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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion: While the Second Age material is admittedly very limited...: Edit Log


Oct 10 2019, 11:05pm

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While the Second Age material is admittedly very limited...

....it still has a clearly defined shape, dramatis personae, an elegiac tonal quality of relative grimness, horror and tragedy, and the dialogue sections and characterisation we do have are - in my opinion - among Tolkien's best and most distinctive, with Aldarion and Erendis being a genuine little literary gem.

In other words, there is a way of penning many volumes of scripts based off of these generalised plot points, unfinished tales, extracts and annals, that would be in keeping with the spirit and character of this era in the legendarium. It could be done.

Its not as if this is an adaption of the 'Kinstrife' in the Third Age, for which we literally have nothing in the way of prose accounts with dialogue or characterisation to work from as a starting off base. The Second Age material, rudumentary and incomplete though it is, has some truly gripping stuff in it.

We can thus envisage how an extended Second Age epic, akin in scale to LotR, would have been fashioned by Tolkien if he'd deigned to write it, on the basis of the limited prose accounts he actually did write - namely Aldarion and Erendis, in addition to the more generalised account in the Akallabeth.

And one thing is for sure: merry little Hobbitses don't fit the milieu, which is why they aren't there.......

Funnily enough, Tolkien himself addresses this on a number of occasions (#227, to Mrs E. C. Ossen Drijver 5 January 1961):

The legends of Númenórë are in the background of The Lord of the Rings, though (of course) they were written first, and are only summarised in Appendix A...

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.

There are, I fear, no hobbits...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!

I certainly don't discount the "grim" possibility (pun intended), as Uncle Iorlas has already alluded, that Amazon execs may see fit to use their creative oversight to pressure the writers room into shoehorning hobbits into the SA and adding in gratuitous Hobbitses and all manner of perky Hobbityness - because they think it would be make good commercial sense in light of the box office success of Hobbit-heavy Middle-earth.

Hobbitless Middle-earth is a brave new world and that might entail a degree of 'risk'.

But that would be a bit "having your cake and eating it", as Amazon could easily have pitched a show in 1050 of the Third Age, say, about daring Hobbit explorers fleeing Sauron's rise in Mirkwood by scaling the Misty Mountains and colonizing parts of Arthedain, where the King granted them land to found the Shire.

But, of course, that wouldn't have the same "epicness" as the Second Age - forging of the rings, fall of Númenor, last alliance of Elves and Men.

We know from "The Hobbit" how deadly executive committee decisions can be.

It is an open secret that the abysmal interspecies "Tauriel - Kili - Legolas" love triangle in the Hobbit movies was a studio decision, originally made over the head of the screenwriters and forcibly shoehorned in by New Line, because they thought Tolkien's 'saccharine-sweet' children's book, with the closest thing to romance in it being male bromance among the Dwarves in Bilbo's company, needed some burning romantic passion.

And this, unsurprisingly, was one of the most widely panned and detested dimensions of the trilogy - along with the decision to turn what had originally been two-movies into a three-film extravaganza, thus excessively padding out a slender book with layers upon layers of unnecessarily convoluted subplots.

The result was a bloated mess that likely strayed far from what Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh would have wanted had the studio simply allowed their creative juices to flow more holistically. Game of Thrones it must be said, succumbed to the exact same dynamic.

Screenwriters and adaptors spend the most time embedded in the author's world, living with characters and settings and themes as they weave drama and build narratives in their scripts. Most of the worst decisions on film or TV emanate from execs removed from the creative process looking at profit charts.

So, I take your scepticism and recognise that it is well-founded.

But, we are tea-leaf reading at the moment. We have no idea what relationship Amazon has with its writers room and the Tolkien Estate. If Shippey is right, the Estate can exercise a veto and has insisted that the "shape of the Second Age" cannot be changed. Surely shoehorning in Hobbits explicitly against the vision of Tolkien and his tonal world-building in the Second Age would be an egregious case of this?

It is plausible to imagine that these 4 foot 12 inch folk are scale-doubles for Dwarves or Drúedain - after all, Gimli's scale double in the original LotR trilogy was four feet 9 inches (so far as I recall).

(This post was edited by Althoun on Oct 10 2019, 11:13pm)

Edit Log:
Post edited by Althoun (Lorien) on Oct 10 2019, 11:10pm
Post edited by Althoun (Lorien) on Oct 10 2019, 11:13pm

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