The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power

The Behind-The-Scenes video of how they made this clip can be seen here.

Maybe you’re like me and you didn’t know (or forgot?) that Amazon is filming a prequel to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings novels. Today the title for this series was announced from Valhalla with quite a few Wagnerian effects: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.’

“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics,” showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay said in a statement. “The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”

They added: “Until now, audiences have only seen on-screen the story of the One Ring – but before there was one, there were many… and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”

In the title video, various shots of Middle-earth are seen as molten metal is poured into a forge and cooled to create the series’ title in silver, its lettering in Elven script. Over this, a female voiceover – a young Galadriel perhaps? – recites Tolkien’s epigraph to Lord of the Rings

Still feeling a bit lost? I sure was. Here’s back-story from Wikipedia:

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an upcoming American television series based on stories by J. R. R. Tolkien. Developed by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay for the streaming service Prime Video, the series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth before the events of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels. It is produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema, with Payne and McKay serving as showrunners.

Amazon bought the television rights for The Lord of the Rings for US$250 million in November 2017, making a five-season production commitment worth at least US$1 billion. This would make it the most expensive television series ever made. Payne and McKay were hired to develop the series in July 2018, with the rest of the creative team confirmed a year later. The large ensemble cast includes actors from around the world. Filming for the first season took place in New Zealand, where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies were made, from February 2020 to August 2021, with a production break of several months during that time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first eight-episode season is scheduled to premiere on Prime Video on September 2, 2022. A second season was formally ordered in November 2019. Amazon announced in August 2021 that filming for future seasons would take place in the United Kingdom.

I think the take-away here is the date ‘November 2017.’ Christopher Tolkien, third son of J. R. R. Tolkien and appointed literary executor, had been head of the Tolkien Estate and Trust until August 2017. The Tolkien Estate and Trust, insomuch as it was the sock-puppet of Christopher Tolkien, despised the movie adaptations of Lord of the Rings and sued the film makers repeatedly and successfully for breach of contract. I discussed this in a 2013 post, ‘The Tolkien Estate and the Movies: Why We Should Care.’ If you doubt Christopher Tolkien “despised” the movies, here is a direct quote from the man:

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

The current project — and it’s $250 million advance with a likely $1 billion payday — was only possible when Christopher Tolkien not only turned his “head away” from the desecration of his father’s work, but also removed himself as the obstacle to this great profit taking. I write about this here for three reasons: [Read more…]

LeakyCon July ’22 Call for Programming

LeakyCon, the Harry Potter Fan Convention Division of Mischief Management, has two gatherings scheduled for 2022: a 29-31 July meeting in Orlando, Florida, and a 14-16 October conclave in Denver, Colorado. Since the retirement of Harry Potter Educational Fan-On (HPEF), LeakyCon, founded by Leaky Cauldron owner Melissa Anelli, has been the premiere organizer of Wizarding World fandom events. There are notable efforts by communities to assemble city-wide Harry Potter celebrations — ‘Queen City Mischief and Magic’ in Staunton, Virginia, (see pictures) and Roanoke, Virginia’s Harry Potter Fest come immediately to mind — but they have had to battle with Rowling, Inc.’s Barracuda Barristers for permissions and allowances. LeakyCon for whatever reason has not suffered this persecution despite not being officially associated with the J K Empire.

Mischief has it seems, though, struggled with registrations the last two years. The LeakyCons scheduled for 2020 and for 2021 were both “postponed,” which is to say “cancelled.” Their public statements about two years of No Go shows have attributed these failures to the Covid-19 hysteria, which no doubt has played its part — as it has in reshaping every aspect of public and private life in these United States, even in relatively madness-free Florida. Today’s call-for-programming with respect to both of the scheduled 2022 LeakyCons suggests, now that vaccine mandates and lockdowns have lost their luster, that the Mischief Management sponsors believe that their show will once again go on.

The LeakyCon 2022 Call for Programming page is here and the deadline for applications for the July gathering is 25 March. Get to work! I’m especially hopeful that David Martin will be speaking there (and that he has a peacock’s feather quill and a large bottle of ink for all the autographs he’ll be signing!).

[Read more…]

Ink Black Heart: 30 August, 944 pages

Amazon is accepting pre-orders today.

Rowling, Ring Writing, & Maternal Love

In the review of what I’ve written about ring composition that I have done while writing the next post in my Perennialist series on Christmas Pig, I found this bon mot from Rowling about her writing to close a circle in her Harry Potter series with respect to a mother’s love.

It is on the DVD extra for The Deathly Hallows 2 titled ‘The Women of Harry Potter,’ text available at Rowling made an extraordinary point about Narcissa Malfoy’s protecting Harry from the Dark Lord in the Forest being “the closing of a circle” in which, just as a mother’s love saved Harry from the Dark Lord at story’s start, so it did at story’s end.  This reprise she said was a “quite conscious echo.” 

Join me after the jump for all that. [Read more…]

New Year’s Day Request for Feedback

Happy Russian New Year! It is 1 January on the traditional Church Calendar, and though the liturgical New Year in the Orthodox Church is 1 September (old style) and until late in the 18th Century ‘Lady Day’ or Annunciation was the beginning of the new year in the UK and its colonies, many people, especially Slavs in my experience, celebrate today as the day of resolutions, inaugurated habits, and a personal dawn.

That being the case, despite my being anything but a Slavophile, I’d like to open the comment boxes to HogwartsProfessor readers to share their feedback about our posts, our formatting, our focus, our quirky lines of sight, whatever. Help us start the New Year with a better idea of what our readers want to read and hear about. I’m especially hopeful that one and all will share suggestions of topics, books, and authors you’d like us to explore — and if we could find a volunteer to help us pull together the pieces we have assembled for a podcast at long last, that would be the best.

So it’s ‘Open Microphone Night’ all day at HogwartsProfessor — How are we doing? What can we do better? What would you like to read more about? Less about? And, oh, yeah, who do we email to jumpstart our podcast adventure in the New Year? Thanks in advance for your feedback, requests, and help!