May 27, 2001

Re: The Ring
Rex F.

Andrew B. & Jim W. bring up an interesting point that I've often wondered about myself. It should be fairly obvious that the Ring has no will of its own separate from Sauron's. It is a receptacle for part of his spirit and is always trying to return to him. There is a fundamental error in thinking that it 'slipped off' his hand - it was only cut from him after he had been defeated and presumably slain by Isildur. The real puzzle, as Andrew B. states, is how he was defeated at all if the Ring makes him all-powerful.

As far as I can make out, the explanation is that if Sauron posessed the One Ring, then all that had been wrought with the three elven rings, Nenya, Narya and Vilya, would be lost, thus precipitating the end of any effective resistance to Mordor. Any idea of Sauron becoming 'all powerful' thus seems to refer to him being unstoppable rather than his ability to command others to do his will. I imagine that if Sauron got the Ring then we would see a reversal of what happened when Gollum fell into Orodruin, ie. Imladris, Lorien and the Grey Havens would crumble like Barad-Dur, all three being to some extent maintained by the power of the three lesser rings which would then come under the dominion of the Dark Lord. Have I got it right? It's the only answer I can come up with. Tolkein referred to this problem in Letter 211 (Letters, ed. Humphrey Carpenter) and describes the condition of Sauron after his 'death' in the wreck of Numenor:

"Sauron... needed time for his own bodily rehabilitation, and for gaining control over his former subjects. He was attacked by Gil-Galad and Elendil before his new domination was fully established."

He mentions earlier in the same letter that:

"You cannot press the One Ring too hard, for it is of course a mythical feature, even though the world of the tales is conceived in more or less historical terms. The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical treatments of the placing of one's life, or power, in some external object, which is thus exposed to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself... Though reduced to 'a spirit of hatred borne on a dark wind', I do not think one need boggle at this spirit carrying off the One Ring, upon which his power of dominating minds largely depended."

I'm fascinated to see how the climactic events of the second age will be represented in the first film. There's the question of how Sauron met his end: did he 'die' when the Ring was taken from his hand or did his wrestling match with Gil-Galad and Elendil prove his undoing? While we're on the subject, I was initially horrified when I read that Peter Jackson intended showing us Sauron, but I've been persuaded somewhat by the production sketch of "Sauron's Lair". What could be a more perfect throne for him than a burnt and twisted tree in mockery of the Valar and in honour of Morgoth? Especially one that looks like a hand. Yet while Sauron's physical aspect is fairly well known - a tall human/elf form with burning black skin, red eyes and a lightning crown - how will this be shown effectively? Hopefully we will only see his mutilated hand, and the eye blazing from the shadowy depths. Less is more. What does anyone else think? Interesting to speculate that Sauron began life as Michael Tolkein's night terror."