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Lúthien V Sauron

[click here if embed does not work for you]
5 minutes 45 seconds of art.  Story by Tolkien, music by Tample.ru, Art by me.  I recommend putting the sound on.  The song is the metal version of a small section of Finrod's Song.
This post brought to you by the phrases 'how hard can it be?'  and 'practice makes perfect'.

For non-Tolkien fans: this is a story about a princess who rescues her love with the help of an enormous sighthound.  That's really all the context you need.  Oh, and that 'Quendi' means  'Elves'.  Now you have learned your first word of Quenya*, and the world is an infinitesimally better place.  :-D

* one of two available dialects of Elvish.

Why is Sauron's castle white and pointy?
Sauron did not build Minas Tirith (not the same as the one in Gondor) upon the island of Tol Sirion.  The tower was originally built by Finrod Felagund, king of Nargothrond, Beren's friend, who died to protect Beren in Sauron's prison.   Sauron took the tower from the Elves of Nargothrond, but unlike the Barad Dur in Mordor, he did not design or build it.  I decided he probably didn't have the outside re-painted, although clearly a fair bit of remodeling has gone on internally.

Why is Lúthien badly drawn?
Because that's the best that I can manage at the moment, sorry.  One day I may be able to draw Luthien as she looks inside my head, but sadly, this is not that day.

Why does Lúthien have short hair?  In Tolkien's song, her hair is like a shadow, following.
Luthien had long hair when she met Beren in the woods of Doriath, which is the part of the song that Aragorn sings in Lord of the Rings.  But later in the story,  she cut off her hair to make a rope, and to weave into a cloak to hide herself from hostile eyes. She used the rope to escape from her father who tried to prevent her going to Beren, and she is still wearing the cloak.  (I gave her long hair again in the last scene).

Lúthien is not beautiful enough.
Yes, yes, I know Lúthien was supposed to be the most beautiful woman who ever lived.  But in reality,  there is no abstract standard for beauty. We know what Tolkien thought Lúthien looked like : she looked like his wife, Edith Tolkien (nee Bratt).  Google her, there are photos.  I think she was beautiful, but even if six of the world's greatest artists all painted Edith as Lúthien, there would still be people saying 'she's not beautiful enough'.

For me, the exact shape of Lúthien's nose and lips is less important than her story.  I am pretty sure that when Tolkien says 'the most beautiful' he does not mean specifically 'never too skinny, nor put on a spare pound' or 'had cheekbones with this specific angle'.

What does Lúthien mean by 'I am with the strongest of all'?
The Neuromancer of kargicq, who helped me with that line, thinks it means Lúthien is relying on Eru, ie, God.    I was amused to discover that putting Huan the giant wolfhound into the art adds the strong implication to that line that Anything Can Be Achieved With a Large Enough Sighthound.

Why is Huan a borzoi?

He's a wolfhound. Since the wolf has been extinct in Ireland for 230 years, but is still around in the borzoi's home in Russia,  the borzoi is probably the world's most functional wolfhound.   It is also definitely the world's most glamorous wolfhound.  Borzois are awesome.

Why is Sauron blond?
Why not?  Sauron is a shape-shifter.  At this point in history, he can look any way he wants to look. I imagine him blond.   Only later, after  the Downfall of Numenor, is Sauron fixed in a shape that is ugly and terrifying.

Why does Sauron turn into a wolf when an enemy turns up with a wolfhound?

This is an excellent question, to which only Sauron really knows the answer.
My theory is that Sauron, who is canonically a perfectionist in a hurry, sees Huan the giant wolfhound as a specific kind of problem that can only be solved with a large enough wolf.   Sauron is not imaginative.  His natural response is therefore to just keep throwing larger and larger wolves at the problem. If Sauron had been able to think around the problem of a giant wolfhound, then Sauron might have anticipated that hobbits would sneak into Mordor with the Ring.

Who are the ragged people walking behind Beren and Lúthien across the bridge?
They are the people and garrison of Tol Sirion, who were enslaved when Sauron took the tower.   Although Finrod Felagund and his supporters from Nargothrond who went with Beren were all killed by werewolves, captured Noldorin Elves were usually kept as thralls rather than killed.   When Lúthien drove Sauron out, they were released and fled to Nargothrond.

