Exciting news: tomorrow, Tuesday 9th February, Viggo Mortensen and his son Henry will be joining Quickbeam on TORn Tuesday!
Last week saw the online release of Viggo’s powerful and moving directorial debut, Falling. You can rent or buy the movie now on Amazon or iTunes. It’s a profound, compelling piece about families, love, and dementia. Viggo and Henry will be chatting about the movie, and about the power of story telling, at 5pm PT/ 8pm ET tomorrow; find TORn Tuesday on YouTube or Facebook. Don’t miss it!
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.
If you were lucky enough to attend opening day at the Emerald City Comic-Con in Seattle, Washington today, you may have had the opportunity to get an up-close look at the next awesome statue from our friends at Weta Workshop in their The Lord of The Rings statue line. Adding to the amazing scene set-up with the Boromir and Lurtz statues, we now have Aragorn at Amon Hen. In this piece, we get to see Aragorn as he races back to help save Boromir who has blown The Horn of Gondor in desperation as he defends Merry and Pippin from attack by Saruman’s Uruk-hai Orcs. Fans can sign up to be notified when this beautiful statue goes up for order, and as soon as it does you can count on us to let you know.
We are now about halfway through the first Round of our Middle-earth March Madness, and some of the match ups are really close, while others have one contestant running away with the race. Because this year’s bracket has the newly added twist of featuring characters portrayed by the actors who brought our most beloved Middle-earth characters to life, this rundown will include a little about those non-Middle-earth characters.
The traditional match ups first: Boromir is facing off with Gimli in a close race, make sure you vote before the evening of March 22, this one is close enough that your vote will definitely matter. The contest between Samwise and Merry has the acclaimed gardener running away with nearly all the points on this one. Surprisingly, the other match up of Hobbits is unexpectedly close, with Frodo holding a slim lead over Pippin. To cap off the Fellowship match ups, Aragorn is soundly beating Legolas.
With the non-ME characters, there is just as much variety in vote percentages. Sean Bean’s portrayal of Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones has a narrow lead over Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner, from Pirates of the Caribbean. The next race is just as close, between Viggo’s portrayal of real life long distance, endurance horse racer Frank Hopkins with a slim lead over John Rhys Davies’ Sallah from Raiders of the Lost Ark. There is a neck and neck contest going on between Dom’s Charlie Pace, the recovering addict rock star from Lost has a very narrow lead over Billy Boyd’s Barrett Bonden, the coxswain on the HMS Surprise in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Not close is the fact that Sean Astin’s earnest performance of Rudy is decidedly running away with the race, leaving Elijah Wood’s Ryan Newman from Wilfred.
“You All Everybody” should get out and vote before 10pm et on March 22.
In this division, the ME match ups are as follows: Galadriel has firm control of the contest with Eomer, the Lady of Light is not easily taken out of events. Faramir has a small lead over Old Bilbo, so you may still be able to give a helping hand to the Hobbit that found the One Ring in the first place. Eowyn and Gollum are nearly neck and neck, can the Shieldmaiden of Rohan defeat the sneakiness of Smeagol? Her uncle Theoden, however, is wiping the floor with Denethor, who became tainted by his contact with the Palantir.
The non-ME roles are proving interesting as well: Cate Blanchett’s Hela, the Goddess of Death from Thor: Ragnarok has a decent lead over Andy Serkis’ Caesar, the ape leader from Planet of the Apes. At the same time, Karl Urban’s Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy is soundly beating Sir Ian Holm’s Ash, the rather inhuman android from the original Alien movie, who admired the xenomorph just a little more than he valued human life. There are two battles that are very close and would benefit from a last fit of voting on your part. Those are between David Wenham’s Carl from Van Helsing just edging out Bernard Hill’s Captain Smith from Titanic, who did his duty and went down with the ship. The other close battle is between Miranda Otto’s Mary Ann from War of the World with a slim margin over John Noble’s brilliant, but crazy Walter Bishop from Fringe.
On the other side of the bracket, let’s see who is doing well for the traditional match ups: Believe it or not, Gandalf is stomping all over Young Bilbo, guess that is punishment for not telling the truth about finding the One Ring. Dwalin has a sizable lead over Radagast, but then, he does have a massive War Hammer, this is not surprising. Amongst the Dwarves from The Hobbit, Kili is slaying pick pocket Nori, while Thorin is not really faring well against Saruman. Feel free to give a boost to those you wish to support and share with your friends, it’s all in good fun.
The non-ME side of things has: Sir Ian McKellen’s Magneto soundly thrashing Richard Armitage’s John Thornton from North and South, the clever mutant is probably dismantling all of Thorton’s looms as this is written. Graham MacTavish’s Dougal from Outlander is all but finished at the hands of Martin Freeman’s Dr. Watson, it’s those modern Doctors he can’t handle, clearly. As expected, Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is trouncing Jed Brophy’s Dagda More from the Shannara, this writer would love to see this battle realized on screen. A little less expected, but even cooler for that is that Sylvestor McCoy’s Doctor has the upper hand on Aiden Turner’s Ross Poldark, Time Lords really do know how to come out on top when needed.
Last division match ups, for the traditional segment: Elrond has a decent lead over Smaug, which is fascinating to see. The Master of Laketown is no match for Tauriel, she saw his selfishness and is leaving him to his own ruin. There is a relatively close match between Thranduil and Bard, with the Elven King of Mirkwood edging out the Bowman of Laketown. Bard’s son Bain is faring even worse in his match up with Azog. This calls for some voter help, Bain came to his father’s aid while the town was burning under the wrath of an angry dragon, the least we can do is vote for them and see how things play out.
Over on the final division of non-ME characters: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is so soundly beating Stephen Fry’s Oscar Wilde, it’s almost as if something very large has been dropped on him. This writer’s favorite match up in this round is Luke Evan’s Gaston from Beauty and the Beast against Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith from the Matrix. A battle of the bragalicious Gaston up against the master manipulator within the Matrix is just something that should be onscreen. Right now, Agent Smith is defeating Gaston. A match that is all but over is that of Lee Pace’s Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy wiping the floor with John Bell’s Young Iain from Outland, poor lad never stood a chance. And the very last match up to get coverage tonight see’s a near tie between Evangeline Lilly’s Kate Austen from Lost squaring off with Manu Bennet’s Deathstroke from Arrow, another match up I would love to see on screen.
Last chance to vote in Round 1 is 10pm et on Thursday, March 22. Round 2 will begin on Friday, March 23.
On December 18, 2001, TheOneRing.net introduced a new feature on our site: Ringer Reviews – “A database of reviews from Tolkien fans all over the world, whether you loved, liked or hated the film this is where you can express your feelings in words and celebrate with your fellow fans the release of the first installment in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.” Twenty-four hours later, fans had posted 3,000 reviews. By Christmas the count was up to 6,700 and on January 19, 2002, a month after FOTR opened, over 10,000 reviews had been submitted.
Today the count stands at 15,084 reviews. Unfortunately, the individual reviews reside on our old site and have been archived. But, we thought it might be fun to revisit some of the overall results, more of which can be found at the Ringer Reviews link above.
A number of other sites around the internet are also celebrating the 15th anniversary of the opening of The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring this week, and/or The Lord of the Rings movie franchise in general. For the convenience of our readers, we put together this one-stop shop for a stroll down memory lane. We’ll bring more to you during the week as we find them. Enjoy!