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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
Why has it gone so quiet?
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uncle Iorlas

Aug 2 2018, 2:56pm

Post #51 of 61 (1700 views)
Aragornian [In reply to] Can't Post

Been meaning to discuss this but life is busy. Anyway first and foremost: the information we have about what will be the subject of the show, at this point, is bupkus. There are two possibilities: they might do a story about Aragorn, or else they might not. We don't know, not even a little bit, nor will we for a while. It's perfectly likely that they haven't decided it yet themselves.

That said, I think there's plenty to recommend Aragorn. The fertile ground isn't even so much the known events (of which there are plenty as a couple people have recounted from time to time) but the implied bits, the in-between stretches that must exist. For example: recall Aragorn in his private conference with the hobbits in the Pony, discussing the black riders. "They are terrible!" he says, and then lapses into a sort of momentary reverie, clutching his chair, breaking a sweat. This is a traumatized guy, ladies and germs. Something happened. At some point he suffered a demoralizing defeat at the hands of a Nazgul, and he goes to pieces at the memory. That's going to be a gripper of an episode. That kind of thing.

Also Aragorn has a lot of personality, for an anointed, prophecized hero king. He slips in and out of vastly different social contexts. Good with languages; I'd want to make sure to establish that everywhere he goes, he absorbs bits of language like a sponge. Songs and stories, too--he's second only to Bilbo in likelihood of coming out with a song in the middle of conversation. In fact one of the things I was pleased to realize early on was that Bilbo seems to have gone traveling once or twice between his big adventure and his final departure; surely he'd have stopped at Rivendell. I was going to have a teenage Aragorn in the Hall of Fire on a high day, when many elves are singing deep into the night; he loves these singarounds, as he loves the elves themselves. On this occasion an unfamiliar voice with a quirky personality keeps leading unfamiliar songs from the shadows across the room; how excited the boy is to learn later that this is none other than Bilbo the hobbit, whose adventure in Erebor is famous at least here. They're each a bit star-struck by the other, and are soon fast friends, with that love of the folklore an important common ground early on.

Gaps in his life: what is the connection between Rivendell and the dunedain? I mean, Elrond is every Numenorean's uncle, but how do they interface? Clearly he keeps an eye on the North Kingdom. Estel is brought to Rivendell to be fostered in safety, but how does he transition back to the rangers, and what were their arrangments in his absence? Surely there must be a go-between, some older ranger who looks in on the boy from time to time.

Anyway what are the rangers? How many? Is their little shadow kingdom composed mostly of chance meetings at nearly abandoned outposts, word of mouth and solitary vigilance, or do they have strongholds with many of their number gathered? Does their ambit run all the way south to Lond Daer? Are they a whole society, with farmers and such, or does every man with the blood take up arms and patrol the wilderness? Is this just the closest they can come to operating a kingdom in the north, since Sauron (usually through Angmar) fights so desperately to squash them whenever an heir of Elendil proclaims himself there? They can't perform most of the functions of kingship, or claim its privileges, but at least they can try to provide that fundamental service of security, if they remain secret.

The young heir will need to get to do a walking tour of their territory, getting to know the people and the work, earning his stripes among them. Good stuff to be gone over on the road with Gandalf, too. Some story of why they both smoke like hobbits. You can sneak in story-flashbacks of Gandalf's best bits, divining Sauron's intentions over the third age, laying out his defenses. There's a lot to look into and that's just early days. Thorongil time, yes, corsairs, far travels (he circumnavigates Mordor, aids local resistance in eastern places, maybe a run-in with a blue wizard or one of the minor rings), plenty to do.

That was also the early days for our working on it. After meeting with Amazon I started looking at it again with an eye to making it more the story of Arwen and Aragorn, which means filling in enormous amounts about her. But that's appropriate. She's most of three thousand years old when he's born. She deserves a story. The fact that we know so little of what she does doesn't mean she's been sitting still all this time.

