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[Spoilers]Rings of Power 3: Tolkien’s actual writing… who needs that?


Ser Scot A Ellison
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I agree with the video that the show did not move me emotionally, at all.  Most of the main characters I either actively disliked or had no feelings for either way.  The elves characterization was way, way off, even if you happened to like the millenials old Galadriel portrayed as a dumb brat, or didn't object to the idea of immortal beings caught off guard and needing a solution 'by spring'.  LOL.  

 

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I’m not sure the issues with the show are down to lack of love. My assumption is that there are too many conflicting needs to fit in when they were writing it and it simply became a untameable mess as it went on. Making something like this requires a lot of time and effort and the ability to iterate your plans and improve them.

If you are under a ton on pressure your natural instinct is to go for the safest option and do it quick. That’s how this show feels.

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4 hours ago, mormont said:

Good lord, that sounds awful.

There's a reason Gandalf isn't the lead character. He doesn't work as one. 'Iconic' characters don't. That conflict with the Balrog is cool and all, but it isn't character growth.

I haven't seen the videos, so I'm just responding to your response. Decent chance we don't actually disagree. 

I'd disagree with that. Depends on what you're an icon of, I'd think. Gandalf is an iconic side character because he was written as such, but he'd work just as well as a main character. There are plenty of iconic lead characters. Confident, competent characters going about doing their thing make for great narration and, if you create them with sufficient depth, they absolutely can hold the narrative.

I can't imagine doing anything but devouring a story Tolkien wrote which was through Gandalf's perspective. In fact, he did, in Unfinished Tales, where he has Gandalf narrate how he ended up setting things in motion to destroy Smaug. Here's an excerpt:

Quote

‘I was very troubled at that time,’ he said, ‘for Saruman was hindering all my plans. I knew that Sauron had arisen again and would soon declare himself, and I knew that he was preparing for a great war. How would he begin? Would he try first to re-occupy Mordor, or would he first attack the chief strongholds of his enemies? I thought then, and I am sure now, that to attack Lórien and Rivendell, as soon as he was strong enough, was his original plan. It would have been a much better plan for him, and much worse for us.

You may think that Rivendell was out of his reach, but I did not think so. The state of things in the North was very bad. The Kingdom under the Mountain and the strong Men of Dale were no more. To resist any force that Sauron might send to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar there were only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, and behind them lay a desolation and a Dragon. The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. Often I said to myself: "I must find some means of dealing with Smaug. But a direct stroke against Dol Guldur is needed still more. We must disturb Sauron's plans. I must make the Council see that."
"Those were my dark thoughts as I jogged along the road. I was tired, and I was going to the Shire for a short rest, after being away from it for more than twenty years. I thought that if I put them out of my mind for a while might perhaps find some way of dealing with these troubles. And so I id indeed, though I was not allowed to put them out of my mind.

If there were 400,000 more words in this vein, I sure would continue reading and I'm sure a highly successful TV show could be made out of it.

Gandalf has undeniable star power. He's a mover. He has actual power, and a mind fascinated with using it just right. Tolkien gave him a distinct voice and immense charisma. 

I do agree his fighting the Balrog wasn't character growth. It was change, but it's not like he learned an important moral lesson from his "death". He was simply allowed access to more of his powers and all of his memories. But Gandalf doesn't need change to work as a lead. Not all leads need constant growth of great magnitude. 

4 hours ago, mormont said:

If Galadriel was written as this guy prefers, she would have to be a supporting character, not the lead. Jackson-Galadriel could never be a lead character. All that serenity and wisdom is great but contemporary audiences would find it too far from the storytelling they understand. So would the writers, in all probability.

That's so untrue. It may be true of the Disney garbage we usually get these days, but it's not an issue at all with Tolkien's world. He has left you all the tools to make a committed moral examination of the actions that occured during the forging of the ring. 

