Desolation of Smaug

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In the film Smaug looks realistic, glows with inner fire when he's about to unleash his deadly breath and has a face so evil looking he's actually a little scary. The HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG - is Smaug the greatest cg character since Gollum?

In the sixth and final War of Wrath in Beleriand, winged dragons first appear, the mightiest of which is Ancalagon the Black. At the climax of this war, Ancalagon is slain by Eärendil in a titanic battle ending with the dragon's cataclysmic fall upon the towers of Morgoth's realm. In the victory over their Enemy, the Valar destroy ``well-nigh all the dragons''; an earlier version of the ``Quenta Silmarillion'' published in The Shaping of Middle-earth says two escaped into the East. These were apparently male and female, for they are said to have bred in the dark places of the earth to afflict the world, ``as they do still.'' The Lord of the Rings' Appendix A mentions their multiplying and growing strong in the wastes of Ered Mithrin north of Mirkwood- yet another class of dragons called colddrakes, apparently lacking fire-which slay King Dain I and Fro' r his son and drive the Dwarves out. About two hundred years later, Smaug-the fiery dragon of The Hobbit-descends on the Lonely Mountain. 

The Hobbit has been seen as a dragon-slayer narrative of the Beowulf type rewritten as a comic children's story (Stein). Bilbo's adventures climax with the slaying of Smaug by Bard, a Man from Laketown, by an arrow-shot to a small unarmored spot on the dragon's underbelly-a motif borrowed from Germanic sources. A speaking dragon like Glaurung, Smaug is modeled on Fäfnir, whose dying speech prophesies Sigurd's doom. Despite its comic tone, Smaug's voice has the unsettling effect of malevolent threat masked in jocularity. Smaug and other dragons are presented as extremely old, a characteristic mentioned in Beowulf and probably based ultimately on the biblical dragon of the Apocalypse, the draconem serpentem antiquum qui est diabolus, ``the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil'' (Rev. 20:2). The narrator of The Silmarillion says ``long and slow is the life of the dragons.'' Also mentioned in The Hobbit are the ``Wild Were-worms of the Last Desert'' (H, I, 49) otherwise unexplained but seemingly a reference to the human-to-dragon transformation motif of Germanic tradition (cf. werewulf, ``man-wolf ''). 

Dragons as such do not appear in The Lord of the Rings. In the Shire, Ted Sandyman scoffs at them as relics of children's stories; Gandalf comments that dragon-fire could melt the Rings of Power, but no dragons left on earth are hot enough and not even Ancalagon the Black could have melted the One Ring. At the end of the book, Merry Brandybuck is awarded a Dwarf-made horn taken from the hoard of Scatha the Worm by Fram-a Man of Rohan, slayer of the dragon.


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