No technology today. I’m spending this week in San Francisco at Coverity head office and did not have time to get blog posts in the queue ahead of time. But here’s a question I got from my friend Peggy a few days ago:
I watched The Return of the King on TV again last night and was left wondering: how it is that Gollum manages to get the Ring away from Frodo when Frodo is invisible?
Well that’s an amazing coincidence as I was watching TROTK on DVD with my housemate at I suspect the same time, even given the time zone difference. Clearly we are connected by some mysterious fifth sense!
First off, there is a hint given in the movie that Gollum has detected Frodo by seeing his footprints. See the 1:55 mark in this clip of the scene in question:
But this is of course a ridiculous movie conceit. I think if you walked barefoot over stone, it would be very difficult to see your footprints.
The better answer is: Gollum has spent the last six hundred years surviving by throttling orcs in the pitch dark in the tunnels of the Misty Mountains. Therefore Gollum is probably Middle Earth’s greatest expert on unarmed fighting against stronger unseen opponents; he certainly has thousands of hours of practice. Since Frodo is not a good fighter to begin with, it is not surprising that Gollum manages to both detect and overcome Frodo, despite Frodo’s advantage of invisibility.
Something that has always bugged me about this scene — aside from the fact that the dialogue is better in the book — is that Gollum sinks into the lava. That lava is liquid rock; it is far, far denser than water; he should float (and be incinerated nigh instantly) and the Ring should sink. Then again, criticizing the physics of a movie with magic rings and elves is maybe a bad idea.
In completely related news, tonight I am going to a double feature of An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug at the Metreon here in San Francisco; I’ll post my review in a few days.