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 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.
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.
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.
Good news is never late. It arrives precisely when means to. If you’ve been following our friends from Weta then you know the last little bit has had some very cool news for collectors. One of the most popular statues from The Hobbit line came from the character of Tauriel. She sold out pretty quickly and on the secondary market can come at a pretty high price. Fans have been asking for a new statue of the character, and that wish has finally been granted. You can grab the new Tauriel for $349, which is a fair amount under the price on ebay. She comes with an edition size of only 800 pieces so she’s likely to not be around too long, and you can expect her to land in your collection in March of next year.
Easily one of the show stealing pieces last year at SDCC, Thranduil on Elk just drew you in when you visited the Weta Workshop booth. This had fans online chattering at just how amazing it looked through the pictures posted by TORn and other collectors at SDCC. Needless to say, all of us were looking forward to his arrival. There were some snags on the production version, making this a somewhat controversial piece within the fanbase. It’s still a super impressive and overall good looking piece and one that will look good in your collection. As always here are my thoughts on Thranduil on Elk. Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Thranduil on Elk Review”
Middle-earth Madness officially starts today! We’ve split our field of 64 characters into four divisions:
Movies Only – characters who appeared only in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit movies Books Only – characters who didn’t make the final cut for the movies Movies and Books – characters who graced both the written page and the silver screen Wider Mythos – Middle-earth characters not in the movies from Tolkien’s works outside of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
There are some very interesting match-ups in round one this year. In one of the more intense match-ups in the Movies Only division, Tauriel is up against the Warg Matriarch, Azog’s vicious white warg. A perennial TORn fav, FIGWIT (stay-tuned for the story behind the name if you don’t know it already) takes on Alfrid, and it’s anybody’s guess as to who will come out on top in the match-up between Sebastian the Hedgehog and the Goblin Scribe.
The Books Only division is chock-full of interesting matches such as Ghan-buri-Ghan vs. Quickbeam, and The Fox (who wondered at Hobbits traveling through The Shire in FOTR) vs. Prince Imrahil.
It was almost impossible to narrow down the Movies & Books division with so many amazing choices, but there are some gut-wrenchers in the contests as they stand with Beorn going up against the Balrog and Shelob battling Sauron.
Finally, some of Tolkien’s Titans go mano-a-mano in the Wider Mythos division, with two powerful dragons, Ancalagon and Glaurung battling it out, and Beren and Huan facing each other in what is sure to be a close call.
A note on how the bracket combatants were determined. TheOneRing.net created a document containing all combatants, sub-divided into divisions. We asked staff to cast sixteen votes per division, with the votes having a weight of 1-4. Each staffer cast four 4 votes, four 3 votes, four 2 votes and four 1 votes in each division. We then totaled all the votes from each division to determine their rank, and ultimately placed the top 16 into each bracket for seeding.
As you can imagine, our staff is diverse and the results were very interesting! Not only are there some great match-ups in this first round, the final four will pose some amazing choices between the various literary and film sources.
Our friend, artist Jerry Vanderstelt, has released the final print in his The Hobbit Trilogy series. This beautiful print covers all the fantastic points of the third Hobbit film and, like the previous prints from Jerry, comes in two sizes of Paper Giclee’s. The 18 x 24 version is priced at $65 while the epic 28 x 36 version comes in at $120. Both are in-stock and ready to ship, so you can acquire some amazing Hobbit art for Christmas. If you order before December 14th you can use this coupon code: VS-XMAS2015, to save 15% off of your purchase. Check out the Vadnerstelt Stuido Facebook page for a full list of prints that you can use this discount on. If you are awaiting the canvas edition of this print, it will be available after the new year and we will let you know when that goes up.
The extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies DVDs are now available for pre-order in the U.S. from Amazon. Formats include DVD, Blu-ray, and 3-D/Blu-ray and range in price from $34.99 for the DVD to $54.98 for the 3-D/Blu-ray version. The extras appear to be the same with all three, described as “hours of fascinating, in-depth looks at the production,” including:
– Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter
– The Appendices – The Appendices Parts XI and XII showcase a chronological history of the filming of The Battle of the Five Armies, documenting the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects
– New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth – Part 3
Digital HD UltraViolet is also available which must be redeemed by November 17, 2018.
The cover art on Amazon’s site differs for each version. Following is a discussion of each, and links at which you can pre-order your copy.
The DVD version cover features Bilbo (Martin Freeman) with Sting drawn, overlooking the evil armies amassing, and the battle raging below him. The border, which is the same for all three formats, is a steel-gray color with a design reminiscent of dwarf-runes seemingly carved into it which adds a nice touch to these last extended editions of the series. One of the carved dwarven sentinels of Erebor watches over all on the right while the ramparts of Erebor and the burning remnants of Lake-town are visible in the background on the left.
The Blu-ray cover is more character-centric than the DVD cover. Our hero Bilbo is front and center, again with Sting drawn. A thoughtful, but stern, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) is on Bilbo’s right, while a very stubborn, impatient and disturbed-looking Thorin (Richard Armitage) is on his left. The Elves are well-represented on this cover with three of the four smaller figures in front of Bilbo being comprised of Thranduil (Lee Pace), Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom). Last, but not least, stands Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) with the glow of the fire of Smaug and the burning Lake-town behind him.
The 3-D/Blu-ray cover is striking, with just the characters of Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) standing behind him protectively. As with the DVD cover, the sentinel of Dale is just off to the right, only this time with a great battle-troll below, and the ramparts of Erebor and vestiges of a burning Lake-town are off the the left, with the battle raging behind all. As if to emphasize that this is *the* battle, Bilbo again has Sting drawn and ready to do battle with the enemies. A nice touch with this cover is that Bilbo’s mithril shirt is clearly visible underneath his plainer clothes.
Definitely stay tuned, as we will bring you more BotFA analysis as details become available (e.g., releases in other countries, releases in other retail outlets, special incentives). Note that we did check Amazon’s sites for other countries but didn’t find the EE available yet. If you don’t live in the U.S., definitely let us know if and when it becomes available in your corner of the world and whether the amenities are the same, and we’ll add it to future updates.