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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
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]