If you actually care to, in a serious fashion, dig into that, Galadriel is an obvious main character. She is, in Tolkien's own words, the prime mover, at this stage, of the resistance against Sauron. She isn't all wise, but she's much more powerful and active during the Second Age. The Galadriel we see in LotR is much more passive in her resistance to Sauron than during his first rise, when she's building alliances with Dwarves, Nandorian elves, and so on. There's no way that wouldn't make a compelling show.

It would have been an incredible counterpoint to HotD, where a civil war is being fought because a woman was named heir, whereas here you have someone who always wanted to rule, does rule, and literally no one in her world thinks her gender is particularly worthy of comment. 

4 hours ago, mormont said:

Just because you have an idea doesn't mean you have a workable story.

 

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Some examples of iconic characters (they are often main characters but don't have to be): Indiana Jones, Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes. https://definitivedose.com/the-100-most-iconic-fictional-characters/

Character growth is about change, and it doesn't get much better than Gandalf's fight with the balrog - through self-sacrifice, near death, and rebirth, he goes from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White.

Fighting the balrog was a huge growth moment, it's been something he's feared for a long time, and he had to face this fear. He had no idea how this was going to turn out, this was something big to overcome.

Compare that to ROP Galadriel's piddling growth: "a very old character stops being such a brat." A Galadriel possessing age-appropriate maturity at the start opens her up to more meaningful character growth.

And for that, look at her actual second age story. She's skilled at navigating this world, a worthy player. That would be a much better story and I think audiences would have loved it, across the board.

Edited by Le Cygne
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1 hour ago, Le Cygne said:

Character growth is about change, and it doesn't get much better than Gandalf's fight with the balrog - through self-sacrifice, near death, and rebirth, he goes from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White.

Would have saved him a lot of trouble if he'd just been able to buy some bleach.

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3 hours ago, Le Cygne said:

Some examples of iconic characters (they are often main characters but don't have to be): Indiana Jones, Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes. https://definitivedose.com/the-100-most-iconic-fictional-characters/

Indy is absolutely not an 'iconic' character in the sense that is meant here. In fact he has most of the qualities people complain about in show-Galadriel: he's brash, immature, impulsive and flawed. (Not that I necessarily agree that show-Galadriel is immature.) Same with Holmes. Mary Poppins isn't the lead.

3 hours ago, Le Cygne said:

Character growth is about change, and it doesn't get much better than Gandalf's fight with the balrog - through self-sacrifice, near death, and rebirth, he goes from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White.

Character growth is about change, but it does not follow that all change is character growth. Gandalf the White is, in personality, just Gandalf the Grey dialled up a bit: more powerful, wiser, etc. He still isn't lead character material.

3 hours ago, Le Cygne said:

Compare that to ROP Galadriel's piddling growth: "a very old character stops being such a brat."

A Galadriel possessing age-appropriate maturity at the start opens her up to more meaningful character growth.

I've never known people who were millennia old. What is their age-appropriate maturity level? And again, many older people don't have age-appropriate maturity.

And how, exactly, is show-Galadriel immature? Because as I've noted before, it's an unfortunate fact that 'brat' is the go-to insult for a particular type of female character that goes against the grain. It was the go-to insult for Dany, for Sansa, for Rey - diverse characters, none of whom fit the descriptor at all, but all of whom ruffle the feathers of a certain segment of fandom by refusing to fit in a box. You rarely if ever hear it about male characters who behave in similar ways. I would suggest that there's a cultural bias at play here: one that infantilises women who aren't stereotypically 'female' in showing patience, kindness, and forgiveness, and who instead act in ways that compel action due to their character flaws. Sure, Galadriel is driven by revenge for centuries and her better judgement is sometimes overcome by that drive. It can make her abrasive, impulsive, or unwise. But why does that make her a 'brat' and not John Wick?

