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Die-hard fans of the Lord Of The Rings have been taking to Twitter with their take on the franchise’s most diverse cast ever.
Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power is set to take the story in a diverse new direction, featuring the first ever black elf in Middle Earth’s history.
And following the release of the teaser trailer last week, ardent lovers of the epic fantasy films laced their responses with themes of woke culture.
‘Go woke go broke’: Lord Of The Rings fans have been flooding Twitter with their take on the franchise’s most diverse cast. Ismael Cruz Córdova is a controversial choice as the elf Arondir
Sophia Nomvete’s ethnicity has also been criticised because of her ethnicity – as well as some fans complaining that female dwarves, according to Tolkien, should have beards just like the males
The series’ origins come from the detailed appendices J.R.R Tolkien penned to accompany his original series of books, helping to flesh out the incredible world of Middle Earth that would become so renowned.
A seemingly aggrieved enthusiast replied underneath the trailer: ‘Go woke go broke. How about you just respect the source material.’
Another raised concerns that the ‘great depth of thought’ founded in Tolkien’s books was no longer being paid homage to.
‘So sad you just used Tolkien’s ideas to write a completely different book, and one that is only there to pay homage to confused woke ideas instead of the great depth of thought founded in his books,’ the tweet read in full.
Opinions: Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power is set to take the franchise in a diverse new direction – and the release of the teaser trailer last week sparked debate online
Thoughts: Following the release of the teaser trailer last week, ardent lovers of the epic fantasy films laced their responses with themes of woke culture
Meanwhile, a quote thought to derive from Tolkien himself also circulated on the social media platform, reading: ‘Evil cannot create anything new, they can only corrupt and ruin what good forces have invented or made.’
Others, however, created a contrasting narrative, with one fan tweeting: ‘Imagine being upset about a black elf in a series where the trees talk and wizards ride on eagles’.
Another lengthy insight read: ‘Silly comments. Whether it is good will depend entirely on the writing and plot, not the gender or race of the actors or the the fact the visuals might deviate from your preferences.
‘That said, most of these shows have bad writing, so we’ll see.’
Different story: Others, however, created a contrasting narrative, with one fan tweeting: ‘Imagine being upset about a black elf in a series where the trees talk and wizards ride on eagles’
The Rings Of Power, which is set to air its first trailer during Sunday’s Super Bowl ahead of its release on Prime Video on September 2, will take place thousands of years before the Fellowship begin their quest to destroy Sauron’s ring.
Set thousands of years before both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit were released, the series will cover major events that took place during the Second Age of Middle Earth.
20 years after the original film trilogy was released, the show will juggle a whopping 22 characters and multiple storylines, fleshing out the various lands and battles that were briefly touched on while Frodo journeyed to Mount Doom.
Plot: The Rings Of Power will take place thousands of years before the Fellowship begin their quest to destroy Sauron’s ring
From deep within the dwarf mines of the Misty Mountains to the high politics of the elven kingdom of Lindon and the humans’ powerful, Atlantis-like island, Númenor, all the stories will eventually culminate in the incident that gives the trilogy its name.
The series is set to feature the most diverse cast in the franchise’s history, and along with starring a black elf, Lenny Henry will star as a harfoot elder.
Sophia Nomvete also stars as a dwarven princess named Disa – making her the first black, and female, woman to play a dwarf in the Lord of the Rings universe.
Upcoming: Set thousands of years before both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit were released, the series will cover major events that took place during the Second Age of Middle Earth
Executive producer Lindsey Weber, explained: ‘It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like.
‘Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.’
Amazon are yet to confirm the vast budget for the series, but it’s thought to be an eye-watering $462 million, when factoring in the huge sum Amazon paid to get the rights from the Tolkien estate.
Expensive: Amazon are yet to confirm the vast budget for the series, but it’s thought to be an eye-watering $462 million
Icons: The Lord Of The Rings films were released from 2001 to 2003, becoming one of the most praised film series in history (Ian McKellen pictured as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo)
Upcoming: The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Wednesday, September 2. The story is from the Second Age, whereas the movie triology was set in the Third Age (Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd in The Fellowship Of The Ring).
The eye-watering figure also includes building infrastructure that will be used in later seasons – and it’s been offset by a $108 million tax rebate.
Once the show has taken its global marketing campaign into consideration, it’s likely the final cost could top $1 billion.
The Lord Of The Rings original trilogy was released annually from 2001 to 2003, becoming the most acclaimed fantasy film series in history.
The conclusion to the series, titled Return Of The King, became the first ever film of its kind of win the Academy Award for Best Picture, while Peter Jackson won Best Director.
