Amazon Studios is dropping over a billion dollars on bringing their version of ‘Lord of the Rings’ to life but all that money doesn’t buy them unlimited creative license. The studio has to be very careful about what they do with the property, thanks to a stipulation by the Tolkien estate. To not break any of the rules, and likely to be not be involved with a huge lawsuit, the studio hired Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey to help not change anything that they shouldn’t.
These rules are actually quite similar to those which Peter Jackson had to follow for his cinematic take on the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ but the streaming network has a bit more leeway due to the time periods it is said to be exploring.
According to Shippey,
“Amazon has a relatively free hand when it comes to adding something, since, as I said, very few details are known about this time span. The Tolkien Estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenorean expedition, returns to Númenor. There he corrupts the Númenoreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same. But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it. But it must not contradict anything that Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created, it is necessary to remain “Tolkienian.””
So while the studio has to remain faithful to Tolkien’s work, there are plenty of opportunities for original storytelling in Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Much of the time period for the Second Age has overarching stories which were told, but specifics on characters and events can be added with ease as long as they stay canon.
Are you looking forward to Amazon Studios take on ‘Lord of the Rings’? Do you feel that the ability to have some creative control will ultimately hurt or hinder this adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work? Share your thoughts in the comments below!