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41 minutes ago, mormont said:

And how, exactly, is show-Galadriel immature? Because as I've noted before, it's an unfortunate fact that 'brat' is the go-to insult for a particular type of female character that goes against the grain. It was the go-to insult for Dany, for Sansa, for Rey - diverse characters, none of whom fit the descriptor at all, but all of whom ruffle the feathers of a certain segment of fandom by refusing to fit in a box. You rarely if ever hear it about male characters who behave in similar ways

Just because something is a well repeated left wing trope that doesn’t make it true. The biggest example of a character acting as ‘a brat’ I can think of is Anakin Skywalker. Last time I checked he was a white male. 
 

Outside of that maybe, just maybe, calling someone a brat is a function of age??? Ever think about that one. If Clark was a 50 year old woman would the brat moniker be used? Most probably not. It’s just that she looks young and inexperienced and doesn’t have the gravitas of someone like Blanchett. 
 

Jumping straight to some weird oppression angle is so entirely predictable and shows a lack of coherent thought process. 
 

 

Edited by Heartofice
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20 hours ago, Luzifer's right hand said:

Some people are really irrational about this. I mean ok you dislike it but it has some insanely good special effects.

It's 2022. We should be way past the point where special effects are the main selling point.

11 hours ago, mormont said:

Just because you have an idea doesn't mean you have a workable story.

And if there's one thing Rings of Power has made painfully obvious, it's this.

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48 minutes ago, baxus said:

It's 2022. We should be way past the point where special effects are the main selling point.

But why would I not read a book instead in that case? :P

It is like the main reason I watch non-comedic stuff in cinema or on TV. :D

My point was that people claim it looks shit which I find a bit ridiculous.

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1 minute ago, Luzifer's right hand said:

My point was that people claim it looks shit which I find a bit ridiculous.

I think the point there is that CGI landscapes and backgrounds are ten a penny now. Every mainstream movie and tv show has them and with a few exceptions they all basically look the same. 20 years ago I might have been wowed by some amazing special effects or grand CGI vista, but in 2022, that is the bare minimum expectation. It barely registers. 

So if that is the baseline, for something to actually look impressive it has to be either pushing the needle and doing things that others are not doing, or have an individual style that makes it stand out and feel like it's part of a creative vision, not just some by the numbers attempt to 'do a fantasy'

Love Death and Robots for instance has some visual effects that really wow you, because it seems just a bit ahead of what everyone else is doing. Arcane is another example where it just has it's own style and vision.

Even comparing it to HotD I think RoP comes out unfavourably. This despite HotD having quite a few ropey CGI and greenscreen moments. I am much more forgiving of HotD's occasional poor effects because it also has a more grounded quality, its sets are bigger and more lived in, there is far more attention to detail in basically everything, from the costumes to the chairs! You can see the love of the production on screen and you cannot see that in RoP. That video above talked about a lack of love in the writing but I think it shows in every element.

 

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23 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

This review from Forbes is also very interesting.

 

 

Hard to argue with most of that.

On the topic of the Stranger, while I am glad he ended up being an Istar and almost certainly Gandalf, and find that a very interesting addition to the second age storyline, I do wish not so much time has been spent with his a bumbling amnesiac. Potentially this is a very interesting character but they didnt do much with it in the screentime they had. Some stuff also makes no sense, the confrontation with the witches, the idea that has been put to Middle Earth with a veil over his mind ( why)? We never learn why he arrived in a Meteor either. And really they couldnt have come up with a better line than having him proclaim " I am ...........Good" ? Come on.

Still, hoping to see much more of it in season 2, now that we have this silly intro phase behind us.

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4 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Just because something is a well repeated left wing trope that doesn’t make it true. The biggest example of a character acting as ‘a brat’ I can think of is Anakin Skywalker. Last time I checked he was a white male.

Outside of that maybe, just maybe, calling someone a brat is a function of age??? Ever think about that one. If Clark was a 50 year old woman would the brat moniker be used? Most probably not. It’s just that she looks young and inexperienced and doesn’t have the gravitas of someone like Blanchett.

