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Don’t look at the future. We drew something awful on it.

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Christine Kelley

Christine Artemisia Kelley writes about science fiction and fantasy, popular music, radical politics, and Christian theology. You might know her for her semi-retired project Dreams of Orgonon, a song-by-song study of Kate Bush. Currently her main project is Nowhere and Back Again, a psychogeography of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Expect queerness, radical solidarity, wizardry, and the death of capitalism.Support Christine on Patreon.

5 Comments

  1. play solitaire
    April 16, 2021 @ 5:40 am

    Well, that’s a superb article! Thank you for this great information, you write very well which I like very much. I am really impressed by your post.

    Reply

  2. 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.

    Reply

    • 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.)

      Reply

  3. 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.

    Reply

  4. 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.

    Reply

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