The “Rings of Power”: when Jeff Bezos pays for his “Lord of the Rings”

Vanity Fair

The world of Galadriel is a raging sea. Forget the wise sovereign played by Cate Blanchett in the blockbusters of peter jackson. The elf played by Morfydd Clark in the future Amazon series, The Lord of the Rings: the Rings of Power [Le Seigneur des Anneaux : Les Anneaux de Pouvoir], is a few millennia younger. She is hot-tempered, cheeky, and convinced that evil lurks. From the second episode, his warnings lead him to drift, literally and figuratively, then to fight to survive on a raft, in the middle of the raging waves of Belegaer, alongside Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), another shipwrecked – which is a character invented by the showrunners. Galadriel fights for the future, where Halbrand flees his past. Their intertwined destinies are just two plotlines in a mega-series that, if it lives up to its promises, could become a global phenomenon. What if she disappoints? To paraphrase JRR Tolkienit will serve as a lesson to all those who embark on too difficult quests.

Amazon’s blockbuster will stream on Prime Video from September 2, 2022. It’s not based on any of Tolkien’s published novels, but on the vast backstory that the famous British writer recounted in the “appendices” written on the sidelines of his trilogy of Lord of the Rings. The budget for the five seasons should crush the billion dollars, an amount able to sink any other studio. But Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon, is as rich as he is obsessed with Tolkien. Thanks to this project, he can boast of having created the most expensive series in history. If Peter Jackson is not in the game, his films, as well as their spiritual offspring Game Of Thronesnevertheless proved that there is a huge following for the fantasy.

Given the fortune of the owner of Amazon, the real stake of Rings of Power is not so much the budget as the reputation. On the one hand, his company must clearly prove its ability to produce prestigious series; on the other hand, there is the risk of betraying the DNA of a saga revered by millions of fans by touching the story of the master Tolkien, modifying it or even opening it up to something else. The creators, patrick mckay and JD Payne, are fully aware of this. Their project will juggle 22 stars and multiple intrigues, from the dwarf mines of the Misty Mountains to the elven kingdom of Lindon, passing by Númenor, the impressive island of humans, similar to Atlantis. All of this will converge on the event that gives the trilogy its name. “The Forge of Rings,” says McKay. Rings for Elves, rings for Dwarves, rings for Men, and the one Ring that Sauron used to rule them all. The series tells the genesis of these powers, and their effects on each of these races. The question that motivated the team, he adds, was: “Will we manage to create the novel that Tolkien never wrote, in the form of a mega-series that could not be produced? what today? »

If the story of Galadriel lost at sea is one of the main starting points of the series, the showrunners also associate it with a key moment of filming, in New Zealand, at the beginning of March 2020. “Morfydd Clark had only been playing the role of Galadriel for a few days, which must have been extremely intimidating, recalls McKay. She was in the water. There were special effects, music, lights. “However, the members of the huge staff present on site cannot help but look at their phones: passing through Australia, Tom Hanks has just contracted the Covid, the NBA has decided to cancel its season, and the WHO has decided to declare a global pandemic. “We were all like, ‘Good God, what are we going to do? We are going to have to stop everything.” says JD Payne. The panic triggered other anxieties, small or large. “Honestly, it was terrifying. We started to wonder if people would really understand what we were doing. Were we too ambitious? We had no idea what was going to happen the next day. »

One by one, everyone on the team ended up putting down their phones. “We all gathered around the control monitor to see Galadriel’s face in close-up: she burst into tears, before recovering herself and saying to herself: ‘I have to fight,'” says Patrick McKay. As soon as the scene was over, the whole set started to applaud. “It just goes to show how deeply Tolkien and Middle-earth touch us, even in the toughest times,” Payne sums up.