Jumping straight to some weird oppression angle is so entirely predictable and shows a lack of coherent thought process.

All of this. Anakin is a perfect example of a brat. ROP Galadriel is a brat for the same reason: Brat: 1. A child, especially a spoiled or ill-mannered one.

Yep. She acts like a child, especially a spoiled or ill-mannered one.
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14 hours ago, Cas Stark said:

I agree with the video that the show did not move me emotionally, at all.  Most of the main characters I either actively disliked or had no feelings for either way.  The elves characterization was way, way off, even if you happened to like the millenials old Galadriel portrayed as a dumb brat, or didn't object to the idea of immortal beings caught off guard and needing a solution 'by spring'.  LOL. 

All of this. They portrayed her as not only bratty, but not very bright, too. One can be bratty and clever, but she's bratty and dumb, which is even worse.

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6 hours ago, mormont said:

Indy is absolutely not an 'iconic' character in the sense that is meant here. In fact he has most of the qualities people complain about in show-Galadriel: he's brash, immature, impulsive and flawed. (Not that I necessarily agree that show-Galadriel is immature.) Same with Holmes. Mary Poppins isn't the lead.

Character growth is about change, but it does not follow that all change is character growth. Gandalf the White is, in personality, just Gandalf the Grey dialled up a bit: more powerful, wiser, etc. He still isn't lead character material.

I've never known people who were millennia old. What is their age-appropriate maturity level? And again, many older people don't have age-appropriate maturity.

And how, exactly, is show-Galadriel immature? Because as I've noted before, it's an unfortunate fact that 'brat' is the go-to insult for a particular type of female character that goes against the grain. It was the go-to insult for Dany, for Sansa, for Rey - diverse characters, none of whom fit the descriptor at all, but all of whom ruffle the feathers of a certain segment of fandom by refusing to fit in a box. You rarely if ever hear it about male characters who behave in similar ways. I would suggest that there's a cultural bias at play here: one that infantilises women who aren't stereotypically 'female' in showing patience, kindness, and forgiveness, and who instead act in ways that compel action due to their character flaws. Sure, Galadriel is driven by revenge for centuries and her better judgement is sometimes overcome by that drive. It can make her abrasive, impulsive, or unwise. But why does that make her a 'brat' and not John Wick?

There are plenty of male brats, both in fiction and real life.  Although one might use an expression like “entitled idiot”, instead. 

People like Ladisla and his cronies, in The First Law, Servilius Caepio in the Masters of Rome series, Joffrey in ASOIAF, or Lord  Cardigan in real life.

They combine complete confidence in their own abilities, with absolute incompetence and unfitness for command.

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Galadriel is rude to literally everyone she encounters for most of the season. She is rude to her king, to her friends, to total strangers. Not wise-cracking Indiana Jones rude, not rude to the bad guys, but rude to everyone.  She is so rude and such a brat that she harms her own causes, because who wants to listen to a rude, single minded brat droning on and on about their pet causes?  Not only is she astonishingly rude, but it turns out, she's also untrustworthy since she knows who Sauron is and doesn't say a word about it, lets the rings be forged anyway.  I won't even get into her insane rant about wanting to commit genocide against the orcs or her being such a terrible commander that her soldiers mutiny on her.  Commander of the Northern Armies, indeed.  Or not.

One more thing, her characterization is not 'brash' she isn't brash [brash is fun in a hero], she's dour and humorless.

Edited by Cas Stark
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2 hours ago, SeanF said:

There are plenty of male brats, both in fiction and real life.  Although one might use an expression like “entitled idiot”, instead. 

That in itself is interesting. Why would one do that, do you think? 

And the point that there are male characters who are described as 'brats' is, well, beside the point. Nobody ever said there weren't. I said that the term is a go-to for male critics of a certain type of female character. And it is. The bar for applying it is far lower than in the case of male characters. It gets applied to a broader range of female characters, in a more blanket way, for far less cause, to the point where it's virtually a gendered insult these days, like 'bitch'. There are male characters who're described as 'bitchy'. But that doesn't invalidate the idea that the term is a gendered insult - and that it is, as a criticism, one that can safely and pretty much always be dismissed as insubstantial. As should 'brat'. 

