LOTR

Númenor in The Rings of Power, its secrets and concept art: a fantasy Venice

The production designer of the upcoming Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power shows and explains what Númenor looks like through concept images.

When the creators of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power began outlining the series, they ran into an obvious problem: it's set in the Second Age, so that world hadn't been depicted other than in Tolkien's works. This includes the island of Númenor, one of the kingdoms that will appear in the Prime Video series. Production designer Ramsey Aveney reflects on the whole thing while sharing some stunning concept art of the island territory, very much like a fantasy Venice.

"It’s a civilization that was around for thousands of years" and has been developing. "My hope in creating Númenor is to evoke a sense of wonder. A sense of mystery," he has said. I wanted to create a real sense of ancient history," even shaping the kingdom into "a current time and place where real people live, work, play, and love."

A technologically advanced kingdom

Númenor is, above all, a technologically advanced city -within J.R.R. Tolkien's universe, of course. One of the pictures shows the harbor, symbol of the privileged situation of the kingdom: "This is a thriving culture," so it shows "its vitality" and how "well-off it is". If you look closely at the image you will find some important themes within the imagery:

"The horse being hoisted onto a ship at the top left of this image shows two things: One, Númenóreans respect and love their horses; and two, they're a technologically advanced culture," he explains in the interview. "They figured out these pulley-and-crane systems to be able to maneuver products and goods up and around. That's an important characteristic of the civilization. They've got more advanced technology in some ways than some of the other realms."

Avery also points out that the bluish colors of the ships symbolize the aesthetics of Númeror itself. "We departed from the elegance of the Elven world" to move into a "bolder" expression of this realm. They drew inspiration from art books from Egypt, North Africa and the Middle East to outline the forms. "ich colors, and geometrical ornament that are central" to underscore the island's Mediterranean influence.

Tough architecture, but without losing an ounce of beauty

Seat of Queen Regent Míriel's power, the next image sketches the houses of the members of the court. "There is a quote from Tolkienn" that says that " on the last high hill, the Númenóreans built their powers," continues the production designer. "The court is featured high on the hills," boasting an architecture heavily influenced by men, which "reflecting the evolution of the culture over time."

While on the left side of the image the structure is more elven, as it is the part of the kingdom built by the elves 400 years ago, "the humans of Númenor" have left their mark on their palace, which demonstrates the power of men. "The structure is powerful, strong, and hulking." Technological advancement is also appreciated in this art:

"The towers on the left and the right feature a cooling system," he says. To combat such a hot climate, it is necessary to create ingenuities that help dissipate the high temperatures. "We discovered that [buildings in] North African and Middle Eastern countries have these wind catchers," in which the wind gets trapped, gets hot and then blows out of the tower. When it flies outward, it blows cold air out from underneath. “ So throughout the city, you'll see these towers; that's how the Númenóreans discovered how to keep the city cool.”

Númenor, much like Venice

In the third image, Avery points out that Tolkien did not describe Númenor in great detail, but one of the sentences he uttered gave them the clue. "I just got back from Númenor—I mean, Venice," the professor said. According to the production designer, this revealed how he envisioned the kingdom. "A city like Venice that’s built on water with multiple influences over time."

Númenor controls the sea thanks to its privileged position, so they have turned their attention to the shipbuilding industry. The long, triangular sails evoke elven ships, "we kept trying to find something" that was characteristic of the people of Númenor. "One night, I was looking through some pictures and I saw the Crown of Gondor. I'd always thought of that crown as eagle's wings, but I looked at it again and I thought ‘My God, that's a ship’s sail there.'”

His intention from the beginning was to create a world that started from reality. "It would be really tricky to sail these ships, but it's doable." They have talked to experts who have helped them stay true to reality. As for the bridges, each of them has a canal, which functions as a transportation system within the city and goes all the way to the harbor.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres next September 2 on Prime Video.

Source | Amazon