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How Amazon Should Adapt The Lord of the Rings

The Internet has come a long way since the fellowship of its earlier years, but some things do not change: Why have a blog and not use it to give unsolicited opinions about how to adapt The Lord of the Rings?

At 250 million dollars for Amazon to buy the rights, plus an 100 million dollar budget per season (the same as Game of Thrones) for five planned seasons, of books that are not at all easy to adapt, which already have a fan-beloved movie trilogy, with a dubious plan to use invented prequel material that expands on the appendicidal adventures and man-elf love interest of a young Aragorn, and a stunning example of how this sort of thing can go wrong, namely the recent Hobbit movie trilogy, this could end up being the biggest bomb, or at least the lowest quality per dollar spent, in the history of television.

Luckily, there could be a way to pull it off. Here are the three simple suggestions to follow:

  1. Do not make up filler material, whether or not it is derived from the books’ Appendix. The stories in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings can provide at least four, if not five, seasons of content  
  2. Start with the Hobbit (3-4 hours long). Unlike the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit is an incredibly easy and fun story to adapt to the screen, and has never had an adaptation that was good or that was even remotely similar to the book
  3. Animate the Hobbit using Tolkien’s own artwork (see below) for inspiration. Then, when you come to The Lord of the Rings, partially and gradually transition to a more realist, though still psychedelic or grandiose, style of animation. Viewers may be more indulgent of the lore-filled plot and dialogue this way. And it will help to distinguish this adaptation from the live-action movie trilogies 

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To get a sense of how difficult, but also how great (at least, for fans of Tolkien) a detailed adaptation of the Lord of the Rings could be, I strongly suggest listening to the audio-drama version made by the incredibly talented Phil Dragash. He single-handedly narrated the entire books, voiced all of the characters by mimicking the actors from the movies, and skillfully added in the music from the movies throughout,  as well as other sound effects. It’s 48 hours long.

[There has, by the way, been a short Russian film made of one of Tolkien’s children books, Mr. Bliss, animated using Tolkien’s own illustrations. Here’s the trailer for it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itzcNwJ-y3M]

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “How Amazon Should Adapt The Lord of the Rings

  1. They don’t have the rights to any of the events in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, which is why the series has to be ‘filler’. It won’t be Aragorn himself, though – it’s set in the Second Age. [i.e. Numenor and/or the Last Alliance]

    Even if they had the rights, an animated LotR would be a non-starter – nobody’s going to spend half a billion dollars to make a TV show and then artificially limit its audience to maybe 10% the size (at most!) that it could otherwise be. Animated series are great for delivering ambitious projects that don’t have high demand and consequently can’t afford the budgets that would be necessary to deliver them as live action – but they’re not what you do when you’re throwing half a billion dollars at something.

    That said, an animated Hobbit series in the visual style of Tolkien would indeed be something I’d love to see, and maybe they’ll do it one day… but it’ll probably be a couple more decades at least.

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