Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by omikron, Feb 20, 2020.
Three films from 1 regular-sized book was my first clue.
Is this going to be like Cobra Kai and tell the story from Sauron's point of view and how he is actually the good guy?
I could totally see Sauron drivin' around the streets of Mordor in an unrestored trans am. Cruisin by the old Dark Tower, bottle of cheap whiskey in a paper bag. Rembering the good ol days.
From what I've read, the Tolkien Estate has the power of veto for what the writers come up with.
Hopefully, we won't see radical changes like say the Balrog of Moria and one of the Eagles of the Misty Mountains striking up a secret love relationship, or a band of remorseful orcs wanting to atone for past injustices against the Elves of Lorien turning to acts of goodness, or other woke-foolery.
My question would be, if the Tolkien estate is allowing this series to be made, why wouldn’t they want to work out a deal for Amazon to spend a billion dollars filming the Silmarillion and doing it right? Were the rights to this second age story sold behind the Tolkien estate’s back or something? Why would the estate want a hamstrung version of that story told instead of partnering with Amazon to tell the Silmarillion story or whatever and go all out in doing so?
I so want you to be right with your line of reasoning.
The deal was made when Christopher was alive. And he wouldn't have allowed any modern-day changes. But Christopher is dead now and I don't know a thing about who manages the estate now.
And that scares me a bit.
The current estate holders might just be seeing Game of Thrones dollar signs and Amazon Studios might have someone pushing a woke agenda.
So I remain worried.
If I had to hazard a guess it's because The Silmarillion is sacrosanct. The only reason we have it to read is because of Tolkien's son, Christopher, who managed to pull some semblance of order to his father's voluminous notes, outlines, stories, changed stories, etc.
Christopher has not been kind of the film renditions and probably distrusted any attempt by anyone to do it 'right'. That may have carried over to the surviving members of the Tolkien Estate - maybe even in writing from Christopher to *never* sign away rights to The Silmarillion as that was JRR's baby. First words committed to paper and his life long work was The Silmarillion - trust the film industry? Read the book.
(channeling mode off)
Without hearing the Tolkien estate side of things, the whole thing is pretty baffling to me. Obviously they sold the LOTR and Hobbit rights long ago, and now they seem super protective of what's left. But why? I'm not sure why they would prefer Amazon spend billions telling a mostly made up Second Age story that might not end up reflecting well on Tolkien's work regardless. You're either going to have a good or bad Middle-Earth show based directly on events from the Silmarillion, or a good or bad Middle-Earth show based on new Second Age stories that fall between the cracks of what Tolkien wrote. In the end Tolkien's legacy benefits or suffers equally in either case I think.
But one thing I'd going to add is that these anti-"woke" comments seem out of left field and ridiculous to me - comes off as embarrassing snowflake paranoia here. A well-told, compelling story with great performances and characterizations is just that - just as a bad story or bad show is a bad show. "Woke" or not has nothing to do with it. Is there anything to even suggest otherwise? Are some people so afraid that their literal fantasy world might have some good people with less than white skin in it? Or god forbid a homosexual? Some want to pretend they just want it to be "faithful to Tolkien" - whatever that means, since his estate has obviously set clear guidelines on what the series can use and what it can't. Often what people of outdated thinking see as some sinister "agenda" is actually just a thoughtful, humanist perspective that many other well-educated and/or well-experienced people take for granted.
Tolkien wrote to his son during WWII:
So there's Tolkien basically saying that in any more realistic/modern take on his work, you would indeed have orcs on both sides. But I guess if one likes one's stories purely of the simplistic "super-white good heroes kill the dark and swarthy evil subhumans" variety, anything more nuanced is going to come across as intolerable.
Very well written post. 2nd paragraph first: I agree 1000% with your comments and truth be told was trying to craft a reply to those who you commented on. I'll not criticize or judge other than to say, if you want to lose me as a participant in a conversation use the word "woke".
1st paragraph: Your thoughts on good and/or bad results being possible regardless of source material are spot on. I just looked at my copy of Return of the King, and there is a scant 10 pages there that pertains to the tale of Numenor (which I believe is where ALL of the story will take place). I'm still of the belief that those appendixes are all Amazon is going to have access to. Perhaps the Tolkien Estate has loosened their restrictions and will allow backstory from the Akallabeth in the Silmarillion to fill in the gaps of the story from Appendix A and B. We won't know until its on the screen. But my greatest fear is, what happened as the movie The Hobbit progressed will happen here and the whole house of cards will collapse.
Man, I wish they (Amazon) had access to the First Age material. There are so many stories that beg to be told, several as riveting as those in the LOTR.
I hear your points and understand them. But my question remains, if Amazon is going to spend a gazillion dollars filming some sort of Middle Earth TV series, and there’s nothing the estate can do to stop Amazon from doing that, because of deals that have already been signed, why wouldn’t the estate choose to go all in to make that series the best it can be, instead of taking an adversarial stance, as seems to have been suggested here (“If Amazon changes the name of a character mentioned in Appendix Four of The Book of Lost Tales, we’ll force them to change it back, etc.).
