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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Did You Ever Notice... The Ringwraith Costumes?

Arwen's daughter

Jul 24 2008, 6:33pm

Post #1 of 12 (13603 views)
Did You Ever Notice... The Ringwraith Costumes? Can't Post

It may not look like much more than a pile of black rags, but there's actually a lot more going on here.

Each of these costumes contains 48 meters (or 52.5 yards) of fabric! Mostly silks, since those drape so well. There are 5 seperate layers of costume here. And there were 29 wraith costumes made in total.

From Ngila: "I retrospective designed it which- - so in fact, there’s a drawing somewhere of the king, a king in an original, fully regal costume. And then I just redrew it, breaking it down more and more and more so that in fact the ring wraiths become- - there are vestiges of that original design as part of that costume. Totally subliminal. The costumes are built from the inside out. That’s a huge amount of detail and there’s a big reality to every single part of the costume. ... And it goes from quite light layers to really quite heavy woven- - not tight, because the textures and those sort of quite loosely woven, quite thick threaded silks."

There's a large ring that was built to go over the actor's shoulders to create this hunched back look. And while the draping is meant to appear random, those hoods are worked quite carefully to give them the proper shape.

Let's look at some details.

An actor without the hood and hump:

And with the hump and hood (much more frightening):

Wraiths on smoke-break!

Notice the careful shaping on the hoods. Normally these would not hang so evenly:

You can see here some decoration at the hem:

And you can see some lace in this picture!

As always, you can find more pictures and details at AlleyCatScratch.

So, any thoughts?

Did You Ever Notice? is a roving discussion taking a look at some of the details in LOTR through the costumes and armor. It follows no order and doesn't appear on any particular day. Look for me when you see me! You can always find past discussions at the Costume Discussion Archive.

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My Costuming Site
TORn's Costume Discussions Archive
July Screencap of the Day Schedule


Jul 24 2008, 6:37pm

Post #2 of 12 (10212 views)
The Ringwraiths (and their costumes) [In reply to] Can't Post

look exactly like I read them and like I dreamed them in nightmares. Spot on.

Hanging out with the Lonely Isle elves.


Jul 24 2008, 7:09pm

Post #3 of 12 (10089 views)
Exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

One thing that the film nailed for me was the Wraith's dress. The costume with the armor underneath nailed this for me.

" . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

J.R.R. Tolkien in his 6 October 1940 letter to his son Michael Tolkien.

Come over to the LOTR Movie Thread and discuss the 1981 BBC Adaptation of the LOTR.

Tol Eressea

Jul 24 2008, 9:25pm

Post #4 of 12 (10105 views)
52 yards! [In reply to] Can't Post

Good thing most of it was silk, or they wouldn't have been able to even lift their swords, let along get the horses to carry them!

Pretty much exactly as I'd always pictured them.

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."

Tol Eressea

Jul 25 2008, 3:03pm

Post #5 of 12 (10104 views)
Why are we showcasing Dementors? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tongue Just kidding! As someone said, this must be one of the most accurate book to movie adaptation constumes. Really great. I believe it becomes more interesting when we talk about the Witch King of Angmar... that must have details we don't know about.

Here's to Del Toro becoming the Irvin Kershner of Middle Earth!

Essay winner of the Show us your Hobbit Pride Giveway!


Jul 25 2008, 4:40pm

Post #6 of 12 (10048 views)
Weren't these perfect! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was really astounded when I heard about the amount of fabric that made up these costumes, but to get that fluidity and flow - it was worth every metre! There are many shots - many of the ones which were filmed in darkness and are shot in slow motion - and I could see the material bounce and flicker - like flames do - and sway and drape over the wraiths form - it was so effective - and for the costumes to give the impression of such weight - and yet be so light at times.
I loved the way the wraiths entered in Bree - and the wraiths riding together and their costumes flowing like a breath of death!
They were just as I had seen them from the book!

