The Many Faces of Gollum


        I love Jackson's Gollum. Hang on that sounds weird. Let me rephrase. I think Gollum was portrayed brilliantly in Jackson's movies by Andy Serkis and the special effects team at Weta. But then..if you read my post about Fan Art, you'll also know that I have a problem with big franchises and the way they colonize the imagination. Well recently I came across this little gem from Rankin & Bass:

Rankin & Bass often get a hard time for their portrayal of Gollum- do they deserve it? Is Jackson's Gollum really the definitive Gollum? I went back to the source to find out:

        In The Hobbit Tolkien introduces Gollum thusly:

"Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature. I don't know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was Gollum - as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face. He had a little boat, and he rowed about quite quietly on the lake; for lake it was, wide and deep and deadly cold. He paddled it with large feet dangling over the side, but never a ripple did he make. Not he. He was looking out of his pale lamp-like eyes for blind fish, which he grabbed with his long fingers as quick as thinking. "

Tolkien provides more description in Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Sam confront Smeagol for the first time-

"Before Sam could get a hold, long legs and arms were wound round him pinning his arms, and a clinging grip, soft but horribly strong, was squeezing him like slowly tightening cords; clammy fingers were feeling for his throat. Then sharp teeth bit into his shoulder...

Things would have gone ill with Sam, if he had been alone. But Frodo sprang up, and drew Sting from its sheath. With his left hand he drew back Gollum's head by his thin lank hair, stretching his long neck, and forcing his pale venomous eyes to stare up at the sky."

        According to Tolkien Gollum is small, slimy, dark, has large, pale, lamp-like eyes, a thin face, large feet and long fingers, long legs, long arms, sharp teeth, thin lank hair and a long neck.

        That leaves quite a lot of room for interpretation. Does Gollum have a belly? How muscular is he? Is he hairless? Does he have pointy ears? (srsly, that's an important question) Is his face rounder or is it longer? Is he completely monstrous or are there vestiges of humanity (hobbit-ity...) left? Anyway, to help us decide here's a collection of artistic interpretations of everyone's favourite homunculus- all of which fit Tolkien's description (more or less).


Jackson's Gollum- "Is we dark enough, precious?"

Ralph Bakshi's Gollum's eyes literally glow

Wicked Witch's nose? You think Tolkien would have mentioned it.

Randy Berrett's Gollum looks hungry

Frank Frazetta's Gollum makes ripples

Alan Lee's Gollum does not

Soviet Gollum,1976. Are those scales?

Donato Giancola's Taming of Smeagol. Frodo Baggins Thug Life.

  Ted Nasmith's Gollum- has anger management issues

John Howe's Gollum is pretty dark- I guess he lost that argument

 

Which is your favourite Gollum? Let us know in the comments!


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