Read the full story ‘Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series Rises: Inside The Rings of Power’ by Anthony Breznican and Joanna Robinson.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings of Power will be released on Prime Video on Wednesday, September 2.
Will the $1billion Rings of Power be TV gold? It’s the most expensive show ever made. But as a first look is unveiled, Tolkien fans are already up in arms, writes TOM LEONARD
By the end of the epic Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the elves had returned to their woodland realms, the dwarves to their underground halls and that accursed ring finally consigned to the fires of Mount Doom.
But the human audience was hungry for more. So followed a three-part dramatisation of The Hobbit — but even that wasn’t enough. Or at least that’s the hope of Amazon, which has got its hands on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
The retail and streaming giant is set to unleash the most lavish ever screen spin-off of the British author’s fantasy world.
Its new ‘prequel’, Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power, tells the story of Middle-earth thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings.
It comes to our screens on September 2, and the five-series extravaganza — running to 50 hours — is set to be the most expensive television production ever, with a budget running to more than $1 billion.
Lavish: The retail and streaming giant is set to unleash the most lavish ever screen spin-off of the British author’s fantasy world
But the snarls of rampaging orcs may be nothing compared with the furious cries of anguished Tolkien obsessives. Already, they fear the desecration of their beloved writer’s tales. Reports of an on-set ‘intimacy coordinator’ — a sure sign of sex scenes, which were very much not part of Tolkien’s vision — have set alarm bells ringing across Middle-earth.
After three Lord Of The Rings films and three more bringing The Hobbit to the screen, one might have been forgiven for thinking the Tolkien cupboard was bare.
But that would be to reckon without the ferocious competition for online streaming viewers, the mega-success of medieval fantasy epic Game Of Thrones and the personal intervention of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s richest men and a Tolkien fan since childhood.
Fans: But the snarls of rampaging orcs may be nothing compared with the furious cries of anguished Tolkien obsessives
A $250M DEAL WITH THE LORD OF AMAZON
Amazon, which has been spending lavishly to establish itself as a rival to Netflix and the big Hollywood studios, announced in 2017 that it had agreed a $250 million deal with the Tolkien estate to buy the global rights to make a television adaptation of his works.
It was a vast sum, but the film versions of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit had racked up almost $3 billion at the box office and earned 15 Oscars.
Meanwhile, the enormous success of Game Of Thrones had shown there was a vast potential audience for such shows.
Amazon also had the enthusiastic backing of Jeff Bezos, a Tolkien obsessive (along with most of Silicon Valley) and one of the world’s richest people.
A former teacher of Bezos recalled being once impressed by a talk the 12-year-old gave on the brilliance of The Hobbit.
The original LOTR and Hobbit films were written and directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, but he has no involvement in the new TV series.
New: The original LOTR and Hobbit films were written and directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, but he has no involvement in the new TV series
Like his films, however, the first episodes have been filmed in New Zealand — though production was reported last year to be shifting to Britain for subsequent series.
After hunting throughout Hollywood, Amazon is taking a risk by giving the task to two young and relatively inexperienced American screenwriters, Patrick McKay and ex-schoolmate J.D. Payne.
Bezos is also a big fan of Star Trek, and the pair’s involvement in writing the script of the forthcoming Star Trek 4 movie may have clinched the deal. Anxious not to give Tolkien purists too many sleepless nights, McKay and Payne have said: ‘We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.’
And the writing duo, who admit they ‘were a little bit of a dark horse’, had to pitch their ideas not only to Amazon executives . . . but also to members of the Tolkien family.
Fantasy: After hunting throughout Hollywood, Amazon is taking a risk by giving the task to two young and relatively inexperienced American screenwriters, Patrick McKay and ex-schoolmate J.D. Payne
KEEPING THE WRITER’S FAMILY HAPPY
After publishing The Lord Of The Rings in the 1950s, Tolkien faced enormous pressure from fans to flesh out the world he had created with background information on its history, culture and languages. He responded by writing 150 pages of postscript which became known as the Appendices, and these are the basis for the new Amazon series.
They cover Middle-earth’s so-called Second Age, beginning 3,000 years before the Third Age, the era of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and Aragorn covered in the books.
Not merely content with demanding a dragon’s hoard of gold for the TV rights, the Tolkien estate laid down the law on what the new series could and couldn’t do.
The screenwriters have described how difficult it was to construct a narrative in which, in order to be faithful to Tolkien, every season should span 200 years and see the mortal human characters die off.
Tolkien’s heirs made it clear that while they would tolerate some immortal characters (such as the elf queen Galadriel) appearing in the new production, using mortal characters such as Frodo or Bilbo Baggins in the prequel was forbidden.