Nice shot of the wraiths on break too AD!! LOL!!

Fantastic costumes and design!!


Were off to Hobbiton finally!

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!


Jul 25 2008, 7:52pm

Post #7 of 12 (10018 views)
This has probably [In reply to] Can't Post

been said already, but it still amazes me how these are so "scarey". In the Bakshi animated version as I child I found them so too.Blush

I remember also in the Alistair Sim version of Scrooge, the last "spirit" he visits at the end is dressed in a similar way. I think it just goes to show how important the "look" of the actor is.


Reading: I, Robot - Isaac Asimov, The letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

Listening: LOTR Trilogy Soundrack, The Silmarillion, Eden's Bridge - Celtic Worship

Random Delights: Tea, chocolate, summer sunsets and TORn


Jul 25 2008, 8:57pm

Post #8 of 12 (10071 views)
Built from the inside out.. [In reply to] Can't Post

I had not known about this aspect of the design before:

From Ngila: "I retrospective designed it which- - so in fact, there’s a drawing somewhere of the king, a king in an original, fully regal costume. And then I just redrew it, breaking it down more and more and more so that in fact the ring wraiths become- - there are vestiges of that original design as part of that costume. Totally subliminal. The costumes are built from the inside out.

Now that, my friends, is what I would call above and beyond the call of duty. I'd love to see the original kingly drawing of which she speaks, too!



Jul 26 2008, 2:20am

Post #9 of 12 (10053 views)
Exquisite and distressed [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll tell you what... I saw this costume at the exhibit, and it's VERY intimidating and ominous! Seriously! They have it in a darkened spot where it leans forward and towers over you! No imagination required. I know he's gonna get me!!

I love listening to Ngila Dickson (sp?) talking about this costume. There was so much thought and detail put into it. Look at how the embroidered sleeves are ripped and shredded by sword and gloves! These are so impressive! It's funny, though. I found them scarier when the Wraiths rode horses rather than the Fell Beasts.

Thank you for this Arwen's daughter. I total love your posts! I know they take a lot of work... and it's greatly appreciated :D


"Barney Snow was here." ~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

TORn's Observations Lists


Jul 26 2008, 1:08pm

Post #10 of 12 (10067 views)
Love the horse gear too... [In reply to] Can't Post

it`s such a great shot of the head .They are,as are all the costumes, excellent.I`m sure i read somewhere or heard it on the dvd extras that PJ had originally wanted to do the Ringwraith`s like he did death in The Frighteners,but for some reason they changed to actors.Personally i think this way was perfect.Thanks again Arwens daughter for another excellent costume post.


Jul 28 2008, 7:26pm

Post #11 of 12 (10004 views)
Cool, Thanks for that! [In reply to] Can't Post


The Shire

Jul 30 2008, 2:06am

Post #12 of 12 (10025 views)
Cool !SEXY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

EvilWatch out you lot,I am a huge fanatic of the Ringwraiths! They are DELICIOUSLY SCARY AND SEXY! Even as human kings and Sorcerers before you see the black shrouds they are SEXY! I still love 'em,allways have and allways will!

Wicked regards,
the Witch-Queen in Mordor.EvilEvilEvil

"You fool!No man can kill me!"

"Do not come between the Nazgul and her prey!"

"Send for more legions.Do not stop the attack uintil the city is taken!Slay them all!"

"Do you not know death when you see it old man?This is our hour!"

"You have failed!The world of men will fall!"
"Give up the halfling she-Elf!"

These are my favorite quotes as spoken by my favorite character,the Witch-King in the LOTR-trilogy.

"nobody can destroy the Lady of Mordor!"

I await the Witch-king in Mordor,and can be drawn out to battle the Enemy.The Lord of the Nazgul/Ringwraiths is my husband!And if you kill him,I shall smite you in return!

Come with us to Mordor!

The Ring!The Ring!

Come back!Come back!

To Mordor we will take you!


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