staffers and friends were there; our friend Constance G. J. Wagner shares her thoughts about the event:
The Two Towers at Radio City Music Hall
February in New York can be wind-whipped and cold — much like the gusts one experiences when standing before the doors of Meduseld in Rohan. This is all an artsy way of describing the walk TO Radio City Music Hall In New York City on February 17th to immerse myself in the “score to screen” live music performance of Howard Shore’s powerful score for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. However, as cold as it was outside on the streets of Manhattan, the fellowship felt among the audience waiting for the performance to start created warmth and energy that crackled with electric anticipation. When conductor Ludwig Wicki came onstage to begin the show, the walls of Radio City vibrated with a fan-fueled roar of expectation and excitement. It would, they felt, be a night to remember.
Hearing the score played live, seeing a choir and soloists bring both intimate and epic musical moments to life in real time, is an experience not to be missed. It deepens the depiction of character and the emotional context of the saga as a whole, particularly since this is a shared experience with all of Middle-earth spread across a 60-foot screen.
The audience cheered the arrival of each hero’s first appearance on the screen, but also gave rousing applause to soloist Kaitlyn Lusk, who dazzled with lyric, numinous vocals and a glittering golden gown to match. Equally impressive was the boy soprano soloist who captured the intensity of the battle cry of the Rohirrim with soaring, impossible notes.
At night’s end, cheers and more cheers for the soloists, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the adult choir — MasterVoices, and the conductor rolled through the audience like a great wave with a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
The experience was immersive and impressive and amazing – particularly for those fans whose viewing of the film may have only been on small screens. For this part of Tolkien’s tale to be presented as literally larger than life with sound to rock the soul … well, it is something for the ages.
Finally, the audience left the theatre filled with anticipation for another round in another year when Return of the King comes to the screen with its own sights, and sounds … and wonder. And so to all the musicians who brought Howard Shore’s score to an audience in such brilliant fashion, one can only offer thanks and say: Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo — A star shines on the hour of our meeting.
The Return of the King in 2025?
The Return of the King is the one movie of the trilogy which was not part of the original performances with orchestra at Radio City Music Hall; so, we’re very much hoping we’ll see that movie presented in 2025! Of course, we’ll let you know as soon as we hear!
The awesome folks at Diamond Select Toys have even more awesome Middle-earth collectibles for those of us who collect their sweet pieces.
If you’re like me, and are collecting the Deluxe Action Figure line, you can now pre-order Merry and Pippin. Both of these figures are priced at $29.99 for a single figure or you can grab both in a set for $59.98 with the figures due to ship in quarter 3 of this year.
If you’re a fan of their Gallery Diorama series you can now add the Cave Troll to that collection. The Cave Troll comes in with a price tag of $125 and will be shipping in quarter 2 of this year.
Last Thursday our friends at Weta Workshop revealed one of their most beautiful environments, The Grey Havens is up for order. This piece captures the beauty and emotion of the Grey Havens perfectly.
Like all previous limited edition pieces, fans have a two-week window to place their order, with pre-orders closing on February 8th at 4 PM PST. The Grey Havens piece is available via pre-order for $799, and it is expected to ship at the end of this year.
Two further pieces Weta Workshop announced are for all fans of The Return of the King coronation sequence. From Weta Workshops classic series, representing that beautiful scene from the film, fans can now pre-order the awesome-looking King Aragorn and the stunning Coronation Arwen right now for $399 each.
Some secrets are better kept quiet (according to that famous Gandalf quote, the one about anticipating a good meal): “Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder.” That little gem does not apply here, as TheOneRing.net continues its decades-long quest to separate truth from nonsense behind any Tolkien adaptation coming our way.
For you see–a wild bombshell appeared on 4chan on Jan. 15, 2024, claiming knowledge of fully-detailed plot points and episodes that was quickly regurgitated on our Discord server (now deleted). The contents of this post caused shockwaves on our TORn Discord; as it shocked and dismayed me. But also much of its contents have been corroborated fully by someone close to the Producers who shared more information. Better fasten your seatbelts, dear Ringers, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.
[MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD FOR “TROP” SEASON 2 THROUGHOUT, NO HOLDS BARRED, NOTHING WITHHELD, PROCEED WITH CAUTION]
As the Production Calendar continues apace on Season 2 of Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” (rumor has it Season 3’s halfway written!) certain enigmatic details are clearer while other things remain deeply shrouded. It’s like scrying in the Mirror of Galadriel without any guidance.
Nonetheless, it is now being discussed openly that Amazon secretly acquired the rights to “The Silmarillion” for use in this 2nd Season! This is seismic news! It is even more insane to think something so significant has happened and the Studio has said nothing about it at the time of this article’s publication.
