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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Did You Ever Notice... The Mouth of Sauron's Costume?
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Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Oct 11 2008, 8:55pm

Post #1 of 34 (9826 views)
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Did You Ever Notice... The Mouth of Sauron's Costume? Can't Post


Warren Mahy of WETA designed this costume. From The Art of ROTK, here's what he had to say about it: "The idea was that the Mouth of Sauron was purely that, just the mouth. He couldn't see -- well, maybe he could with his mind -- but the body was just a tool. There was an idea at one stage ... where parts of his helmet actually hooked into his mouth to keep it open as well, or pulled it back into a grimace. But it didn't work out that way because the actor who plays the Mouth would have limited mouth movement.

"Peter liked the idea that the robe flowed up onto the helmet, providing the horn shapes out to the side. I like the way it gives him an almost religious, priestlike look. This motif would carry on to his horse as well: when he's sitting on it, his robes are covering the horse as an inquisitor would. It was all about power."

I'm afraid that I wasn't able to track down many details other than pictures of the helmet. The costume itself seems to be three layers, including one that wraps up onto the helmet. He is completely covered except for the mouth. The fabrics were pretty heavily distressed and other than a pendant and some buttons down the front, there's no decoration to speak of on the clothing.







The helmet is inscribed with black speech. The Arms and Armor of Middle Earth claims it says I am the Mouth of Sauron, hear him speak. For anyone interested in an in detail study, elvish.org has some ideas. http://www.elvish.org/gwaith/movie.htm







Bruce Spence had a facial appliance around his mouth that split open as he spoke. The idea was that he was so evil and corrupted and said such terrible things that his mouth cracked as he spoke.



PJ played with the mouth a bit, turning it sideways at one point, and finally decided to enlarge it by around 200%. He was worried the audience would be disappointed because the Mouth looked too normal.



He wears a silver pendant around his neck which I couldn't find a good photo of. The one below was actually taken from the WETA bust for the character. These busts are very accurate, but should not be taken as gospel. This shot is from http://yvettes.net



So, any thoughts? Was this what you book-firsters imagined?


Did You Ever Notice? is a roving discussion taking a look at the details in the costumes and armor from Lord of the Rings. It arrives on no particular day and doesn't follow any order. You can always find previous discussions at my Costume Discussion Archive.



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Jazmine
Tol Eressea


Oct 11 2008, 9:16pm

Post #2 of 34 (7819 views)
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Urgh! [In reply to] Can't Post

Disgusting! I'm not sure what I imagined the Mouth of Sauron would look like, but it certainly worked! The enlarged mouth looked great, very effective. I found it hard to concentrate on any other aspect of his costume, was just fixated on that awful mouth!!


*Jazminatar the Brown*


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Oct 11 2008, 9:35pm

Post #3 of 34 (7834 views)
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I *love* that encapsulating helmet. [In reply to] Can't Post

I find it inspiring that they designed his entire look from just his name - brilliant approach, and it works spookily well, even before he speaks!

That enlarged mouth struck me as singularly creepy and evil, but I didn't realise it had been enlarged until I saw the DVD appendices. That along with the voice-from-the-bowels-of-the-earth worked beautifully for the emissary of the greatest evil in ME.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


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weaver
Half-elven

Oct 12 2008, 12:48am

Post #4 of 34 (7783 views)
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gotta say, I prefer the Moth... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
I'll be honest, the Mouth didn't work for me. I like the idea of the guy's mouth being poisoned by his words, but the eyeless helmet seems just way too big to me. It comes across as "cartoon-y" to me, kind of like Marvin the Martian, except with the mouth exaggerated instead of the eyes!



The Inquisitor kind of association you mention here helps to offset some of my Martian thinking. That leads me more to this type of association:



That said, I admire all the work they put into this and Bruce Spence's acting...

This is the best look yet that I've had at the Mouth's attire...the details are amazing. Thanks!

Weaver



Larewen
Lorien

Oct 12 2008, 1:57am

Post #5 of 34 (7805 views)
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Me too [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think I saw the costume much at all. I could only see and watch that mouth.

My daughter's favorite line to quote:

Sam: Nothin'. Just a bit of seasoning. I thought maybe if we was havin' a roast chicken one night or something...
Frodo: Roast chicken?



batik
Tol Eressea


Oct 12 2008, 2:10am

Post #6 of 34 (7780 views)
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not trying to create a distraction but... [In reply to] Can't Post




Whoa... do you see any similarities between the buttons/collars on Denethor's clothing and the Mouth's?
and the "mouth" shots? Eek!

(please feel free to make any adjust to this as needed, if not appropiate for this thread!)


