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I was browsing the internet and saw this image that is claimed to show Sauron in his original "Maiar" form.

Sauron

I wonder, is this really Sauron or is it just an internet rumour?

The image had this comment:

The Maiar form was supposed to change into the Sauron we see in the beginning of the first movie, so Aragon could fight Sauron. But then they changed it to him fighting the troll. The light this form emits was changed to the light of the Eye of Sauron looking at Aragon.

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"I was browsing the internet.." The internet is a big place. Care to narrow it down with an URL? –  Andrew Thompson Jun 21 at 17:14
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@AndrewThompson 9gag T_T –  Michel Jun 21 at 18:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 33 down vote accepted

It depends on what you mean by "really".

That image was made for Peter Jackson's movies, and has little basis in Tolkien's own writings. Tolkien himself never described Sauron, in either his "beautiful form" or his "evil form" in any great detail, so you're never going to get any definitive or canonical representation.

The most detail we have is the following from The Council of Elrond:

...in that time he was not yet evil to behold...

And from Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age:

...for long if he willed he could still appear noble and beautiful, so as to deceive all but the most wary.

And other similarly brief descriptions elsewhere.

Based on these, that image is as good an interpretation as any, but an interpretation is all it can ever be.

Having said all of that, it's also important to note that (before he lost the power to do so at the end of the Second Age) Sauron could freely change shape and appear however he wished to observers. This is initially expressed in the Valaquenta (in a passage specifically relating to the Valar, but which we may assume also applies to the Maiar):

Moreover their shape comes of their knowledge of the visible World, rather than of the World itself; and they need it not, save only as we use raiment, and yet we may be naked and suffer no loss of our being ..... But the shapes wherein the Great Ones array themselves are not at all times like to the shapes of the kings and queens of the Children of Ilúvatar; for at times they may clothe themselves in their own thought, made visible in forms of majesty and dread.

And we see an explicit example of him actually doing it in Of Beren and Lúthien:

Therefore he took upon himself the form of a werewolf, and made himself the mightiest that had yet walked the world; and he came forth to win the passage of the bridge.

So it's actually completely incorrect to even speak of 'Sauron in his original "Maiar" form' because this form doesn't even exist.

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So, I should put "his beautiful" form instead ? –  Michel Jun 21 at 18:08

Yes, it was something they were originally thinking of putting in the movie. I found another copy of that image on the Annatar page at tolkiengateway.net along with this accompanying text which is similar to the bit you quoted:

At an early stage of script development and shooting, Annatar was to be featured in this film. The fair form of Sauron would appear when Aragorn called forth Sauron at the Battle of the Morannon. After blinding everyone, he would change into the black armoured Sauron that appeared in the rest of the film, and battle Aragorn. This idea was scrapped (Aragorn fights a troll instead), but footage was shot, and still exists.[5]

The page cites the source of this as:

"Michael Pellerin (director), "From Book To Script: Forging The Final Chapter", The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (extended edition), "The Appendices: The War of the Ring"

"The Appendices: The War of the Ring" is one of the extras DVDs that comes on the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings DVD or blu ray set. If you own that, pop it in, select "From Book To Script" on the top menu, then "From Book to Script: Forging The Final Chapter", and the image appears at 10:56 in that featurette.

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It's also possible that Peter Jackson changed his mind about Sauron's physical appearance pre-release, independently of whether or not he chose to include this image or its equivalent in the film. If he did, the image wouldn't be a movie-canonical image of Sauron. –  La-comadreja Jun 23 at 4:10
    
@La-comadreja -- isn't anything that failed to be included in the finished movie (theatrical or extended) not "movie-canonical", by definition? Neither the original question nor my answer said anything about canon, the question was just whether the image was "real" (which I took to mean a question about whether the accompanying quote's description of where the image came from was accurate). –  Hypnosifl Jun 23 at 4:15
    
Of course it is a real movie take rather than an internet rumor. In order to define it as a movie-canonical Sauron image, however, I consider the key question to be whether in the universe that made the final cut (rather than earlier versions of the universe), this would have been an image of Annatar. I don't see proof either way. A detail beyond the scope of the question as it is phrased, but one I still want to mention. –  La-comadreja Jun 23 at 4:23
    
@La-comadreja -- so you think that something can be movie-canonical if there is reason to believe it "would have" made the final cut, even if in fact it didn't? That doesn't really make sense to me--if it's not in the finished movie it can't be deemed movie-canonical, as I said this seems like just a matter of definition. –  Hypnosifl Jun 23 at 13:01
    
it's the same logic that, in book-canon, would make information in Tolkien's letters canonical, but not characteristics of Sauron that appeared in earlier drafts of the work but were changed in the final version. –  La-comadreja Jun 23 at 13:03

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