Let’s start with the Big Bad Wolf-Maia himself, the “Halbrand of your dreams” (ooof), that guy who would deign to be THE Lord of the Rings:
SAURON / HALBRAND
TROP Director Charlotte Brändström has said in interviews that the 1st Ep. of the new Season will be a “Standalone episode.” We have been reporting for 15 months on our TORn Tuesday Livestream show that this “Season Opener” will dedicate itself entirely to Sauron, his backstory, and his misadventures prior to what we saw mystery-boxed as the Halbrand storyline of Season 1. We may ultimately find out how and why Sauron took the form of that particular human and how he managed to be in the middle of the ocean at exactly the right time to start his lengthy charade with Galadriel. It goes without saying that Season 1 would have been dramatically different if the Showrunners had used the literary device of Dramatic Irony instead of employing this lamentable mystery-boxing approach.
Why was there such trenchant animosity between Adar and Sauron? Newly leaked info says the conflict between them is fueled by a tragic death: Sauron evidently had a SON — and Adar evidently killed him in cold blood prior to the events of Season 1. Nothing close to this appears in Tolkien’s stories.
Further spoilers: in Season 2 Adar (well-played by actor Joseph Mawle, now replaced by Sam Hazeldine) will surrender to Sauron and become one of his generals, only to betray him again later on. Also, at some point Sauron presents himself to the Dwarves and straight up tells them he “apprenticed under Aulë,” at which point he is immediately accepted in their midst.
Season 2 will conclude with this final shot: the forging of the One Ring by Sauron’s hand, leading one to necessarily assume the other Seven and the Nine will be forged at some point by this Season’s end (unless the Showrunners deem it necessary to keep changing the historical order of things).
RIGHTS TO “THE SILMARILLION” ACQUIRED?!
Most significantly, according to verifiable spy reports Prime Video has secretly acquired the rights to “The Silmarillion” — unbeknownst to us. We are hearing that Season 2 opens with a genesis story more fitting the Ainulindalë! After many years of speculation and hundreds of hours of discussion about this very thing, it comes as a deep shock to me (as a Tolkien fan and generally speaking as an observer of Popular Culture) that the Tolkien Estate has, at long last, allowed the gates to finally be opened and nobody has said a word about it! Ladies and gentlemen, could it be true that “The Silmarillion” has now become an officially licensed property for adaptation?! If so, the hugest of caveats must be stated: this is a singular case for now. Perhaps unique.
THE MUSIC OF THE AINUR (quoting from the original post): “The opening scene of Ep. 1 is Eru [Ilúvatar] using the Secret Flame to create Melkor, and Melkor watching as Eru creates all the Valar and the Maiar. Eru is a disembodied voice vaguely human shaped but no characteristics can be made out. The Secret Flame is golden, as are all the Valar and the Maiar. The Valar are larger than the Maiar, but they are bathed in a golden light and completely naked. The actor playing Mairon in this realm is NOT Charlie Vickers or Gavi Singh Chera–it is a third actor. Gave Singh Chera will play Sauron in his battle form and his Annatar form.” We can now fully confirm that a grand total of three actors shall play Sauron in different forms. Additionally, the two actors playing Melkor and Ungoliant in the Ainulindalë shall appear LATER in Season 2 as different incarnations.
I mean — just wow!
Further details are exposed: “A whole episode is dedicated to Sauron’s backstory leading up to the breaking of the First Silence. After the Fourth interruption of the song [Theme], several Maiar meet and discuss Melkor’s discord. Mairon/Sauron alone speaks: ‘The One has blessed me more so than all of you to see the potential of His creations, and what better way to forge their mettle than by allowing them to face Melkor’s discord and grow beyond what they think capable!’ You will see Mithrandir [Olórin] in this scene. Mairon almost converts him. Almost.”
Four Themes? There were only Three, as we all know, so perhaps this is a typo. Or perhaps the most obvious thing that would happen to “The Silmarillion” being adapted is that it would be unnecessarily changed.
Seasoned readers of Tolkien will probably be agape at this ambitious retelling of “The Music of the Ainur” but newcomers who have never read a speck of the original book may be mystified. It seems clear now that the intention of this show is to explore the earliest mythological roots of these immortal characters: a narrative consideration never previously afforded to any Valar / Maiar characters.
This still doesn’t explain the “meteor man” thingy that suddenly brought Gandalf / Olórin / The Stranger into the Second Age, but why quibble?
The further impact of this reality should be weighed carefully, for it represents a point of no return with those tales. The Quenta Silmarillion, the tragedy of Beren and Luthien, the Fall of Gondolin: all of which may now be adapted for T.V. or Film or other media if the Estate allows and arrangements are made. What a tremendous thing. It opens up a whole new era of possibilities.