Some sort of series is going to be made, at great cost. And it’s apparently going to be about some arcane subset of Tolkien’s lore that all but the most devoted fans aren’t really jazzed about. Why not meet in the middle and let the estate spend a bazillion dollars to film the Silmarillion?
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree that The Hobbit films should be viewed as a cautionary tale about how much can go wrong, I still feel disappointed with those today.
I hope to live to one day see a fully-realized and brilliantly told cinematic version of some of the First Age tales, with Melkor and Ungoliant and the Two Trees, the stealing of the Silmarils and all that extremely epic stuff. I can imagine an incredible prologue segment too, on the music of Iluvatar and the making of the world. Whew, good stuff. Since I know that's definitely not what we are getting here, I find myself less interested but also less uptight (again also after the Hobbit disappointment) about what this series does or doesn't do, I don't feel invested in its success or failure as I did with the LOTR films.
EDIT: I'll amend my last thoughts there by saying even if part of me doesn't care too much what happens with it now, I do hope that they do not try to go the total Game of Thrones route with this. I enjoyed GoT for the most part for what it was, but it's obviously an adult show, full of gratuitous sex and violence - I don't mind sex and violence but gratuitous is the operative word there. I felt at times that GoT couldn't put an old man on the screen talking for a minute without throwing a naked woman in the background, just to keep the audience engaged. Anyway, I'm hoping this is a show my 12 year old son can watch.
I would just respond with this in hopes that it don't turn this into a thread-closing conversation. . .
I don't give a care what color people are or how one chooses to live their own life. "It's not what you are, it's who you are" is the saying I like to go to.
But if the show-runners are going to make it a point to input things into a TV show simply because they feel there is an entitlement to do it, then write a new show where that stuff is found.
Don't go changing established literary stories written in specific ways just to make the changes one wants to make because one feels they know what's best for us. You want that? Make your own show that has it.
Having said this, you are correct, there is no correlative evidence that suggests this show is going to contain an "agenda" or be "woke". But inserting such things into "a well-told, compelling story with great performances and characterizations" (to quote you) is precisely what is not needed here. Can't anything be left sacred in this world or does it all have to be re-imaged in someone else's concept?
I am allowed to want the story told as it is written instead of through someone else's lens. Plain and simple. And it is that alteration that I fear if it happens. Just . . . tell . . . the . . . story. That's all they have to do. There are plenty of other places in the entertainment world where the modern world can exist. This story is not the modern world.
Well, I don't think there is an adversarial relationship between The Tolkien Estate and Amazon. I think it is more "protective" of integrity with advisory provisions by way of their veto. The known terms of the agreement was that the series had to be consistent/canon with events of the Second Age. That still leaves a lot of freedom for the writers (within the bounds of the veto - and, who knows maybe the veto will never be invoked).
Personally, I like that the series must remain consistent. And I think a 'good' series can be made with those provisions.
I'm still a bit fuzzy on what source materials Amazon is allowed to use, but agree with you - and @EddieMann makes a great point about permission to use the Akallabeth (The Downfall of Numenor). If the rumors of the series touching on Numenor are true, then excluding that is puzzling as it would make the writer's job much more difficult. That part of The Silmarillion which deals with the 2nd Age is only 23 pages. I also recall reading that Unfinished Tales is off limits, so again, I agree that is a puzzler.
I'll also agree with you that the Amazon series is, as you say, about 'some arcane subset of Tolkien's lore', but at the same time - that could be said of The Silmarillion. I'd bet more people gave up on it than finished it.
I haven't spent a lot of time scouring the internet for daily details and updates - theonering.net is a good source for tidbits, rumors, and details, so maybe I'll head over there and get caught up.
It’s been decades since I read the Silmarillion, but what I remember of it strikes me as more fertile soil for an epic TV series than whatever bits and pieces of the appendix to the Lord of the Rings the Tolkien estate decides to allow Amazon to use.
For the last time, I’ll say, if some sort of Tolkien TV series is clearly going to be made, and Amazon is going to spend a fortune making it, why doesn’t the estate drop whatever legalistic, antagonistic stance it’s taking toward Amazon and work with Amazon to make the series be great?
When Led Zeppelin reissued their Song Remains the Same album, supposedly Jimmy Page was hamstrung with how much he could edit the songs, because whatever movie studio owns the rights to the movie wouldn’t allow him to make any edits. My question then was, even if the movie studio has the legal right to stop Page from editing the movie’s soundtrack, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to waive that right, cooperate with Page, and issue some brand new “director’s cut” Blu-Ray with the songs edited the way Page wanted them, and/or with new and bonus footage?
Just because the Tolkien estate has the right to force Amazon to focus on some obscure Tolkien Second Age plotline, or to force them not “break canon,” doesn’t mean that taking such an adversarial stance against Amazon is necessarily the right thing to do. In my opinion. Maybe work with Amazon to make a the best TV show possible.
And there is nothing inherent in changing the race or (in some cases) gender of a character to have more diverse casting, particularly in a world that is not our own and does not have the same biases as ours. There's just not.
This doesn't have to close the thread because I hope to keep myself to the idea that I don't really have the energy or interest to hash this out too much further.