 

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4 minutes ago, mormont said:

I said that the term is a go-to for male critics of a certain type of female character. 

 

Is it though? Or is it really just about age. I know you don't want to consider that possibility because it totally breaks your theory. 

When was the last time Helen Mirren was described as a brat, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchette... 

Where you might have a point is that female lead characters in modern fiction are often quite poorly written, and act in an entitled, unlikeable ways. Case in point Galadriel, but also Rey or Dany who you mentioned before. The problem isn't that people are critical of those characters, it's that they all have the same glaring problems from a writing perspective. 

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The idea that a character more based on Tolkien's view of Galadriel couldn't be a lead character just reveals a lack of imagination on the part of the person putting forth such an idea.

You can compare this thing to the notion of a truly faithful adaptation of, say, Milton's Paradise Lost. A work where the central characters are larger-than-life, immortal, and divine figures. As a writer, you could not possibly make a good adaptation by dragging them down to your level, to humanize them to degree that this story is in the end about a domestic human squabble about who is daddy's favorite.

Instead, you should write things in such a way that the audience can understand how those larger-than-life divine figures are different from humans while one is still able to understand and relate to them. You want the audience to understand and relate to Satan as Satan, not see Satan behave as if he was a man going by the name of 'Satan'. The same with the other angels and demons and divine persons.

Elves are not humans. They are not divine, either, but they are fundamentally different from humans. And Tolkien left hundreds of pages of written material explaining and elaborating on those differences. The writers could have read those texts and could have tried to write their Elves in such a way as to portray Tolkien's Elves. Instead, they look like shabby Vulcans stuck in a fantasy world ... and basically act like humans. There is so little difference between Elves and Men in that show that Galadriel can offer sage advice to pretty much any mortal person and help them resolve all their own petty issues ... when in fact Galadriel shouldn't really understand them and their issues all that well. She grew up in a world without Men, and nothing in her biography indicates that the study of Men was ever of particular interest to her.

They chose to not properly depict the Elves. That was a creative decision and it was wrong. That you can take a different route there is pretty clear in the Jackson movies where they at least went to great lengths to establish the ethereal 'otherness' of the Elves ... or at least some Elves. Galadriel is depicted pretty well there, also Elrond insofar as his ageless looks are concerned (not his ridiculous anti-Men sentiment, of course).

Galadriel is just one glaring issue in this regard, but Gil-galad might actually be worse. The guy is an epitome of virtue and wisdom in Tolkien's work, and in the show they depict him as an aloof, arrogant, and scheming asshole.

A larger-than-life, real Galadriel could have easily enough worked in this show if she had been given the role she has in Tolkien's work - the unrelenting, eternal adversary to a larger-than-life Dark Lord named Sauron who tries to woo and seduce the Elves in the guise of Annatar.

And of course there would be potential for growth and conflict there - SA Galadriel could have been fallen for Annatar at first, since she still may have had a desire to rule her own kingdoms in Middle-earth. Her journey could have been the journey to realize her own flaws in the mirror image of Annatar, eventually rejecting his plans not because she thought he was Sauron but because she realized that his ambitions - how well-intended they might be - were as wrong as her own.

The way to do this would have been to dig deep into the concept of those Rings of Power and what their creation means, what they do, and what they could be used to accomplish. There would have been great ways to depict how creating an artificial paradise for Elves is both violence to nature and creation, on a macro and micro level, something that would eventually twist the Elves to do something that's unnatural ... or even turn them into unnatural things. Galadriel could have realized that even without the Ruling Ring the whole Rings of Power project was wrong.

Instead we got the childish and immature plot they came up with.

Edited by Lord Varys
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