ONEmazon’s new Lord of the Rings project must be a success. By far the most expensive TV series ever made, it will arrive at an incredibly dangerous time for the platform. People have too many streaming options and not enough money, and if The Lord of the Rings fails to garner a decent number of subscribers, it could spell curtains for Amazon Prime Video.
Fortunately, the world’s foremost authority on adapting JRR Tolkien texts to the screen still exists. Not only has Peter Jackson made six Tolkien movies at this point — winning 17 Oscars and taking in nearly $6 billion at the box office in the process — he’s also at the forefront of visual effects and entertainment-based AI. If you were going to make a Lord of the Rings TV show, it’s an absolute no-brainer that you would consult Peter Jackson first.
Bad news, though. Not only does Peter Jackson claim that Amazon effectively ghosted him, first asking for help and then never following through, he also wants to professionally wipe his brain of all things Lord of the Rings.
Unfortunately, the first part is about important business. Amazon’s deal with the Tolkien estate meant that its TV show had to be separate from Jackson’s trilogy, effectively barring his involvement. But the last part is a little more crazy.
In a recent episode of the Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Jackson revealed that the most annoying thing about making The Lord of the Rings trilogy was not seeing The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a fan. “It was such a loss for me not to be able to experience them like everyone else was that I actually seriously considered going to a … hypnotherapy guy to hypnotize me, to make me forget the movies and forget all about that work , I” done over the last six or seven years, so I could at least sit and enjoy them,” he said.
That “hypnotherapy guy” was reportedly Derren Brown, and Jackson apparently consulted with him about getting his own brain out of nine hours of cinema. Unfortunately, though, the spirit wipe didn’t happen, mainly because it seems like a really impossible thing to do.
But honestly, balls on the man. Imagine wanting to see something so bad that you’d be willing to scrub your brain of all prior knowledge about it. And imagine doing it as the person who made the thing you want to scrub. I’ve been thinking about this for hours, and I really can’t decide whether Peter Jackson’s plan is admirable or utterly despicable.
It’s disgusting, because – at least the way I’ve chosen to interpret the plan – he would experience the genius of his own work without having to remember what it was like to make it. He wants to experience the giddy thrill of sitting in a movie theater 20 years ago and being blown away by a movie they said could never be made. He wants to experience the rush of “Who made this?” that we all feel when we see something extraordinary. He will rush home, look up the film on IMDb, realize that someone named Peter Jackson was responsible for conjuring up such a spectacular world, and then spend the next few weeks enjoying the low-budget horror films that helped guide his vision, which, given he’s Peter Jackson, is odd.
But I’m also a little amazed at his courage. Because what if he erased everything he knew about Lord of the Rings, then sat down and watched Lord of the Rings and absolutely hated it. It happens: When I went to see The Return of the King, a decent percentage of the audience walked out halfway through the pile of endings the movie had. What if it turns out he wants to follow them?
Worse, if Jackson was able to erase his memory of The Lord of the Rings, he would also erase the memory of the challenges he encountered in doing so. And those challenges almost certainly made him a better filmmaker. It’s not impossible to assume that the lessons he learned about The Lord of the Rings were used at some point during the making of Get Back. And a world without Get Back would truly be a crying shame.
So in short, well done to Peter Jackson for not defying the laws of nature and erasing part of his own brain to watch Lord of the Rings. That said, if you’ve ever wanted to delete the parts that went into making The Hobbit, you’d probably be fine.