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May 5, 2007


Lem, if I recall correctly, there were several debates about whether the Balrog actually had wings. The relevant passages from "Fellowship" are as follows:

"His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings."

"The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen. glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: gray and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm."

It is true that the Balrog definitely had wings in the movie, but the movie is hardly authoritative, and the book is ambiguous.

"The Silmarillion" strengthens the case of those who say the Balrog didn't actually have wings. Here's the relevant passage:

"And in Utumno he (Melkor) gathered his demons about him, those spirits who had first adhered to him in the days of his splendour, and became most like him in corruption: their hearts were of fire, but they were cloaked in darkness, and terror went before them; they had whips of flame. Balrogs they were named in Middle-earth in later days."

It is conceivable that some Balrogs had wings and others didn't: to my knowledge, Tolkien never says. However, Balrogs are explicitly described as being clothed in darkness and producing a sense of terror. It seems to me that a consistent reading of "fellowship" and "The Simlarillion" leads to the conclusion that the Balrog did not have wings, but rather manipulated his cloak of darkness to give the appearance of wings in an attempt to strike terror into the heart of Gandalf.

Also, I couldn't find anything in either "The Book of Lost Tales" or "Unfinished Tales" to indicate anything to the contrary.

Man I miss those arguments. Of course I probably just miss having seventeen people giving opinions on the topic. Good times, good times.

"The Hobbit" as a musical? I hope not, but they've already done it with Shakespeare. They also made a musical out of LotR a couple of years back (apparently it was awful), so "The Hobbit" seems a natural next step.

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