Lord of the Rings fans rejoice! Amazon announced last November that they had officially given the green light to a new small screen series based on J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings for their streaming service. Analysts expect it to be one of the most expensive shows ever made and Amazon acquired the rights for an equally massive $250 million dollars. As not to retread too closely grounds lain by the films directed by Peter Jackson between 2002 and 2004, the new series was expected to set its story before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring, taking viewers on Middle-earth adventures not yet committed to screen.
Today, even more details were announced via press release about the project. TheOneRing.net continues to be the most comprehensive Tolkien fan site on the web and is run by volunteers who frequently scoop breaking news as it relates to the Tolkein properties. They posted today some tremendous news on their Twitter page, most of which follows:
We have confirmed from multiple sources that Amazon Studios’ new billion-dollar Lord of the Ring series will open its first season centered on a young Aragorn. This opens up Tolkien’s Legendarium in a many exciting ways according to TheOneRing.net
Firstly, we must stamp out any remaining confusion: From the first press release, we know this so-called #LOTR series will NOT be a retelling of the events of the War of the Ring. Instead it will be Appendices based and cover a lot of time and history. This is the greatest advantage the show runners have: that so much of Tolkien’s storytelling, even just in “Appendix A,” covers a tremendous swath of time. Starting with a young Aragorn narrative allows connections to his Numenorean bloodline (and to the founding of #Gondor). The fabric of Aragorn’s story is just so rich. Plentiful in new characters and familiar ones we already love. Recall in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies when Thranduil tells his son about this person he must meet (even though we know in book-time Aragorn wasn’t born yet). If that mention of him wasn’t the biggest, brightest, neon-glaring indicator of how Aragorn’s story is ideally suited as a prime entry point for further Middle-earth stories, well then, you’re not thinking Prime like Amazon is (sorry, just had to)…. We could, in flashbacks, learn essentials about the men of Arnor, sister kingdom in the north to Gondor, and how the surviving Dunedain became a community of Rangers, seeking to protect the north from incursions of the Witch-king of Angmar.
With a vibrant historical background in place (fully explored in the Professor’s notations) the stage would be set for some of the most anticipated characters: Arathorn himself, Elladan & Elrohir, the twin sons of Elrond, and Gilraen, the lad’s Mother. Aragorn the lad had his identity hidden. The secrecy surrounding his lineage was needful to prevent the enemy from slitting his throat in the middle of the night. Imagine a mother trying to protect her child amid such constant fear? Gilraen will be a terrific, meaty role. Aragorn had more aliases than the talented Mr. Ripley (nod to Cate Blanchette). Each alias, each assumed identity, allows the Amazon writers to explore more facets of this character. Anything about the sacrifices of Gilraen in her efforts to protect Aragorn, and her introducing him to the Elves of Rivendell, will benefit connections to the Jackson films when we see this scene later, making them much more emotionally resonant:
The political landscape of Rivendell, as we often see in Game of Thrones story lines, will come to fore. We will learn how difficult it was living in the North after the dissolution of Arnor and how the Elves navigated a relationship with the descendants of Isildur. It doesn’t stop there. Appendix A “Annals of the Kings & Rulers” gives us so much more about how young Estel was smitten like a kitten when he first laid sight on Arwen. Here we have a HUGE story line on how they took their tentative first steps towards true (tragic) love. Amongst all the connective tissue that puts a “young Aragorn” story firmly in a recognizable spot within the Third Age (and there’s a TON of it, thankfully) the biggest is a full-on moment where Gandalf befriends Strider. Ultimately, given the pieces naturally in place thanks to #Tolkien, we can predict a significant milestone to be reached just in Season 1 – that pinnacle of the Appendix stories – the one made into a famous fan film in 2009: THE HUNT FOR GOLLUM.
This bodes well. Whatever initial moves are made here are most crucial. In the words of Frank Herbert from his classic DUNE: “A beginning is a very delicate time.” This choice by Amazon Studios to begin their Middle-Earth series with a universally adored character is probably one of the smarter moves they could make because A) It allows familiar characters to take center stage, B) It brings in new characters without needing many “non canon” characters to be minted fresh (like Tauriel), and C) It plays out in a timeframe close to the six films.
This leaves us at a place of wild speculation now. Given this first season context, we must ask: -who will play whom? -what kind of Gollum will they design/ mo-cap/ animate? And what about Howard Shore’s music? We have all the time in the world to guess. BUT KNOW THIS: It is significant that the FORGING OF THE RINGS OF POWER and other deeper historical scenarios were not chosen for the opening season. Amazon wants this endeavor to work. They NEED it to be fireproof and they need it to start off STRONG. If there were a better choice to launch a half-billion dollar endeavor, we can’t see it. The entire Young Aragorn thing offers exactly what the fans want and minimizes risk for the studio. Many of us have been predicting exactly this; and “That is an encouraging thought.”
Check out the One Ring Net message boards here and check out their livestream show TORn Tuesdays every week to parse these details and learn everything about this as we break more news. This is happening! It’s tremendous.
And that’s all for now. Amazon has signed a multi-season deal and also has the option for a second spin-off TV series if everything goes well. Beyond that, they haven’t announced anything regarding the crew. No show runners, writers, directors, or stars, so we still don’t have a clue as to who’ll be involved in making the series just yet.