I don't know why I made this.  I spent waaay more time on it than is sane or justifiable.  But it was fun, and I think my pastel drawing is improving, slowly. 


( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
20th Mar, 2016 21:10 (UTC)
The video isn't playing for me :(
20th Mar, 2016 21:41 (UTC)
Oh drat, I wonder why? Looks like it ran for thesmallhobbit.

Does this link work : http://bunn.livejournal.com/video/album/491/?mode=view&id=272 ?

That's what I get for thinking 'hey, I'll try this new LJ video hosting'. :-/ Maybe I should have put it on Youtube.
(no subject) - mme_n_b - 21st Mar, 2016 01:05 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mme_n_b - 21st Mar, 2016 01:11 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 21st Mar, 2016 08:45 (UTC) - Expand
20th Mar, 2016 21:18 (UTC)
I loved the whole video. The story, your artwork is lovely - especially Sauron (I was rather taken by him) and the music and singing, which is very striking.
20th Mar, 2016 21:43 (UTC)
Hurray! I thought the song was amazing.
20th Mar, 2016 21:51 (UTC)
That is awesome - the art, the music, the art, the dogs... everything. I love it! :-D
20th Mar, 2016 22:51 (UTC)
:-D I think Sauron would be very insistent that he's NOT a dog.

Do you even get were-dogs...?
(no subject) - ladyofastolat - 21st Mar, 2016 08:37 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 21st Mar, 2016 08:47 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ladyofastolat - 21st Mar, 2016 09:33 (UTC) - Expand
20th Mar, 2016 21:51 (UTC)
I really liked that, especially the way you used light :-D

It took me a little while to realise the pictures were changing, not just the lighting :-)
20th Mar, 2016 23:03 (UTC)
The lighting started as an accident, because I was drawing first thing in the morning and took the first photo in early grey light and didn't adjust the white balance on the camera as I drew more and took photos of the changes.

But then I liked it. :-)
20th Mar, 2016 22:08 (UTC)
I really like some of those effects you achieved here, those trees and so on!
And it complements the music very well and vice versa.
I also agree with you on the wolf theory.
20th Mar, 2016 23:54 (UTC)
Thank you!

It made me notice a little inconsistency in the published Silmarillion! When Luthien arrives, she sings, and Beren sings back, so clearly he knows she's there. Only when she gets inside, she finds him so deep in despair he doesn't even notice her. Clearly two stories that have come together again incongruously, having been transmitted via two alternative traditions. :-)
20th Mar, 2016 22:10 (UTC)
That's amazing! Love it. -N.
20th Mar, 2016 23:55 (UTC)
21st Mar, 2016 04:34 (UTC)
*flail* I'm just going to make a list of things that are awesome here.
- Sauron
- Luthien with short hair (I am fairly adamant on the point that she's have had short hair during the quest, after cutting it off...who has time/energy to magically regrow hair when there are more pressing things to be done?)
- The shadows/lighting and slight changes over time on the Beren picture
- Borzoi!Huan
- The whole fight scene on the bridge

(I've been noting пусть in pretty much every Russian song I listen to, now...)

I do feel I must defend Sauron's reasoning behind his gigantic wolf tactic. Here's a couple bits from the Silmarillion chapter "Of Beren and Luthien":
...it was decreed that he [Huan] should meet death, but not until he encountered the mightiest wolf that would ever walk the world.
Now Sauron knew well, as did all in that land, the fate that was decreed for the hound of Valinor, and it came into his thought that he himself would accomplish it.

