The Rings of Power: Title Sequence Explained
A show’s title sequence is one of the most important things in setting the tone of the series. A great title sequence can immerse the audience in that world and get them excited about the story that’s about to unfold in the particular episode they’re watching. There have been so many legendary title sequences over the years, ranging from The prince of Bel-Air at game of thrones, daredevil, Office, and more. Considering The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was one of the most anticipated shows of recent years, there was a lot of excitement to see what the title sequence for this new Middle-earth series would be.
With the show debuting in early September, eager viewers were treated to a distinctly different title sequence from contemporary fantasy shows like Dragon House. The rings of powerThe title sequence is an ever-changing mosaic of Middle-earth symbolism, with references to both the past and future of the world depicted in the series. With each new symbol made of sand moving into new shapes and figures, it’s a visually striking sequence, but its meaning isn’t immediately clear. However, as you delve deeper into the inspirations behind the title sequence, it becomes even more beautiful and enchanting than it is upon first viewing.
Cymatic Figures and Chladni
First, sequence quicksand is a notion taken directly from the concept of cymatics, which is the observation of how sound and vibration can have a direct effect on the physicality of objects. The idea was first explored by 17th and 18th century scientists Robert Hooke and Ernst Chladni. They found that when a surface is covered with a thin material or liquid, certain vibrations and noises create nodal lines along that surface. The loose material would then fall into these lines, essentially realigning to form different shapes and patterns. Many of these natural designs have become known as Chladni figures.
The title sequence of power rings uses this concept wisely. As the grandiose title theme, composed by Howard Shore, plays over the sequence, grains of sand align and realign to form different shapes and symbols. Some of these shapes seem to be taken specifically from the various Chladni Figure Charts, while others are symbols and sigils that were taken from Tolkien’s global lore of Middle-earth and his global world of Arda. They move and adapt to the sound of the music, with various specific references to the tradition of Arda being found in the shapes that form.
Studio Plains of Yonder was contracted to create the sequence, with Katrina Crawford and Mark Bashore specifically directing it. For starters, they came up with the idea that the title sequence be created from the sound rather than the film, in reference to Tolkien’s creation myth depicted in The Silmarillion. JThe idea grew from there as more and more elements of Tolkien’s Legendary were incorporated into the sequence. Speaking to Variety, Crawford said, “This transformation is such a metaphor for everything. For the construction of the world, for the rupture, for the destruction, for the epic of the Lord of the Rings.”
The music of the Ainur
The creation myth that inspired the use of cymatics in rings of power the title sequence is detailed in Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth, particularly in the first chapter of The Silmarillion. He is called Ainulindalë and represents Eru (also called Ilúvatar), who is essentially Tolkien’s world god. Eru creates the Ainur, the Saints, who are the angels of the universe. Eru teaches the Ainur how to sing, and so they all begin to sing their sacred song, one at a time, but they gradually begin to sing together in harmony. However, one of the most powerful Ainur, named Melkor, began injecting his own ideas and sounds into the music, disrupting the perfect harmony of it all.
It is with this Great Song, the Music of the Ainur, that Eru and the Ainur created the world of Arda and the living beings that inhabit it. Through the songs of Eru and the Ainur, the land, seas, skies, and various creatures of the world came into existence. The dissonance of Melkor and several other Ainur he recruited for his songs, however, was responsible for the evil and dark things in the world. Over the time that followed, many Ainur entered the world they had created. This world was named Arda, and the Ainur became known as Valar and Maiar. Melkor was one of the Ainur to travel to Arda, and he would eventually be renamed Morgoth and become the world’s first Dark Lord. In addition to his many dark deeds in the First Age of Middle-earth, he is also responsible for the destruction of the Two Lamps and the Two Trees of Valinor, the latter of which was briefly shown in the opening of power rings.
The use of sound to create the shapes and symbols seen in the title sequence of power rings is a direct reference to the creation of Arda through the songs of Eru and the Ainur. It is a symbolic representation of the Ainulindalë, Tolkien’s creation myth of Middle-earth. It is even complete with a dark force that smashes its way through creation, disrupting that which has the peace of formation. While the concept isn’t clearly defined in the series’ story, nor specifically mentioned in the sequence itself, it’s a deep cut for fans of Tolkien’s world and lore. This shows that, although power rings has stark differences between its story and that of Tolkien’s texts, the show’s creators rooted their story in the mythology of Middle-earth.
The History of Arda and Middle-earth
As for the specific symbols and events that are featured in the title sequence, there are many references to the history of Arda and Middle-earth, as well as hints of what might happen later in the game. series. One of the most obvious references is to the many sand rings that appear throughout the sequence. These rings can be seen in different numbers, especially in groups of nine, seven, three, and ultimately one. These are depictions of the various Power Rings after which the series was titled. Viewers will certainly see the forging of these rings and their division between the races of men, dwarves, and elves, as well as the one ring that Sauron will use to control them all.
There are also many references to the events of the First Age and the times before it, throughout the sequence. One of the striking references is the appearance of two trees placed opposite each other. It was Telperion and Laurelin, the Two Trees of Valinor, who brought light to the world before they were destroyed by Melkor and the giant spider Ungoliant. The design of the Two Trees in this intro evokes the seal of the White Tree of Gondor seen in The Lord of the Rings. This similar design makes sense, as the Tree of Gondor was a seedling of a white tree on the island kingdom of Númenor, which itself traces back to the Galathilion tree which was created in the image of Telperion. Another key symbol seen in the rings of power intro is a spiral design with three rounded edges protruding from its center. It could be a representation of the three Silmarils, key gems of the events of the First Age and the Time of the Trees, as well as the inspiration behind the title of The Silmarillion. The eight-pointed star of Fëanor can also be seen as a reference to one of the most important elves in the history of Arda and Middle-earth. Fëanor was a great hero, creator of the Silmarils and the palantiri, and he was a central figure in the wars against Melkor/Morgoth.
There are various other designs that can be made out from the sand of the title sequence, but so far none have stood out quite as much as the ones previously described. There is a group of mountains that can be seen briefly at one point. These could represent the formation of the land of Arda, or potentially the island of Númenor, or any number of key mountain ranges such as the Thangorodrim in Angband. Much of what we see in the title sequence of power rings is sure to become clearer as the series progresses. The creators of the sequence said that there are many hidden hints of what’s to come in the series, with some being seen more clearly than others. Whatever other secrets are hidden in this opening credits, they are sure to reveal more over time.