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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Did You Ever Notice... Sauron's Armor?

Arwen's daughter

Jul 23 2009, 5:32am

Post #1 of 9 (11872 views)
Did You Ever Notice... Sauron's Armor? Can't Post

There's an interesting description of this armor in the book Weapons & Warfare. For those not familiar with it, the book pretends that all of the armor and weapons from LOTR are actual artifacts and that it is an historical text describing them. Still, I think it gives a bit of insight into the filmmakers thoughts.

"When Sauron took to the battlefield to face the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, he was already ancient in years, and his sable armor in some ways reflected the spirit that had been born when Middle-earth itself was still in its infancy. At that time Sauron allegedly still had bodily form and perhaps could have been harmed, so this may explain the presence of armor. The design was said to have been of an antiquity that was unique to Sauron alone. The intaglio decoration of a delicate twining poison contrasted with the brute ugliness of the spikes and blades, which stood out from his body like black thorns. The great helm was spiked like the horns of Barad-dur, and its long fluked sides gave it a shape eerily reminiscent of a horse's skull. Sauron armored himself in both mail and plate, all of which would have been superbly made, as he was a supremely skilled smith and would have demanded the very highest standards from those he directed to fashion his armor. It seem that there was a mail skirt and sleeves, but the rest of the body was covered in plate collar, pauldrons, cuirass, rerebraces and vambraces, and cuisses, greaves and sabatons that was a disharmonious combination of spikes, curves and straight lines. The silhouette created by all of this would have been alien and extremely intimidating.

"One anonymous scribe speculated in his journal that the burning heat of Sauron's body had scorched his steel armor as black as his skin. He also wrote that when Sauron came into view it felt as though "a burning void had opened up on the battlefield." And it remains only speculation whether the armor and helm matched the form of the Dark Lord encased within, for no one alive during the War of the Ring ever saw his original form: to all, he was the Great Lidless Eye, burning in the void of his hunger and hate."

You can see some of the vine engraving here:

So, any thoughts?

You can find some more details over at Alley Cat Scratch.

Did You Ever Notice is a roving discussion taking a look at some of the details in LOTR one costume at a time. It appears on no particular day and follows no particular order. You can always find previous discussions at my Costume Discussion Archive.

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

Tol Eressea

Jul 23 2009, 3:41pm

Post #2 of 9 (7369 views)
That is frickin' awesome! [In reply to] Can't Post


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


Jul 23 2009, 5:02pm

Post #3 of 9 (7358 views)
Harsh and fearsome! [In reply to] Can't Post

But so elegant at the same time. This is an incredible costume, and just as intricate as any other piece in the films' collection. It really says it all in terms of who Sauron was. Intimidating, impressive, massive, deadly. This is great, Arwen's Daughter. I love the description of how his appearance would/could match his outer shell. *shiver* Just way cool!


"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."
~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.

TORn's Observations Lists


Jul 23 2009, 5:50pm

Post #4 of 9 (7356 views)
It worked! [In reply to] Can't Post

My youngest kid was really scared by this costume...the spiky helmet is the thing that especially had an impact on him...so I think they definitely channeled something very powerful in the design and craftsmanship of this outfit.

My own impression is that all the spikiness of it conveys the impression of causing pain and hurt being high values of its owner...

Thanks for all the closeups of this one...it's a work of art, isn't it?


Tol Eressea

Jul 23 2009, 8:44pm

Post #5 of 9 (7321 views)
Great choice! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love this armour. It looks fearsome, yet really beautiful too.

Reminds me of the 2008 Tolkien Exhibition in the Cotswolds. There was a little boy there dressed as Sauron, his costume made entirely of cardboard and toilet roll. It was very impressive!


Jul 23 2009, 9:47pm

Post #6 of 9 (7323 views)
very impressive [In reply to] Can't Post

i hadn't realized how 'ugly/painful' looking his armor is... but by just looking at a picture ...you can really take in the detail, and it is quite scarey looking armor.Shocked


Registered User

Aug 3 2009, 3:46pm

Post #7 of 9 (7333 views)
nice pic [In reply to] Can't Post

awesome, that first picture is one that i've never seen.

You shall not pass!

N.E. Brigand

Aug 23 2009, 9:16pm

Post #8 of 9 (7321 views)
Sauron is *older* than Middle-earth. [In reply to] Can't Post

So this passage (with my emphasis) is in error:

When Sauron took to the battlefield to face the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, he was already ancient in years, and his sable armor in some ways reflected the spirit that had been born when Middle-earth itself was still in its infancy.

Or did Jackson & co. reimagine Sauron's origin for their film?

We're discussing The Silmarillion in the Reading Room, Aug. 9 - Mar 7. Please join the conversation!

This week: "Valaquenta".
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Aug 23 2009, 9:48pm

Post #9 of 9 (7315 views)
To my knowledge... [In reply to] Can't Post

There's nothing in the films proper that indicates where Sauron came from, or how long Sauron he has been around prior to when he's shown forging the One Ring.

In terms of backstory, like the part you excerpted, I don't know how far the film makers went with this sort of thinking. To me, the passage cited is intended to present Sauron as an "ancient" evil and this is the way they phrased it, rather than an intentional revisioning of how he came to be.

I've never heard them discuss Melkor, or anything before the forging of the Rings, either, so I doubt that they thought about this kind of statement within the context of the Sil...but others may know more on this point.



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