Henoluin Elsilim
Rivendell


Oct 12 2008, 2:57am

Post #7 of 34 (7773 views)
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ick... [In reply to] Can't Post

The mouth of Sauron always freaks me out. I'm a movie-firster, so when I first saw him I just assumed that he was supposed to look that way. But after reading the books I decided that he was PERFECT. The fact that you can see no part of his body but his mouth is absolutly awesome. And I love the way PJ made it bigger. I've seen the shots from the bonus disks on the extended DVD's, and the small mouth just wouldn't have cut it in my opinion.
The full outfit is awesome, though to be honest I've never paid much attention to it before. I was to busy being distracted by the mouth.

~ Henoluin ~


MouthofSauron
Tol Eressea


Oct 12 2008, 6:07am

Post #8 of 34 (7769 views)
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AGREE [In reply to] Can't Post

and why in the world PJ cut the scene out is beyond me. Sure the audience knows Frodo is alive but still the audience deserved to witness this scene in the theatre. I assume the Mouth of Sauron was given power through Sauron which extended his life since the Black Numenoreans diminished after the second age, and was given some ability to see into the spirit realm like Sauron since he knew Aragorn was riding up to him. Also Tolkien never comments if the Mouth of Sauron 'treated' with anyone in the past?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1CtiI3SZJI&feature=related

(This post was edited by MouthofSauron on Oct 12 2008, 6:08am)


Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Oct 12 2008, 6:26am

Post #9 of 34 (7776 views)
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Interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

Denethor and the Mouth both have similar buttons up the collar. I've always believed that they treated Denethor as simply one of the bad guys. I wonder if this is part of that bad guy mentality.



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grammaboodawg
Immortal


Oct 12 2008, 2:59pm

Post #10 of 34 (7882 views)
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Probably my least favourite character [In reply to] Can't Post

but it doesn't diminish my appreciation of his costume and the detail that went into it. Talk about one piece of a costume overpowering the overall effect! WOW! That helm was a distracting as the mouth itself.

I must say, I would have related to the character and enjoyed this debate a lot more had they left "the mouth" in it's normal size. I completely understand the effect Peter was going for, but it's one of the few times that more is not better... it's just more.

Thank you for the zoom in on the medallion/pendant. That's fun to try and decipher! *goes back for geeky look*

This is wonderful, AD! THANKS OOOODLES!




sample

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

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.



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Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Oct 12 2008, 6:14pm

Post #11 of 34 (7740 views)
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It helps that the camera focuses on the mouth, too [In reply to] Can't Post

When I was digging for screencaps of this outfit, I found that about 90% of them were close-ups of the mouth. The rest of the costume didn't have much of a chance against that! Cool



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Ainu Laire
Tol Eressea


Oct 12 2008, 6:22pm

Post #12 of 34 (7725 views)
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Oh wow, great post! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never seen full-length costumes of MoS- interesting that it is 'priest like'. I really do like it, as well as the focus on the mouth.

The huge mouth bugged me, to be honest. I didn't mind it was rotted, but since he was described as a man, I imagined him having more, well, of a Mannish look- not including an oversized mouth.

I've always loved MoS. He is such a small, insignificant character, yet in the books there is nothing telling about his demise. I sometimes wonder if he caused problems in the 4th age or not. I imagine he certainly had enough power with orcs and such, even after Sauron was gone. Or would he have died with Sauron's demise? Who knows.

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Morthoron
Gondor


Oct 12 2008, 8:19pm

Post #13 of 34 (7711 views)
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I agree regarding MoS... [In reply to] Can't Post

The disconcerting (and intriguing) thing about MoS is that Tolkien refers to him as a 'Black Numenorean', which, in reading through Tolkien's chronology is inconsistent, given that Black Numenoreans as a specific racial-type faded millenia earlier in the 3rd Age (Tolkien mentions that they 'swiftly dwindled or became merged with Men of Middle-earth' as early as Earnil I, more than 2000 years before the War of the Ring). There is a significance then, I believe, in Tolkien naming him a 'Black Numenorean' specifically, and that he was a mortal Man whom Sauron himself taught the Dark Arts, and that it was his place to receive from Sauron the right to govern all the lands of the West after Gondor's fall. Considering that Sauron's other lieutenants were Nazgul, and beholden to the Ring, while MoS was not, indicates something extraordinary in the man who had 'forgotten his name'.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)


Silverberry
The Shire


Oct 13 2008, 4:11am

Post #14 of 34 (7702 views)
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yes [In reply to] Can't Post

its interesting to see that you can only see sauron's eye, and you can only see the mouth of the mouth of sauron. it makes him appear more mysterious and less of a real 'being'.