We would likely have had her spend a fair bit of time in arms. Tolkien said that the elves were egalitarian in their power structures, but he was perhaps too much a creature of his time to really deliver on that; he gives us Galadriel as a battleready chieftain and sorceress, and indeed given her ever-growing importance as he adjusted the narrative over his life, the egalitarian dictum seems likely made in order to pave the way for her. But other than her, there is only Luthien, and then boy elves as far as the eye can see. But we figured to hold him to his word, as it were, and make the elvish ladies more visibly active (in sharp contrast to the humans), and nowhere would this pay off better than in the case of Arwen. Particularly following her mother's captivity and subsequent withdrawal, Arwen has a conspicuous motive to take up arms personally against Sauron's forces. In all likelihood most elves spend a couple centuries enlisted, over the course of their endless lives.

I was honestly tempted to have the first season be almost entirely about Arwen, her family history and her own life, with Aragorn being born only in the last episode or two. If we wound up doing that project. Dunno if my brother or the powers that be would have gone along with it, of course.


Aug 2 2018, 7:23pm

Post #52 of 61 (1686 views)
You had me enthralled, right down to when Arwen straps on a sword and goes crusading... [In reply to] Can't Post

I would agree with almost all of your breakdown of how what we know about Aragorn can be built into episodes that are both likely according to the story we're given, and interestingly dramatizable.

I can't agree with the idea that Arwen, somehow, must take up arms because Elven women blah blah, centuries, etc. That's exactly the trap Mr. Jackson and team fell into in FotR, producing a very unconvincing warrior Arwen and one of the weakest segments in an otherwise very enjoyable first film of their trilogy.

I don't know what to do with her, either! But her essential role is to be Estel/Aragorn's support, lover-in-absentia, and chivalrous prize. Not much fun for those who like their fighting ladies according to their up-to-date ideas of what medieval life should have been like. But far truer not just to Tolkien's actual text, but to the entire ethos of what he was trying to preserve and protect by writing his book at all.

Still, thank you very much for such a long and well-considered recap of how your end of the project went.

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uncle Iorlas

Aug 6 2018, 12:27am

Post #53 of 61 (1616 views)
Arwenian [In reply to] Can't Post

I realize, and we realized then, that this could be controversial. As I say, I felt a twinge of conscience every time I proposed a change. Now, giving Arwen adventures isn't exactly a change (to my knowledge, nothing in canon contradicts it), but it is an even stranger feeling to propose something that I feel certain the author himself would never have done. So I think the choice deserves some defense.

I think the first an best defense is that the author did in fact say elven women blah blah. It's canon. We can debate why he himself did not then depict things in accordance with this; on one hand we have Galadriel and Luthien, but on the other there never occurs a minor female elf who seems to do any work, of high or low station. Same as all the other races really; elves and hobbits have marginally more named female characters than the others, but it's still a poor showing. It's a pretty widely acknowledged weak spot that my favorite author has, is the thing. He does not represent women well, or much at all. Same issue with race. And so it is a bit of a conundrum; I know this author and I strongly favor faithful rendition of his canon, but it is also true that I am a modern feminist in 2018 and I don't want to write anything that actively entrenches the patriarchy. What to do?

Let's dispense, by the by, with the idea that this is a question of medieval reality. We are playing in a sandbox several times removed from that, and the author himself observed none of the concomitant squalor and brutality except perhaps to imply now and again that orcs behaved that way. This is a story derived from medieval fairytales about themselves, not from their reality. And as I say, we would have shown clearly that only elves organized themselves in this egalitarian fashion, not the humans or the hobbits. And we wouldn't have had much discussion about it, no 21c feminist screeds injected into the stories; just a number of female faces among the others where the author says "the elves said" and so on.

Now, I do not say Arwen must be a soldier. My brother favored it and I'm fine with it, but I'd be just as content if she were a sorcerer or a scholar. She just needs to have something to do, something more than the needlepoint on which the text would suggest she spends the entire war. A person three thousand years old who hasn't done anything simply doesn't make sense. Do we imagine her grandmother has never let slip an arrow in battle? Not in the kinslaying, not in the last alliance, not in all the years of defending a kingdom wedged between Moria and Dol Guldur? Arwen is of martial descent on both sides. Actually I got rather more attached to the idea of Celebrian as a soldier, but it does make sense for Arwen too.