This isn't even about actual politics for me though, it's about what I see as, at best, odd misperception in which you seem eager to project your politics-related fears (over all else, apparently) into the as-yet-unknown plan for a TV series. You have said multiple times your specific "woke" fear about this show. And at the same time you admit there's no evidence any of this is happening with this show. So what does that mean then? A lot of this kind of talk that I tend to disagree with is so often about fears of things that aren't happening, and then don't end up happening. Odd indeed. You say "make your own show", in regards to "making changes" - well, the Tolkien estate has possibly forced them to indeed "make their own show" because the estate is restrictive on what canonical content the show can touch. You say, "just tell the story", but isn't half your thread here trying to determine what source material they are even allowed to use? I think you are going to have to accept that the estate actually doesn't "want the story told", as it seems like it will have to lean on newly invented characters and situations. Yeah, I do think that could be a recipe for disaster, in the wrong hands. But it has nothing to do with political agenda. A poorly told tale is a poorly told tale. A tale that includes elements that cause some viewers cognitive dissonance and discomfort, because on a deep level they are confused about why the majority of people making entertainment (music/movies/TV shows) might (or might not) disagree with them politically, is a totally different matter, and is not anyone's problem but their own.
I may be over-reaching but these forums seemed to be teeming with people who are inwardly upset that some people, who make the music they like and make the movies/TV shows that they like, don't agree with their personal politics, and they find oblique/surreptitious ways to express that annoyance and confusion. "Shut up and sing!" Something nefarious IMO has literally got people riled up into making arguments about why a Tolkien series in 2021 shouldn't be "woke", when as you said, there's no evidence yet or really much detail at all about the show. We're on the same page, that we don't want this show to be bad. But a bad show is bad because the plot doesn't make sense, or the direction is lacking, or the pacing is off, and so on and so on. It's worth exploring why your biggest, repeated fear here is more around a political agenda behind the show that may or may not even exist here.
I guess I don't equate 'best possible' = Must be The Silmarillion?
Maybe - if Amazon demonstrates credibility and trust with this series, then we may get an adaptation of The Silmarillion? I could live with that.
I think a few posters on this thread must be real-life wizards because somehow they travelled to the future and know this series will offend their political sensibilities without having seen a single frame of footage.
It just sounds to me like the TV show producers are being boxed into a relatively minor plotline or set of characters, based on whatever deal was struck in the past. And the estate is gung ho about strictly enforcing whatever rules were set down in that deal. If I ran the estate, maybe I’d reach out and try to cooperate a little more with the TV show producers in order to achieve a win-win for both parties.
I hope the show is good and the fans enjoy it.
The "relatively minor plotline" is the entire Second Age of Middle Earth, which includes the backstory of Sauron and the Rings, and the fall of Numenor -- these are big events. And there isn't that much more about them in the Silmarillion than there is in Return of the King, so it isn't a huge problem they don't have the rights. There is a broad outline of the era in the Appendices, plus there is discussion of the history in the text of LOTR itself. Tolkien didn't write extensively about that period -- what was published as The Silmarillion is largely about earlier Middle-Earth history. So they have a pretty free hand to invent the details as long as they don't contradict the major elements.
If it had been up to Christopher Tolkien, nothing would ever have been made from his father’s work. I'm sure he forced them to stick only to the appendices material because he didn't want to give an inch on the rest of it, potential quality of the series be damned. What the attitude is from whoever controls the estate now, I don't know. It seems like they may now be a little more flexible about allowing in stuff that was in Unfinished Tales or maybe even Silmarillion, as long as it's Second Age only.
Perhaps I have not articulated myself correctly but I'm sorry if you feel there is a political agenda here with what I am trying to say.
I simply am wanting the show to remain as faithful to the writing as possible. That is all.
Politics have never entered my mind in this conversation. I'm thinking of Tolkein's writing and the spirit in which it was written.
Like you said, I'm not here to argue in circles either. Our points have been made. I'll not say any more on the subject for the sake of the thread discussion.
is it cool to hate the Hobbit movies? it's the Herd at work...that's it.
As much as I do understand what you wrote, I would say no. Some people may be expressing their genuinely individual opinion based on their personal experience of watching the films - whether they liked the films or disliked them. It seems at times when others agree with our opinion, we just smile that we're all right, but when others disagree, we begin to entertain the idea that those others can only possibly feel that way to do some kind of pack mentality, some weakness in their characters. There are definitely times when people can get swept up into agreeing with the general consensus for a variety of reasons that may be superficial, but I certainly wouldn't make that leap here, in a fairly anonymous forum where we don't know each other.
nice post...enjoyed reading it. AND I see your point, but still believe people just like to do the band wagon thing more than not...it's clean.
You don't have to apologize, and anyway when you say "I'm sorry if you feel...[such and such]", I understand that to be your polite way of telling me I'm wrong in my understanding of what you said. I'm unclear how it is that "politics have never entered" your mind in this conversation, when you specifically said you were "worried" about "a woke agenda" being shoehorned into the series. That and similar comments were what I was responding to. I've said my piece (or is it peace -I'm never sure) regardless, carry on.
Separate names with a comma.