We’re not on the blockchain, but we are blocked by Gareth Roberts

Skip to content

Christine Kelley

Christine Kelley writes about speculative fiction and radical politics from a queer revolutionary perspective. Currently her main project is Nowhere and Back Again, a psychogeography of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Her first project was the now semi-retired blog Dreams of Orgonon, a song-by-song study of Kate Bush. Support Christine on Patreon.


  1. Aylwin
    April 16, 2021 @ 12:45 pm

    Jackson’s tendency for literalism manifests in the Eye casting a literal spotlight on the land around it

    It’s clangingly blunt in execution, but in fairness to Jackson, the image has firm foundations in the text, in the description of the Eye just missing Frodo on Amon Hen (“A black shadow seemed to pass like an arm above him; it missed Amon Hen and groped out west, and faded”) and in Sam’s other glimpse of the Tower (“as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye”).

    (As ever, the association or interchangeability of Sshadoww Andd Fllame /ChristopherLeevoice)

    I was always slightly perplexed by how we know that Sauron possesses a device for just the kind of remote viewing he engages in, the palantir, and yet the operation of the Eye seems to be unrelated to it, as suggested by that quotation about what Sam sees and, even more, the mention shortly beforehand of “the Window of the Eye” (implying a gaze directed in some vaguely conventional way outwards, not into a crystal ball), and by Tolkien’s indication in one of the texts in Unfinished Tales that he used the stone only for its capacity for direct communication with other stones, for working on Saruman and Denethor. It’s an odd redundancy.


    • liminal fruitbat
      April 16, 2021 @ 1:34 pm

      He was a Maia of Aule once after all, perhaps he just has a soft spot for tools and works of craft in themselves?

      (And perhaps one can read into it a desire to surpass Morgoth but on a smaller scale; unlike his old boss Sauron can actually benefit from his stolen magic rock wrought by Feanor.)


  2. darkspine10
    April 16, 2021 @ 1:00 pm

    There is one small exception in the movies regarding Sauron’s physical form. When Aragorn looks into the Orthanc Palantir (Extended Edition only), we get a brief glimpse of Sauron holding up his own Palantir, stolen from Minas Ithil. He appears exactly as he does in the prologue of FOTR, partly because he is exactly the same. It’s reused footage of him bearing aloft the Ring, with a Palantir superimposed and the image distorted by flame effects.

    Of course, it’s still up to interpretation, since the Palantiri are notoriously unreliable at showing the whole truth. Pippin sees a vision of an (averted) future in which Minas Tirith’s White Tree is set ablaze. Denethor is plagued by visions of doubt. Aragorn glimpses Arwen, far off and fading. So the visage of Sauron seen in the orb may be filtered through Aragorn’s own image of Sauron in his mind, rather than a concrete reflection of his reality. In any case, it all fits with the interpretation of Sauron as an unseen figure, perpetually out of direct view.

    I wonder how The Hobbit movies fit into this schema. Sauron’s role in them is adapted from tidbits of Tolkien’s later lore in LOTR and Unfinished Tales, and depicts Sauron as a vague dark figure, often wreathed with fire, which at times resembles his armoured form. Once again, it’s hard to tell whether he’s physical or not, acting more like an insubstantial cloud of malice.


  3. Simon
    April 17, 2021 @ 6:19 am

    Fanart meanwhile often depicts Sauron as being a pale-skinned, white- haired pretty boy because of course it does.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.