From The Blog

Riddles in the Dark 19: Sauron – Hot or Not?

It’s time to talk about the Big Baddie on Riddles in the Dark!

Prof. Corey Olsen and Dave Kale (with occasional incursions by Trish Lambert) consider the question of Sauron in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but only after catching up on a few of the images and news items that have been steadily flowing onto the Internet. The new movie scroll, the Goblin-infested poster, and the “Goblin King,” Bolg, and Grinnah toy sets come under the most intense scrutiny. Plus, after the broadcast was done and Dave had left for school-related commitments, Corey and Trish continue the discussion, which includes commentary on Billy Connolly’s remarks about Tolkien and his fans in a recent interview.

You can find the images that are discussed in this episode in posts on the Riddles in the Dark Predictions Facebook page.


Riddle: How will Sauron the Necromancer appear in the first film?

A. He will be referred to in dialogue, but will make no direct appearance on screen

B. He will never appear on camera, but we will hear his voice.

C. He will appear in a form we saw in LOTR (black armor humanoid, flaming eyeball, etc.)

D. He will appear in a non-corporeal, non-LOTR form (e.g., some kind of wraith or shadow)

E. He will appear in a corporeal, non-LOTR form (e.g., cloaked/hooded wizard, fair form, etc.)


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

[Note from Trish: I apologize for the sound quality of portions of this episode. My recording software and I are still getting to know one another, and there are places where I come booming in where Corey is much quieter as well as other irritations. Improvements will be evident in future episodes…I promise!]

  1. Jake Bombadil October 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    They should make Sauron like the smoke monster from Lost. lol

    In what deleted scene does he appear as Annatar, must of totally missed that.

  2. Mike R October 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    For what it’s worth, when Saruman talks to Gandalf in the FotR film, he states that “Sauron has regained much of his former strength. He cannot yet take physical form, but his spirit has lost none of its potency.”

  3. Michael Lucero October 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I have to take issue with the idea stated in the podcast that Sauron is still disembodied in The Lord of the Rings, and cannot take a physical form until he regains the Ring. (I know Professor Olsen said he thought the filmmakers were operating under that premise and using the Flaming Eye to be a symbol of that fact; but it also seemed as if he thought this was the case in the book as well). I just got done reading Tolkien’s letters, and there is actually one letter (I can’t remember the number, but I’ll post it later on if I do) where Tolkien definitely said Sauron had taken a physical shape at this time, and was basically in the shape of a man.

    I’m torn between D and E. I want to lean toward E, but I think there’s a strong possibility of D as well. However, I kind of doubt that the Sauron plot thread will be resolved, or even more than briefly addressed, in the first film. So I’m going to go with A.

  4. San Diego Dave October 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    I’m going with a cross between a Nazgul and his spikey-helmet armor suit from the prologue of Fellowship. Basically, he’s going to be a humanoid form, but not just a normal-looking guy (otherwise, why not just use Benedict Cumberbatch?). We won’t see an actual face for Sauron, just some kind of hood or mask. They may even try to play up the mystery and make people think that the Necromancer is the leader of the Nazgul, only to have a big reveal in the second film that it’s actually Sauron.

  5. Michael Lucero October 18, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Yeah, I don’t remember the Annatar scene, either. Was this on the Extended DVD?

  6. Jim Hobbs October 20, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Regarding Bifur vs. Bofur (in the podcast): Bifur is the one whose head is Bifurcated by that Orc axe….

  7. Mike Roach October 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    For Sauron’s scenes, I’m hoping for over-the-shoulder shots of him talking to his lieutenants while seated and stroking a white cat with a mailed glove. English accent preferable. Bonus points if somewhere in the scene he demands that the Witch King define “plethora” or calls his cat Tevildo.

  8. Bre October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    The Annatar thing appears in the extended DVDs when they’re talking about how they originally wanted Aragorn to confront him at the black gates. So the part at the end where they march the smaller army to the gates of Mordor. I don’t think it’s a playable deleted scene but is shown as part of the documentaries.

  9. Bre October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Yeah it was. See the answer I left under Jake’s comment.

  10. Brent Sprinkle October 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    This I think is one of the harder riddles to answer. One, because Sauron isn’t it the book Hobbit like he is likely to be depicted in the movie. Kinda like Radagst, PJ has a completely open playing field. Second, I am utterly confused at this point of what content each movie will contain. So good job PJ keeping things close to the chest and confusing everyone. That being said, here it goes…

