Still recovering from the powder keg of the premiere of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ (Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, 2022) on Amazon Prime Video, we have had all kinds of controversies and controversies, since the overwhelming success of its transmission on the platform, to the censorship of this criticism and the phenomenon of mass voting on pages such as Rotten Tomatoes and Imdb, resulting in very poor ratings by the public.
This is not new, ‘Ghostbusters’ (Ghostbusters, 2016) suffered similar attacks for its female cast, forcing actress Leslie Jones to delete her social media accounts for racist attacks, a story that has been repeated in ‘Star Wars Episode VIII: the last Jedi’, in some chapters of ‘Halo’, and other fictions that have dared to reinvent their casting to make it more diverse, perhaps hoping that at some point people will get bored of complaining about it, since we are in a fiction and those details do not betray any lore.
Bringing an imaginary world to life
Fantasy allows this and much more, but it seems that the fandom has decided that the different pantones of skin color are much more important than the amazing work of art design and production of the series. Something, without a doubt, achieved at the stroke of a checkbook, but also with work behind it that goes beyond visual waste. Each plane, each new scenario, has a flawless, fully cinematic, movie-level art composition from ‘The Lord of the Rings’. But it’s not just that.
It can be argued that within its totally immersive setting, there are small mismatches that are not at the level of other efforts, such as those too modern human hairstyles, or even in a musical plane, an excess of fanfare and grandiosity can be blamed before time. , a very typical problem in the work of JA Bayona, in which the constant use of a baroque and pompous score it ends up turning some moments into embarrassment, subtracting narrative force from moments that later do require it.
but visually ‘The rings of power’ transcends what has been seen in any television series so far, and not only because of its scale and integration of special effects, or its harmony in the use of colors and framing, but because it manages to bring Middle-earth to life. It’s that simple. It has once again managed to capture the universe imagined by Tolkien in a time of splendor prior to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, endowing its geography with magic, whether it be the celestial environments of the Elves or the kingdom of the dwarves. Explore what is and could have been thoroughly.
Shots at close range, as if we had plenty of good series
However, the critics of the most purist complain that the Lembas bread is not eaten with bacon or that the Elves are positioned poorly in the scene where they are on a boat. The fan love for the literary world of an author is understandable, but when it goes to the cinematographic format in such a resounding way it seems that some people lose touch with reality. A series of this style could have been destined to be a device to get money from a brand with little investment, it could be a modest entertainment channel SYFY, look like the rest of current epic fantasy. And it is not like that.
‘The Rings of Power’ is not ‘The Wheel of Time’, it is not ‘Shadow and Bone’ and it is not ‘Game of Thrones’. The level that it presents on screen requires an economic, production and dedication effort that goes beyond the fact that it is worth a lot of money. There are expensive things that do not look good. It has also been criticized that it remains just that, in the empty visual candy, and it is not true. The design it presents is a work of art, but also of research, care and respect for the material what is being treated. And it’s also narrative. The idea of showing us the metal masks of the dwarves as a simple ornament cannot be dismissed.
They show us their culture, they show us a period of glorious prosperity, they teach us that the scene of the mines of Moria represented a decadence because before there was splendor. Each costume and set decision builds and adds up, there are constant previous decisions in seconds on the screen. That is also a story, the interest of the series is to show the time that we could only intuit, there is a work of world building which translates into immersion, in context for a story and characters that represent the different places in that world. In many ways, it is the nature of Tolkien’s prose to get lost in the world he builds.
Representation of Middle Earth
The Second Age takes place centuries before Frodo journeyed to Mordor, and the landscape of Middle-earth is unlike what we have absorbed in the movies. The production designer of Ramsey Avery has differentiated a rich and golden world from a Third Age in decline and, for example, the elves have founded the regal coastal kingdom of Lindon, which exudes a love of nature, with almost gothic architecture, tall tree-shaped columns and other details that reflect vegetation and otherworldly lights that indicate immortality.
The dwarven fortress of Khazad-dûm is prospering, before the dwarves got greedy and the Balrog came, she is represented by stone and flame, less severe lines, and a greater respect for stone rather than a grandeur that reflects opulence. Humanity is in an unprecedented golden age, and the wealthy island of Númenor boasting great cities and ports, is Tolkien’s Atlantis and has never before been depicted on screen, reflecting great royal civilizations of the past, with imposing structures of marble that seem almost Greek or Venetian, with different shades of blue that evoke their strength in navigation and the sea.
The hairy, travelers who are years away from settling in the Shire and becoming the homely hobbits we know reflect a greater contact with nature, but we can notice many features of their incipient culture, even explaining that their way of building houses in the underground has to do with a defense tactic for their nomadic way of life. The casting, makeup and costume care is also more than remarkable. And something important is also that what is in front of the screen is not always intangible.
An expensive toy, but also extremely careful
We have seen that ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ and other recent Marvel series rely on backgrounds, Stagecraft and different techniques of computer generated scenery that greatly limits camera movements and the idea of staging, but in ‘The Rings of power’ it is noticeable that they have been built realistic settings and fantastical environments that seem to be taken directly from Tolkien’s world designs. There may not be as many thumbnails for the larger shots as there are in the Peter Jackson movies, but there is a much, much more tangible cinematic setting than the current trend on TV shows.
And much remains to be seen of the orcs and the world of darkness, although what has been seen could not be more promising. Evil is spreading and the keys to its visualization have been shaped according to horror movies, something that JA Bayona may have to do with. The contaminated cows and the earth distilling evil are reminiscent of ‘The color that fell from space’ —which also rhymes with that strange fallen from the sky like a meteorite— and the scene of the orc entering the house is a home invasion with a monster worthy of ‘Evil Dead’, with a creature, by the way, that shows a return to makeup and not to the digital orcs of the ‘Hobbit’ trilogy, with a memorable “rat mouth” design and a transition with beheading to applaud.
The tunnel scene is reminiscent of ‘Aliens’ and in general there is an approach to the world of Sauron that does not take a step back, even though it is written that the series is a childish version of Tolkien’s fiction. In general, everything is more in place than the trailers and teasers would have predicted, and many of us who were skeptical during that phase of promotion have had to bow to the evidence: ‘The rings of power’ seems to know what he is doing and promises that what is to come can make television history. It is a very good time to be a fan of Tolkien and get bitter because Galadriel this or that, or because you don’t like black dwarfs, it seems to see children sulking because of their 50th birthday gifts one is not the color that they like. like.