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10 May, 2022 (edited)
2022-5-10 4:54:40 PM UTC
The only information I have about this show consists of a couple of Vanity Fair articles and a teaser.

According to the VF articles there will be massive time compression to prevent human characters from dying. As others have said in social media, this seems like a missed opportunity. It would have been interesting to see the world from the perspective of the elves, as men die in almost what is a blink of an eye for them (which is something the PJ movies couldn't do). With good writing, this could have been used for great dramatic effect, showing the psychological toll on certain characters.

The description of Elrond as an architect and a Galadriel "full of piss and vinegar" left me puzzled. The addition of invented characters and forbidden loves gives me flashbacks of Tauriel's love triangle. Also, shouldn't dwarf women have beards? In my mind they always did, but maybe I'm wrong?

Finally, the teaser looked cheap and generic, which surprised me given the amount of money being spent on this.

Having said that, the show could still be great despite my negative first impression and despite it not being what I would have wanted it to be, so I have adapted Stu's position: I consider this a very expensive fan finction. I hope it's good, but if it's not I won't lose anything by it or give it further thought.
10 May, 2022
2022-5-10 5:24:44 PM UTC
Great to be here, I saw the link from Uruloke on the PPP discord.

I have always been excited and hopeful about the project. I tend to be that way with Tolkien related stuff and if I’m disappointed in the end I feel at least I’ve had the fun of the build up and anticipation.

There have been times along the way when I’ve been really quite worried and other times where I’ve been thrilled. The first image was just great. The teaser (as opposed to trailer) looks ok. Some of the stills and character names like Theo have had me a bit concerned.

Hearing that those involved do actually know and appreciate the lore gives me hope. With the 2nd age I’m ok with “painting in” some narrative gaps for the purposes of adaptation as long as it’s done with care.

I want Gil-galad to have real gravitas and I want to see the glory of Numenor. So I’m bought in until I’m not, giving the show the benefit of the doubt until I see it.

I feel like it’s in our interests for it to succeed. I want it to lead to other things. While I would be very worried about The Silmarillion being adapted, who wouldn’t want to see Glorfindel handing the Witch King his own rear end at the Battle of Fornost.

Forth, and fear no darkness!
10 May, 2022
2022-5-10 7:02:16 PM UTC
Elrond as an architect and politician doesn’t really concern me. With his Noldorin heritage I can see the architecture thing. They were pretty good Town Planners. And you don’t get to be Vice-Regent of Eriador by being a wallflower.

The Galadriel comment alarmed me and still does. Sure, it’s not so far from the character we know from the Silmarillion but they don’t have access to that and it’s now the terms I would have used for her. She was certainly prideful, aloof and maybe a little arrogant in her youth but she WAS one of the most gifted and accomplished of all the Eldalie.

Like you, if it’s bad I will simply disregard it. If it’s good I’ll be thrilled.
17 May, 2022
2022-5-17 5:36:50 PM UTC

northman wrote:

As for diversity in casting that's no big deal for me. I still think Morgan Freeman would have made the best Gandalf. But the wider debate about racism in Tolkiens works is something else. What i hope was rock bottom was just reached with Dimitra Fimi and Mariana Rios stating that "Despite Tolkien’s overall message of friendship and co-operation, and despite his raging against the Nazis, the face of evil in Middle-earth is invariably non-white/non-European.". This isnt scholarship, this is activism, and the TS doesnt take a stand at all.
Of course it is not scholarship! It's in The Conversation, not in a scholarly journal or other scholarly outlet.

It seems to be an example of affirming the consequent, a logical fallacy, I agree, though unfortunately not uncommon in literary scholarship (by which I mean in actual scholarly publications). It would have been correct to say that any non-white/non-European face in Middle-earth is invariably associated with (e.g. fighting for) evil, but the other way around is, as you imply, incorrect.

I am, however, more inclined to let it go as a reaction to a number of truly racist reactions to Amazon's casting choices – unfortunate, certainly, and a regrettable inaccuracy, but, in an article in The Conversation, hardly worthy of severe critique. After all, I have still to see a negative reaction to the casting of black actors as Dwarf & Elf that is not at some level based on a racist bias, but some are more radically so than others.

The wider discussion of racism in Tolkien's work is interesting – he definitely believed that biological heritage accounted for much more of our personality (including ethics), than what is generally accepted today, but that is probably not a discussion for this place
17 May, 2022
2022-5-17 5:46:28 PM UTC

Dale Nelson wrote:

I sent this comment to Beyond Bree, the monthly Tolkienian newsletter:

In the April 2022 BB, persons uneasy about the imminent Amazon Middle-earth series are admonished thus: “Adaptations are original cultural entities that can imitate, question, rewrite, or reinterpret their source material for a new audience.”

That assertion grants a great deal of license indeed! It immediately reminded me of Evelyn Waugh’s 1947 essay. "Agents negotiate, a price is fixed. And from that moment the story belongs to the studio to deal with as they please. Each of the books purchased has had some individual quality, good or bad, that had made it remarkable. It is the work of a staff of 'writers' to distinguish this quality, separate it and obliterate it" ("Why Hollywood Is a Term of Disparagement," in The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyan Waugh, 1984, p. 328).

Dale Nelson

Thank you for this, Dale.

For me, the assertion that “Adaptations are original cultural entities that can imitate, question, rewrite, or reinterpret their source material for a new audience” grants me freedom to like or dislike adaptations for whatever reason I care for – or, indeed, for no reason whatsoever, other than just “I like it” or “I don't like it”.

Specifically, it allows me to say that I dislike an adaptation because it fails to capture aspects of the original work, that are important to me, but it also requires of me that I assert that without claiming this to be a failure of the adaptation per se, or, indeed, implying that failing to satisfy my limited sympathies somehow constitutes a moral failure on the part of the people doing the adaptation. At one level it is, of course, Jackson's “fault” that I detest his Hobbit adaptation, but I'll concede that he was entitled to make the films he thought he should make rather than imply that failing to satisfy me is an artistic or moral failure
17 May, 2022 (edited)
2022-5-17 7:18:12 PM UTC
Without entering into the racism or no racism debate, I advice all people to read the new book Tolkien, Race, and Racism in Middle-earth by Robert Stuart, published by Palgrave. I just finished it today, and for me, it is the best think I read on the subject. Although the author is unknown to me in Tolkien Studies, he made an essential work. I wouldn't be surprised if the book win an award in the near future.

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Tolkien, Race, and Racism in Middle-earth

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