Just finished re-reading The Hobbit – the first chapter book I remember reading as a child. My dad read it to my brother and me when we were in single digits and even then, I fell in love with Gollum and all the darkness he represented. Riddles In The Dark is one of the finest pieces of writing ever written and I am tweaking like a meth-head in anticipation of seeing it up on the big screen courtesy of Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis. As a kid, I was fascinated by Gollum; I wanted to know how he’d come to live in that mountain and why he’d stayed there. Why did he speak of himself in third person and call himself “precious”? Why did he ask himself questions as if some other part of him would answer and what was the deal with his sick obsession with that ring? Much later, in college, I read The Hobbit again and marveled at Tolkien’s skill in creating a creature so wholly vile and repulsive yet worthy of pity. A creature whose behavior and mannerisms, whose thoughts and physical attributes coincide so perfectly with a being who’s lived in nearly complete isolation and darkness for decades or more. A cave-dwelling creature whose one friend is this precious ring, which has served him well, allowed him success as a hunter, thereby saving him from starvation or capture (by the goblins) but which has also caused a level of destruction from which there is no return. Reading The Hobbit as an adult, Gollum reminds me of a heroin addict living in the sewers, thieving and mugging enough to maintain but never getting even half a step ahead because the need and the absolute love of that which is killing him is too strong to fight.
I feel such gratitude to Peter Jackson and the brilliant Andy Serkis (and anyone else who was involved) for making the CGI version of Gollum in their fantastic adaptation of the LotR trilogy every bit as sad, disgusting, insane and pitiful as Tolkien intended. I was nervous, scared even, as I walked into the theater back in 2001 to see The Fellowship of the Ring that Gollum would be misrepresented, that they’d have neglected some detail or exaggerated others. But the Gollum I saw made me fall in love with the character all over again – a perfect visual translation of the creature Tolkien created.
Now, less than two weeks away from the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I feel no trepidation. Only eager excitement to see Gollum again and to watch that most beloved sequence of events that compiles Riddles In the Dark, my favorite chapter in the whole tale (from The Hobbit to The Return of the King), unfold onscreen. I cannot wait.