    First, will Sauron show up at all or even be mentioned in the first film? I have to say yes. Assuming the split btw 1st and 2nd film will be at Into the Frying Pan (I hope not. I agree with Corey and Dave this is just not practical. Still holding out it will end with capture in Elven Kingdom), I am thinking the 2nd movie will consist of Bilbo’s journey, Smaug’s death, and White Council vs. Dol Guldor stuff. Then what does that leave for first film? Well, Beginnings of Bilbo’s journey, and laying the ground work for the battle, action scene of White Council in the 2nd. So, in order to lay the ground work for that in 1st film, we get Gandalf/James Bond stuff at Dol Guldur, grumpy Elrond questioning plan of action, and Galadriel and Gandalf love scene (ugh), and a reveal of an evil growing in Mirkwood focused around this character that is introduced.
    I don’t believe we will know that this evil character in the first movie is Sauron yet, but will know that his stronghold is Dol Guldur and that something needs to be done to get rid of him. So i don’t know if you specified in the choices whether or not he has to be named as Sauron in 1st film or that he just ends up being Sauron but either way I guess we who are knowledgeable, about such things know its him anyway.
    Alright, second what form will he take? My gut says some humanoid form because it would just make for better TV to have something tangible to focus hatred on, make him seem more vulnerable, is something different and unexpected from LOTR, and gives them the option of making his character seem like something else (such as Wraith) to set audience up for a big reveal. Therefore, I am going with E.
    If all of this babble is actually what happens in the movie I will be surprised, but if it is I wonder how they would depict Gandalf finding out it was actually Sauron? Does Gandalf get close enough to him to touch him and get a mental flash of a flaming eyeball like when he touches the ring in Bag End in FOTR? haha Maybe the Dwarven ring would aid somehow? The tombs of the Wraiths would reveal it because Sauron would be the only one strong enough to break the spell? Don’t know….too many unanswered questions.
    What form will he take

  11. Chincilla of Valinor October 25, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    I think there is some hope that the film will end at the Elven Kingdom. To hook filmgoers into this new trilogy the film makers will want to maximise the screen time of familiar characters, and I think this will mean more Legolas time. I can see the audience thinking, when the dwarves are captured “hey, the elves are the good guys what’s going on here?”, “wow, here’s Legolas, he’s a good guy, he’ll get them out of this,” then “wait, he’s on the bad guys side, what’s going on?!” to set up the next movie.

    I also think Sauron will appear in the first movie, but I think the filmmaker will want to leave an air of mystery, and we won’t have the big reveal until movie 2. I think we will see a glimpse of a hooded figure during the James Bond Gandalf sequence, enough to give Gandalf suspicions, but enough for others to have some doubts also. In terms of the question I don’t think we will get enough info to decide whether he is a wraith or just wrapped in a black shroud, although I think in later films he will be in corporeal form.

  12. Chincilla of Valinor October 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    To add to this, seeing the model figures of Legolas and Tauriel now on sale strengthens my conviction that the split will be after the spider battle at the very least

  13. Bre October 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    Been thinking that as well because otherwise kids wouldn’t know who the elves are to want those toys. If that sequence were cut then why not just put the toy on hold a few months until the trailer for film 2 comes out.

  14. Bre October 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Part of me is beginning to suspect that we’ll see Sauron for 1-2 frames in an ‘out-of-the-corner-of-Gandalf’s-eye’ shot during the Dol Guldur flashback; it would explain why he’s as scared as he is in some of the shots from that sequence that we’ve seen in the trailers.

  15. Eleanor October 27, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    Thinking about the discussion of how Thorin might be presented with more of a royal, high-minded bent than in the book… I’m guessing that part of their dwarf-distinguishing campaign will be to give them a variety of motivations for coming on the quest. The descriptions I’ve seen back that up. A few examples from the Facebook page:

    “A brave Northern Dwarf, Oin joins The Company of Thorin Oakenshield out of a sense of loyalty to his kin, and also because he has a substantial sum of money invested in the venture.”

    “Along with his brother Bombur and his cousin Bifur, Bofur joined the Quest for the Lonely Mountain partly to seek his fortune – and partly because he was told the beer was free.”

    “As one of the youngest in The Company of Dwarves, Kili is determined to make his mark and prove his worth.”

    “Fiercely loyal, he [Dwalin] is Thorin Oakenshield’s staunchest supporter with an unshakeable belief in his friend’s leadership.”

    With so much variety among the dwarves, there are bound to be some that just care about the treasure, and some that care deeply about their heritage. If Thorin weren’t leaning towards the latter, he would come off as a pretty poor leader. Who will care about the lost kingdom if the heir himself doesn’t? In the book the dwarves come across as being more or less of the same mind in their goals – or at least I don’t remember any big differences, because I lump most of them together as “all the rest of those dwarves”. This seems like another change that’s driven by the necessities of the film medium.

  16. Bre October 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    and thanks to empire magazine this theory no longer stands

  17. John Dietl December 7, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    I’m betting on D. They could use the motion capture to make Sauron’s likeness appear in a bunch of inanimate objects kinda like how Voldemort appears in the first few Harry Potter movies. Perhaps he could appear in a smoke screen, or as an image in a Palantir, or as a face on a piece of parchment.

    On the other hand, this wouldn’t lend itself to convincing necromancy.

    Forget D. I’m going with E, probably in Emperor Palpatine mode.

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