‘Rings of Power’ creators believe they’re doing what Tolkien would’ve wanted

Rings of Power - Galadriel
Amazon Studios

It’s been 67 years since J. R. R. Tolkien released the final installment of The Lord of the Rings, and Middle-earth continues to have a powerful grip on the imagination. Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations introduced these stories to new generations and soon Amazon will debut The Rings of Power, their hugely expensive new show set thousands of years before Frodo left Hobbiton on his long journey.

But whereas previous adaptations have remained very close to Tolkien’s writing, The Rings of Power will be heading into original territory. The bedrock of the show is the extensive backstory detailed in The Silmarillion and other Tolkien writings, but the stories and many of the characters will be Amazon originals.

Now, in a new interview with Empire that sets out to calm fan nerves, showrunner JD Payne says he thinks Tolkien would have approved:

“It was like Tolkien put some stars in the sky and let us make out the constellations. In his letters [particularly in one to his publisher], Tolkien talked about wanting to leave behind a mythology that ‘left scope for other minds and hands, wielding the tools of paint, music and drama.’ We’re doing what Tolkien wanted. As long as we felt like every invention of ours was true to his essence, we knew we were on the right track.”

The proof, as always, will be in the pudding. The same interview confirms that all five seasons have already been planned out in advance, to the extent that they even know what the final shot will be. When all’s said and done, The Rings of Power will be 50 hours long, telling an epic story that (according to the official synopsis) will “unite all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”

As indicated by the show’s title, we’re also going to get into the nineteen Great Rings. These were briefly glimpsed in the prologue to Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, so expect to see them forged, gifted and the powers they grant the bearer.

With The Rings of Power landing on Amazon on Sep. 2, expect this summer to be full of teases for the first season. More as we hear it.