Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

By: Daniel Kilgallon, Staff Writer

It has been nearly fifteen years since one of the greatest villains in the history of movies truly debuted in live action on the silver screen. Unfortunately, we have been experiencing an era of Hollywood ever since that seems to be slowly losing grip on the essential storytelling element of a genuinely intriguing antagonist. While there is a brief glimpse of this villain, Gollum, in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), a complete, digital creation of the character didn’t appear until The Two Towers (2002). The ultra talented Andy Serkis played a huge part in bringing Gollum to life through motion capture technology, which was a totally groundbreaking film technique upon release of the sequel. Over the years Serkis managed to deliver more than a handful of Oscar-worthy moments in the role, even though he had the limitations of performing as a digitally generated character. The overaged, deranged, yet strangely charming hobbit of Gollum truly played a crucial part in making the Middle-earth saga so powerful in cinematic form.

Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

The idea of Gollum once being an ordinary hobbit is a huge reason why fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films have grown attached to the character through the movies. While most of us are of course rooting for Frodo, Sam, or Bilbo Baggins to succeed in these stories, there is also an undeniable feeling of pity for Gollum when considering the fact that he used to be a hobbit himself. For example, his tragic origins are revealed in flashback form in the opening scene of Return of the King (2003), as the horrifying story of the formerly named “Smeagol” acquiring and being transformed by the One Ring is shown in dramatic fashion. This was an ambitious but incredibly effective way for director Peter Jackson to rearrange J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece story and open up the concluding chapter of his own epic motion picture trilogy. All of the backstory provided made Gollum that much more interesting and really fleshed out the prominently split-personality of the character. As stated by Gandalf the Grey in the Mines of Moria, “He hates and loves the ring, as he hates and loves himself.”

The childlike behavior of Gollum throughout all of the Middle-earth movies only adds to the tremendous amount of pity that is felt for the character. While he is undeniably a hideous looking creature, Gollum’s face appears baby like at times, despite the fact that the hobbit is supposed to be well over the age of 500 years old in each of the films he is featured in. Gollum also acts very childish through his actions and words, even going to the extent of speaking and referring to himself in the third person or as his alter-ego, Smeagol. All of these elements combine to craft Gollum into the unique, likeable antagonist and cinematic icon that he has become today; it appears that his status as a legendary villain will remain intact for many years to come.


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