The Lord of the Rings

Adapted from the cult work of J. R. R. Tolkien, the event series The Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power is entitled on September 2 to an international broadcast on Prime Video. Back to an essential saga of the fantastic universe.

To say it is expected is an understatement. From September 2, millions of fans in 240 countries around the world will finally discover the first season of the Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power. THE event series of this fall, telling the theogony (birth of a mythology) of the fantastic work of the cult J.R.R. Tolkien, written as early as 1937 and published between 1954 and 1955. The plot takes us back thousands of years before the famous trilogy. We discover the youth of key characters, such as the elf queen Galadriel, Elrond, Isildur or the dwarf Durin IV, and newcomers. The series opens with a period of relative peace in the magical worlds. Rest assured, it won’t last… Evil lurks around Middle-earth.

In video, “The Rings of Power”, the trailer

Even before its broadcast on Amazon Prime Video, the series is already causing a sensation: with an excessive budget of one billion dollars, it is to date the most expensive in the world. The stakes are high for the platform, which must guarantee a great show and above all be at the height of a mythological universe celebrated around the world. Because no superlative is superfluous when it comes to the iconic Lord of the Rings saga: Tolkien’s literary work, translated into 38 languages ​​and sold more than 150 million copies, has already been adapted for the cinema in the trilogy masterpiece by Peter Jackson, between 2001 and 2003. To this day, it remains one of the biggest box office successes: it brought in $3 billion in revenue, won 17 Oscars, and gathered more than 21 million spectators. only in France.

A great initiatory story

For sixty-eight years, the epic of Lord of the Rings never ceases to captivate a large audience. In a totally fictional world, this saga tells the adventures of an ordinary hero, the hobbit Frodo Baggins, who must destroy a mysterious and precious ring, with the support of different characters (the mage Gandalf, prince Aragorm, the elf Legolas …), so that it does not fall into the hands of Sauron, Lord of Darkness. “This story of an epic initiatory quest very quickly met with immense success, recalls Élodie Hommel, sociologist and teacher at Paul-Valéry University in Montpellier, specialist in science fiction and fantasy. Unique in its scope, it marked a turning point in the evolution of heroic fantasy, with an extremely detailed universe.

The hobbits Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) and Elanor Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh). Ben Rothstein/Prime Video/Amazon Studios

Tolkien was an academic linguist who enjoyed inventing imaginary languages. Then he began to develop stories about the mythology of these languages: the world of Lord of the Rings existed before dramaturgy itself. He succeeded in mixing magic and realism, inventing complex characters with elements of human psychology transposable to readers. In other words, he created a great modern myth by telling a universal story through a fantastic universe. It is about friendship, family, heritage, sacrifice, courage, corruption, passion, wars, sex, philosophy…

Bird’s eye view of Middle-earth. photo Ben Rothstein/Prime Video/Amazon Studios

“These are axes of identification, underlines Élodie Hommel. The great initiatory stories embrace the questions that agitate adolescents and young adults. They develop the idea that through imaginary stories, we as individuals integrate analytical schemes that we can apply to our own life and to the real world. Several generations have thus grown up with and thanks to the works of Tolkien, then to the films of Peter Jackson. “One can imagine that the series The Rings of Power will play the same role with a third generation”, continues the sociologist.

visionary tale

The strength of this imaginary story is also its visionary side and its lasting impact on the reading of the world. When he wrote The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien portrayed the battles knowingly: he had fought in the First World War at the Somme and started to imagine tales to entertain his fellow victims and try to shed some light on the horror. His novels are now so anchored in the collective imagination that today the Ukrainians have nicknamed their Russian invaders “the Orcs”, since the beginning of the war between them, referring to these killer creatures in the saga of the Lord of the Rings.

Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur). photo Ben Rothstein/Prime Video/Amazon Studios

Vladimir Putin would be Sauron, the Dark Lord. Conversely, in Russia, some nationalists reinterpret Tolkien’s work and claim the fate of the Orcs, who they believe are engaged against their will in a war by a coalition of elves and men… Before that, at the beginning of the seventies, in On many American campuses, the hippie counterculture had also seized on the dynamics of the book to embody the determination of a youth ready to defend its values. Gandalf’s cult tirade against the evil creature of the Balrog, “You will not pass!”, has also found an echo on many barricades.

The great initiatory stories embrace the questions that agitate adolescents and young adults

Elodie Hommel

The saga not only made an impression, it inspired a whole cultural field, and fashion in particular. “The dynamics of heroic fantasy are mainly based on the High Middle Ages. This dark era has long made fashion fantasize, which by vocation explores fantastic territories”, deciphers Laurent Dombrowicz, stylist, consultant and fashion journalist. “Fashion returns cyclically to this phantasmagoria, drawing on Gothic aesthetics, Druidic spirituality, magic or witchcraft, with sometimes direct quotations from the medieval period at Chanel, Loewe, Olivier Theyskens or Balenciaga.”

Tolkien’s heroic fantasy characters leave their mark. “They are less Manichaean, less childish in their vision of good and evil than most Marvel-type heroes,” continues Laurent Dombrowicz. This results in gorgeous ambiguous heroes that inspire fashion designers. The evil is not only political, it is a philosophical evil. Fashion loves the encrypted, referenced dimension of this narrative style. Like fantasy, it is driven by dynasties and has its own lexicon. There are codes, expertise… lords.” The series of rings of power will it arouse the same frenzy as books or films? Amazon hopes so and has already planned five seasons. For Élodie Hommel, “this series can above all offer a reason for wonder in a complicated social context”. An argument as valuable as the ring.

The Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power, all about the saga that has the planet in turmoil