In case you’ve been hanging in Gollum’s cave for most of today, Amazon and Warner Bros. have finally decided to bring The Lord of the Rings to Amazon Prime, which means that besides reviving the fandom that spawned a million Frodo memes and lurid elf fan fiction (don’t ask), parts of the Tolkienverse that couldn’t make it to the big screen the first time around will emerge from the shadow of Sauron.
The road that goes ever on and on will lead to new and enchanting places never before explored in the films, or even in the animated series from the ‘70s. Though when the new series will emerge and who will star are still riddles in the dark, the press release cryptically says that “previously unexplored stories” will be revealed. Here are five that were previously left out of the films that we think should materialize this time around:
Hanging out with elves
In the movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring, the hobbits get only brief glimpses of elves until their stay at Rivendell, because otherwise it might have dragged out for at least five hours. The TV series will give them more time to hang with immortals. When a band of elves led by Gildor Inglorion passes through the Shire, their presence alone frightens off a ringwraith that was stalking Frodo. Any being shrouded in Sauron’s darkness would be gone at the sight of what Tolkien envisioned as ethereal beings that appear to be made of starlight. They even speak in terms of stars, as in “a star shines upon the hour of our meeting.” These ancient and beautiful beings also seem to shimmer in a much more appropriate way than any sparkling vampire.
In the book, Frodo, Sam, and Pippin are invited to spend a night they won’t soon forget—especially with the evils that are waiting for them ahead—with the elves. Gildor has more significance to the story than just sipping honey wine and talking to halflings way past their bedtime. He is the one who initially warns them that they must get out of the Shire as fast as they possibly can on those short legs and hairy feet, and also swears he will send word out about their perilous quest to his friends, who just happen to be Tom Bombadil and Aragorn.
Things lurking in the forest
The hobbits don’t get to Rivendell, or even the Prancing Pony, quite as fast as they seem to in the movie. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are swallowed up by the shadows of the Old Forest and almost vanish into its tangle of ancient branches and roots. Hobbit lore whispers of this primordial forest being awake. The hostile trees otherwise known as Huorns, never mind the ornery Old Man Willow, are anything but asleep. Just the thought of plants being inhabited by vengeful spirits is nightmare fuel. You know something is wrong with a forest when even elves, who could linger in the woodlands forever (if that’s what they wanted to spend their eternal lives doing), steer clear.
Old Man Willow is like an ent gone maniacally evil. At least he can’t uproot himself and walk. There is a heavy feeling of hatred hanging around the trees, like an invisible fog, which comes from his disgust with trespassers and anything walking. The last place you want to fall asleep is anywhere near this entity, as Merry and Pippin find out too late when they end up trapped inside his trunk. It doesn’t exactly help that Frodo and Sam think that fire will bring him down.
Tom Bombadil (enough said)
Just ignore the whole Tom Bombadil song for a second (if you don’t know what that is, you’re probably better off). The strange bearded wanderer known to the elves as Iarwain Ben-adar (that’s “oldest and fatherless” for anyone who doesn’t speak Elvish) doesn’t exactly look like a knight in shining armor as he meanders around the woods singing nonsense, but that can change in an instant if he senses malevolent forces messing with anyone.
Bombadil’s magic saves the hobbits from being turned into corpses twice. He sings Old Man Willow to sleep, which allows him to release Merry and Pippin from his trunk, where they were almost crushed to death. His singing also forces the wight that nearly buries them to flee screaming from its grave, and he makes sure that tomb is exorcised forever by breaking the spell that allowed wights to haunt it.
Tom’s life outside of taming evil forces is one continuous party. LOTR may be crawling with orcs and wraiths and everything else dark and unpleasant that could be conjured by one man’s imagination, but sometimes you need to forget the shadow of Sauron and get caught up in some merrymaking before facing off against the next wave of goblins.
The scariest disembodied spirits ever
If you weren’t afraid of ghosts before, you will be if the barrow-wights ever make it into the series. Tolkien envisioned them as dark wraiths with glowing eyes and skeletal hands that would literally send chills through your veins with their icy touch. Their tortured spirits relied on abandoned tombs to cling to this mortal coil. They also had the ability to hypnotize victims into a powerless state, because that would make it so much easier for them to drag the bodies underground, where they would then hold a deranged sort of funeral. These shapeshifters don’t just haunt the Barrow-Downs, but can actually reanimate corpses that have been still and silent and collecting cobwebs for thousands of years.
The unwary hobbits find this out when they end up trapped in the tomb of a long-dead prince. Any subterranean place flooded with eerie green light is definitely not part of the world of the living. Draped in white robes dripping with gold and jewels, they are about to be sacrificed to the underworld by a wight when Frodo hacks its bony hand off and summons Tom Bombadil. These phantoms could compete with the ringwraiths for the title of Tolkien’s Most Terrifying Ghosts.
… and even more elves
Glorfindel swooping into the rescue on his white horse is just so much better than that whole Arwen thing in the movie. Asfaloth is so not her steed. Tolkien basically imagined the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower as a shining embodiment of wisdom and strength with an unearthly voice. Of course, he would drive away a bunch of Nazgûl with almost zero effort, because what you don’t find out in the movie is that he defeated the Witch-King of Angmar in battle a thousand years before. He is also supposed to radiate white light everywhere, which would be pretty awesome when translated into special effects.
Arwen is really in Rivendell mooning over Aragorn while Glorfindel fights off the ringwraiths, leads the hobbits on their journey for several days, and puts the injured and delirious Frodo on Asfaloth after telling the creature to make a one-way trip to Rivendell so that Elrond can reverse the effects of the Morgul blade. It goes without saying that an elven horse would easily outrun anything Sauron could conjure. There is also another amazing SFX opportunity here if the creators of the show decide to use it: Enchanted waters that flow around Rivendell sweep the shrieking wraiths away on their own, unlike the movie version of the same scene, where an incantation commands the waters to ward them off.
So what kind of previously unseen magic are you looking forward to seeing in the LOTR TV series? Speak “friend,” and let us know in the comments.