GALADRIEL & CELEBORN
The fact that Celeborn has been kept offstage in Season 1 as a red herring (you know, that bit about him being supposedly dead yet Galadriel doesn’t know a thing about it) simply does not ring true to Tolkien’s original works. The Professor re-wrote and revised the story of G&C many times, but never do we see a hint leaning towards this in the Appendices, nor in “Unfinished Tales.” Beyond this fumble in the narrative of Season 1, we have now confirmed that our “dearly departed” Celeborn IS INDEED NOT DEAD (as readers of Tolkien already knew) but will show up in Season 2 being impersonated by Sauron.
Indeed, one of Sauron’s disguises to return to Eregion (how many can there be, beyond Annatar?) is the form of Celeborn. We assume this plan is to dupe Elrond, Celebrimbor, and Galadriel at the same time.
More subterfuge! The chicanery at Galadriel’s expense continues apace. This portrayal of the Lady of Light as one who keeps getting duped over and over by Sauron–when Tolkien never once allowed that to happen in his accounts– is certainly a choice, and one that has drawn much criticism. Personally it is one of the first things that comes up in friendly conversation about TROP: I am forced to explain that Galadriel was never fooled like that!
I wonder where they will go with that, ultimately. How long will Galadriel continue to withhold the truth of her Season 1 relationship with Halbrand, and why did the Writers put her in such an untenable position with the other Elves? One assumes it is a ploy wherein Sauron might return and blackmail her if she has not been forthcoming about it. Remember that look Elrond gave her after he saw the parchment of Southland genealogy? “There’s no basement in the Alamo!” And there’s no Halbrand! Some ugly business lies ahead with Celeborn being impersonated by Sauron.
Spy reports indicate the REAL Celeborn will appear in the Season 2 Finale and be reunited with Galadriel. He shall be played by Calam Lynch, as reported by Fellowship of Fans and corroborated by others. Thank God for simple truths–because the lad is a dead ringer for a younger Marton Czokas.
THE FATE OF CELEBRIMBOR
Poor Brimby. Everyone loves Brimby. He’s the avuncular surprise (certainly as portrayed by Charlie Edwards) in Fëanor’s genealogical line of stupendously serious Elves. As fond as we may be of his green-robed gentle nature, we confirm now that in Season 2 Celebrimbor’s head gets lopped off and stuck up on a pike. Womp womp! We are getting closer to what Tolkien wrote here, as this is Brimby’s closest proximity to being the Ned Stark of Middle-earth.
I don’t quite get this episode structure–but it seems the final two episodes of TROP Season 2 will be centered on The War of the Elves and Sauron, wherein Eregion is sacked.
TOM BOMBADIL & GOLDBERRY
This is where stuff gets potentially ugly. I don’t like using such words. As previously mentioned, there will be separate standalone episodes presented throughout Season 2; including Sauron’s backstory uniquely told from his first-person point-of-view. All of this is likely to change before the final edit is broadcast. But if this holds true, Tom Bombadil and his love affair with the River-Daughter will be front-and-center in their own episode (there’s even an episode on Felaróf and the origin of Shadowfax)!
Ringers have often opined that bringing Tom Bombadil into TROP would be super cool — and I have personally championed the notion. But at the heart of this matter is how Tolkien utilized the character in “The Fellowship of the Ring,” an approach for others to heed carefully. Tom should have a cameo or a brief encounter with some of our traveling heroes. Admittedly Tom’s presence is superfluous to the real story of the Great Rings of Power. Now imagine this character’s narrative purpose going a big step further and just wildly breaking from the Lore. In the words of our Spy Report:
“Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are in an episode. They are played by the same actor and actress as Melkor/Morgoth and Ungoliant. The show will confirm the long-held fan theory that Tom and Goldberry are Melkor and Ungoliant serving out their punishment bestowed on them by Mandos.“
Excuse me? There has never been such a “Fan Theory,” not one that I have seen–and if I had heard of this cockamamie idea I would have laughed at the absurdity. To quote the pique and anger of a well-known Tolkien historian who heard this: “This is not a fan theory, this is just Fan Fiction; and it’s really GARBAGE Fan Fiction at that!”
Personally, I would love to see Tom Bombadil show up — if only in the blink of an eye he would be on his merry way. I mean, come on, there is no need to ignore The Professor’s explanation in his “Letters” about Bombadil’s context in his Legendarium. No need to make up stuff about Morgoth and Ungoliant seeking atonement within the Circles of the World.
Pragmatically speaking, adaptations can and will change things from the Lore. This is mostly fine, and expected, within reason. It becomes unreasonable when you play that fast and loose with Tolkien’s original concerns regarding raw story elements. This kind of stuff will, predictably, divide the Fan audience.