Heart Silverberry


Ainu Laire
Tol Eressea


Oct 13 2008, 8:24am

Post #15 of 34 (7759 views)
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Black Numenoreans [In reply to] Can't Post

I always felt that MoS was much older and had a longer lifespan than even the old Numenoreans, simply because he did learn the Dark Arts and I think that perhaps within those Dark Arts there was the trick of living much longer than a normal life span (the Ring, after all, had that as a nice side-effect; may not be too much of a long shot for Sauron to know how to do that with other items, or just put them on people).

I would have loved to know who he was beforehand- and, as I said before, who he was afterwards. We don't see what happens to Gollum after the Ring is destroyed, age wise, so if MoS's life had been prolonged by Sauron, would said life keep on continuing or would he simply die right there and then?

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Loresilme
Valinor


Oct 13 2008, 3:18pm

Post #16 of 34 (7700 views)
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Am I imagining things or [In reply to] Can't Post

does that helmet look just like the torch that Aragorn is carrying through the Paths of the Dead in simplyaven's current SCOD??


Loresilme
Valinor


Oct 13 2008, 3:36pm

Post #17 of 34 (7680 views)
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I agree, and that's an understatement :-) [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think I've ever used this particular acronym on TORn, but I have to be honest and say that the first time I saw this scene, and this character, I just sat there and said: "WTF?" I just thought it was the grossest and most incomprehensible character and I couldn't understand what the purpose was. I watched it the first time, and then tried to watch it again maybe another once or twice, thinking I'd give it a chance and figure it out, but nope. I do think the book character is one of those side characters that Tolkien leaves us wonderfully and maddeningly wanting to understand more of. But this is a movie scene I routinely completely skip.

That said, I am as usual bowled over by the costume design, of course :-). Would you have any ideas on how to understand or decode that pendant? It does look like it has a backstory all its own.


MouthofSauron
Tol Eressea


Oct 13 2008, 5:30pm

Post #18 of 34 (7678 views)
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If he took his helmet off? [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder what he looked like without his helmet?




Ainu Laire
Tol Eressea


Oct 13 2008, 5:39pm

Post #19 of 34 (7684 views)
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LOL! [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, wow, I see the similarity! That's really funny XD I think it looks more like Sauron's helmet, though...

So they base their helmets off of torch holder thingys. Awesome.

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Smeagirl/Girllum
Gondor


Oct 14 2008, 12:47am

Post #20 of 34 (7731 views)
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I think they went overboard. [In reply to] Can't Post

The costume is amazing for what it is, and I understand that the books don't give a lot of guidance as to (all) the characters' appearance and costumes, but this one kind of bothers me. It's like PJ & Co. just took the "mouth" idea and went totally overboard with it. IMHO, Tolkien didn't mean it quite so literally as all that.

That thing with the lips splitting -- it's a neat effect, but if I were an evil overlord hiring a spokesperson, I think I'd disqualify anyone who can't hold himself together as he speaks . . .



"I think it is a sad story," said the wizard, "and it might have happened to others, even to some hobbits that I have known."





MouthofSauron
Tol Eressea


Oct 14 2008, 6:28am

Post #21 of 34 (7667 views)
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what? [In reply to] Can't Post

thats what made the Mouth of Sauron so awesome!




bearagorn
Lorien


Oct 14 2008, 5:05pm

Post #22 of 34 (7631 views)
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Thank you. [In reply to] Can't Post

Another great costume post!




The boys are back in town!

Kevin Mckidd for Thranduil/Bard.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 14 2008, 5:12pm

Post #23 of 34 (7657 views)
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Or that he was a mouth of Sauron [In reply to] Can't Post

as well.

I really appreciate that you went so far as to include an image of the clasp from a WETA bust. Your diligence knows no bounds!

I can't make out what the clasp is supposed to be but it kind of looks like a relief of him standing his horse at the mouth of the Black Gates.


Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Oct 14 2008, 5:24pm

Post #24 of 34 (7637 views)
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I agree with you, Smeagirl [In reply to] Can't Post

I think PJ couldn't resist making another monster. I think he and WETA do an incredible job with the monster vision PJ had, but like so many villains in the movie, it's just over the top.



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SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 14 2008, 5:59pm

Post #25 of 34 (7654 views)
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clasp [In reply to] Can't Post

I tried to photoshop up the clasp for detail but I'm afraid I do not yet possess skills that are "mad":



Obviously my first impression was way off. It appears to be a triptich arrangement with two of the panels bounding a tower that floats between them. Not sure if those are serpent or dragon heads centre bottom, leaves, or flames spilling out. Surely it is bound by snakey dragon things top and bottom.

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