From The Blog

Riddles in the Dark: Episode 12

It’s time to talk “Riddles” on Riddles in the Dark!

In this episode of Riddles in the Dark from the Mythgard Institute, Prof. Corey Olsen and Dave Kale wrap up their Bilbo/Gollum story arc series by talking about one of the most famous scenes and chapters in all of Middle-earth (and our podcast’s namesake), Riddles in the Dark.  Prof. Olsen tells Dave and live listeners about the history of the riddles used in the game (and of riddle games in general) and their grounding in traditional riddles and rhymes with which Tolkien was familiar, as well as hitting upon Frodo’s and Gandalf’s discussion about Bilbo’s and Gollum’s “kinship” and shared cultural roots.  They also discuss the various dilemmas that Peter Jackson and company face with the Riddle Game, particularly its length and the detailed description given of Gollum’s and Bilbo’s unspoken thoughts.  The Riddle Game is one of the most iconic scenes in all of Tolkien, so fans will expect a faithful adaptation; however, the film will be quite packed, and the old-fashioned riddles may not connect with the average modern movie-goer.  What will they do?  Prof. Olsen and Dave worry that many Riddles will be removed or altered…!

The prediction question is below, but first we have a few notes.  For one, listeners will notice that this was one of the most interactive episodes of RITD yet, so thank you to our very insightful live audience!  Others interested in participating live should watch out for announcements on the Tolkien Professor Facebook Page.  For another, listeners who cannot get enough Gollum discussions should tune into RITD Digest 2 for a surprise conversation!  Finally, we’d like to acknowledge listener Robert Brown for pointing out that in September of 1947, Tolkien rejected a suggestion by Allen & Unwin that the riddles in The Hobbit were based on folk lore and not invented by him; indeed, he created all of the Riddles except Thirty White Horses, No-legs, and the egg-riddle (which was a novel paraphrase of an old nursery rhyme).  Listeners can read the entire letter (#110) in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter.

Prediction: How will Bilbo’s and Gollum’s Riddle Game be adapted for the big screen?

A. Complete: they will not omit a single riddle (much like Bilbo’s account during The Council of Elrond).
B. Partial: They’ll omit some riddles, but those that they keep will be straight from the book.
C. Reinvented: they’ll alter some of the riddles or add new ones entirely.
D. Stripped down: they’ll show only a montage of fragments of riddles

Download: .mp3 (right click and choose “Save As…” to download)