from Tolkien’s Requiem: Fall and Catastrophe

From my book Tolkien’s Requiem

“Of Beren and Lúthien” takes place in a fallen world, a world that has lost the great light of the Two Trees of Valinor, Telperion the Silver and Laurelin the Gold. The very title The Silmarillion comes from the story of the great elf-lord Fëanor, the “fiery spirit”, who crafts three unbreakable jewels and fills them with the glorious light of these Two Trees. His creations are the marvels of all, though they receive such attention that Fëanor quickly becomes suspicious of admirers and seeks to hide them away from all except his closest kin in an effort to protect them. When the dark lord Melkor (known in the story of Beren and Lúthien as Morgoth) and the hideous spider-demon Ungoliant poison Telperion and Laurelin, the Silmarils are all that remain of their light, and the only hope of restoring them. Nevertheless, Fëanor refuses to surrender the Silmarils to the great powers (the Valar, quasi-angelic beings) of Valinor, and when Melkor murders his father and steals the three Silmarils, Fëanor and his sons swear an unbreakable oath that none shall ever possess the Silmarils except for them. Fëanor and his kin (the Noldor) depart Valinor in anger and pride, murdering their weaker kinsmen and stealing their ships. In sum, centuries of war and sorrow are set off by these three great dyscatastrophes: the poisoning of the Two Trees, the theft of the Silmarils, and the Kinslaying. These are not the first falls in the long history of Middle-earth, though they are perhaps the most significant for the purposes of the tale of Beren and Lúthien.

Get Tolkien’s Requiem: Concerning Beren and Lúthien

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The Tolkien Road – Ep80 – The Silmarillion in One

One episode to RULE THEM ALL!!!

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Having completed a chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of The Silmarillion (which spans over 30 hours of content), we decided to do an episode where we cover the whole of The Silmarillion in less than an hour. With this one episode, you get the whole enchilada, from “Ainulindalë” to “Eärendil” to the end of the Third Age. If you’ve always wanted to read The Silmarillion but have never succeeded, then this is the episode for you!

We’ve also provided a collection of Silmarillion resources for you here.

By the way, if you haven’t already, please leave The Tolkien Road a rating and feedback on iTunes. We’d love to know what you think of the podcast. Enjoy the show!

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©2013-2016 rfcunha

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Thoughts on a Silmarillion Film Pt 6: A TV Show in 6 Seasons

In my last article in this series, I stated why I’d be more interested in seeing The Silmarillion done as a high-quality, multi-season TV production than in the form of a series of films (even a trilogy of trilogies). In this one, I’ll lay out (at a high level) how I’d see the TV show playing out.

In short, I see The Silmarillion being done in 6 seasons of 10 episodes each. Here’s a look at what each season would encompass. Over the next few posts in this series, I’ll elaborate with more specifics on each season.

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Season 1 – The Awakening of the Elves: Season 1 would be primarily concerned with the journey of the Elves to the Blessed Realm under peril from Melkor. Basically, Chapter 3 would be in focus here. Everything before (Ainulindalë, Chapters 1 & 2) is background and would be handled as flashbacks/intro/stage setting. It would end on something of a high note, with the Elves arriving safely in Valinor and Melkor defeated and imprisoned. However, there would be a note of dread about the awakening of Ungoliant, and the secret machinations of Melkor to corrupt and destroy the Elves no matter the cost.

Season 2 – The Darkening of Valinor: Chapters 5 thru 8. Season 2 would take place almost entirely in the Blessed Realm, and would focus on Melkor’s manipulations, ending with the destruction of the Two Trees, the theft of the Silmarils, the murder of Finwë, Valinor in darkness, and Melkor and Ungoliant on the run.

Season 3 – The Pursuit of Melkor: Chapters 9 thru 13. Season 3 focuses on the Oath of Fëanor, the kinslaying, the break with the Valar, and the bickering of Melkor and Ungoliant. It ends with the death of Fëanor.

Season 4 – The Wars of Beleriand: Chapter 16 thru 18. Season 4 picks up some time after the death of Fëanor, after the Noldor have established themselves in Beleriand, and with the arrival of Men. This season would focus on the battles against Angband leading up to the Battle of Sudden Flame and ending with the death of Fingolfin.

Season 5 – Beren, Lúthien, Túrin: Chapters 19 thru 21. Season 5 focuses on Beren and Lúthien for the first half, and then, from that high point, descends into even greater tragedy with the Battle of Unnumbered Tears and the story of Túrin and the fall of Nargothrond.

