Staffer Demosthenes returns from the wilderness, to consider what the plot of Amazon’s Middle-earth TV series might be…

Hello! It’s been a while!

However, the fine folk of TORn have defrosted me from cryogenic stasis just in time to offer a few thoughts on the recently announced synopsis for the forthcoming Amazomg(tm) Middle-earth series.

I’m going to cut straight to chase and simply start dissecting what I consider to be the guts of their statement. The implicit assumption is that the series is focusing on events of the Second Age. Given the content of the maps revealed by the production crew, I think we’re long past the time where that’s a controversial conclusion.

Amazon's map, showing the West of Middle-earth, and the island of Numenor.  What clues does it give us about the plot of Amazon's Middle-earth TV series?

But what does the rest mean? Given that the Second Age covers more than 3000 years, can we narrow down what time period the series may address?

Continue reading “Analysis: what can we deduce from the Amazon synopsis about the plot of the new Middle-earth series?”

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.

Earlier this week, TheOneRing.net EXCLUSIVELY brought you the official show synopsis for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series TV show. In case you missed it, here it is:

Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

Staffers from TORn have been poring over this, wondering what every tiny scrap of information could mean; and we’ve been gathering their reactions, to share with you.

Continue reading “Our staff react to Amazon’s LORD OF THE RINGS Series Official Synopsis”

Fans have waited patiently for 3 years, since Amazon announced they acquired the TV rights to LORD OF THE RINGS, to get an idea of what a new Middle-earth show will be about. We finally have the answer, thanks to an incredible spy report. TheOneRing.net has verified the authenticity & accuracy of this show description.

Here is the official show synopsis for Amazon’s billion-dollar LOTR series:

Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

Rumors have flown ever since Amazon & the Tolkien Estate announced the new visual collaboration. Early reports were that the story of young Aragorn would be explored – a strategy that shifted after the showrunners and writing team were assembled. In a surprising turn, Amazon released a teaser map and crew video announcing the Second Age of Middle-earth, 1000s of years before the events of The Hobbit and LOTR. Numenor, heretofore unmentioned in film adaptations, would clearly be a central location for the series.

Amazon’s LOTR is currently planned as a minimum 5-season series, with 8 to 10 episodes per season. Filming begins this month on back-to-back Seasons 1&2 in New Zealand. While the showrunners are new to Hollywood with nothing on their production resumes, the fabulous J.A. Bayona was hired to direct the 2-part pilot and set the tone for the entire series to come. The pilot has completed filming and is currently in post production.

See the reaction of fans & staff of TheOneRing.net community as they hear the official synopsis of the LOTR show on TORn Tuesday! Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook

Wrapping up our our series on Amazon’s new cast members is the lovely Sara Zwangobani. Sara is an Australian actress who is best-known for her roles in a number of Australian TV series and soap operas. From recurring roles to guest appearances, Sara has appeared in Monarch Cove, Love My Way, and Don’t Stop me Now, among others.

Sara Zwangobani in The Lord of the Rings TV Series on Amazon Prime
Sara Zwangobani

Sara also has a number of stage roles under her belt, one of the most interesting of which included playing a female Marc Antony in Bell Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar in 2018, which toured around Australia. She also has a Lord of the Rings connection, having played the part of Rosetta in Sydney Theatre Company’s A Streetcar Named Desire in 2009, which featured Cate Blanchett as Blanche DuBois.  

Actor Sara Zwangobani, surrounded by masked cast members, as Marc Antony in Julius Caesar.
Sara Zwangobani as Marc Antony

Given her striking good looks, Sara could be cast in any number of roles in the new Amazon series. A Numenorean queen, or perhaps an Elf of Eregion during the time of the making of the Rings of Power? No matter the region and people of Middle-earth she becomes a part of, Sara is a perfect addition to the Amazon TV series cast.

Editor Note: Join TheOneRing.net as we focus on the recent cast member announcements for Amazon TV’s The Lord of the Rings inspired TV series. Throughout the month, and as part of our Tolkien Advent Calendar celebration, we will be taking a deep-dive into their previous work, relating that to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Today’s calendar is below!

Day 18 of TheOneRing.net's Advent Calendar 2020
Day 18 of TheOneRing.net’s Advent Calendar 2020

In today’s cast spotlight, we focus on the confirmation of Maxim Baldry, possibly the least surprising entry on Amazon’s recently released Wave Two cast list.

Linked to the Middle-earth project since October 2019, he’s a young, surging British actor who is no stranger to sustained roles in series television. With roots in youth theater, eleven-year old Maxim’s first big break came when paired as Rowan Atkinson’s young sidekick, Stepen, in the 2007 comedy, Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

Continue reading “Amazon Casting: Maxim Baldry”

The Amazon production of its Middle-Earth stories has been ongoing, but now we are in a time when the arrival of information from them concerning this production is accelerating.

