By: Sara Parulekar—A/E Editor
Imagine a ring forged in fires greater than ever imagined, and worn on the hand of the most powerful influence in the world… I’m not talking about Kate Middleton’s blue sapphire engagement ring, Jay-Z’s Cartier panther ring, or Megan Fox’s $67,000+ 2+ carat diamond-and emerald ring complete with painful thorns; I’m talking about the One Ring: the magnum opus of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings and a pinnacle of high-fantasy literature.
Its original mention in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, two novels published in the early 1900s, quickly resulted in critical acclaim. But modern day Tolkien fans (such as myself) prefer the recent Peter Jackson film interpretations, told through heart wrenching script and cutting-edge CGI. But with the last release of the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, fans assumed that the journey of the One Ring through Tolkien’s Middle Earth as documented in film would come to a close.
“The Final Moment” – A still from The Lord of The Rings featuring the One Ring
This disappointment was abruptly diffused in January 2020 with Amazon Prime’s announcement of a new ‘Rings of Power’ TV show. This would incorporate plotlines from the appendices of the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, Tolkien’s lesser known novel. Paralleling the books, the show takes place 3000 years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, resulting in the opportunity for much more story telling, with continued inspiration from Tolkien’s original narratives.
The greater amounts of flexibility resulted in an enormous budget, with Amazon Prime estimating a cost of over $1 billion to film the entire show, with the first series costing $462 million. If completed, it would surpass Stranger Things and the most expensive TV show ever made.
Amazon Studio’s release of the behind the scenes filming
Fans such as IMDB reviewer BijeshNagesh says, “In “Rings of Power”, just the way they captured the life and times of disparate races – Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Orcs – and creatures galore from Tolkien’s literary Second Age of Middle-Earth was a testament to the screenplay writers’ sheer determination to make this series a resounding success.”
The overall consensus was that the 2022 series flawlessly featured a variety of diverse actors and a complex, in-depth script, making up for the lack of in representation, pacing, and development in the original film, along with updated VFX and CGI.
A Still of Khazad-Dum, the Dwarf Kingdom, made primarily with VFX
However, many viewers criticized the shift in visuals; with elves in different attire, short hair, and finally a wide variety of POC characters. IMDb reviewer ‘twillbox’ says, “So yes, I have read just about everything JRR wrote himself, but I don’t mind some adaptation for TV/Film either, but this really seems to miss Tolkien’s tone. Most of the Elves just don’t look or act like.. well…Elves…Period. That’s a big problem. Sorry but it is. Many are miscast.”
In response to the racism and harassment faced due to this decision, the cast released a statement on September 8th, saying “JRR Tolkien created a world which, by definition, is multicultural. A world in which free people from different races and cultures join together, in fellowship, to defeat the forces of evil. Rings of Power reflects that. Our world has never been all white, fantasy has never been all white, Middle-earth is not all white. BIPOC belong in Middle-earth and they are here to stay.”
A Still from the show featuring the diverse cast