Season 6 – The Journey of Eärendil and the End of the First Age: Chapters 22 thru 24. Season 6 focuses on the fall of Gondolin and the ever-increasing desperation of the peoples of Beleriand. It ends with Eärendil’s journey and the War of Wrath.

Let me just close with this: I truly hope this happens one day. I think The Silmarillion contains material that could make for utterly compelling TV. If put in the right hands (a show runner that respects the source material and Tolkien’s vision), it could be one of the best shows ever.

Here are the previous posts in this series:

Melkor, Fëanor, Ungoliant, and Gollum

“One begins to detect in the examples of Melkor, Fëanor, and even Ungoliant the attitudes of the spirit that are seen in later figures. The keenest example of this is Gollum. Gollum must possess Sauron’s Ring. In one way, his need to possess it reflects Melkor’s own jealous attitude. For another to possess the Ring is unacceptable and means that he will not be able to possess it. In another way, he is like Ungoliant, not really possessing so much as being possessed by it to his utter end and destruction. No matter what the object of lust and jealousy is – Sacred Jewels, Ring of Power, Arkenstone – the need to possess, to have the object of love, results in a disorder that leads to catastrophe and tragedy…”

from Tolkien’s Requiem – Concerning Beren and Lúthien

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Concerning Melkor, Fëanor, and Ungoliant

From Tolkien’s Requiem:

Melkor

Melkor wants to possess the jewels in such a way that prevents others from possessing them. This is Melkor’s chief flaw from before the foundations of Arda: for him, love means possession and domination, the need to hoard and to guard a treasure as one’s own. In fact, in “Ainulindalë”, we learn that Melkor seeks to increase his own power and glory when he is already the most powerful and glorious of created beings. It seems that his own greatness leaves him jealous of the potential of others, with a need to see others always as a threat to his own glory. Thus, he must possess the Silmarils lest someone else do the same instead of him.

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Fëanor

In truth, however, Melkor is not the only one to have such a possessive reaction to the Silmarils. Of Fëanor, Tolkien says that he “began to love the Silmarils with a greedy love, and grudged the sight of them to all save to his father and his seven sons; he seldom remembered now that the light within them was not his own” (69). Thus Fëanor is slowly corrupted by an illicit desire of possession. The light of the Silmarils, taken as it is from the Two Trees, is a light belonging to no individual or group of individuals but common to all. It is quite literally a light that fills the world. When Fëanor creates the Silmarils, he captures and contains something previously free to all. Though Melkor is the first to explicitly desire the Silmarils for his own, Fëanor and others soon follow suit. Thus, Fëanor’s love for the light of the Two Trees poisons the light by containing it, by making it scarce, when all along it is something that should not be contained. His desire and action to possess the blessed light sets into the hearts of the story’s free agents the will to possess it singularly and selfishly.

Ungoliant

Ungoliant is an enigma and no easy read. Whereas from the beginning of the mythology Melkor is a vainglorious figure obsessed with domination, Ungoliant, on the other hand, is a mysterious figure of unknown origin, once corrupted to darkness by the seductions of Melkor, but having since repudiated his service for her independence. Yet despite her independence from Melkor, she hates the peoples of Valinor all the same. As Tolkien puts it, she is a figure “desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness” (73). Still, Melkor knows her deepest need, a desire to be filled by all things. He finds her in the dark caves to the south of Valinor, desperately hungry for the light of the Two Trees but hating it all the same, fearful of it and of the Valar who tend it (73). When he promises her fullness of the Light, she sets forth to do his bidding. Melkor wounds the trees, “and their sap poured forth as it were their blood, and was spilled upon the ground,” presenting Ungoliant with her feast (76). She sucks up every last drop of the Trees’ light-blood, bloating to a prodigious size, yet famished evermore. Ungoliant’s love is turned inward, seeking always fullness, but unable to find it. Acting alone, she is a poison to herself only; under the influence of another, she is a poison to many.


Click here to get Tolkien’s Requiem – Concerning Beren and Lúthien.

The Tolkien Road Podcast – Ep. 19 – The Silmarillion – Ch. 9 – Of the Flight of the Noldor – pt 2


“They swore an oath which none shall break, and none should take, by the name even of Ilúvatar, calling the Everlasting Dark upon them if they kept it not…” (83)


©2013-2015 rfcunha (new artwork coming soon!)

Concerning the second part of Chapter 9 of The Silmarillion, “Of the Flight of the Noldor.”

Continue reading “The Tolkien Road Podcast – Ep. 19 – The Silmarillion – Ch. 9 – Of the Flight of the Noldor – pt 2”