November 15th, 2017

Big News in the Tolkien Fandom

Amazon is putting together a miniseries set before LOTR, most assume the gap between 2941 [The Hobbit] and 3019 [LOTR]. With no justification that I can see, but it does seem natural. My first impulse was that I thought it would be neat to see, but that I was really struggling with how you'd create a standalone story arc out that time period. But then miniseries and series generally can be more episodic.

I'm curious: if you were coming up with a miniseries based off of those years, how would you structure it? What events would you zero in on, and how would you give it a conclusion of some sort? My fantasy version would focus on the hunt for the Ring, building on Gandalf's friendship with Bilbo, the Dwarves of Erebor's unwillingness to give up his identity, maybe Bilbo's adoption of Frodo and even a kind of time-compressed Gandalf guiding Aragorn through the Thorongil years and searching the archives himself, with some nice Denethor tension. But I still can't see how to give it a good conclusion.

Of course, there's nothing that says they have to be telling that kind of story, an adaptation of canon at all. One idea I've seen floated is it will be the Shire and Rohan and Mirkwood and all that, but a totally new adventure involving original characters. Maybe television's answer to LOTRO or something of the sort? Can't say I'm overjoyed at that idea. Could be well and good, but all I can think of is how my least favorite parts of the Hobbit movies involved them going off script.

Maybe we're going to have more of that in the future, though, because of the other big news:

Christopher Tolkien's stepping down from the Tolkien Estate! I'll admit, my first thought was "it's about time," and I owe him more respect than that. Speaking as a Numenor fangirl - I owe him for the Akallabeth's existence in a big way. But at the same time, I've always found his more obvious editing to be heavy-handed, and I do think he's a bit stuffy when it comes to JRRT's legacy and proper respect for it - which means he'll want adaptations to be more canon-compliant, traditionally interpreted.

Personally I'd love to see a miniseries adaptation of The Silmarillion if it was done right (a big if!). Not a film or even film series by anyone, it's just not structured that way. But I think it could be really interesting, and if the new "Thor" movies teach us anything (I'll be vague and spoiler-free here), it's that the heart of myths can still play well when you modernize it the right way. Not that I want a Marvel version of Turin or Maedhros, but certainly this assumption that the Silm is hard to get into doesn't have to be true. And the thing is, right now the Silmarillion is completely off the table for adaptations, and obviously it's a very personal story for Christopher and the family generally - Beren and Luthien as JRR and Edith and all that.

Interested in folks' thoughts here. About Silm adaptations, but more about CT stepping down. Do you think it's a good thing or not?

PS - If re in a fic mood, maybe check out my story Bronwe Athan Harthad. It's a look at how JRRT might have been affected if Christopher had died in World War II, written through letters to his dead son. Interspersed with lines from John Mayer's "Say," of all things. It really shouldn't work, but I have it on good authority (not my own!) that it really kind of does.

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