Following numerous plot details and the reveal of the first photos for Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in a Vanity Fair puff piece, The Lord of the Rings fan site TheOneRing.com eviscerated the show for its utter disregard of Tolkien’s writings.
TheOneRing.com expressed their concern for the show noting the Vanity Fair article raised multiple “red flags” for the show in a thread on Twitter.
The fan site began, “1) Read the Vanity Fair article and there’s a lot of red flags. My first thoughts follow…”
The first red flag is the inclusion of Hobbits in the form of Harfoots in the series.
TheOneRing.com tweeted, “2)Amazon — “But really, does it feel like Middle-earth if you don’t have hobbits or something like hobbits in it?”
They followed that up with a Tolkien quote, a format they would use to criticize the show throughout the thread,”3) Tolkien — ‘But there are, I fear, no hobbits in The Silmarillion…’”
Tolkien wrote to Mrs. E.C Ossen Drijver on January 5, 1961 telling her, “I am now under contract engaged (among alas! other less congenial tasks) in putting into order for publication the mythology and stories of the First and Second Ages – written long ago, but judged hardly publishable, until (so it seems) the surprising success of The Lord of the Rings, which comes at the end, has provided a probable demand for the beginnings.”
Tolkien added, “But there are, I fear, no hobbits in The Silmarillion (or history of the Three Jewels), little fun or earthiness but mostly grief and disaster. Those critics who scoffed at The Lord because ‘all the good boys came home safe and everyone was happy ever after’ (quite untrue) ought to be satisfied. They will not be, of course –even if they deign to notice the book!”
TheOneRing.com would use this same letter to criticize Amazon’s tone of the show.
They tweeted, “4) Amazon — ‘This is material that is sometimes scary…but it’s also heartwarming and life-affirming and optimistic. It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness.'”
The full quote from showrunner Patrick McKay states, “This is material that is sometimes scary—and sometimes very intense, sometimes quite political, sometimes quite sophisticated—but it’s also heartwarming and life-affirming and optimistic. It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness.”
In a follow-up tweet TheOneRing.com cited the above letter to Mrs. E C Ossen Drijver again, “5) Tolkien — “…in The Silmarillion (or history of the Three Jewels), [there is] little fun or earthiness but mostly grief and disaster.’”
Next, TheOneRing.com tweeted, “6) Amazon —’It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like.”
This quote is in reference to all of the race changes the show has made with their casting. It comes courtesy of Executive Producer Lindsey Weber. She would later elaborate telling Vanity Fair, “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.”
In response to this, TheOneRing.com quoted Tolkien in a letter to Milton Waldman. They tweeted, “7) Tolkien — ‘I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought, and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands.’”
Tolkien further elaborated in the letter, “There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish (which greatly affected me); but nothing English, save impoverished chap-book stuff. Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing.”
TheOneRing.com then took issue with an image shared in the Vanity Fair article, which shows Galadriel dressed in armor and described as the commander of the Northern Armies. They also pointed to a description of Galadriel’s story in the show.
The outlet tweeted, “8) Amazon — “Galadriel is a commander of the Northern Armies… Galadriel is hunting down the last remnants of their collaborators, who claimed the life of her brother.”
In a subsequent tweet, they noted, “9) Tolkien — … … … [Looking… looking… tell me when you find that part where Galadriel leads her armies into battle, mmkay?]”
The site then pummeled the show for compressing the show into a single point of time, the characterization of Elrond, the introduction of a “forbidden romance” and the fact the showrunners are J.J. Abrams acolytes.
Vanity Fair noted in their article, “Payne and McKay have compressed events into a single point in time.” The showrunners justified this decision stating, “If you are true to the exact letter of the law, you are going to be telling a story in which your human characters are dying off every season because you’re jumping 200 years in time, and then you’re not meeting really big, important canon characters until season four.”
“Look, there might be some fans who want us to do a documentary of Middle-earth, but we’re going to tell one story that unites all these things,” they added.
TheOneRing.com responded, “10) There’s so much more. Compressing the storyline into a few years, rather than the centuries needed…Adding new “forbidden romances”… The show’s being run by JJ Abrams acolytes… Elrond is a “canny young architect and politician”…
They then took issue with Vanity Fair’s disparagement of Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings fans.
In the article, Vanity Fair writers Anthony Breznican and Joanna Robinson described fans critical of the show’s lack of consistency with Tolkien’s writing as trolls.
They wrote, “When Amazon released photos of its multicultural cast, even without character names or plot details, the studio endured a reflexive attack from trolls—the anonymous online kind.”
They went on to cite feminist activist Mariana Rios Maldonado that they described as a Tolkien scholar to attack the fans further. Maldonado told Vanity Fair, “Obviously there was going to be push and backlash, but the question is from whom? Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”
TheOneRing.com tweeted in response to this, “11) I know a lot folks (like Vanity Fair) will say that what I’m pointing out is a ‘reflexive attack from trolls—the anonymous online kind.’ What I say is not reflexive nor anonymous. It comes from a love of the world Tolkien created over his entire lifetime…”
They elaborated on this point writing, “12) I believe Tolkien knew what he was doing when he wrote his stories. And for Amazon to come in and inject their own modern sensibilities into it while throwing ad hominem attacks at Tolkien fans with deep vested interest in his work (like me) won’t end well for them.”
The outlet then pointed to how New Line Cinema treated them compared to how Amazon Studios and Prime Video have started off their relationship, “13) (When the original LOTR films released, New Line Cinema knew we (theonering.com) were “purists”—they still engaged us & certainly didn’t call us names. And they never asked us to take down our complete list of film changes… they knew they needed fans on their side).”
They wrapped up the thread tweeting, “14) Amazon can make as many claims that what they’ve created really is Tolkien’s world. 1/2 of Tolkien fandom won’t buy it, though. My expectations weren’t high for this show to begin with. They just dropped much much lower.”
In another tweet, the outlet lampooned Galadriel’s armored design as well as the characterization of Elrond and the newly introduced dwarf princess writing, “I wasn’t a huge fan of Nuclear Galadriel, but Jackson had the good sense to only put her in armor when she’s overcoming the lure of the ring. In #LOTRonPrime we get warrior princess Galadriel, & architect politician Elrond. I bet my axe a female dwarf will make Durin look a fool.”
Finally, the site called out Amazon and the showrunners’ pride that they believe they can do Tolkien better than Tolkien.
The outlet tweeted, “#LOTRonPrime Showrunner McKay asks, “Can we come up with the novel Tolkien never wrote and do it as the mega-event series that could only happen now?”
They added, “Let me help. No. You can’t. Tolkien spent his life creating The Silmarillion & you can write what he couldn’t in a few years?”
What do you make of TheOneRing.com’s criticism of Amazon Studios and Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power show?