(In any event I wouldn't have changed the events of LOTR as Jackson did, or not as greatly as that. But events that happen offstage are fair game. Even if you and I have somewhat differing tolerances for what seems stylistically consistent.)

It does make me feel a bit like Phaeton, holding the old man to his word even though I'm sure he never meant it to reach so far. But he did say it.


Aug 6 2018, 12:49am

Post #54 of 61 (1613 views)
How do you give Arwen something to do? [In reply to] Can't Post

Aragorn first meets Arwen the day following his twentieth birthday. He leaves Rivendell that same year and doesn't see his love again for nearly another twenty-nine years. That probably should not be altered. So the only other way to give Arwen an active role in the series would be to split the focus to make her a central character in a series of stories separate from Aragorn's travels. Now, I can imagine a tale involving Arwen accompanying Aragorn's mother to visit Gilraen's folk and running into complications (an incursion of Wargs; Trolls from the mountains wandering into the Angle; a fever spreading among the Dúnedain; etc.), but that's only one story. We know at some point Arwen returns to Lothlórien, probably under the protection of her brothers Elladan and Elrohir. They could encounter adventures during that journey. What I don't necessarily see happening is Elrond allowing his only daughter to accompany her brothers as they patrol Eriador hunting Orcs.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

uncle Iorlas

Aug 6 2018, 2:44am

Post #55 of 61 (1601 views)
mind you [In reply to] Can't Post

We never even pitched an Aragorn show, so this is all doubly speculative. But I was thinking one way to keep her in the loop with big events is to include her and her brothers in the White Council. But as to the gap you refer to, it's peanuts. We could follow her through some events or not, but she could easily spend thirty years not embroiled in intrigue or adventure. Like a long weekend for her, anyhow.


Aug 6 2018, 12:19pm

Post #56 of 61 (1583 views)
The White Council? [In reply to] Can't Post

How does that help in an arc that follows Aragorn as a young adult? The White Council meets only twice during his entire lifetime: 1) in 2941 when Saruman consents to an attack on Dol Guldur (and Estel is ten years of age); and 2) in 2953 (the last meeting of the White Council) when the Ring is discussed and Saruman insists that it is lost--washed down the Anduin into the Sea. I'm not sure that even an Ent would characterize the Council as proactive.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Aug 6 2018, 12:24pm)

The Shire

Oct 24 2018, 3:56am

Post #57 of 61 (1107 views)
it may be for marketing [In reply to] Can't Post

i think that they are keeping things under wraps so that we come into the show completely surprised. Some movies/shows reveal way too much about the plot and characters etc. before they come out. hope that all we get before the show comes out is the cast, title, and trailer. We will watch not knowing what to expect. I think its smart

Thor 'n' Oakenshield

Oct 24 2018, 4:11pm

Post #58 of 61 (1045 views)
Heresy [In reply to] Can't Post

I demand to know every little detail! Now!

"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord."


Oct 24 2018, 6:39pm

Post #59 of 61 (1026 views)
I have no doubt [In reply to] Can't Post

That Amazon will release many details as they happen. Good Omens is finally coming next year. They've released information all along. There's no way they won't be generating massive amounts of hype in order to pull in as many subscribers as possible.


Oct 24 2018, 9:15pm

Post #60 of 61 (980 views)
I wonder how Amazon can manage two huge series - LOTR and WOT [In reply to] Can't Post

WOT is scheduled for 2022. Both will take immense resources.


Oct 24 2018, 10:32pm

Post #61 of 61 (965 views)
Not just those two [In reply to] Can't Post

But they're developing The Culture, Ringworld, Conan the Barbarian, and Snow Crash.

If they could get these to the screen in a timely fashion (and they were good) I'd be sat in front of the telly in a puddle of my own drool.

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