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Flows of Reading

Engaging with Texts

Erin Reilly, Ritesh Mehta, Henry Jenkins, Authors

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4.11 Gaps in the Wanderings of Gollum – Filling out the Vast Timelines of 'The Lord of the Rings'

If you peruse “The Tale of the Years (Chronology of the Westlands)”, which is Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, you will notice a gap in the events of Age III, which forms the core narrative of the books and movies. The main text of the trilogy is represented in the adjacent timeline, Tolkien does not tell us about events that occur in the 17-year time gap (3001-3018) when Bilbo Baggins leaves his home in the Shire and when his nephew, Frodo Baggins, leaves the Shire to search for Bilbo. In fact, Peter Jackson, the director of the LotR movies, edits the film to suggest a gap in time between Bilbo and Frodo’s departures does not exist. 

However, avid fans of LotR, or a careful reader of the LotR appendices, will identify numerous hints about these lost years when the key characters are involved in an adventure behind the scenes that has repercussions for the events actually narrated in the text and films.

Because of their interest, the time gap has been filled out by fans of LotR in the most gratifying way. They have created a 39-minute film “faithfully based on appendices written by J. R. R. Tolkien as a serious homage to the material.” The Hunt For Gollum, which follows Gollum, Aragorn and Gandalf, and the One Ring, is a movie that brings to life events culled from the appendices. The film has received positive reviews from the press and fans, and has crossed 10 million views on You Tube.

The horizontal pink line in the modified timeline to your left indicates that Gollum was captured and held prisoner in Mordor between the years 3001 to 3017.  The red line indicates a timeline of events (in the fan-produced film–3017-18) when Gollum has escaped, is recaptured by Aragorn, and interrogated by Gandalf.

To experience the vastness of Gollum's life, a vastness attributed to his bearing the One Ring for 500+ years, here is a chronicle of key events between his birth and death.
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