The Professor - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Professor – J.R.R. Tolkien

“By and For the Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien.”

TheOneRing.net’s tagline since 1999

The One Ring staff has been fans of J.R.R. Tolkien for quite some time, and it has always seen its core mission to be defined by its tagline: “By and For the Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien.” This site tries to do many things in support of this mission: support and celebrate fandom and fan activities – from costuming, to open invite events, to the line parties during the films, to group re-reads of Tolkien’s works, to so much more. However, this site has been humbly privileged to not only be supported by fans of Tolkien, but to be given access to many people involved in the production of adaptations of Tolkien’s work. The One Ring takes this gift of access seriously, and wants to do what’s best by the fans to make the most of this access, and to represent the best interests of the fans to these productions, so that the best possible adaptations of Tolkien’s work are made.

A few things have become clear to the staff of The One Ring (TORn) over the twenty years of its existence – time spent discussing and dissecting 6 major films, a handful of stage productions, multiple audio recordings, collectible figurines,  and so much more. TORn has learned that what matters most is this:

“The more an adaptation sticks to the spirit and the motivation behind Tolkien’s work, the more successful it becomes, in both the short and long term, in both critical reception, and financial return.”

Over the years, TORn has learned an important lesson: if we, as fans, wish to have any influence over adaptations, we need to follow two important rules: first, we try to avoid quibbling over tiny details, and second, we gladly support the assignment of production staff, both in front of and behind the camera.

So, in terms of offering any constructive critique (pro or con), The One Ring will focus on trying to influence the productions to stay fidelitous to Tolkien’s spirit. For example, those who adapt Tolkien’s work would do well to read his letter #246 in “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien” to understand some of Tolkien’s subtle thoughts concerning the concept of ‘both intent and actions have consequences.’

As it concerns details of scripting and plot, TORn recognizes that adaptations will need to modify the story in various ways. While everyone will have their opinions on each and every detail, TORn realizes that changes need to be made, and the director and production company need to have freedom in telling the story. Without some degree of freedom, the best people will simply be uninterested in adapting a work. Therefore, while TORn will report on non-spoiling plot details that it becomes aware of, TORn commentary will be focused on, as stated above, encouraging production companies to stay true to the core spirit of Tolkien’s work. This is why, a few months ago, TORn pushed hard against even the possibility of gratuitous sexuality in adaptations.

Without some degree of freedom, the best people will simply be uninterested in adapting a work.

As it concerns casting and the assignment of production staff, what TORn has seen, time and again, is that there is incredible initial fan reaction for or against newly named cast members, but that all the support or angst over an acting choice disappears once the adaptation is released. To quote a far better author than I, all of that angst is ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ Therefore, at this point, TORn almost universally celebrates the announcement of new cast and production staff, and wants to use whatever influence it has with them to encourage them to create performances that are fidelitous to the spirit of Tolkien’s work.

For some examples of this ‘unfounded sound and fury’ go back twenty years and consider how people were asking “Who is Ian McKellen? Can he play a convincing Gandalf?” “Who is Viggo Mortensen?” Can he carry 3 films as the action hero lead?” “Why is Elijah Wood – and isn’t he too young to play Frodo?” “Do we really want Rudy as Samwise Gamgee?” “Who is Miranda Otto? Can she play a convincing Eowyn?” My goodness; what time has taught us!

Again, one point is crucial so it bears repeating: TORn celebrates – universally – when staff is added to a production – both cast and crew. TORn does this because it has found that celebrating and supporting them encourages them in ways large and small to put in their best work – and to take more seriously comments TORn may make on choices that impact the core spirit of Tolkien’s work (as the staff of TORn best understands it.) TORn does this because it wants the best possible adaptations of Tolkien’s work to be released, so it focuses on what is most important.

Again, TORn has found that almost every debate about cast choice dies down once an adaptation is released, and then, it’s all about the strength of the performance of that cast, as individuals and as an ensemble. This is not just seen in casting of Tolkien-based productions, as shown in the examples above, but in every production, everywhere. For example, there was quite a bit of debate concerning the diversity of the original cast of ‘Hamilton’ – until it was released to pretty much universal acclaim.

Hamilton Cast

Why does TORn focus on fidelity to the spirit of Tolkien? Why does it work to not get sidelined by other issues? To paraphrase a line from the Jackson adaptation of The Lord of the Rings…

“There was some good in the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien that motivated him to create his imaginary world in just the way he did. And it’s worth fighting for.”

Editor Note: Join TheOneRing.net as we focus on the recent cast member announcements for Amazon TV’s The Lord of the Rings inspired TV series. Throughout the month, and as part of our Tolkien Advent Calendar celebration, we will posting articles and cast profiles, as well as some other fun, all relating that to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.