First Impressions | ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ is an exquisite show that honors Tolkien’s legacy
Caution: possible spoilers ahead.
The following text talks about the first two episodes of the season.
It is possible to count on one hand the literary productions that extend its legacy to the present day – but, without a doubt, one of the most important sagas in history is ‘Lord of the Rings’. Responsible for influencing, well, basically any author who came after JRR Tolkienthe work was constructed in such an intricate way that it serves as an archetypal inspiration for the insurgency of several fantastic themes of contemporaneity, from those seen in the writings of J.K. Rowling and George RR Martin to the dark universe outlined by Neil Gaiman (It’s no surprise, then, that Tolkien’s novels are studied in their own courses at colleges around the world).
In 2001, nearly six and a half decades after the publication of the initial volume (‘The Fellowship of the Ring’), the famous filmmaker Peter Jackson took on the difficult mission of adapting this epic adventure to the big screen – and the result could not be different: in addition to the box office success, the feature films were applauded by experts and the public, winning numerous awards and being consecrated as some of the best films. of all time. Now, it’s time to return to Middle-earth with the ambitious series ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’supervised by Amazon Studios.
Being on the back foot was natural, even more so considering the affective memory of the original trilogy and the disappointment with the saga. ‘The Hobbit’, who failed to live up to expectations and relied too much on the passion for the journey of Frodo and his companions. However, for everyone’s happiness, the balance of the work is more than positive and can already be considered one of the great investments of the year – and that should be appreciated in its entirety. Developed by JD Payne and Patrick McKay, each cog is forged with magnificent care, showing respect for Tolkien’s signature cosmos and even Jackson’s legacy. While the narrative draws on the formulas of the Hero’s Journey at different stages (and not in a pejorative sense, on the contrary), the imagery scope is breathtaking, carved into an impeccable visual spectacle.
Whereas ‘The Rings of Power’ configures itself as a series, the episodes manage to unfold in small one-hour masterpieces – and take the necessary time for the multiple plots to take their first steps and premeditate an instigating unfolding full of twists and turns. It is obvious that, considering that these are the two opening chapters, only a few secrets are revealed and several others are cultivated to not let us lose that nostalgic feeling – even more so with the blunt appearance of Morfydd Clark as the elf warrior Galadriel. Unlike the ethereal characterization seen in the films (and embodied by the iconic Cate Blanchett), the Galadriel who stars in the spin-off show is driven by a thirst for revenge and justice against the dark forces that took her brother’s life and that threaten to destroy the goodness that exists in Middle-earth.
Clark does a remarkable job as the character, but she’s not the only one to steal our attention: as mentioned, there are several protagonists and supporting characters that populate the four corners of the Tolkian universe and everyone has their moment of glory. We have the fun relationship between the elf Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Durin IV (Owain Arthur), prince of the dwarven city Khazad-dûm, which yields one of the best and most honest sequels of the season; we have the spare curiosity of the young harfoot Nori (Markella Kavenagh), who was never satisfied with the daily routine of her countrymen and always sought an adventure that would take her to discover the world; we have the forbidden bond between the elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and the human Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), which emulates similar themes seen in the original works; and, of course, we have the indirect mention of the Rings of Power, soon to be forged by the mighty Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards), which fans may remember from the game ‘Shadow of Mordor’.
None of this would come to light without a competent behind-the-scenes director who could bring the most detailed aspect of Middle-earth to the small screen – and it’s thanks to JA Bayonaname behind the underrated ‘Seven Minutes After Midnight’, that the episodes come true. The Spanish director has already shown a critical eye for fantasy works, using a solid background to celebrate those who inspired him, but without leaving his peculiarities aside. Bayona, allied to the incredible creative team at Amazon Studios, has the space needed to portray the immensity of nature against the smallness of the characters’ ambition (whose contrast is reiterated by the feeling of infinity) and the eternal battle between good and evil (no in the Manichean sense, essentially, but in the external and internal belligerence of each persona).
The emblematic and oscillating semblance between the picturesque and the epic is another element rescued by Bayona, Payne and McKay, which is why we have grandiose scenic constructions that vary in tone, atmosphere and form in a constant and reverberant fluidity. It is in this way that, while enveloped in a fog of originality with applaudable potential, the series reveals itself to be a kind of little sister of the literary saga and filmic incursions – throwing easter eggs for longtime fans and inviting newcomers to embark on this extraordinary journey.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ it’s more than we could have expected from a title that would promote itself to expand JRR Tolkien’s universe. Even restricted to just two episodes, the work knows how to captivate us and leave us wanting more to guarantee our fidelity and move us little by little.
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