The estate also insisted Amazon dispense with such Tolkien stalwarts as wizards and hobbits, as neither played much part in the Second Age. But Amazon was able to address modern sensitivity about racial representation by introducing the harfoots, a type of hobbit that Tolkien did mention and specified had darker skins than their peers.
Any Tolkien adaptation is a double-edged sword. Though the production benefits from having a ready-made audience of fans, some are quick to take offence at any radical departure from the Oxford professor’s creation.
Changes: Any Tolkien adaptation is a double-edged sword. Though the production benefits from having a ready-made audience of fans, some are quick to take offence at any radical departure from the Oxford professor’s creation
RIDDLES IN THE DARK AND SHATTERED RUINS
Amazon has been obsessively secretive about its new series in the hope this will generate interest. When, in 2019, the venture’s dedicated Tolkien scholar, British medievalist Tom Shippey, gave a reportedly unapproved interview to a German Tolkien fan website and offered a few hints on what might be in the series, he was removed from the project.
Even so, plenty of clues have been provided by a recent trailer — and there are Tolkien’s Appendices to mine for information.
The show’s creators say the series will feature no fewer than 22 main characters across various storylines — which sounds even more complicated than anything Tolkien wrote in The Lord Of The Rings. They flesh out a history only briefly touched on in the original films.
During the Second Age, the dark lord Sauron tries to consolidate his power, forging 19 ‘rings of power’ which he gives to the lords of elves, dwarves and men.
What they don’t know is that he has secretly forged another ring (yes, that one) — the ring that rules them all.
Many of the places that are either shattered ruins or long-disappeared legends in The Lord Of The Rings are flourishing in The Rings Of Power.
They include Khazad-dum — the dwarves’ cave-kingdom under the Misty Mountains; the elven stronghold of Lindon; and the Atlantis-like island of Numenor, realm of a mighty race of men.
As the TV series’ chronology long pre-dates The Lord Of The Rings books, there is no Frodo, Sam or Bilbo. And though the grey-bearded wizard Gandalf technically could make a comeback, as he was alive during the Second Age, Sir Ian McKellen, who played the character in the films, has played down speculation that he might return in the role.
‘I think this would be the most upsetting headline I’d ever read, if I weren’t gainfully employed elsewhere,’ he said on Twitter.
Differences: Many of the places that are either shattered ruins or long-disappeared legends in The Lord Of The Rings are flourishing in The Rings Of Power
NEW ROLES AND THE STARS OF THE FUTURE
Peter Jackson’s films not only made the director a star but established the careers of a slew of actors, including Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Elijah Wood (Frodo), Orlando Bloom (Legolas) and Andy Serkis (Gollum). Many of them were British and largely unknown, and the same is true of the cast of the new series.
Tolkien included few female characters in his books and the film adaptations hardly changed this. Nor did they cast many actors from ethnic minorities, leaving Middle-earth not only very male but very white.
Amazon has addressed both issues head-on, possibly risking ructions with Tolkien purists.
Amazon chiefs have insisted that ‘Tolkien is for everyone’ and the author, after all, didn’t specify the skin colour of all his characters.
And so we will see Puerto Rican actor Ismael Cruz Cordova playing an elf, Arondir, who has a ‘forbidden’ relationship with a human ‘village healer’, played by British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi. (The latter briefly made headlines when she went out with fellow Scientologist Tom Cruise and was reportedly considered by the organisation’s leadership as a possible wife for him.)
Adventure: For many, Amazon itself is a dark empire worthy of a fantasy story. But time will tell whether or not it has finally sided with the forces of good — and done Tolkien proud
Black British actress Sophia Nomvete plays a dwarf princess, while Sir Lenny Henry plays a black hobbit, or rather ‘harfoot’ — all 6ft 3in of him.
Sir Lenny recently explained: ‘We harfoots are multi-cultural; we’re a tribe not a race, so we’re black, Asian and brown, even Maori.’
He described making the series over the past two years as ‘an extraordinary thing’, saying: ‘Literally, a hundred people on set glaring at you and trying to work out what you’ll look like 4ft tall.’
Multi-cultural hobbits are one thing — but sex may be quite another. News that Amazon had hired an ‘intimacy co-ordinator’ sparked fears that, like the nudity and sex-filled Game Of Thrones, the new series would be stuffed with lusty scenes — a subject that the tweedy Tolkien always studiously avoided.
Screenwriter McKay insists his new series will not feature gratuitous sex and violence, although the 11 and 12-year-olds at the bottom end of its target audience sometimes ‘might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary’.
For many, Amazon itself is a dark empire worthy of a fantasy story. But time will tell whether or not it has finally sided with the forces of good — and done Tolkien proud.