While the hype for The Lord of the Rings and the fascinating universe created by JRR Tolkien has never faded over the years, it is currently finding renewed popularity with the launch of The Rings of Power series on Prime Video. But unlike Peter Jackson’s trilogy, Amazon’s adaptation is set at a far different time in the quest for Frodo and his fellowship, in an even murkier time in Middle-earth. thing or more precisely a character in common: Sauron, the right arm of Morgoth and new tyrant of the free peoples, who was already causing concern to the Elves and in particular to Galadriel during the Second Age, and serves as a common thread in the series. Necessarily, fans are hoping for a new appearance (and not just a cameo or flashback like in the first episode of The Rings of Power) from this iconic antagonist from Tolkien’s imagination. From Peter Jackson’s version, we obviously retain the omnipotent and terrifying eye that sits above the lands of Mordor, on the tower of Barad-dûr. Again, the New Zealand director had chosen to slip in a physical appearance of Sauron during The Last Alliance of Elves and Men, which came to open The Fellowship of the Ring. In truth, he also wanted to conclude his trilogy with an ultimate confrontation between Aragorn and the lord of darkness, which still remains today a crisp anecdote on this cult saga of the 2000s. When Sauron becomes a troll To put some context, and unlike Tolkien’s books, Peter Jackson had chosen The Return of the King with a spectacular battle in front of the Black Gate of Mordor, also called the Battle of Morannon. While Frodo and Sam struggle against the influence of the One Ring and Gollum atop Mount Doom, Aragorn and his remaining troops launch a desperate assault on Sauron’s forces, in order to divert his attention. At the height of the conflict, Aragorn fends off a troll before being crushed under his foot, saved in extremis by the destruction of the Ring. In reality, this lambda troll should have been Sauron in an early version of the script. it’s still possible to find outtakes and concept art of that sequence eventually deleted from the final cut, in which Sauron was supposed to lead his troops into battle. He first appears in the angelic form of Annatar, which allowed him to trick the Elves and forge the Rings of Power during the Second Age. A duel between him and Aragorn was to conclude the battle, as future king Elessar the stabbed, in reference to the clash between Fingolfin and Morgoth during the First Age, recounted in The Silmarillion. While some of these staging ideas were kept in the edit, Sauron was eventually replaced by an armored troll. The decision to remove this scene from the final edit came directly from Peter Jackson, who felt he was betraying the work of Tolkien and the heroism of his characters as he explains in the bonus features of The Return of the King: “We tried to make Sauron even more impressive than he was originally. We had put an actor in armor, but he was not much taller than Viggo Mortensen [l’interprète d’Aragorn, ndlr]. But that was not what Tolkien had imagined. Finally, we understood that it completely devalued the motivations of Aragorn. All that matters in the story is Frodo and Sam. And when Aragorn learns that they are still alive, he knows he must try everything to help them. Aragorn’s heroism is not reflected in a duel against a major antagonist, but in his willingness to put his life and that of his men on the line in the almost vain hope that Frodo and Sam succeed in accomplishing their assignment. But we still wanted to give Viggo a heroic fight, against an opponent who was almost as menacing as Sauron. And that’s where we came up with the idea of a big, armored troll.” Afterwards, Peter Jackson explains that the scene of the fight against Sauron had already been shot and that they replaced the character in post- production by the famous troll of the final sequence, while keeping the plans on Viggo Mortensen. The blinding light of Sauron’s appearance on the battlefield then became that of the eye that watches the army of Men, and is identified as a psychological attack on Aragorn and his companions. To make sense of Strider’s strategy, Peter Jackson finally shot a scene in which the eye’s gaze turns away from Frodo and Sam to land on the Black Gate. Already epic for its sublime landscapes and battles impressive, the vision of a final duel between Aragorn and Sauron was enough to titillate a little more our love for these grandiose films. But we also appreciate Peter Jackson’s desire to respect the work and the characters created by Tolkien, and which has made it possible to definitively consolidate the major place of The Lord of the Rings in pop culture.
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