(LifeSiteNews) – Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien once described his magnum opus as “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.” His tales about hobbits and dwarfs and wizards and epic battles for the fate of Middle Earth have captivated audiences in print and on screen for decades.
Recently, globalopolis mega-corporation Amazon has decided to take a stab at the timeless story with a television rendition of its own. Now, if you have watched any of it, I offer my condolences, truly. It is arguably a worse rendition of an English Christ-inspired classic since C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader appeared on the silver screen. The Hollywood rendition of that Chronicles of Narnia installment was bad, really bad. However, it still didn’t reach the depths of denigration that Amazon’s recent cultural annihilation has reached.
It is not uncommon for a secular studio to debase a Christian story, as this has been going on for decades. However, it is one thing for a studio to take a Christian tale and make a forgettable film where CGI trumps meaning, but it is another thing to distort the vision of the author and present something that is essentially the antithesis of the original work.
Even Peter Jackson, not a faithful Christian, was able to at least stick to the script and spirit enough to make a film that many Tolkien aficionados are happy with. Of course, it is not possible to please everyone, and I am sure there are reasons to critique Jackson’s work, but it cannot be said – I think – that Jackson produced an illegitimate version that missed the very essence of the thing in its entirety.
Man of myths
Recently, a Tolkien expert named Ben Reinhard appeared on the Crisis Magazine podcast and discussed how the Amazon show failed with host Eric Sammons.
One of the first points that Reinhard brought up was that in order to understand Tolkien, it is necessary to understand that he was a Myth Maker. Ironically, in our culture that has become neo-pagan and post-Christian, we have not only lost the faith overall, but have lost the pre-Christian understanding of what constitutes mythic literature.
Myths in their purest form are not simply “fictional” stories that are used as a substitute for religion. On the contrary, they are in a very deep sense religious in their nature, in that they seek to bring the human imagination to the heights of contemplation about the immutable reality of morality and existence while using fantastical elements as literary devices.
There is a reason why both a Christian and a Greek pagan can read Homer and come to the same conclusions. In his Odyssey and Iliad, Homer presented some of the most meaningful representations of how the human heart can be tugged in all manner of directions, both good and evil, and how sin and folly will always come back to haunt us in the end.
Tolkien was especially fond of myths, especially Norse mythology, and was well versed in the ancient stories of the Greek and Roman empires. When he wrote Lord of the Rings, he continued in the great legacy works like Beowulf, and gave the world a Christian story that could be understood like a mythological tale that transcended ideology and politics and time.
Rings of Power is an anti-myth
One of the characteristics of a myth is that it is timeless, and therefore its characters live outside of contemporary ideological groupings. Amazon’s series utterly fails in this regard.
Fans of Tolkien may call to mind the heroine Galadriel, who is something like an archetype of true feminine strength and grace. Although something of a physical specimen, it is in her maternal graces that permeate the pages of Tolkien.
However, in Rings of Power, she is presented in a mundane and ghastly temporary fashion.
Reinhard said, “The show gets none of this and it’s the weirdest thing. They want to make her a greater hero. What they do is they demote her. They take her from being one ff the highest and most noble and most respected elves, and they make her a mid-level army commander who’s so obnoxious that her soldiers mutiny against her. She’s oppressive to her underlings, she’s snotty to her friends, she’s rebellious to her king. Truly she’s just about the least likable character I’ve seen anchoring a show.”
In a word, she sounds like the stereotype of a feminist in the modern world. Career woman, control-seeking, cold, and rebellious against the patriarchal order.
The Amazon version of Galadriel is a forgettable character who may as well be a carbon copy of any other period-piece drama produced by a mainstream studio that seeks to “correct” the patriarchal past by rewriting classic stories with female protagonists who turn everything into a sloppy version of Grey’s Anatomy.
No faith, no substance
There is more that could be critiqued, such as the weird way the hobbits or “hard foots” were portrayed, and some weird anti-“MAGA” motifs that are wedged in there to make it look like nationalist politics bring down the civilization of Numenor. But ultimately the major reason behind the failure of the show is due to a lack of faith.
When I speak of faith, I am not just referring to strict Catholic faith, but the general reality of believing in unseen things that are certain and that are in a way harder than material reality.
Tolkien knew this, and so did the pagans who wrote myths before Christ. They all knew that there was a reality of Good and Evil, and there was a moral law, a law that could never be ignored for long. They understood there was an arch of history and that the fundamental forms of feminine and masculine realities could not be arbitrarily altered for the whims of contemporary ideology.
In fact, it was Tolkien largely convinced Lewis to embrace Christianity as something like the myth that finally became a concrete reality in the true historical reality of Jesus Christ.
The creators of this show are likely incapable of making a show that could stand up to scrutiny because they probably don’t believe any of the things Tolkien believed or have any real faith to begin with.
Without faith in the immutable realities of life and the unchanging nature of moral laws, how can anyone properly represent a story like the Lord of the Rings on film?
Well, the reality is, they can’t.