Saturday, January 9, 2010
Small sketch of the Balrog and Gandalf on Bridge of Khazad-dûm
Probably one of the most difficult images for artists to render from Tolkien's middle-earth is the Balrog, perhaps being second in difficulty only to the Ents. Though of course it is also one of the most enjoyable. It's just that so many of the images don't attain the peculiar vividness. I do not include this little sketch by any means as an exception.
The figure itself needs to be more engulfed within another black shape, as if there were two entities.
Peter Jackson's is sufficiently scary. But I find his leans too much towards the cloven-hoofed, beast-demon type. It's precisely when Tolkien describes the Balrog as being "man-shape" that suddenly the frightening foreboding, not-yet-seen terror becomes really freaking scary. Why is that?
We can go to town envisaging a fang-toothed, ember-eyed, flame-dripping beast-amalgam; but what is it when the demon in question is envisioned as having something like a huge and heavy crown, a too solemn princely dignity, a royal state that is also in every respect utterly perverse and wielded for horror, and suddenly it becomes just a little too real?
In the end every one of us is going to have a ruler: the One Who rules in heaven or the one who rules in hell.