CCA Pulse Magazine
The Return of Tolkien's World | Rosanne Pak
The epic classical fantasy franchise of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Middle-Earth with its nostalgic charm (for many fans) and complex world structure has once again returned to the big screen . . . but it’s not what people expected. Amazon Prime’s latest release of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has held Tolkien fans and other curious viewers alike invested in the new modern take beyond Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Set thousands of years before the original trilogies, a long raging war between the Dark Lord Sauron, along with his army of Orcs, and the Elves resulted in Sauron and his army fleeing the war. With the Elves’ supposed victory against Sauron, the majority of Middle-Earth’s inhabitants believe that the evil of Sauron has finally vanquished and peace restored to all. In the first episode of the series, we are introduced to a young Galadriel (played by Morfydd Clark), who is a beautiful and strong-willed Elven warrior who still believes that the evil of Sauron is lurking about Middle-Earth and sets on her journey to find and destroy him for good.
Despite its detailed costumes, intricate set designs, and impressive CGI, it’s no surprise that The Rings of Power has garnered extremely low ratings from many bitter Tolkien fans. In fact, some movie/TV show rating websites, like IMDb, have completely deleted negative reviews and comments under The Rings of Power due to the harsh criticism that the series has received. Furthermore, the original cast of The Lord of the Rings including Elijah Wood (who played Frodo Baggins), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Billy Boyd (Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took), and Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandybuck) have recently stepped up against the racist comments and death threats that cast members of The Rings of Power have received merely because they are a person of color in the setting of Tolkien’s world. It’s not known that there are any POC in Tolkien’s stories because he grew up in a society where slavery, racism, and xenophobia were very common amongst most. Due to his upbringing, Tolkien never introduced or mentioned any characters who were POC in any of his works, including the LOTR and The Hobbit books. As a result, Tolkien’s hardcore fans strongly opposed against the introduction of a black Dwarf princess named Disa (played by Sophia Nomvete), a black Silven Elf named Arondir (played by Ismael Cruz Córdova), and a human named Bronwyn who is played by British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi. As a response to the negative criticism, the original cast of LOTR’s beloved hobbits came together to show their support for all the actors and actresses affected by the threats. In a tweet, a photo shows each actor wearing various articles of clothing that read in Elvish “You are all welcome here” in addition to a row of ears of different creatures with varying skin tones. Below the photo, a statement in the tweet wrote, “[We] stand together in absolute solidarity and against the relentless racism, threats, harassment, and abuse some of our castmates of color are being subjected to on a daily basis. We refuse to ignore it or tolerate it.”
Although many hardcore fans of Tolkien have been heavily criticising the visibile flaws that can be seen in The Rings of Power, such as pointing out the fact that the Elves don’t have their lucious long hair or that the Dwarvf women don’t have a beard, there have been many fans who have changed their opinions. For example, one individual left a review on Google for The Rings of Power where they write, “I am a huge LOTR fan myself and always have been. I have been extremely pessimistic since I heard this [adaptation] was being made, and that it would be bitterly disappointing. After watching two episodes I am so happy to have been surprised by utter enjoyment instead!” The review continues to explain in further detail that the show’s visuals, music, and plot development is all on-point and die-hard fans of Middle-Earth should not be so quick to jump to conclusions before watching the entire show. In simple terms, whether you are a fan of Tolkien’s magical world or a new traveler discovering Middle-Earth, the release of The Rings of Power is sure to be the latest show for all to experience the return of Middle-Earth.