The Silmarillion TV Series: Take Tolkien The Way Of Game Of Thrones

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This is Gandalf, and Gandalf means him! And he isn't in The Silmarillion, and neither are hobbits, and neither is Peter Jackson. (Image: Warner Bros / Facebook)

The Hobbit movies weren’t that great. I don’t think anybody’s going to argue about that too much. After all, a less than 200 page book turned into three very, very long movies, with lots and lots of added fuff that destroyed the story. But the movies did very well, and had their good moments, and we are left wondering whether Tolkien’s greatest work can yet come to life. If it did—if The Silmarillion were to be adapted—it would really do best as a television show. And not one directed by Peter Jackson!  


The Silmarillion TV Series: The Last Frontier For Tolkien


The Silmarillion is Tolkien’s greatest work—the Bible of Middle-Earth, or Arda, to be proper. It’s a book without compare in fantasy literature, the entire history of a world, written in a style more reminiscent of Faerie Queene than of modern novels. It covers everything from the creation of Middle-Earth—technically before that—through the end of the First Age and the fall of Morgoth, for whom Sauron was but a lieutenant. It’s epic fantasy on the highest scale.

And it could never work for movies, because the scope is too large and movies don’t allow for sophisticated content anymore. But for television? The Silmarillion could be the new Game of Thrones (ugh, so cliché). It’s got the same epic scope—but it’s different enough to be interesting. Because it is about good and evil, mostly, but it’s also about the conflicts between Elves and Men and Dwarves (but mostly Elves and Elves).

Think it sounds ridiculous? Okay, maybe: The Silmarillion is more epic than anything currently on television. But epic fantasy has done very well before: Just look at Lord of the Rings, or most science fiction and fantasy generally… including Thrones. The Silmarillion is more courtly, more measured and stately and less modern-feeling. But the story itself is still very appealing. The Oath of Fëanor! The Rape of the Silmarils! The many personal conflicts in Beleriand! The founding of Gondolin, and its fall!

Ah, who am I kidding: The Silmarillion is nearly as unadaptable as another great work of fantasy fiction, which has a cast of characters numbering in the hundreds—many with very similar names—and spans much of a fictional globe, with a deeply nuanced and complex plot that television viewers could never hope to follow. Of course, that other work is A Song of Ice and Fire, which has become Game of Thrones. If it can happen to George R. R. Martin’s masterpiece, it can happen for The Silmarillion as well. It won’t be easy, but we can dare to dream.

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