Greetings intrepid people!
In this article I discuss why Peter Jackson must produce the story known as the Akallabeth (mentioned in the Silmarillion). Now we already have two great trilogies from Tolkien’s Legendarium: The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit. However, there is one key story that would help complement both stories immensely: the Akallabeth.
The Akallabeth is a modest sized passage in the Silmarillion that tells the story of the Fall of Numenor. Numenor is the last great kingdom of Men to stand before the subsequent Third Age rolls in.
This story is one that establishes Sauron’s character, explains the politics and geography of Middle Earth, and ties in all the lore that was exposed in Jackson’s two trilogies. These loose ends of lore in the trilogy are: the mortality of men versus the immortality of the Elves, the vague mentions of Elrond during the Fellowship of the Ring (‘the blood of Numenor is all but spent’), and the origins of Isildur before he took the One Ring.
Furthermore, the Akallabeth holds promise because it accomplishes two important feats: it introduces Sauron’s rise to power in Middle Earth, and it reveals how Men began to supplant the important roles Elves played in Middle Earth.
At this time audiences know who Sauron is but not where he came from or why he is evil. The Akallabeth is a ripe opportunity to further describe Sauron’s character and describe his relationship with Men.
The Akallabeth itself takes place in the Second Age of Middle Earth and revolves around the almost mystical kingdom of Numenor, created by the higher powers for a high race of Men, which came to dominate much of Middle Earth. Sauron, envious of them rallies to face them in battle. However, all is not as it seems when the mighty King of Numenor musters a mighty army to meet him.
For the sake of not dropping spoilers I will not reveal further of the plot. Nonetheless, the Akallabeth is a story of pride, mortality and the necessity of humility.
This story promises much if told: the Isle of Numenor should prove a great but rewarding CGI challenge, the rich history and lore of Numenor is sure to enthrall loyal Tolkien fans, and most of all-continue to generate interest in the books which will ensure future films to make which in the end will reward Peter Jackson monetarily through the box office.
Tolkien Gateway: The Akallabeth
10 thoughts on “Why Peter Jackson Must Produce the Akallabeth”
Here are my thoughts about this intriguing story and why I think there needs to be a movie on this!
I’m not clear why you think Jackson should be the one to handle this story. The Silmarillion’s stories are quite unlike the character-focused versions Jackson filmed for the later books. Not that I think he could be lured back to the franchise if you put a gun to his head, but a rendition of the Akallabeth handled in Jackson’s style would require dumping 90% of the text and just filming the final few years. To do justice to any material from the Silmarillion would require, I think, animation in a very painterly style, plus narration spoken and sung by the very finest voices in the business…whereas anything financed by Hollywood will instead feature CGI and the most POPULAR voices affordable. Imagine that: Ray Romano as the voice of Thingol; Ellen DeGeneres as Melian. That’s the kind of abomination we’re likely to get if Jackson is bullied into doing more Tolkien.
Hello Steve. I relate to your concerns. I think Jackson DID go Hollywood too much on the last two Hobbit movies. But, if this Hollywood influence were to be an issue I would have him be co-director with the other co-director being a guy who will stick to the source material more closely.
The movies were quite Hollywood, but they were originally written in a Hollywood-friendly style for the most part. That is, they moved forward at a (mostly) regular pace and the separation of parties made for tension-building switches from one location/character to another. The epic scope of the legends in the Silmarillion would require a VERY different kind of storytelling – better suited, I think, to television miniseries. Consider Dune; even David Lynch couldn’t keep such a huge story from getting out of hand, but the miniseries managed to rein it in without distorting the timeframe too badly. Plus, with Game of Thrones being so popular, now is the right time for a cable network to jump on the license. I’d want to see it animated, preferably with some art design by Brian Froud, but that’s asking a lot. I suspect that once one part of the book is filmed, the logjam will break and a bunch of creators will want to each pick the portion that best suits their strengths. I’d be satisfied with that, even if it meant there was no single overall “look and feel” to the series.
The struggle however, is to give the movies worldwide mainstream appeal. In my opinion movies are better suited for that than television shows which quickly get lost in the shuffle of weekly programming. If the Silmarillion were to become a tv series it would be best to at least have one movie that covered the biggest battles in the book. In which case followers of the movie (all around the world) can look up to the tv series if the film lived up to the hype.
A cinematic movie to kick off a TV series would probably work, although I don’t think “the biggest battles” would make a good topic for that film. There are of course several pivotal battles during the First Age, but Tolkien did not go into any great depth about them in the Quenta. I often think of the great tale of the fall of Gondolin, only to eventually recall that this appears in the Book of Lost Tales, not the Silmarillion. In order not to set up expectations that cannot be fulfilled in a weekly series, the film probably ought to be representative of the whole book. That is, quarreling elf factions should be the main action. I think the poisoning of the Trees, the kinslaying, the Helcaraxe crossing, and the death of Feanor would fill up two hours easily and introduce most of the major figures without going into too much depth about what the Silmarils are and represent.
I personally think that the fall of Gondolin, Feanor’s story, the Turin Turambar saga and the destruction of the two trees would make for a great epic film for the first part and the second movie could cover the Final Battle where Morgoth is thrown in the void forever.
I think that the movie should tell the story from one man’s perspective (elf in Feanor’s company perhaps) in the first film and from another person’s in the second.
Perhaps the two movies could be spaced two years apart so that the producer and director(s) can make the stories as creative and as accurate as possible. Otherwise we could get the second Hobbit movie all over again.
The many mini stories between the big battles COULD however be best represented in a television series as you said.
And I think you’re right, the Akallabeth would be a good place to start even if it technically comes at the end of the legends. It could set up a whole lot of curiosity about the First Age that would prime a fanbase for the Quenta.
disagree….many of the events in the silmarillion can be easily turned into character driven stories. The issue is that they will have to add depth to characters who are already there. That will entail character changes similar to boromir…whose father issues and humanity was cranked up to ten
There are literally 600 years between the destruction of the Trees and Morgoth’s expulsion. It took Jackson three long films to cover the year-long War of the Ring. I think we’d miss out on a lot of stuff with a film series that tried to tackle the whole Quenta. Eol (jerk that he is) deserves at least an hour’s episode for no more reason that his story explains Maeglin, and you need to understand Maeglin for the Gondolin story to really be strong. Beren & Luthien would likely get short shrift in an action-oriented fantasy film, but their story sets up Earendil, who is the ultimate hero of the whole epic. I strongly suspect that any cinematic adaptation that tries to cover too much will sabotage Hollywood’s enthusiasm for a TV series that looks closer. “I’m not going to finance this! Why would viewers tune in to watch a story when they already know how it’s going to end? Hey, who owns the rights to those Thomas Covenant books? Maybe we can get Nick Nolte to star….” On the other hand, a movie that climaxes with the arrival of the elves in Valinor could lead through a TV series and later a second movie about the War of Wrath. You could pitch it like: “Imagine the Star Wars prequels setting up a TV series like Clone Wars, followed by the original Star Wars. It’d be like dominoes, except the dominoes are stacks of million-dollar bills!” That’s an idea I think even Hollywood could grasp. Especially if you explain how many brothers Feanor had and they each get an action figure.
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