… FELARÓF & SHADOWFAX?!
If you were not mystified yet by some of these storytelling choices, TROP Season 2 will have a full episode about the great line of Horses, the Mearas, and how Gandalf “The Stranger” met Shadowfax! Although these characters/animals did not exist in the Second Age, evidently we are getting the story of Felaróf the “Very Valiant,” if not also the story of the father of Eorl, a Man by the name of Léod.
Here we have a wide range of secrets exposed and an earth-shaking reveal about the licensing of “The Silmarillion.”
Strangely, the Studio behind this billion-dollar T.V. show remains stoic and silent; their social accounts barren since last July, not a single bit of marketing nor a press release has been forthcoming. Tellingly, a huge Amazon Prime commercial aired in the U.S. during the Prime Time Emmy Awards broadcast, without any mention of TROP. Not. A. Single. Word. TROP has also been removed from Prime Video’s FYC awards website.
Make of that what you will.
IN CONCLUSION — TOLKIEN BOOKS VS. ADAPTATIONS
As is the reality with a huge T.V. production, there are further moves to be made, pickups to shoot, tons of post production and editing yet to complete. However, these Spy Reports may or MAY NOT be reliable but we have already known (through our own secret channels) about 40% of this stuff before the big leak on January 15, 2024. With enough of this verified we are at least eager to throw the doors wide open and have some robust discussion. Time for Ringer fans everywhere to discuss, make hay, extrapolate, and poke with a stick.
Do you like what you are hearing? Are you excited or dismayed? Are you wondering as I am why there is stone-cold silence from the Studio after such wildly big moves behind closed doors? What will future horizons look like with “The Silmarillion” now that THAT huge epic is on the table? Or is it just some odd bits of “The Silmarillion” they can use here and there? Time will tell.
This series was always gonna be a mixed bag of familiar lore and newly minted ideas, methinks. TROP ostensibly benefits from being a somewhat separate (albeit huge) piece of Second Age story from the books’ Appendices that can be centered around particular characters and events. There is ample room to breathe within the narrative of the Appendices and yet it is wholly unnecessary to wildly diverge from the source material. What J.R.R. Tolkien intended and what the current Tolkien Estate (headed by Simon Tolkien) has allowed for this streaming program is, shall we say, quite divergent from one another.
It is for Ringers, with their undying love for the original books, to decide if Prime Video executed this effort reasonably and within the spirit of Tolkien’s original. It is also apparent they had a 36% completion rate on Season 1. Speaking for myself, the series started off just fine. I quite enjoyed the atmosphere, production design, a thrilling cast of talented actors, and especially the gargantuan score by Bear McCreary. Lots of stuff to admire there. Indeed there are those who will argue for either side, but in this writer’s opinion, these Spy Reports (combined with further research and reveals from inside the Production) betray significant departures from the Lore of Tolkien’s Legendarium and put the show at risk to be rejected rather than embraced by that less-forgiving portion of our fandom.
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Weta Workshop will be hosting an exclusive screening of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in Auckland on December 5 as part of its celebration of the 20th anniversary of the film’s release.
Co-fouders Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger will be there to offer live alternative commentary and behind-the-scenes tales. There are also a limited number of VIP tickets for a 45-minute pre-movie Q&A session with the pair. The screening will be at Level 5, 88 Federal St (opposite the Auckland SkyTower).
Apparently tickets are already selling fast despite the slightly eye-watering $NZ 109 price so if this is your thing maybe best to not delay. You can pick up yours on the Weta Worshop site.
UPDATE: some readers asked us whether the screning is of the theatrical release or the extended edition. We reached out to find out and Weta tells us that they are screning the theatrical release so that there is more time for people to enjoy festivities before the movie begins. Also there’s only a few tickets left for the VIP Q&A. Best hurry if you want one of those.
Famed pub The Eagle and Child, frequented by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the Inklings group, closed three years ago during the pandemic; but a new investment group plans to bring it back to life.
Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle Systems based in California, has purchased the long-empty pub from Oxford’s St. John’s College.
The Ellison Institute of Technology plans to renovate and reopen the famed pub, nicknamed The Bird & Baby, with a new restaurant, meeting rooms, and a new study area for students and faculty. According to Oxford Mail, the rebirth of the Eagle and Child will modernise the space and secure its long-term economic viability, while also honouring its proud past.
Serving Oxford since the 17th century, the plan is to modernize the entire area while still keeping The Eagle and Child – and most importantly the Inklings corner – intact. No date has yet been set for reopening.
TheOneRing.net staffers greendragon, K.M. Rice and Justin visited the closed pub in 2022 thanks to Amazon Studios Rings of Power “London 30” event.