So Sauron's actions were actually reasonable, if one believes the prophecy. Whether it was reasonable for Sauron to believe the prophecy in the first place (or not to guess that Carcharoth existed and was the mightier) might be questionable, though.
21st Mar, 2016 07:45 (UTC)
If he did not know about Carcharoth, it seems he hadn't been talking a lot to Morgoth lately. Prophecies always have a twist of course: in the case of Carcharoth, Silmaril-induced insanity, without which size might not have been enough. Trying to give things that twist intentionally, like Sauron did, mostly doesn't work, though. I think probably "wise fool" (as Gandalf had it) does apply to Sauron's plan: he was trying to tick a box and thought he was being clever, but set himself up for defeat.
(no subject) - huinare - 21st Mar, 2016 15:26 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 21st Mar, 2016 09:14 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - huinare - 21st Mar, 2016 15:30 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 21st Mar, 2016 15:45 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - huinare - 22nd Mar, 2016 02:33 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 21st Mar, 2016 22:11 (UTC) - Expand
21st Mar, 2016 06:29 (UTC)
Couldn't get the video, sorry, firewall issues. However, to see my candidate for Luthien in her capacity of most beautiful woman in the world, just search "Jetsun Pema" or "Queen of Bhutan".

21st Mar, 2016 09:02 (UTC)
Maybe I should put it on Youtube, it looks like LJ's video hosting is still a work in progress. I thought it would be a bit less public there, but 'cannot actually see at all' is a level of less public that I was not aiming for :-D

I think drawing (and casting) Exceedingly Beautiful Women is always fraught, because everyone's idea of beautiful is SO different.
21st Mar, 2016 14:20 (UTC)
This is so beautiful and moving -- your art, the song, everything. I love how you made the spring gradually come.

I dug out my copy of Tolkien's collected letters, because I vaguely remembered this from his letter to Christopher:
'I have at last got busy about Mummy's grave. . . . The inscription I should like is:

Edith Mary Tolkien

brief and jejeune, except for Lúthien, which says for me more than a multitude of words: for she was (and knew she was) my Lúthien.'

21st Mar, 2016 14:24 (UTC)
Not sure what he meant by 'jejeune,' though.
(no subject) - bunn - 21st Mar, 2016 15:54 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 21st Mar, 2016 15:53 (UTC) - Expand
21st Mar, 2016 22:02 (UTC)
This is marvellous, I loved it. :-)

It had never occurred to me that Luthien would have short hair at this point, but it makes perfect sense. I do have to say my favourite picture is the one with Huan attacking the stylised Sauron werewolf at about 3.50 or so - it's really beautiful in its own right.

(If you do decide to put it on YouTube, I don't know if you are aware there's a setting to only make a video accessible if you have the direct link? - it won't turn up in searches etc. Obviously it won't stop it spreading if people are really determined, but it does at least give less exposure.)

21st Mar, 2016 22:33 (UTC)
Hurray! I'm glad you liked it! I was pleased with that one of Luthien with the Sauron-wolf-serpent thing. I did wonder about re-drawing the previous one, with Huan and the wolf and Luthien outside the gate, as that has rather weak composition, but you have to stop somewhere.

Also, the one by the gate commemmorates the epic moment when an enormous and very rude labrador was harassing Brythen back when he was a Big Puppy, and I was flapping uselessly at this enormous rude humping dog - then, suddenly, out of the undergrowth, came launching ancient wobbly heroic lurcher Az, took the lab by the throat, rolled him right over and sent him off whimpering. :-D

If it were all mine (or, me adapting Tolkien, you know what I mean!), I would share it with enthusiasm, for I love it dearly despite its imperfections. But since the music is not mine, and falls into that slightly uncomfortable gap between fanwork and professional production, and I don't have permission to use it, I am a little hesitant. It is only a segment of a larger work... But.

Edited at 2016-03-21 22:34 (UTC)
(no subject) - sally_maria - 21st Mar, 2016 22:55 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 22nd Mar, 2016 11:13 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sally_maria - 22nd Mar, 2016 15:17 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bunn - 22nd Mar, 2016 16:26 (UTC) - Expand
22nd Mar, 2016 21:40 (UTC)
I like the pastels a lot.
I can't say that I like the song but it is going in my head all day.
23rd Mar, 2016 08:06 (UTC)
Whoops. It is a bit of an earworm! I'm glad you liked the pastels, anyway. It has to be good practice to draw so many. The ones where I spent a bit more time planning the image are the better ones, I think, so that's a lesson learned!
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )

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