Exploring New Corners Of Middle-Earth: “The Hunt For Gollum”

Copyright © of original portions of original portions 2007 - 2008 Independent Online Cinema / Rickety Shack Films.

The Lord of the Rings.  If you love fantasy, elves, magic, and epic tales of Good vs. Evil, there’s a chance you’ve heard of it.  Whether you read the books or saw the Peter Jackson film trilogy, you probably know all about Middle-earth and the One Ring, hobbits and wizards, the Nazgûl and Gollum and the Dark Lord Sauron.

But did you know about a forty-minute fan-made film called The Hunt for Gollum?  No?  Well, you’re in luck, because I’m about to tell you.

Chris Bouchard and his team of fellow filmmakers and Tolkien fans put together a forty-minute-long film that was shot in North Wales, Epping Forest, and other locations in the London area.  It took one hundred and forty people and two years of solid work to get the film done for a release in 2009, whereupon it received some positive attention from critics and a lot more positive attention from the fans of Tolkien’s epic.

The Story: Aragorn Hunts For Gollum (What Else Did You Expect?)

Set during the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn–also known as “Strider,” a Ranger of the North, goes out on behalf of the wizard Gandalf in search of the elusive creature Gollum, who once possessed the One Ring.  Gollum has to be found before Sauron’s forces find him and learn where the Ring has been hidden.  What follows is Aragorn’s journey through the wilderness, tracking his prey, fighting off bands of Orcs, and trying to stay clear of Sauron’s most feared minions, the Ringwraiths.

If you’ve read the books, then you know it’s a foregone conclusion that Aragorn is able to capture Gollum and deliver him into the custody of the Elves (and if you haven’t, then I’m sorry for spoiling it, but you really should have known that by now).

The Cast: Rangers And Ringwraiths, Gollum And Goblins, Etc., Etc.

Aragorn (played by Adrian Webster) is the protagonist of the story.  He spends a lot of the time roaming the wild and generally being awesome when he has to put up with Orcs, Ringwraiths, and a very upset Gollum.  What I liked about this portrayal is how we get to see Aragorn as more of a hunter than a straight-up warrior and that he really can be stealthy when the situation requires him to be.

The portrayal of characters we’ve already seen in the films–such as Gandalf, Gollum, and Arwen–are done very faithfully in this film.  The same goes for the Orcs with their appearance and their Cockney-style speech.  I also have to give the filmmakers credit for introducing a new character, the Ranger Arithir.  He shares a cultural bond with Aragorn–being Rangers of the North and among the few Dúnedain left in Middle-earth–and adds another layer of depth to the film.

The Style: A Loving Homage To Both Peter Jackson And Professor Tolkien

Although it’s shot in England and not New Zealand, the film still captures the same sense of Middle-earth as the Jackson trilogy.  The score from the original movies are also used appropriately, the fighting choreography seems to be on the same level as the fight scenes from Fellowship of the Ring, and although it’s used sparingly, the CG effects are rather well-integrated.

In addition, the film pays some respect to the novels, giving life to an event that even the books only mention in passing, and while most of it doesn’t seem to be spelled out, the filmmakers took a chance and pulled off a fairly solid story.

Final Verdict: A Triumph For Fans Everywhere

For me, this film isn’t just a nicely done fan work.  It’s also a great sign of what can be done by independent filmmakers, who approach their work with love and a lot of good effort.  I’ll admit I’m a bit jaded when it comes to the mainstream movie industry, so seeing small triumphs like this only serve to raise my hopes and make me remember why I’m such a fan myself.

The Hunt for Gollum is available for watching on its main site or in an extended version on YouTube.  For the sake of convenience, you can watch the second version of the film below.

Bibliography: The Hunt for Gollum.  Directed by Chris Bouchard.  Produced by Chris Bouchard, Brian Lavery, Gladys San Juan, Julianne Honey-Mennal, and Spencer Duru.  Based on parts by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Script adapted by Chris Bouchard.  Perf. Adrian Webster, Arin Alldridge, Patrick O’Connor, Rita Ramnani, Gareth Brough, Max Bracey, and Dan Styles.  Rickety Shack Films, 2009.


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