On The Tube: Rings of Power

Looking forward to this streaming event for some years now, I gobbled down episodes 1 and 2 in one sitting last night. It looks like a theatrical release. The visuals are sumptuous. But if a studio is pouring nine figures into production, the cinematography better be on that level.

The series is set about four and a half millennia before the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. There are a few familiar characters. Not surprising, since Elves are immortal, but for the ones unfortunate to die in battle or something.

130 minutes into the first season, one won’t be surprised by parallel story lines and settings: the Elves in their Middle-Earth kingdom, Humans doing more drinking and gossiping than farming on the rural frontier, Hobbit ancestors poking around in the underbrush, and Dwarves in their kingdom under a mountain range.

Some interesting bits, curiosities, and comments:

  • An opening scene in Galadriel’s childhood in the Blessed Realm, which wasn’t free of childhood teasing and aggression before Morgoth killed the Trees. It looked like heaven, but the gods of the Tolkien universe created beings inclined to sin.
  • Lots of telling and maps in episode 1. More showing in 2. Hopefully that’s a future direction that will continue.
  • An elf exploratory team runs into a vicious predator in the far north. Strange how a place that looks like Antarctica can sustain such a large thing at the top of the food chain.
  • Resentment toward the Elves seems a bit more widespread in the middle of the Second Age.
  • An interesting discussion that contrasts the mindsets and experiences of immortal and mortal people and their relationships. Thoughtful.
  • Female dwarves are present, unlike in Tolkien canon. They don’t have beards, also unlike.
  • Complaints about women and people of color cast in this series seem unfounded. And ignorant. I’m sure folks who have their own lily-white, mostly-male view of the source material. They don’t read carefully.

One thought on how Elrond and Galadriel are written and acted. Sure, they are more than forty centuries younger than their familiar characters. They are still hundreds of years old in the middle of the Second Age. They act like twenty-somethings. I understand the need to have flawed main characters, but not at the expense of the suggestion that not only are Elves slow to age, but also slow to mature emotionally.

Obviously, I’m recommending this series. It stands alone as a narrative independent of the immensely popular Hobbit/Rings books. I think it keeps close to the spirit of the author’s fiction, closer than Peter Jackson’s six movies.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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