Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Lately I've been passing the time spent painting stupid little models listening to various podcasts. One of which is a college lecture podast on Tolkien's works. As such, I've learned a thing or two. Mainly that I've made an incorrect assumption my entire life. Never thought twice about it. I can take some solace in the fact that this is not entirely all my fault. Essentially, 99% of the artwork and imagery associated with the beastie known as a Balrog is incorrect.

Balrogs don't have fucking wings.

Turns out it's all a misconstrued simile. When the Balrog shows up in Moria, the flame and shadow it exudes is a representation of its power. A shadowy form is wreathed within the flame and darkness like a cloak of sorts. The line:

"His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow
about it reached out like two vast wings."

- isn't a hard description. It's a simile. The shadow spreads out, but never became solid, real deal wings. The phenomena stands in juxtaposition to the light Gandalf emits. Ol' G-dogg might have ended up with wings as well if Tolkien had worded it as such! Again:

“It stepped forward slowly onto the bridge, and suddenly
it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall”

Same deal, just spreading out some more. But still no wings as such. Just the Balrog flexing its power. Besides, the Balrog friggin' fell off the bridge when Gandalf busted it - and was scared. When it took the plunge it let out: “a terrible cry,”.

Now I need to go off and realign my brain. I guess I should have trusted the Ted Naismith depictions all along...


Rick Smith said...

Balrog's still cooler with wings though. Jus' sayin'!

"The Devil" said...

Maybe it drank a Red Bull.

Anonymous said...

I didn't hear Tokie describe the ladder and stair system he constructed to get around so he must have flown on shadow wings. But yeah, a flying monster falling off a bridge shouldn't really happen. I think they should put wings on Jesus and that would make him more badass.

Murphy said...

The hell with wings! That picture of a young Rick Smith in blackface is beyond crucial.

Chris Horse said...

Re: the fall.

All the wings in the world don't do shit if you don't have the room to fucking flap them.

Physics people.

For fuck's sake.


Ack Ack Ack said...

1. Jesus can fly?

2. Blackface.

3. Get behind the printer GoGo.

Anonymous said...

Wait a second...Jesus CAN'T fly?! Then who was that guy with the uni-horn, fangs and black dress that shot power blasts at wayward children?

I yam the law! said...

Of course Jesus can fly. Proof:

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. Jesus flew on a dinosaur. That page must have been edited out of the bible I saw.

Chris Horse said...

No no no no, real Christian know Jesus only RODE on dinosaurs. Specifically raptors.

Fucking heathens, get it right.

Aimee said...

All I can say is, since it says the shadows spread out "LIKE two vast wings." makes it a simile and therefore the wings are not real. Tolkien is using a simile to describe what the shadows looked like. If there were actual wings there would have been no need for the "like". He would have just said, "The vast shadows of his two wings spread out behind him."

Anonymous said...

The 'like' definitely makes it a simile and therefore the wings are not real. Sad, really.

Ack Ack Ack said...

Agreed. It's not really an argument. They don't have wings. I'm just a bit turned around by how strong my preconceptions were, even at age 12.

I just slapped wings on the Balrog in my mind, thanks to various artworks I'd seen, and never bothered to look back.

Stupid brain!

(Also: Aimee! Good to see you back on the interworlds!)