This weekend friends and family joined together to go see the second iteration in Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Internationally the movie has already grossed $204,875,000. This holiday blockbuster has been a hit for a number of reasons but this article will focus only on one subject; Smaug the Dragon.
The story of The Hobbit follows Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, Thorin Oakenshield, and a band of dwarves that attempt to take back the dwarf home, the Lonely Mountain, from the dragon Smaug that has claimed it as his own. This film is the second in the Hobbit trilogy. The last film is said to be called The Hobbit: There and Back Again and won’t be out until December 17 next year.
Benedict Cumberbatch played the voice of Smaug and truly brought the character to life with dedication and talent. Below are two interviews with Cumberbatch talking about his experience with the role and some of the details that helped to make it so authentic, one of which involves using a motion capture suit to help match body movements with the voice.
Smaug in this film is the epitome of dragon folklore; he is wise, terrifying, elegant, destructive, and greedy. His power is so immense that the only way the group can even hope to match his strength is by using his own strength against him. He sleeps buried in gold and is very protective of his loot. Smaug can not be taken lightly, he is no fool, he is aware of what the group is up to and what they hope to accomplish.
Depending on what folklore you are considering the process of how a dragon breaths fire varies. In some stories dragons may create fire the moment the open their mouth, others build it deep within and then release it. Smaug’s fire-breathing begins in his body and is so explosive that each time he is about to breathe fire his body’s color accentuates to a brighter red until the flames are released. This detail, along with many others, bring Smaug to life with such distinction that he is simply awe-inspiring to watch.
Smaug’s detail and voice work are accredited to many but Cumberbatch really creates the mood with how he well he portrays Smaug. The voice emanates of power but is still slow and thoughtful. Smaug is easily one of the most legitimate dragons to grace the silver screen. It is hard to image that hard-core fans would be disappointed with such a dragon. If anything, there is probably a desire to have more of him in the movie. He will of course be back in the next installment of The Hobbit although that will not be for another year.
Fans of Lord of the Rings will likely enjoy The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug but they may like it too much. For many the wait for The Hobbit: There and Back Again will be a long difficult wait. Smaug’s presence is truly something creative and terrifying. He is an excellent representation of dragon folklore. If you are big fantasy fan this will be a movie you have to watch at some point or another.
By Garrett Jutte