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Return To Middle-Earth With X-Ray's The Making Of The Rings Of Power

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" has gone where no other Middle-earth adaptation has gone before: the Second Age of Middle-earth. Led by intrepid showrunners John D. Payne and Patrick McKay, the Amazon Prime production has blazed a trail into this uncertain and underdeveloped era of J.R.R. Tolkien's world. Unlike the Third Age (in which the "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" stories are set), the Second Age has a limited amount of information available, especially considering the source material that the writers are able to work from.

This naturally led to a lot of connecting the dots and filling in gaps to create a full story for viewers to follow. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the Second Age is a time when many of Tolkien's fantasy realms are in their prime. Kingdoms that are little more than ruined buildings and distant memories in "The Lord of the Rings" are still in their prime at this point in the timeline. This requires a lot more investment in things like sets, costumes, and CGI to properly bring to life on-screen (which goes a long way in explaining the show's eyebrow-raising budget).

Throughout the lead-up to and release of Season 1, the showrunners, writers, and cast dropped plenty of hints and truncated stories regarding the labor of love that went into creating the first part of the five-season story. From COVID-19 delays to a focus on practical effects to lunch breaks in Jacuzzis, there were plenty of production-related stories floating around. These factoids, teasers, and tidbits were fun, but many viewers were left wanting more insight into the fascinating process that went into creating such a gargantuan cinematic fantasy production. It's a desire that has just been answered.

X-Ray pulls back the curtain on The Rings of Power

On November 21, Amazon Prime announced the release of its official behind-the-scenes foray into its own Middle-earth production. "The Making of The Rings of Power" is available to view right on the streaming platform, and it is loaded with a smorgasbord of previously unreleased content from Season 1 of the show. In the studio's own words, the "making of" feature "invites audiences to take a close, personal look at Season One's production, allowing fans to discover how the series meticulously brought J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth to life in all of its splendor."

Rather than presenting the behind-the-scenes content as a single event, the material has been split into a series of "making of" pieces. Each of these goes along with a different episode of the show and includes interviews with the creative team as well as glimpses into the production process itself. This includes all the bells and whistles you'd expect with a fantasy show — especially one on the scale of this lavishly funded Middle-earth project. From stunts and sword fights to special effects, set decorations, costumes, makeup, and even horseback riding, the medley of content sets the table with plenty of juicy inside information for avid Tolkienites and fairweather fans alike to consume in the holiday season ahead.

It's worth pointing out that the studio specifically calls out Númenor and Khazad-dûm as worthy additions to the behind-the-scenes footage. Why? Because in the show, we see these two epic Tolkienian kingdoms at the height of their splendor and glory — for the first time on-screen. Toss in the epic events in the Southlands, the Elven lands of Lindon and Eregion, the oceanic adventures of Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), and nomadic Harfoot storylines, and there's plenty to unpack.

There are two ways to watch X-Ray's bonus content

"Making of" films and featurettes are nothing new. But along with the sheer volume of behind-the-scenes interviews and footage we're dealing with here (remember, it matches up with eight hours of high-level fantasy cinematic content creation on a scale never seen before), fans are also getting a special presentation in the form of X-Ray's unique format. Rather than simply releasing a separate featurette, like the documentary series "Marvel Studios: Assembled," this time, we're getting behind-the-scenes access that's layered right on top of the show itself.

Thanks to the marvelous and creative powers of modern technology, X-Ray is releasing "The Making of The Rings of Power" within its in-episode viewing experience. That means individuals can pause the show at any point while watching and launch the full-screen X-Ray option directly from their paused screens. Anyone interested in skipping this step and heading directly to the extra footage can still do so by scrolling down on the show's main page on Amazon Prime to access the "Bonus Content" section.

It doesn't matter if they're pausing mid-watch to glean a little insight into the creative process or settling in to binge the entire documentary. There's no doubt that fans of the show will have some fun times ahead as they sift through the mountain of new behind-the-scenes content about this new corner of cinematic Middle-earth more thoroughly this holiday season.